Archive for May, 2007

Don’t Listen to Liars & Be with Interesting People.

This advice was given to us by Pastor Bud Dixon, a gentleman who participated in the Civil Rights struggle with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1962. Dr. King wanted national attention focused on Albany, Georgia and Bud had joined in the inter-racial delegation, so to speak, to non-violently shed much needed publicity. In short, they protested, sang songs of worship and spent some time in jail. Today, southern hospitality has improved, but Bud notes that race relations continues to be a problem in the United States.
“What should we do?” I asked.
“Don’t listen to liars and be with interesting people. Read and be informed”.
I leave more encouraged than not. I am reminded about Romans 8 which Shane mentioned as well when we asked him about the concept of Hope.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” –Romans 8:24-25

We spent a good chunk of time on the road today, but one other highlight to be mentioned was our visit with the Lindquists –that’s Barbara and Dave, parents of Erik Lindquist (I have dirt on you from your brother)! We thoroughly enjoyed a hearty meal and visiting their newly built cottage and the grounds in Wisconsin.

Also, in reflection of the past few days, I am grateful for the patient and kind spirits of the girls. 4 girls + small space + all the time does not always equal to happy campers. But I’m having such a superb time growing and having a ball! Tent setting conditions last night proved to be our biggest challenge thus far, but I continue to learn that when things are easy, we do not appreciate them nearly as much. When we realize that we are not in control, we realize Who is.

We leave tomorrow to visit an inner city school in Minneapolis where we are currently being hosted by more generous new friends, and head off to camping land in Wind Cave and Yellowstone.

Michigan’s million mosquitos

Camping with a lakeside view should be an excellent idea! Right? So we got a campsite on Colwell lake, but granted we thought this from a PA computer lab. Upon arriving at our lovely campsite on the lake, we ran to the lake and took a lovely happy picture of ourselves, and it all went uphill from the climb out of the glorious lake. As we stood for the picture we swatted a few mosquitos, but only a few. As we walked toward our campsite, we talked about all the great things we would like to do while here…

Well, just a few minutes later we are fighting an army of MI’s finest buzzing bugs while learning about our tent, and our group tolerance for bug bites, our camp ground, and our diminishing water supply. We explored the site’s composting toliet, which didn’t smell too bad, and convinced Val that she would be ok without a shower in the morning. Now we are back at our site excited about our tent, and recording it’s progress on camera. Let me paint the scene for you.

Val is wandering and hopping about the site with her cap, and has been trusted with the video camera, while trying to help in any possible way. Kelly looks at the tent as Megan finishes unrolling it. “We don’t really need tent pegs, I don’t think, unless you really want to.” Megan and I are willing to skip this step and we all dive in to putting tent pole pieces together. Val keeps recording for a bit, and then settles for swatting flies and holding a pole, and trying not to say bad things. Kelly is doing her best to help us, but she has never seen a tent like this, and would certainly not choose to put it up in this place. Megan is shooing mosquitos off herself, and has recently taken a somewhat painful bite to the back. And then the tent collapses.

So we regroup, refocus, eat, pray, do battle and sleep in a set up tent.

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O! Canada…

The adventures never cease! Yesterday, after leaving the Steed home (by the way, the Steed family was amazing, wonderful, hospitable, etc.), we traveled northward through Michigan, arriving at Macinac City. While there, we witnessed (ok, endured) a reenactment of a Native American attempt to capture a fort held by British soldiers. It was so drawn out and historically inaccurate–the French settler children and the Native American children did NOT hold hands, skip in a circle, and sing “Frere Jacques”–that we snuck out before the ending. We’re all still in suspense as to whether or not the Native Americans succeeded, but never you fear. They do this every year on Memorial Day, so we can go next May!

After crossing the Macinac Bridge (5 miles, longest suspension bridge in the world), we tried to head west on the Upper Peninsula towards our camp site in the Hiawatha National Forest. Val was driving and I was in the front passenger seat navigating. Although we have a rule that the navigator stays awake at all times, I was sleepy and Val said that she knew where she was headed, so I should take a little nap. The next thing I heard, Val was pointing to a bridge in the distance, asking me what it crossed. “Probably some river,” I groggily replied. Three minutes after that, Val said brightly, “Oh look, a sign for Canada!” I lifted one sleepy eyelid to see a sign. I expected it to read something along the lines of, “Canada–5 miles.” But no. Oh no. I see a sign that read, “Customs toll plaza. 50 feet.” I screamed at Val to stop, wait, we can’t go to Canada. It ordinarily wouldn’t be a huge deal, but this is no ordinary road trip. Val, due to visa constraints, cannot leave the country (well, at least not if she wants to be allowed back in). Under no circumstance can we go to Canada, yet this is precisely where we are headed. Third largest country in the world, and we are on a no-exit, end-of-the-road piece of pavement headed towards a toll booth and Canada. Not good. After pausing to catch our breath (by the way, there were no other cars in sight, so it wasn’t a huge problem for us to stop dead in the center of the road), we ventured up to the toll plaza. Val, in her smallest voice, explained that we were lost, could we please turn around? The worker laughed and gave us a receipt, upon which she wrote, “LOST” in capital letters at the top. We then pulled a U-turn, handed our receipt to another toll worker, and then cheered at the “Welcome to the USA” sign that we drove past. O Canada, this trip is amazing-crazy. I only wish you could all be here to share in the fun! More on our first night camping will be forthcoming…stay tuned!


Hey all!

Just another update from the roadtrippers–in case anyone wonders, we’re all alive and doing well! Today, we started out the morning with a hearty breakfast in Tallmadge, thanks to our new-found friend, Helen Ward. After breakfast, she took us into downtown Cleveland, about 35 minutes north of Tallmadge. While there, we saw a giant “FREE” stamp: it is a giant statue of a rubber stamp that spells the word “free.” It was originally made by a company as a gimmick, but they soon found they couldn’t use it, and had to pay for it to be stored. They tried to donate it to the city, but the city wouldn’t take it. The company finally offered to give it to the city and pay for its installation, which the city accepted. In the end, the “FREE” stamp cost the company quite a bit of money. After taking pictures at the stamp, we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wow. It was certainly quite an adventure! I won’t go into details now (too late at night–I need sleep!), but suffice it to say that rockers wear some interesting outfits.

After a bit of lunch, we headed up to Michigan. The drive was nice: the land got flatter as the air got colder. By the time we stepped out of the vehicle in Rockford, MI (just north of Grand Rapids), it was really chilly. Tonight, we are staying at the home of Ali Steed (Messiah 09). After a superb dinner of pizza, the road trippers and the three Steed children (all young adults) still at home played a rousing game of round robin ping-pong. OK, time for shower and bed, which need to come shortly, since we’re pulling out at 9:00 a.m. sharp. Hasta luego!


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Still Frames.

The Simple Way
The Simple Way, Kensington, Philadelphia, PA.
With Shane.JPG
With Shane & Dominique @ The Gathering, Philadelphia, PA.
Red Cross House
With Adam @ The Red Cross House, Philadelphia, PA.
On the River
On the Upper Delaware River, Straddling PA & NY.
Girls on the UpDe.JPG
With “Froggie” on the UpDe, closer to NY.
Morris and McKinley
With Morris & McKinley, Canton, OH.
Quaker Oats Silo Hotel
Quaker Oats Silo = Hotel in Akron, OH.
Tallmadge Circle
Tallmadge Circle, OH commemorating Memorial Day

Day 3: Oh, oh, OHio!

The squeaking steps and constant action of Morris’ home in Canton was more than welcomed. Those of you who know Morris, know that we were in great company. Morris and his friend Dan showed us the McKinley National Memorial where many local sports teams go to train by running up the steps that lead to memorial.
We left shortly for Tallmadge, to interview and stay with Helen Ward. Helen is the aunt (or second cousin) of a dear friend Joanne Garde, a Messiah grad (05). Helen took us around Akron, OH, which is so rich in history! It is the rubber capital of the world and the home of Quaker Oats. We visited the oats silo which was transformed into a….–wait for it — Hotel!! Brilliance I tell you. We saw a little of Tallmadge as well.

My body is telling me to get to bed, but my mind is racing. I am feeling and thinking so many things. Mostly, I feel a huge sense of gratitude for the old friends and new friends who have opened their homes to us and been so gracious and generous. I have especially enjoyed our interview with Helen who is originally from Zimbabwe –she is so full of life and has been so open in sharing her life with us. Along with the other women, I am learning so many things, be it how to skip stones, or how adults know and view things differently from us 20 some year olds or what the no zone is or how I need to be more patient and selfless. Mostly, I just want to turn all strangers into neighbors and love them like I am being loved.

The Healing Power of Dirt

Day 1 (A blast from the past as I learn how this works)
Today we spent time a little differently than we planned. It’s not so much that our planning was bad (because we arrived 40 minutes early to our first stop), but rather life went in directions we could not anticipate. Our interview with Shane Claibourne happened about one hour later than scheduled, and our time with him lasted about 3 hours beyond our scheduled block.
For those of you who know some of the team members well, the lateness of Shane’s arrival created a little bit of confusion/tension. When Shane appeared, slightly startled by our posse and apologetic for his oversight in planning, he explained he had been in a prayer meeting (which had come up as one possible reason for his tardiness). He invited us to join him for breakfast and a few hours of work in the urban garden in addition to our interview. We jumped at the chance and released our frustrations to the breeze as we shoveled and raked dirt and compost into lined garden beds. We worked with a few members of the community, and even met a couple from Nashville passing through Philadelphia.

Knowing that just one day looked like this, I sit in awe of what else will happen along the way.

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Day 2: Race you to New York!

Summary of Day 2.
We left the Eppler’s on Friday morning, we drove to Narrowsburg, New York. Narrowsburg is literally a walk away from PA. It was a gorgeous day for a kayaking trip on the Upper Delaware River (UpDe). Paige’s sister Marissa led the 6 mile trip. We had a blast swim racing each other from PA to New York! Megan caught a cool looking frog (that’s not the scientific name) –Erik, we took pictures for you: please identify Froggie (Christened by Megan). We were glad to see Paige after she got back from training as an UpDe Park Ranger. We hit the road after dinner and got into Canton, Ohio at 4am. We were delayed about 2 hours after being stuck in Memorial Day Weekend traffic. Most of us are now awake at the Dubose Residence now, being entertained as always by Morris & co.

It’s like the first 3 days back at college. It feels like 3 weeks. But that’s a good thing. And this is how we are feeling. I love how our unchanging God is also a God of surprises. When Shane didn’t show up after half an hour, I must admit I was getting nervous. But I refused to give up knocking on the door and yelling for Shane to wake up (I was convinced he was asleep)! I expected him to give us our 1 hr interview and send us on our way. Instead, it was such a treat for us to be able to shovel dirt with Shane and interact with the neighbors. I loved hearing the various voices say –Hi Shane. What’s up Shane? Want to play ball Shane?

Neighbor: Hey Shane, I need a favor.
Shane: I need one too.
Neighbor: I’m hungry.
Shane: I’m tired. I’ll make you a deal. You shovel for me, and I’ll make us lunch.

Living out life as an ordinary radical. It didn’t seem radical but it was extraordinary.
Shane also talked to us about the importance of establishing roots in places, especially seeing that our generation tends to do things for short periods of time. Much to think about.

Adam (Messiah 06) gave us a tour of the Red Cross Shelter in Philly –the only shelter by the Red Cross in the country. It was insightful to learn about the work they do, though frustrating as Adam explained the vicious cycle of poverty.
We did appreciate Adam’s thoughts on his year in transition, although sometimes things got awkward –haha –I say this because we learned that awkward is only awkward when you let it be. It was neat to be able to reflect on our Messiah experiences together, seeing how our thoughts today are shaped by our time at Messiah.

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Day 1 Adventures

Hey! So, yesterday was our first official day. We kicked the trip off by leaving from Val’s house in Maryland at 5:00 a.m. (Yikes!) to drive to Philadelphia. We arrived in Kensington, Philadelphia a bit early, so we got to see the neighborhood a bit. At 9:00, we had our first interview, with Shane Claiborne. Due to extenuating circumstances, we didn’t meet up with him until 9:40. However, after the interview, he invited us to stay and share brunch with him and his housemate, and then to work in their urban garden. For the next few hours, we shoveled dirt and compost, getting ourselves gloriously messy and smelly! After lunch with Shane and some neighborhood friends, we drove over to Adam Eppler’s work. Adam is a 2006 grad of Messiah, currently serving in AmeriCorp at the Red Cross Shelter House in Philly. This shelter house, which takes families who have lost their home due to disasters (fire, flood, etc.) is the only one like it in the country. After touring their awesome facilities, we drove out to Adam’s house to eat, play games, and crash for the night. All told, it was a long, wonderful, amazing first day. We have learned so much already about how different people get to where they are in life, different options available to us, and that we all rock at playing Taboo! Today is another packed day, so stay tuned for more. Best wishes,

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Finalizing the Trip!

Tying up loose ends.

The girls got here just a few hours ago. In the office HQ in MD (my host family), rushing to get things finalized and get to bed –we leave at 5am for Philadelphia!