Dreamers and Seekers

The last traveler comes home

June 2nd, 2009

Ahoy. I’m back. After a long and eventful train ride after a short and wonderful wedding and after a fun and kickin’ reception, full of dancing, cake, chicken, and friends. And evidently after incomplete sentences. Sorry, this is what blogging does to you. Or perhaps it was the four hours of sleep on the swaying train from Pittsburgh to Elkhart. I had thought I would want to debrief about this in a long and verbose fashion, but I find that words escape me at the moment. As Sarah wrote in her post, I have been very impressed by the hospitality shown to us throughout this trip and it makes me want to share what I have with others all the more. Oh! Also, since today was the day of decision, I will tell you all that I decided not to go to Kazakhstan. So, my future remains undetermined, at least as far as next year goes. I am open to just about anything, but I am actively seeking employment near home (Michigan!) and near school (PA!). If you want to keep up on the exciting details of my life, feel free to check out my infrequently updated blog on Xanga.com, the once fashionable, now surpassed by blogspot blogging sphere: http://www.xanga.com/woodluck . Thanks for reading, folks. It’s been fun.

Love,
Ali

I concur!

June 1st, 2009

We agreed we’d write concluding reflections, but I don’t have much to add to Sarah’s comments. Only that if you like reading blogs, I’ll be starting one in July when I move to Bogota, Colombia to start my job as a high school science teacher: www.secondbaptistsuffield.org under the missions tab on the left. The road trip was fun, and I like Ali and Sarah. That’s all :)

this is the end, friend, beautiful or not

May 31st, 2009

Yesterday morning was somewhat anticlimactic. We woke up, readied ourselves, said goodbye to Katie and Ryan, and then set off on our way. Robyn and I dropped Ali off at Bonnie Cooper’s house in Sutton, MA so that she could prepare for their (Bonnie & her now husband David) wedding. Goodbyes were casual and quick. I think we were all ready to get home, though Ali won’t reach Michigan until tomorrow. The ride to Connecticut (where Robyn and I both live) was short and uneventful.

This is the end of our road trip, but the beginning of the rest of our lives?

This was a delightful transition after graduation, but I’m ready for something new. On our trip I met a lot of new people and saw a lot of new places. We relied on each other and ourselves while on the road. The experience was both humbling (because we were dependent on others for lodging and food) and liberating (because we were independent and decisive). The hospitality of so many friends and strangers encourages me to open my home and resources to others that I don’t know. I’ve also realized that one of the reasons why I’m not sure what my next “move” in life will be is because I suddenly have many options. At this point, I can choose to do any number of things. This may be intimidating, but I’m excited by the possibilities. Grad school? Travel? Settling somewhere near home? I’m not sure, but I’ve seen that it’s a big world.

Thanks everyone who has followed our travels!

- Sarah

Trottin’ off to Boston

May 29th, 2009

Hello! Before today’s report, a few housekeeping items. First, thank you to all our faithful readers. Second, we’ve been late in posting pictures, so here are the latest additions from some of our adventures last week: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2062526&id=55303286&l=e4ac23bf60
So, what did we do today? Well, this morning I went for a great run around a lake in Cambridge. I think Sarah and Ali read while I was gone. Then we went to Sutton, MA for a wonderful lunch at Bonnie Cooper’s house. Ali is going to Bonnie’s wedding tomorrow, and her mom invited out-of-town guests for lunch. Sarah and I were happy she invited us to tag along because we got to see a lot of Messiah people also going to the wedding. It was fun to see familiar faces. When we returned for the evening, Ryan, one of our hosts, gave us a tour of Harvard, where he is a studying for a masters of public policy at the Kennedy School. Then his wife, Katie, met us for dinner at Harvard Square. They treated us to dinner at a pub, and now we’re back at their apartment playing games with some of their friends.
We’ve enjoyed our stay in Boston. It’s been nice to take it easy and to get to know Katie and Ryan. We’ve been sharing Messiah memories and picking their brains about what to expect from life after Messiah. Tomorrow is our last day, and it will be bittersweet to leave Sarah and Ali. They’ve been great travel buddies, putting up with me. We’ve had some good conversations, and for every moment we’ve all been annoyed with each other, we’ve had many more times when we were so glad to be together and seeing cool stuff. God is really good, keeping us safe on the road and challenging us to experience Him in new ways as we meet new people and see new sights.
-Robyn

Addendum by Ali: the latest link to pics! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2062540&id=55303286&l=c63f410d1e

The End of All Things… or the beginning of everything?

May 29th, 2009

Well, folks, this is it. Almost. We have arrived in our final destination – Boston, and today is our final full day together. I must confess that the end has rather taken me by surprise. As I lay in bed this morning (or perhaps, lay in futon, would be more accurate) I realized that I needed to gather many of my belongings from various and sundry locations in the car. Well, there shall be a time for that. Today we are going to drive to Worchester (pronounced “wuhster” in the good ole English tradition of skipping the sounds in the middle and rushing right to the end of words longer than 7 letters) to eat lunch at Bonnie’s house. Tomorrow Bonnie and David are getting married and the Coopers are graciously opening their house today not only to the bridal party, but also to out-of-town guests for what I’m sure will prove to be delicious homemade pizza. I’d better stop describing our plans for today or else Robyn won’t have anything to talk about when she posts next! Now, a synopsis of yesterday and an addendum from the day before:

Sarah forgot to mention in her post about Wednesday that after the interview we stopped in Rochester for lunch with my friend Jeni Adams. We enjoyed the sumptuous fair that Memorial Day leftovers has to offer including hotdogs, German potato salad, coleslaw, 12-hour baked beans, and homemade brownies. After that we continued our long trek to Boston, which Sarah already described.

Yesterday morning we awoke at various times in the 9 o’clock hour and left the Keith’s at 10 to meet Sarah’s friend Jerica whom she knows from high school. We spent the morning lounging on her furniture, every now and then peeking blearily out at the cold, rainy Boston weather that Sarah claims is the result of her presence. After a delicious lunch of penne pasta we left for our third and final interview at Gordon College with scholar-in-residence Stan Gaede. We arrived at Gordon just in time and spoke with this former president of Westmont College and current President of the Christian College Consortium about life experiences and remaining open to God’s gifts as he gives them and takes them away from us. Sarah was newly inspired to pursue graduate school as a result and we set off from there to meet up with Robyn’s friend, Christine, who is a current student of Gordon and who acted as our tour guide for the rest of the afternoon. We finished the day’s tour with coffee at Starbuck’s and drove back hungry, yet happy to the Keith’s for dinner. Katie Keith made a delicious meal of porkchops, mashed potatoes, salad, and snap peas. Ryan’s mother came over later and we got to partake of conversation with her.

Later that evening as we sat in the living room I spied a Super Nintendo in their tv stand and asked if we could play. We all became much more excited after that as we explored the various games that Ryan had acquired over his college years from friends whose systems bought the farm before his. We settled on Super Mario All-Stars, which created nostalgia in all of us, even Robyn who “does not play videogames,” and we all turned into little, loud kids for the rest of the night. Finally, shortly after midnight, we turned off the console and tucked ourselves in, visions of Mario and Luigi dancing in our heads.

Oh! and my job prospects for next year are only getting more and more exciting. In addition to Kazakhstan, I also could possibly work in cemetery plot sales in Pottstown, or as a household manager in Arizona, or I could possibly live near Messiah and work somewhere (never completely discount an option, I am swiftly learning). So, it seems that the end of this trip is the beginning of everything. For me, at least.

Love,
Ali

Addendum: To see pics from Shenandoah (I know, it was ages ago) follow this link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2061981&id=55303286&l=71b2e07e91 I’m sorry that some of them are sideways. That will be remedied when I return to Michigan/have more time. More pics to follow…

More pics! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2062526&id=55303286&l=e4ac23bf60

A Long Day’s Journey into Night

May 28th, 2009

Hey everybody! Camping near Niagara Falls was a change from our stays in cities, and our stay outside of Buffalo also provided a refreshing change. We stayed with the Mullins who own a farm. They took us out to dinner to experience the unique food of Buffalo, including Beef on Kimmelweck and, of course, chicken wings. They gave us a tour of their farm, where they raise racehorses, peacocks, pheasants, and kittens. Then we went on a short walk. I enjoyed the fresh air and beautiful country. It also felt great to sleep in beds after sleeping on the ground at the campsite.

Wednesday morning we drove into Buffalo for our second official interview with Dr. David Holmes at Buffalo Children’s Hospital. It was sort of an adventure because our GPS got confused by the roads and led us astray. Also, there was a fire, so the road we needed to take was blocked off by police, which meant we had to walk the rest of the way. Unfortunately, we had missed an email from Dr. Holmes telling us that he that he would not be at the hospital since he had to cover at Good Neighbors Clinic. Luckily, however, we connected with him and successfully meet with him at the clinic. We appreciated Dr. Holmes flexibility and his willingness to meet with us despite his full schedule. Dr. Holmes discussed the importance of addressing patients as whole people– not only physical beings, but also as spiritual and emotional beings– who require all-encompassing care and support. We were all impressed by Dr. Holmes and came away from the interview with positive feelings.

Our interview ended at noon and then we started our long trek to Boston, MA. It was a long car ride, but we passed time by playing Truth or Dare (but without Dare due to limited space in the vehicle). We arrived at Boston around 10 at night. We are staying with Katie and Ryan Keith, two alums from Messiah. I can’t believe we’ve already reached our last stop!

-Sarah

Sarah went off Niagara Falls in a barrel!

May 28th, 2009

Just kidding. But we did have an awesome day at Niagara Falls. Sorry we haven’t written in a while. We’ve been a little wi-fi deprived. Here’s what we did on Monday:
We had a fun time Monday morning chatting with the Tam family over breakfast. They were really nice, and we enjoyed getting to know them while they hosted us. From there, we ventured again to downtown Toronto. Mr. Tam is the senior pastor of a church in Chinatown, so he allowed us to use his parking space at his church in the city. We walked from Chinatown to Kensington Market, a part of the city with some fun eclectic boutiques and international food markets. Since we didn’t have to pay for parking, we were able to patronize some of these cool stores. All of us were excited to relive some of our study abroad experiences. Ali picked out some Greek cheese from an international cheese market, and Sarah bought us rambutan, a fruit she ate in Thailand. I was going to buy a mango, the kind I ate in the Dominican Republic, but I can’t eat a mango without getting sticky mango goodness all over my face and hands, so we bought other fruit (kiwis and nectarines) that are easier to eat in the car.
From Chinatown, we drove to Niagara Falls. We had a picnic there of international fruit and cheese and enjoyed the Fall’s incredible beauty. Since pictures are worth 1,000 words, I’ll save my breath and have you look at pictures. Ali should post some soon. It was mesmerizing, nothing like I’ve ever seen.
After that, it was time to leave Canada, so we got out our passports, surrendered our oranges (which we bought in the US-why are these a security threat?) to another stern customs officer, and drove to a campground in Niagara Fall, NY. Sarah and Ali were super excited to find a giant chess set in the campground’s playground, so they played chess while I caught up on some reading. Then Ali built us a fire so we could roast marshmallows and make s’mores. Yum- I love marshmallows (I guess I like food that make your face and hands sticky and sweet). Sarah and I then tried to see the Memorial Day fireworks at Niagara Falls, but the show didn’t last as long as we thought and we missed it. But it was still fun to see the falls at night. I think Ali was happy to see us back at the tent, though, because it was cold and body heat helped keep us warm at night.
Wow, that was a busy day, but one of my favorites. I think I covered everything… Sarah’s reporting next!
Love,
Robyn

Tackling Toronto Traffic

May 24th, 2009

Another successful day in Toronto was had by the trilicious trio, the Dreamers and Seekers, i.e. us. It began at 8:20 a.m. when we drove down the block and tumbled out at Tim Horton’s where we ate doughnuts, bagels, or muffins for breakfast. We noticed when we sat down that there was only a twenty minute time limit according to the “no loitering” sign. Therefore, we abandoned our plans of camping out there for an hour and playing cards and hopped into the car once more, heading off in the general direction of The Meeting House where Bruxy Cavey is the Teaching Pastor. While driving along Lakeshore Blvd Robyn noticed a park off to the left right by some unknown body of water, probably an inlet of Lake Ontario. We pulled off and paid the 75 cents for a half hour of pleasurable playing near the playa. While Robyn went on her requisite run, Sarah and I took turns videotaping each other and asking random questions. When 10:05 rolled around we took off once more, this time in search of Gardiner Expressway which would become the QEW. Unfortunately, unknown to us, the Gardiner Expy was closed for some sort of construction, so we sat in traffic for quite a while before we came upon an open entrance ramp.
Amazingly, we arrived at the Meeting House ten minutes before the 11:45 service began – just enough time to take some video footage of the building and the “theatre” where the service takes place. We were delighted to see Bruxy wearing a Messiah College t-shirt and he gave us and another group from the states a shout out before beginning his sermon, which was a response to the internet movie “Zeitgeist” and the claim that Jesus is just another mythical figure. We really enjoyed the service and Bruxy’s sermon. Afterward a woman came up and introduced herself as a fellow Messiah alum! We later talked to one of the other pastors, Tim, who also attended Messiah. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Montana’s with Bruxy, Nina (his wife), Maya (his daughter), and his parents. It was the best meal experience I have had thus far on the road trip. We talked about all sorts of things and enjoyed our food over a leisurely two hours. After lunch we drove to some of the neighboring stores in search of sunglasses to clip onto my glasses and upon entering the Future Shop became distracted by the Playstation 3 and the Wii’s with demo games.
Finally we headed back for the Tam’s house and have enjoyed conversations with Mrs. Tam, Mr. Tam, and Martin since then. We are currently enjoying our last evening in a house since tomorrow we will be camping near Niagara Falls.

No more updates on my job prospects for next year. I’m still debating between Kazakhstan and living and working near Messiah.

My favorite quote from the trip thus far: “Ali, is that your hairbrush? On the ground?” – Robyn, pointing to the pavement on the ground behind the car.

Love,
Ali

Addendum: After the initial post we played Settlers of Catan with Martin and with Stephen Ritter a la skype and webcam, because he is in Pennsylvania. Needless to say, it was a really long and slightly slow game because Robyn acted as Steve’s “nurse,” helping him with trading and building his settlements and cities. Also, Martin stole all my ore with his monopoly card.

O Canada

May 23rd, 2009

Today we slept in. In a word, it was glorious. Our hosts are Messiah student Martin Tam and his family. Even though they only moved to Toronto recently, they were very helpful in suggesting some city sights, and this afternoon we set out on a Canadian expedition. Toronto is a very clean city. Beautiful, too. It’s exciting to be in a city with such a diverse population. Most of our exploration today involved walking until interesting spots caught our eye. Highlights included the Cathedral Church of Saint James, Old City Hall, and also Little Trinity Church, where we got to ring the bell. An integral part of our quest was to discover a certain sculpture that a friend had photographed during her visit to Toronto. After a search, we found the sculpture but only at a distance.
In the evening we enjoyed the vibrancy of Chinatown. In one of its Vietnamese restaurants we sampled an avocado milkshake and soup with snail. Both were surprisingly tasty. We slowly, though sloppily, mastered the use of chopsticks. After dinner, we marched back toward the subway to take us home. By the end, my sore feet envied the multitude of bicyclists that whizzed past. C’est la vie.

- Sarah

A lake, a monastery, and roads not on the GPS

May 23rd, 2009

We’ve had a busy two days! Since we didn’t blog yesterday, I’ll start by reporting on yesterday. Then Sarah will pick up with what we did today. So yesterday morning, Deb made us a cheerful breakfast of strawberries, yogurt and muffins before we hit the road for Erie, PA. For the first time on the trip, Sarah drove! And she passed people on the highway! And we survived! We were very proud of her. (Sarah’s paranoid of highway driving).
In Erie, we went to Pesc Isle State Park on Lake Erie. We walked around the paths along the lake, enjoying the ocean scenery and the birds. For lunch, we climbed over the sand dunes and ate on the beach. It wasn’t quite as scenic as we had hoped because in front of our picnic tables were bulldozers moving lifeguard stands around. Oh well.
Then we headed downtown to meet Sister Susan, a member of the Benedictine community in Erie. She works for Sister Joan Chitistter, an author we wanted to interview but was out of town. Instead, we made plans to meet Susan, who kindly showed us around the monastery where she lives and the preschool program the sisters run downtown. Their community focuses on peace issues, which is what Sister Joan writes about often. We had planned to stay for their evening prayer service, but since a sister from their community died last week, the service turned into a funeral. So we sat through an unfamiliar liturgy for a woman we didn’t know, but the sisters were so kind and helped us feel as comfortable as possible. They answered all our questions and filled us with spaghetti and lemon pie before we left.
Driving away from the monastery, we had a chance to discuss what we had learned about monastic life (it’s about prayer and deeper spirituality, not asceticism) and Catholicism (its liturgy reminds us to revere our awesome God even if it’s not “trendy”). So even if we didn’t learn about Sister Joan’s vocation as an author as we had planned, it was enriching to share an afternoon with the “religious.”
We had a long time to talk as we drove that night to Toronto. We’ve also been reading books out loud in the car to pass time. Great stuff, like the Messiah College literary journal and religious poetry.
Also, here are some things we learned on our drive: Upstate New York has great rest stops because there’s only one for both directions of the traffic with a bridge for people to walk across the highway. So efficient! Also, the young blonde lady at border patrol scared Sarah, so it was a good thing she wasn’t driving then. Then, our favorite lesson. GPS and googlemaps do not work in Canada. When we crossed the border, the GPS screen showed our car driving into a black abyss. When we tried to use the printout of directions from Google, the mileage (or shall I say kilometrage?) was way off. Thank God for Martin’s (our Toronto host’s) brother who stayed on the phone with us for half an hour at midnight trying to guide us to their house. We got a good view of the CN Tower at night as we drove by it two or three times. At the wee hours of the morning we arrived in Toronto and had an easy time falling asleep.
-Robyn

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