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An update to the Staurolite foundation

24 Apr 2017

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are a few that will hopefully illustrate the work of the Staurolite foundation the last half of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. We covet your prayers as we

Real Mission work

10 Feb 2017

Yesterday we were privileged to go out with our friends and participate in training local “baby” Chris!$t!@ns in how to share the word. When we completed the training we shared a meal and then after a time of talking with

And we are off..

04 Feb 2017

Well today is the day. We head out this morning to begin the journey of almost 28 hours to India. If we could find a tv, and then if we could get the game, we could watch the Super Bowl

Nothing is as Good as it seems & Nothing is as bad as it seems

29 Jan 2017

Let me start with an apology of sorts, maybe an excuse or an explanation… I have been neglectful in meeting my own self imposed standards of posting to this page. And, while I am at, don’t expect it to get

Outdoor activities

01 Dec 2016

We are hip deep in elk hunts for wounded military service men in New Mexico while the staff of the New Hope school in Kolkata is also engaged in outdoor activities.

There is something about being out of doors that

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a few of some veterans. Thanks to them for their service so we can all enjoy the benefits of living in the USA.

hunters in dining hall wborder

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Wounded Soldier Elk Hunt

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2014-10-18 12.48.48

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MTS 1014 Warriors in GSR 2

The October elk hunt for wounded veteran service men and women is in the past, but the memories linger. I am often asked, “Was the hunt successful?” I usually respond with yes, no elk harvested, but the experience was successful. When hunters or fisherman are asked if they caught anything and respond with no, the response is usually, “That is why they call it hunting not shooting, or fishing not catching.”

In North American culture we usually equate success with accomplishment rather than with experience – unfortunately. My wife and I were fortunate to have lunch with Roland and Jose this past week. Jose is a recreational therapist from the Veterans Administration. Roland was one of the wounded veterans on the last hunt. Jose was interested to hear from us about the hunts and our purposes. We were interested in seeing Roland again and some follow up to the hunt. We usually do not get the opportunity to see our hunters a week or so after the hunt, when the mountain top experience has not worn off. And I assure you, it has not worn off of Roland.

I remember his reservation upon arrival at the hunting camp and contrast it with his countenance when we met at lunch last week. It is our hope that these experiences are truly life changing. By life changing I mean these true American heroes leave with a feeling of appreciation for their service and their sacrifice and they are pushed to attempt new things and new levels of physical exertion. On the subject of their sacrifice – I have had the privilege of being present on 4 of our 5 past hunts with 14 hunters and each one of them says the same thing when they are told, “Thank you for your sacrifice and service.” Each one says, “It was my job and I would do it again.” How amazing! If you aspire to be a Servant Leader, here is your living example. These men have truly sacrificed for you and I – that is a servant.

As we were leaving the camp area in October of 2013, I was riding with Johnny. Johnny was wounded in Iraq and is a lower leg amputee. Johnny looked at me and said, “I thought I was going on a hunting trip, I did not realize it would be therapy.” I replied with, “It is our hope that you will have some spiritual therapy here in the mountains, some emotional recovery, feel appreciated for your sacrifice, and reconnect with God.” Johnny replied, “That is not what I meant. That little hike you took me on the first day was tough. After that, I can do anything.” What to me was a fairly slight grade, although at 10,000 plus feet elevation and a bit of a chill – below 15 degrees, it was a fairly easy hike. But for him it was a test of will and endurance. And it has been my experience with these guys, they never say quit, it is too much, nothing of the negative, just march on. What if the rest of us spoiled Americans could look at the minor difficulties in our own lives with such fortitude?

Jose made a comment during lunch last week that Roland is a true American hero. Jose went on to say that we have many monuments to men and women who served, but they are all past. Men like Roland, true American heroes, are here with us and we have the opportunity to honor them as the heroes they are.

We live in a culture where we idolize athletes and celebrities, many who have done nothing other than entertain us. We need to recognize the folks that sacrifice for our daily lives, folks who serve in the armed forces, serve as police, firefighters, teachers, all who truly serve as there is no way a thinking person with their own self-interest in mind could enter one of those professions for the money.

So, thanks to Roland, Will, Alex, Colton, PJ, Armen, Johnny, Jonathon, Ed, Jason, James, Travis, Todd, and Jarvis, all men and women who were wounded in service to our country. And thanks to men like Cone and John who served a full career in military service and now serve these men who sacrificed so much.

In His service,

mike

Michael T. Smith

the Staurolite foundation

2014-10-19 16.10.09

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2014-10-19 10.52.43

Please forgive the delay in posting info and pictures about the first hunt of 2014. I have many excuses if you are interested, the reasons however include poor internet and no time to post. Below was written after arrival – there will be more to follow.

The hunters, all wounded in service to their country, began to arrive on Thursday Oct.16  around 5:30 pm. Will, retired Navy injured in an accident while loading ordinance about the USS Nimitz and Alex, an airborne ranger injured while sent by his Commanding Officer to retrieve a member of his group, arrived first. Colton, served in the air force and was injured during routine surgery by medical error arrived about 6:30 pm. Roland, was as he put it “shot up” 3 days before the Blackhawk down incident in Mogadishu, arrived about 8:30 pm.

These men are hosted on this hunt by a variety of men and women – many of whom took time off from their work to come and serve these true American heroes.

Friday morning, after sleeping in to allow for some recovery from travel and a late breakfast, all went to some local folks ranch to check their rifles. After the rifle check, there was time for a brief ride around in the areas to be hunted. Friday evening is party time. It was estimated that more than 65 people came to dinner to provide an evening of appreciation for these men who have literally sacrificed a big piece of their life and limbs. By way of reminder, there were no wounded warrior programs when Roland came home from Mogadishu. As John put it, when 65 citizens of the Moreno Valley in New Mexico gave these true American heroes a standing ovation there was not a dry eye in the room. In fact, mine are not dry just remembering.

These men truly sacrificed for their country. In the picture above of the 4 hunters there is one working leg. Gifts for the veterans were provided by New Mexico Propane of Taos, a division of Amerigas, and Urban Interface Solutions of Taos – a company who clears trees around homes in the forest and generally works to keep the local area forests healthy. The New Mexico Girl scout council allowed for the use of their dining hall for the dinner and for “camping” for the hunters.

After two days of good solid hunting there were no elk harvested, but I will say that a grand time with many new adventures and experiences was had by all – and by all I mean the veterans and their hosts. These events are not possible with a lot of volunteer help. We have 7 men serving 4 veterans and 4 ladies who are serving full time cooking, cleaning, and providing for any need of anyone involved.I assure you without the people like Alan, Rick, Terry, Rick, John, Michael, Pam, Cheryl, Bobbi Jean and Patty this would not have been possible.

Will had an up close and personal experience with a bull elk on Sunday morning. He and Alan, his host, were surprised when a bull came within 25 yards of them. No noise, no calls, no brush cracking, a nice 5X5 “just appeared” according to Will and Alan. But, before Will could get ready the elk “ walked out of his life forever” according to Will.

Colton, with Michael and Rick his hosts, had several bulls bugling, screaming, grunting, and generally interested in the cow elk that was making sounds near them. And by cow elk, I mean the calling done by Michael and Colton. The buglers hung up in the trees and never appeared, but “ it was quite exciting to hear them scream and come closer, “ according to Colton.

The hunt continued in the rain Sunday evening and Monday. Stay tuned and thank you for your prayers. I can honestly say, this our 3rd year and 5th hunt has been the most exciting this early in the hunt and the camaraderie and relationships have melded together faster than ever.

mike

2014-10-18 12.48.48

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It has been said a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few.

Hunters and Guides

We just completed the final elk hunt of 2013 with wounded veterans. We had 2 combat wounded veterans and 1 who will soon be medically retired on an elk hunt in northern New Mexico near the Colorado border. We were Blessed to have donated tags and access on private ranches for the hunt. The weather was grand, a bit brisk near about 15 below zero on Saturday morning up to about 15 degrees above on Wednesday morning. There was quite a bit of snow, although the sun was out and shining every day. We stayed in rental cabins next to a frozen creek, were hosted and guided by some great folks with true giving spirits; a grand time was had by all.

This was the second year and third elk hunt for the Mountain Top Safaris project that I have participated in and the 4th hunt overall that the Staurolite Foundation has sponsored. The elk cooperated, largely due to the quality of guides. In case you were wondering, I was not a guide. We had 4 veteran service men that live in the area of Costilla, NM who guided, donated time, allowed access on their own property, donated tags, and generally helped make this hunt a success. We had a great family in the area who donated elk tags and hosted all of us for a meal every evening. We had donors who provided jackets, t-shirts, caps, groceries, and time to gather all these things and deliver them to the area. The hunt was a great success by all standards. And the elk cooperated. Our hunters took home a nice bull elk and one cow elk.

The purpose of these hunts is to show appreciation for the sacrifice and service of these wounded veterans and to allow them time in the beautiful mountains of northern New Mexico. Hopefully, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is honored and all of us who participate in some form or fashion have the opportunity to grow closer to him as well. It seems to me that all goals were met.

Our hunters, names purposefully not included out of respect for these men, included one young man who was wounded working as a nuclear electrician on the aircraft carrier Nimitz when the main electrical panel blew up in his face. After spending months recovering from the burns over 65% of his body, he began to serve other wounded service men and women as well as Gold Star families.

Another of our hunters was injured by an IED while serving in the Middle East. He had severe leg injuries and wears a brace inside his boot. If you followed him up an extremely steep mountain, with snow almost knee deep and on the north facing slope so there was ice under the snow in a lot of places, you would have a hard time believing he was severely injured. He served on foot and spent a lot of time up high in the mountains of Afghanistan. We hunted mostly in the 8000 to 9000 foot altitude area, but on the day we tracked an elk up a mountain, we were well above the 10,000 foot level. He and his unit had spent a lot of time well above 12,000 feet elevation in Afghanistan so mountain climbing and winter conditions were nothing new to him, but this time with a leg that did not work well. And never ever did I hear anything from him but, “I’m good, let’s go.”

Our third hunter on this adventure received physical injuries while serving but quietly explained the emotional issues that still haunt him are what continue to limit his activities. This young man had not hunted a lot and the hunt was an opportunity for him to have new experiences and continue his emotional recovery. His physical limitations were not apparent, although they were present.

Every one of these hunts brings home to me the true servant hearts of these men, warriors all, but truly servants. I am amazed at their lack of self-pity or even lack of self-concern. They drove 15 hours on Thursday, awoke early on Friday, actually much earlier than I wanted, raring to go. They were up early, hunted hard all day, and slept little. In a normal situation after a long drive, little sleep, and a lot of exercise in terrain and altitude that is way different from where we live, folks will begin to be a bit irritable and even short tempered, not these guys. They were always upbeat, appreciative, and just glad to be there. What a Blessing to those of us who were honored to provide support for them on this hunt.

These hunts are not possible without donations of time, energy, expertise, goods, and plain ole’ genuine care and concern; we had all those things and more in major amounts. Thanks to Nemmi, Danny, Art, Steve, Gerry & Alyssa, Rachel, Joe, New Mexico Propane, and Urban Solutions for all their support.

Special thanks to Pete and Greg and the folks with Steele Consulting and Responsive Learning for our website. Because of them, we are able to post pictures and provide updates soon after the hunt. If you have any interest in supporting these hunts, we welcome your support through prayer, in person,  or by a donation.

May your Christmas be Blessed and New Year prosperous. Please remember, you have the ability to enjoy this Christmas season and all the people, time off work, grand meals, and gifts due to the sacrifices of men like these and so many others.

God Bless you,

mike

Michael T. Smith

the Staurolite Foundation

 

 

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2013 Mountain Top Safari

It is about the Journey

It really is all about the Journey and almost nothing to do with the success or lack of success, whatever your personal definition is of success. According to Dr. Curtis Hutson, success is knowing God’s will for you and doing it.

We just finished our second Mountain Top Safari. We had 4 combat-wounded, active duty service men and veterans in for a 5 day elk hunt with a day prior to acclimatize. Suffice it to say, the elk did not cooperate. But, the hunt was great.

We were elk hunting up north of Red River, NM. We camped at just above the 10,000 foot elevation mark. The weather was pretty strong for mid – October. We had snow on Friday before going to camp on Saturday. Then we had a sleet storm on Sunday night. And by sleet storm, I mean thunder and lightning, rain, and then sleet. And on Monday night I do not know how cold it got, but my nephew’s radiator froze and it was supposedly good to 5 degrees above zero. Let me just say, it was dad gum cold. We left camp on Tuesday, no great foresight or planning on any of our part, just the Good Lord taking care of us. And that night we had 4-6 inches of snow down at the house. It appeared to snow all day on Wednesday up where we camped. The weather was challenging. The elk did not cooperate. A grand time was had by all.

Participating in this year’s hunt were 4 combat-wounded service men. These are fine men, proud and strong. The names have been left out to protect their identity and because of the high degree of respect I have for them.  One young man is a young marine wounded in combat. He had both legs amputated very high as a result of an IED blast. He was quite an inspiration to us as well as to everyone he encountered.  Despite his physical struggles, he is moving on with his life.  It was always encouraging to watch as he hopped out of his chair and into the back seat of a pickup. Once they reached the area to hunt, he hopped on the back of one of the hosts and into the back of the pickup. I did not witness the first day’s hunt, but later in the week watched him ride in the back of my pickup as we hunted for an elk. It was fairly chilly and fairly rough country, particularly to be riding in the back of a pickup with no legs to brace you or absorb the shock.  I saw nothing but a smile on his face the whole ride. Of course, some of that could have been that the best looking lumberjack in North America was helping with the guide duties…..

Another is a young soldier wounded by an RPG blast to the vehicle where he was riding as gunner. He lost one leg at the knee. You should see him flip that prosthetic around and use it as a shooting rest or just a conversation piece. The first day of the hunt we took off on a 2 mile walk to hunt for an elk. Of course, short is relative, and even slightly uphill above 10,000 foot elevation with any sort of uphill climb and a temperature of less than 20 degrees makes it difficult. He never really stopped, just kept climbing and hunting. I think the challenge of climbing up, packing his rifle and hunting gear, and just keeping moving put a smile on his face and in his heart. I know it did mine.

Another of our hunters is a helicopter pilot wounded when the Blackhawk he was flying was shot down by an RPG. He has served in a couple of branches of the military over many years. One of the other guys took him out on another hike to hunt for an elk on the first morning. Again, short hike and uphill are not the same in the mountains of northern New Mexico compared to south Texas or Georgia. Even though he was in a lot of pain and discomfort, he always put the needs of the group ahead of his own. If you think soldiers do not serve out of a true servant’s heart, you should be there to watch and listen to these guys.

Our last hunter is a young man wounded by an IED while in a humvee. He was severely injured by the blast and has limited use of one leg from the explosion. He is full of life. He went with me as we hiked and hunted for elk that first morning. Now if you know me, you know I am not long and lean, and at one point he looked at me and says, “What are you, a Kenyan? You are running circles around us.” Those of you who know me may now laugh appropriately as I do not know anyone who would describe me as being of the type of physical condition as a Kenyan. This young man appears to be physically healthy. He has his own set of physical limitations. Besides being the camp clown, he has one of the biggest servant’s hearts I have ever witnessed. If you think men who serve in these front line military units are warriors, you are right. If you do not realize they are servants, you are dead wrong.

We had several men and women who served in logistical support for the hunt and I would be remiss in not giving them a note. Greg Cliadikis provided transportation from Albuquerque to the area and then drove up and carried the guys back to the Albuquerque airport. I personally had no idea how important this would be at the end of the hunt, but we were all pretty darn worn out and his servant’s heart really made a big difference for everyone.

Rachel, the best looking lumberjack in North America, was committed to supporting this hunt since her involvement in last year’s hunt. She secured donations of food and other supplies as well helping with making camp and with guiding. Technically, we do not guide, we host. Rachel was and will be a foundation of support for these hunts. She said to me after it was over and everyone was gone, “I know we do this to minister to these folks, but I think I am ministered to more than they are.” I would say she summed it up for all of us.

Joe was another who provided a lot of support for this hunt. Joe and I came into contact when I responded to an ad he ran for elk permits. When I told Joe what the permits were for, he quickly said, let me call you back. I got a call back a few hours later and he told me to call the land owner directly. Joe is a broker of tags and makes a part of his living by reselling tags. He simply cut himself out of the deal. So while a lot of us put time and resources into this hunt, Joe truly put himself into it. He also had his company provide jackets for the hunters and t-shirts for everyone. And I think Joe helped host hunters almost every day and twice a day most days.

Cole and Brendon, what can I say. You cannot put together something like this and have any expectation of success without some young legs and young hearts. Both of these guys were more of the generation of the majority of our hunters, which is a generation younger than the rest of us. They went without sleep, some of that self-imposed, worked longer, got up early and stayed up late. They helped set up camp, cook, clean, tear down and rarely sat down. Usually one of them saw something that needed doing and had it done before the rest of us recognized it needed doing. And if they were ever given a task, you did not have to check and see if it was accomplished. It was, and better than the rest of us would have done it. One word of advice, never, ever attempt a hunt like this without a pair like these two.

We would not be able to provide these hunts without the assistance of Cone Underwood and John Branum. Both of these men are retired military and have ongoing contacts with wounded warriors in transition in their respective areas. They provide escorts for the hunters to New Mexico as well as helping out with camp cooking duties and general support all during the hunt. Their experience in the military and relationships with the military are invaluable as is their presence on the hunt. We truly would not be able to put these hunts on without them. Alan Chapman –  Alan dreamed this deal up with me as we were on the side of a mountain horseback hunting for mule deer about three years ago. He has been instrumental in planning and providing for the hunts.

Our original purpose in putting these types of hunts together was to show some appreciation to these who have sacrificed so much for all of us. We hope to show appreciation and here in the mountains, let them reconnect with the Good Lord, Jesus. One of the men made the comment as he was leaving, I thought I was going on an elk hunt, I did not realize it would be a life-changing experience. It is our hope that this was a life-changing experience for them. I know it was for me and everyone else who participated in support.

These soldiers, true wounded warriors, are men who are true American Heroes. It was those of us who provided logistical support to them this past week who may have received the most Blessing. We were disappointed in the lack of elk harvest. But each of these men made it very clear that this was the trip of a lifetime.

These young men have all overcome some major challenges in their lives. As Christians, we know that the purpose of life on this earth is to prepare us, to mold us, to make us into the people that the Good Lord has planned for us to be. As it says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For, I know the plans I have for you,”says the Lord.” They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

We often wonder how the current difficulty that we are going through is in agreement with the above statement, “… plans for good and not for disaster.” I watched these young men camp above 10,000 feet elevation. They pushed their own wheel chair.  They struggled with dragging a prosthetic over snow and deep grass. They were physically exhausted from the strain of walking and moving on legs with no feeling. They had pain and discomfort from metal rods in their back to the point they could not stand. Yet, they never once complained. They simply smiled, laughed, and enjoined the journey.

And, as the week wore on, they seemed to get more life in them. They had more energy. They had more vitality. There is no question that they all have physical obstacles to overcome. There is also no doubt that they have embraced the message from Jeremiah that in spite of this difficulty that was not caused by God, they know they have a future and a hope.

Let me challenge you to enjoy the struggle. I know often in my life I did not enjoy the struggle enough. We are not all called to be warriors. Some are called to be administrators. Some are called to be logistical support to ministry and mission. Some are called to be leaders. Whatever your calling may be, let me encourage you to enjoy the struggle. It is not about reaching the prize. It is not about harvesting an elk. It is about the hunt.

I write this after the warriors have left. The house is quiet and frankly empty. I cannot describe the feeling you have when you walk into the house and there is a pair of leg braces under the bar. Or when you walk into a bathroom to check for supplies and a pair of crutches has been left by the toilet. Or when you walk into a big wall tent and there is a pair of prosthetics leaned up against the corner of the tent wearing pants. I still think they were placed by my bed to try and get to me. I told the camp clown, who I expect put them there, to move them; they were making the tent leak…

And just in case I did not clearly communicate how much I appreciate these men and their sacrifice, let me say Thank you. Be purposeful in choosing to enjoy the journey,

mike

Leadership on Purpose

 

Jeremiah 29:11 “For, I know the plans I have for you,”says the Lord.” They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Proverbs 18:24 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. NLT

 

Cowboy Logic: Never get off until it quits bucking

wounded-soldier-elk-huntEndorsed by:

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New Mexico Game & Fish

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