The first weekend of the month, I attended a Men’s Conference at a retreat called Mo-Ranch Conference Center, near Hunt, Texas.  Located in the Hill Country on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Southeast Texas, the place is beautiful. Mo-Ranch was named for its previous owner, Daniel Moran, who owned the property from1935 until his death in 1948. In 1949, it was sold to the Presbyterian Church. Mo Ranch now encompasses 500 acres.

One of the most salient features of the property is the Manor House, which was built in 1929 by Houston Oilman, O. R. Seagraves. It still contains the distinctive Monterey furniture purchased by Seagraves and included in his sale of the property. Manor House and the adjacent Pilot House have recently been renovated, the 4-bay garage converted into a very nice meeting space, and a deck behind Manor House added in 2008 in memory of Mary Anne Moses, trustee. (http://www.moranch.com/index.php?c=21)

I had never been to Mo Ranch before, although I was supposed to go in 2006. I had paid for the trip and was going to go meet the gentleman I was to ride to Mo with, when we discovered that the apartment complex we lived at then, had towed our car.  We had slopped over the line about 3 inches. Good grief!

With some help from my friends at Trinity Presbyterian, I got to go this year. I took quite a few pictures which can bee seen on my Facebook Page here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/album.php?aid=22840&id=1061938385&ref=nf

The conference was great. We got there at about 4 pm having left at 10 am. I rode down with my friends, Daniel, and Al. We went down I-35 til we got to Austin, and then took the back roads. We used a GPS, which made the trip a lot easier. I definitely want one of those! We stopped a few times along the way, but still made pretty good time.  We registered, and got our accommodation assignments. We were in a dorm type setting, called Loma Linda. Al mentioned that the beams on the ceiling are made out of oil pipes. You have to look close to tell, as they were painted to look like wood. I have a picture in the album I mentioned before. Look close.

We went to dinner after settling in, and to get there we had to go across the catwalk that runs across one of the lower roads. I later found out that Daniel doesn’t like walking across bridges. It might have something to do with the videos he showed his class about bridge collapses, but that is just my theory. Dinner was excellent. In addition to the main menu, there are ice cream fridges located in a couple spots in the dining hall. You do not go hungry at this place!

After dinner we went to the Main Auditorium, where they had some praise singing, and then the keynote speaker, Dr. Bob Crilley.  He had never done a keynote address, but you wouldn’t know it. He did pretty well, speaking on being men of integrity.

After that, we were pretty much free til the next morning. So we went back to the dorm, and hung out. I met a  guy who does sports on radio in Dallas,Roger Emerich at KRLD and he had some stories about Bo & Jim, the guys that do the morning show I listen to at Lonestar 92.5. He had known them in New Orleans.

The next morning after breakfast, and another address by Dr. Crilley, there were some workshops to choose from, one that interested me was called “The Wired Church”. Daniel and I went, and found it to be rather interesting. Some of the ideas presented we are already doing, such as recording the sermons and having them available online, and as CD’s. Apparently, we are also looking into podcasting. The idea behind the workshop is to bring churches into the 21st century, in order to spread the Gospel. You can’t bring people to Christ, if   you can’t get them into the seats!

I went to another workshop called “Surviving through Faith.” Zoltan “Z” Zsohar presented it. He told the story of his family’s escape from Hungary during WWII. They fled the Russian Army and ended up in Austria as refugees. Eventually they were sponsored by a church in Waxahachie, Texas.  It is an amazing faith journey.

After lunch, I spent the afternoon wandering the property, taking pictures. Somehow I managed to forget that the place is on the Guadalupe River. I did not get any river pictures! Oh well, next year.  We had a barbecue at the river for our dinner, and then heard a last address by Dr. Crilley.

Sunday morning, we met at a large cross that overlooks the valley on the property for morning service, and afterwards we went to breakfast.

At breakfast, an elderly gent sat down at our table. We all wore nametags while we were there, and first names were printed larger than last names, so all I noticed was that his name was Steve, and that he was from Carrollton. I commented that I used to go to a church in Carrollton. He replied that he had been the pastor of a church in Carrollton. I realized that I had met this gentleman a few years before. When I was a member of Covenant Presbyterian, we had a 50th anniversary celebration at the church. Dr. Steve Dixon had been the pastor who had been at the church before the current Pastor. Small world.

After breakfast, we took off. We stopped at a place about 5 minutes away from the main gate of Mo Ranch, called Stonehenge II. It is a replica of Stonehenge in Salisbury, England. I have included some pictures on my Facebook page.

When I got home, after I brought in my stuff, I was taking my shoes off in the foyer, and I saw a banner on the wall in front of me that said “Happy Birthday”! There were also some balloons up there. I looked at Sue, who was standing in the living room with a grin on her face. As I looked pate her into the living room, I spotted more birthday banners, and balloons. She had banners and balloons up on the mantle, the bookcases, the TV, my computer monitor.

My Birthday is in December, and on my last one, I turned 50. I finally asked her whose birthday was she preparing for? Actually, a friend of Sue and ours had been planning a birthday party for me since last December, but one thing after another prevented getting together for it, so our friend told Sue to go ahead without her. So Sue set everything up while I was gone! She even made me a chocolate cake with “Happy BD” spelled out in M & M’s!

That was a wonderful welcome home after being gone for the weekend. I guess I will have to go away more often!

Anyway, I had a great time, but coming home is always the best!

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