Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

A Big Burning

Hi Friends,

As you may have heard, our shed for our equine therapy ministry to gang-impacted, foster, homeless, and other struggling kids at Wonder Wood Ranch somehow caught fire and burned down with most of our supplies in it.

We are trying to replace some of the most vital items through an Amazon wish list. HERE is the link. 

We are also hoping for some donations to help replace the shed, which can be made via PayPal, using the email address marlo@wonderwoodranch.com, or via cash or check (mail to: 8100 Wild Horse Rd, Salinas, CA 93907. Every little bit counts!

Meanwhile, here's a fun story about Horses on the Trail that will give you a little glimpse of the wonder of Ranch (and give some food for thought too) ...

Watch Out for Poison Oak!

Marlo Schalesky

            I put my hands on my hips and looked out at the sea of grinning-kid faces sitting on the stacks of hay before me. Nearly thirty big, wide smiles met my gaze. I grinned back. A few van-loads of kids had come from the local low-income apartments to spend the afternoon riding, grooming, and experiencing horse-life for the first time. 
            “Who’s been on a horse before?” I asked.
            Three hands raised.
            My smile grew. It was going to be an interesting day.
            My daughters brought our horses from their pens as I reviewed basic safety tips. After the horses were saddled and ready, I pointed toward the narrow trail that winds through the trees around our property. “Okay, this is the important part. When it’s your turn, stay on the trail!”
            A boy raised his hand in the back of the group. “Why?”
            “If you don’t, guess what will get you?”
            I raised my eyebrows. “Worse! Poison oak!”
            “Oooooh.” Their eyes widened.  
            A tiny girl tugged on the edge of my shirt. “What’s poison oak?”
            I squatted beside her. “It’s a plant that looks like other plants, but it’s not like other plants at all. See all those nice red and green leaves growing on either side of the path?”
            She nodded.
            “That’s poison oak. It looks pretty, but if you rub against it you’ll get a nasty red, itchy rash. It’s awful.”
            She wrinkled up her nose. “I don’t want that.”
            “Nobody wants that. That’s why we stay on the path.”
            In the hours that followed, I led a string of horses around and around the trail. Two loops around, and kids would dismount to allow the next group to ride. Each time, we talked about poison oak. Each time, the kids kept their horses on the path. Until about two hours in.
            I heard a yelp behind me. “Help! Smokey’s going off the trail!” Sure enough, the gelding had spotted a patch of green and was heading right toward it. I ran back and grabbed his bridle, just as he reach a bush of shiny, poison leaves. I hauled him back to the safe path and walked beside him until he stayed the course.
            Two rounds later, I heard another yelp. This time, Valentine headed off the path, back toward the barn. After two and a half hours, she was tired. She wanted to be done. done. We brought her back to her spot and encouraged her to keep walking. 
            Later that night as I thought back to the adventures of the day, I was reminded that we can stay out of the poisonous places in life if we just let God lead us on the proper path, let him dictate the boundaries and where we ought to walk. We must stay on the path God has for us. Otherwise, poison thoughts, poison actions, poison problems will rub up against us to make ugly, itchy rashes on our relationships, our work, and our witness. 
            Sometimes there are green and red, shiny leaves tempting us off the path. They look pretty. We want to take a closer look. But they’re poison.
            Sometimes, like Smokey, we get hungry for things that are not for us and we veer off course. When that happens, it’s good to have God and wise friends to bring us back to the trail. And it’s good to allow them to walk beside us to help us stay the course.
            Sometimes, like Valentine, we just get tired and want to take a shortcut back to the barn. We want to be done. In those times, God says to us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV) 
            As I sat, soaking my feet that night, I thought about the joy we find when we trust God to lead us where we need to go. The path may be long, we may get tired and hungry, discouraged and disappointed. But God knows there’s poison off the path. He says to us, “...ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV)
            Rest, not rashes. And maybe a good, epson salt soak for feet sore from the journey. That sounds good to me!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Mission Trip to Refugee Kids in Uganda

Friends & Family,

Do you have a special place in your heart for orphans, widows, and refugees? An amazing opportunity has come my way, and I’m hoping you’ll be a part of it. This summer I have been invited to join a short-term missions team from Salinas Valley Community Church going to the South Sudanese refugee camps in northern Uganda. Because of South Sudan’s violent civil war, thousands of people have fled and are now living in numerous camps just inside Uganda. These people, most of whom are widows and children (including many, many orphans), have lost everything they valued – their homes, family and friends, and their country. Our presence with them is a source of encouragement and hope as we partner with local missionaries who are daily helping those who have been exiled and are living in these camps scattered over the northern part of Uganda.

Why me?As you know, I’m passionate about bringing hope and wonder to the kids who need it most – who have suffered trauma, been displaced, have lost family and feel alone. This opportunity will allow me to do that in a unique way to refugee kids in Africa. How awesome is that?!?!

How will it happen?I will be part of the small team (3 of us from the larger team) who will be setting up children’s programs in the camps. These programs will be run while we’re there, but are also devised to continue to long after the team is gone. Currently, there’s very little specifically for kids in the camps. Our help in getting the programs started will allow the local missionaries to continue bringing hope and care to kids throughout the year and beyond.

When is it happening?We’ll be leaving the U.S. on Sunday, June 30 and returning two weeks later. We fly to Amsterdam, then to Entebbe in southern Uganda, then take a small plane to the camps in northern Uganda. Then we’ll be travelling from camp to camp by car. 

How Can You Help?Please pray for our trip! And if you’re able, consider supporting me financially. I need to raise approximately $4,500 before June to make this trip happen. Donations are tax deductible. Here’s how you can donate: 

1) Write a checkto SVCC and put “Marlo Schalesky – Uganda” in the memo. Send the check to the church at 368 San Juan Grade Rd., Salinas, CA 93906, or send it to me at 8100 Wild Horse Rd., Salinas, CA 93907. 
2) Donate onlineor via textat http://www.svcc.net/give(again choose my name from the online giving drop down menu, or include it in the text if giving by text).
3) Use PayPal’s“send money to friends/family” feature using marlo@marloschalesky.com(no tax deduction) or marlo@wonderwoodranch.com(for a tax deduction).  Note that it’s for Uganda.

Thank you for considering partnering with me on this adventure to Africa! Just email me at marlo@marloschalesky.comif you have any questions or want to find out more.

Reaching for Wonder … in Uganda!
Marlo Schalesky