The teams were in the high school all day on Friday and finished the afternoon by attending a Tree Planting Dedication that is in remembrance of those that lost their lives. On Saturday, the teams divided up and spent time at the Resiliency Center, call center, fire stations and a faculty sponsored kickball event at the local park. Later in the afternoon, all seven teams reunited at the fairgrounds and participated in a community event that included many activities for people to participate in. There was music therapy, making “stress balls”, painting rocks, creating a tile mural and, of course, seven golden retriever Comfort Dogs to meet and love on. The evening was finished with a candlelight vigil. The community sang worship songs and heard from God’s Word and then we closed with singing “Jesus Loves Me” as our candles lite up the evening.
It was an honor to be invited, and we were welcomed and thanked wherever we went. Glory be to God!
Carol Lisk, handler and caregiver for Joy Comfort Dog, shares thoughts on what it means to serve the Santa Fe community:
“One year following the tragic events at Santa Fe High School, I stand in the library for a moment of silence to remember those whose lives were lost on that tragic day. I am filled with an overwhelming mixture of emotions. My eyes fill with tears of sadness, but also in joy. Sadness for innocence lost, lives taken senselessly, fear and pain for those who continue to mourn and struggle. Joy, and a strong sense of peace and hope, for the love exhibited by and for the community, the kindness of total strangers, the resiliency of the students and faculty, and the understanding that we all rise by lifting others.
One year ago, in my own small circle of the on-going nightmare, our church (Gloria Dei Lutheran Church) sent pastoral staff to hospitals, worked with families affected, attended a prayer vigil that evening, and made a phone call that brought some much-needed help to a hurting community. They called for a legion of golden angels, also known as Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs. They came within hours, from across Texas initially, and then from across the country. They came with dogs and handlers who stopped their lives to be there. They came with stuffed dogs, ministry cards with dogs’ pictures, “dog tags”, and most importantly with the ability to share unconditional love, a sense of calmness in the storm, a listening ear, and the love of Jesus to share through these beautiful creatures of God and their amazing handlers.
On that fateful day, I never imagined that one year later I would be standing in the school as a handler of a Comfort Dog. Alongside their teams, Comfort Dogs Joy and Gabriel have spent many hours over the past 12 months at Santa Fe High School. We go because we care. We go because we love. We go to share the Mercy, Compassion, Presence and Proclamation of Jesus Christ. We go because we have seen the strong bond the students, faculty, counselors, and parents have formed with these loving dogs. Time after time, tears are shed, hugs are given, prayers are lifted and hopefully one more person is one step closer to healing. The entire LCC community has supported Santa Fe throughout this journey. When Joy and Gabriel were voted honorary homecoming queen and king, and Joy was unable to attend, Damaris Comfort Dog and her team stepped right in to act as Joy’s substitute. Seven Comfort Dogs have returned for the anniversary of that fateful day, to show their ongoing love and support for the Santa Fe community.
While there are too many personal and private interactions to recount, they have been seen and felt by those involved, and are forever held close by those of us who have experienced them firsthand. We treasure the Santa Fe community, we lift them up in ongoing prayer, and every one of us feel honored to be a small part of the healing of that community.”
Please join LCC in continuing to lift up our LCC K-9 Ministry teams in Texas as they serve those still hurting and healing in Santa Fe.