Through a series of articles, we show the journey of how we came to Heart Ridge.
We Bought a Zoo
Many people will look back on this Covid-19 crisis with mixed emotions. Some will have feelings of sadness, anxiety, and frustration. But I bet most of you will also have some memories of joy, happiness, even peace. I'm amazed every time I look on Facebook and see what some of our family friends are doing.
We, similarly, are experiencing these emotions. Although we don't know anyone personally who has died from the virus, we do know some who have battled through it, and we have had to separate ourselves from many family members as we are trying to safely live in a quarantine of sorts.
However, unlike many of you--we bought a zoo the day our state issued a social distance mandate. Ok, it isn't really a zoo, but at times, it certainly feels like it. Every evening we fall asleep to a chorus of loud nature sounds. In the morning we awake to the morning crowd, often including flocks of honking geese. We've seen our share of a variety of creatures, each one unique and beautiful.
So no, we didn't buy a zoo, but what we really bought was an old camp/reform school/Baptist church/foster home in Blue Ridge mountains in South Carolina in hopes of transforming it into a retreat and cultural center.
When I say it was all of those things--I mean it really was. The latest occupants that we purchased it from were a combination of foster/rehab group homes. They had some money problems and had to bail. They started many projects on the property, but mostly left it unfinished. Both organizations left us with a lot of their stuff that they had moved here from their former group homes. Plus, there was a lot of stuff left over from the other folks who had lived here before (like a reform school, girl's camp, Baptist church). That being said, we are sorting through lots of stuff! Here are some examples:
I can't begin to tell you what all we've found. Add to this list over 1000 brand new work gloves, army fatigues, cowboy boots, flower arrangements, and schoolbooks. Oh I could go on. . .
The only reason I mention this was that there was also a collection of DVDs that we found here. And in that collection was the movie, you guessed it, "We Bought a Zoo."
And that's exactly how we feel! We're overwhelmed, stretched, and wondering if we've made a crazy mistake! The movie had a happy ending with the family at peace with one another and the zoo bringing joy to community.
That's our hope, too.
I'm beginning to share here "Glimpses into Heart Ridge" which will take you on mini-tours of the Retreat and Cultural Center and share with you some of our plans.
Keith and Tami Kiser
On the journey of building a retreat center and more.