Category: Memories

Posts that share the experiences of those who have made WBH their home.

Friends at Encounter

Encounters of the Lubbock kind

On the campus of Lubbock Christian University, over a thousand teens from hundreds from West Texas Churches of Christ gathered for a youth experience.  Encounter LE is a three-day event in November filled with Christian entertainment, times of worship, in-depth Bible classes and Christian fellowship.  This year three of our young men—Zayne, Mark and Sam—were able to attend this awesome youth event.

Starting on Friday night, our young men got a taste of college life, interacted with some of the students of LCU, took a tour of campus, and ate at the cafeteria.  They were treated to a wonderful Illusionist and a great time of worship.  Saturday was a day filled with in depth classes that covered subjects ranging from dealing with emotions to the wonders of God’s creations through science.

Throughout the weekend some of the best experiences happened during our interactions with the other kids.  Hot chocolate and S’mores set the stage for some conversations about life, God, and sports.  Friendships were rekindled with those who our boys see at summer camps as well as new people, all gathered to praise God together.  The boys were worn out on the way home, which we understand to mean that they had a wonderful time.

Westview court side at the Thunder game

You can hear the thunder out here

In southwestern Oklahoma the sight of a thunderstorm swelling and rolling in–accompanied by the low rumble of thunder–is often a welcome sight. The transformation of the Oklahoma City Thunder from expansion team to championship contender has been equally dramatic. A special friend has empowered our young men to witness this drama by giving them Thunder tickets every year since 2011.

Young men from Westview ready for the gameThis year our young men got up early on Sunday morning to drive to Yukon, Oklahoma, where they worshiped with their friends at the South Yukon Church of Christ. After worship, this congregation–long time supporters of the work at Westview–fed our young men lunch and sent them on their way.

Our special friend had made arrangements for the guys to sit court side while the Thunder warmed up for their game with the Charlotte Hornets. As the game got ready to start, they moved up to their seats to cheer the Thunder on.

Once again Russell Westbrook managed to pull off a triple double, but, unfortunately, the Thunder lost this game. After the game the guys and their caregivers stopped for a little supper and then made their way safely home.

We celebrate the goodness and generosity of our friends at Westview and we thank you all for your loving care for our young men.

50 years ago at Westview …

The second director to lead the work at Westview Boys’ Home was John Cannon, Sr. His son, Dr. John Cannon, Jr., has fond memories of the time that his family spent at Westview with the boys in the 1960’s. Here are some of his recollections of those days.

Our family moved to Hollis, Oklahoma in the summer of 1960. Dad, John H. Cannon (1923-2000), was the new “superintendent” for Westview Boys’ Home. I was in the 7th grade and ready for adventure!

When I look back fifty years ago my memories of Westview are still alive in my mind.

John H. Cannon, Sr.
John H. Cannon, Sr.

I remember:

  • Diablo was a beautiful palomino horse, and he was named appropriately – Devil! I never got on him that he didn’t bite me, kick me, or throw me.
  • Excellent meals cooked by Mrs. Landreth. We always had leftovers on Sunday night. One little boy thanked God for the hands that “repaired” the food.
  • Licking and pasting thousands of books of Gunn Brothers stamps to buy Westview’s first big bus.
  • Digging a swimming pool by hand and finally jumping into it on a hot summer day when it was completed.
  • Road trips on the Westview bus on Sundays to nearby congregations for special occasions.
  • Old fashioned “rabbit drives” on neighboring sections of land when the rabbit population exploded in Western Oklahoma.
  • Living on campus for several months in the old dormitory with all the other boys.

Most of all I remember how dad loved the boys at Westview. He treated them just like he treated his own three. He taught them. He counseled them. He disciplined them. His heart ached for them, and he tried to do what he could to improve their lives.

Westview was young fifty years ago and I was, too. It was a growing period of life for both of us. Dad is gone now. I am much older, but I remember recalling his days at Westview in his closing years. He was always thankful for the time the Cannon family spent at Westview Boys’ Home.

I will never forget those days.

Dr. John H. Cannon, Jr.
Minister
Walnut Church of Christ
Texarkana, Texas

Forty-four years for the boys

In 2011, Burl and his wife of 53 years, Y’Vonne, are celebrating forty-four years of service to the young men at Westview Boys’ Home. Their service has been so outstanding that, in 2007, Oklahoma Children’s Agencies and Residential Enterprises (OKCare) awarded the Butlers the George Parlier Award for their outstanding service to needy children in the state of Oklahoma. Yet that is only a small part of their amazing life in child care.

In 1967, Burl and Y’Vonne Butler came to Hollis, Oklahoma to visit friends who were working as house parents at Westview Boys’ Home. While there, a little boy name Rodney reached up, grabbed Burl’s finger, and said, “You need to come with me.” Together they took out the trash and went for a walk. As a result of this visit, Burl left a good job and a mounting pension at General Motors in Arlington to move to Hollis and become a part of the work at Westview. Burl and Y’Vonne felt compelled to serve children for a number of reasons. Burl’s father had died when he was just seven years old; as a consequence, he did not believe that any young man should have to do what he did: walk without male guidance through the struggles of childhood. He and Y’Vonne believed that God had called them to raise their own children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Surely, they thought, there was enough room at their table for other children, too. Belief provoked them to action.

The Butlers began their tenure at Westview as house parents. For over ten years they lived at Sweetwater House. There they mentored needy boys who found security and shelter under their roof and plenty of mouthwatering food at their table. Providing persistent love and consistent boundaries, the Butlers helped countless boys discover their true character and worth. At a time when social justice had yet to gain its current popularity, the Butlers welcomed equally young men of differing races and ethnicities. All of God’s children found hospitality in their home. And grace wasn’t just something said before meals in this home; it was something to be experienced. Grace always allowed for the possibility of another “second chance.” The Butlers equipped those unique young men with the life skills that they needed to build uniquely successful lives. As boy after boy graduated, they helped launch these young men into their roles as productive citizens and godly family men: ministers, contractors, lawyers, doctors, and even house parents at Westview.

After their years of service as house parents, Burl and Y’Vonne found other ways to minister to children. Y’Vonne worked for years serving our boys as an employee of the Hollis Public School District. She helped many a young man keep his school obligations in order. Burl moved on to serve Westview as Farm Manager and Ranch Manager. In these roles, he continued to work with boys regularly, teaching them good work habits, modeling stewardship of the land, and helping them discover responsibility in caring for another life: that of a pig or a calf in Westview’s animal programs.

As more years passed, the Home needed Burl’s service in the role of the Director of Facilities Management. Here, Burl was responsible for maintenance of all campus facilities and management of the campus food supply. Burl made personally certain that the boys at Westview had the plenty of the best food that he could find, either donated by caring individuals or carefully purchased at the lowest cost possible. The quality of the herd which he had helped develop became a source of the finest beef put on any table in Oklahoma.

Burl Butler now serves as the Director of Church Relations for Westview Boys’ Home. He travels with Y’Vonne to make regular presentations about the work of the Home to the churches which help support it. They drive thousands of miles every year to visit donors and potential donors who might be able to strengthen Westview’s work with children in need. When they come back, the two of them seldom stay at their modest home in Hollis very long; they are off to visit the homes of their three children: Burl Ray, Kim, and Rhett. Or they might be gone to watch the ball games or track meets of the grandchildren who make them so fiercely proud. Even as they travel, their prayers hover over their children and grandchildren.

Burl and Y’Vonne have always been collectors. But the most valued collection they have gathered through these years of serving children is a heart full of stories about those children: chronicles sad enough to make your heart break, stories scary enough to make your heart race, tales tall enough to tickle your heart strings, accounts of the power of love strong enough to brace a heart for a lifetime of this work.