HomeFeaturesFootprints on One’s Heart in God’s Country by Erin O’Sullivan Special to Advanced Angler Blessing a Meal at an Outdoor Friends Forever Hunt In 2012 my brother took a trip to do media for a friend of his that started the foundation Outdoor Friends Forever. Trips are a normal thing for him, but this trip was anything but. He came home and shared stories and photos and I instantly knew I wanted to participate in the next go around. So when the next family deer hunt was scheduled and fast approaching I requested that my birthday present from him be that I accompany him to God’s country and help out wherever they would have me. Dreams come true! He called me one day and told me to pack my bags and get ready to head to Alabama. I hadn’t the slightest idea about what I was about to get into… Fast forward to today… I am completely comfortable with being a mess, I think life would be boring otherwise. Twice in the past two months I have boarded an airplane to return to California and promptly begun crying. The first time I am quite certain it made the gentlemen next to me relatively uncomfortable; the second time I kept it together a little better. I cried because I was leaving a place that and people who quickly stole my heart. Mostly, I cried because of joy. Joy in my soul knowing that I had just participated in something beautiful and meaningful. Monster Truck I am a firm believer that human beings, at the very least, are entitled to being treated with dignity and respect because they bear the image of God. In the time I was at the family deer hunts I saw this dynamic in full effect. Whether it was organizing a hunt for Sasquatch in “Seattle” for a little guy, or bringing in a monster truck to tote around another precious buddy while the rest of the hunters were sighting in their rifles so he wouldn’t be left out or bored. Or cooking special meals for hunters and their families who have dietary restrictions, or ensuring that each hunter has every thing they could possibly need (and probably some extras) while they are hunting; those who run and volunteer at the camp ensure that the kids and their families are comfortable and their unique needs are addressed and met. I would comfortably venture to say that none of the kids had to spend their time there feeling uncomfortable or spend a moment worrying about any kind of limitation. There is something precious and poignant about being witness to the profound effect that being seen, known, and delighted in has on an individual’s soul and spirit. There were many times during my two visits to Alabama and Outdoor Friends Forever events where I was blessed to observe and participate in these types of interactions. These are the kinds of things that change people. It teaches one about grace, it is evidence of grace. It provides a respite from the harried pace and stressors of life on this earth that so easily consume. Outdoor friends Forever Hunter Carson and Erin O’Sullivan What Outdoor Friends Forever does is God’s hand at work, it is His Kingdom made evident on earth. It is connection and community outside of the hunts and fishing days; a genuine care in the ups and downs of day to day life across geography that separates. It is exactly what the name says. I will henceforth mark my calendar by the hunts that happen at the end of the year. What is done there is bigger than the activities, it is planting seeds of encouragement in the hearts of the kids and families that attend. It is growing and edifying those who help. I honestly am not sure who is more affected by their time there… I have been ruined (in the best possible way) by Alabama and my new friends at Outdoor Friends Forever. I’m just saying, y’all need to get on a plane and go. Take in God’s country, get a little mud on your boots, meet the wonderful people, eat the delicious food, get a new nickname or three, be an extension of grace and help with one of the OFF events. visit Outdoor Friends Forever on the web at http://www.outdoorfriendsforever.org The Holman Farm – Site of the Outdoor Friends Forever Hunts You will not be sorry. No one ever suffered by being a blessing someone else! You will return from whence you came a changed person because you took part in something profound. These are the kinds of things that leave footprints on a person’s heart and life.