Happy Birthday Ted. I miss living near you. I was just digging through some old photos to find one of you to post, and I found this one from our hike to Tin Cup Lake with Andrew. After living away from all the family for four years, I knew to cherish the time we had together once I moved back. I hope all is well for you in Wisconsin, and I hope we'll live near each other sometime down the road.
Hi from Mexico! We went out hunting for an open internet cafe tonight, but were unsuccessfull. Who would have thought the hotel would have a "centro de negocios" or business center. I am typing on what Dan would call a DOS-asourus, but hey after a couple of driver downloads, and installs I can read the photos off my USB card reader, and post them to my blog. I love the internet.
I have so much to write about already, and I haven't even finished writing about the Mexico trip to Cuauhtemoc with Dan and Andrew. This is a photo of Shannon and Jennifer. The kids are so precious. Rocky just asked me what my favorite part of the trip was, and it was definately playing with the kids. They remembered us from last year, and wanted me to play the guitar again. The fish tacos that Ana and Alexandra made for lunch on Tuesday just might be the second best part of the trip. It is just incredible all the way around. Spending time with great friends, and just loving some kids in Mexico that really need attention is the best way I could hope to spend a spring break.
That's all for now. I am off to bed. We are going to leave Mexico tomorrow, and mail the postcards from the Knoch postcard fundraiser. Tomorrow will be a Good Friday. God bless.
Okay, here's a belated Oscar party group photo, right before we leave to Mexico. I had to ask ed the movie expert who was who. So from left to right here it goes (courtesy of ed): Audrey Hepburn in Charade, Steve Martin in L.A. Story, (the Phantom), Edna May Wonacott (actress' name--but most people would only know her by character's name, Anne Newton) in Shadow of a Doubt, Hayley Mills in Pollyanna and me. You'd never know it was pasted together, eh?
Well, I thought I'd get in a quick blog entry before I left for Mexico. I am going to the CLC (Christian Life Center) at 6:30 to watch the Passion Play. It should be really cool, as it is every year. Afterwards, we are having free pizza with the international students. Then, about two hours after that we are hitting the road. We're planning on leaving at 12:01 Saturday morning. We want an early start on the day, and we didn't buy insurance for today. Thanks for all your prayers and support. We raised $177 from the pancake breakfast, about $550 from the Knoch postcard fundraiser (Zach's brilliant idea last year), and then somewhere around $180 from the offering on Thursday night. So no one is worrying about not being able to go, and I think we are going to be able to give the orphanage about $1500!
We hope to get to St. George, Utah by early evening tomorrow, then to Tijuana by mid evening on Sunday. Monday we'll start painting! So pray for us. Today is going to be pretty long.
I had a wonderful lunch today of corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, shepard's pie, and a Guiness. I met with my mom, granny, and aunt at Sean Kelley's for the annual St. Patrick's day buffet, and got to hear some good stories about my mom and aunt's high school adventures. My aunt said her daughter asked her, "Mom were you a delinquent?" Na, they just had a lot of "fun" back in high-school.
Here's a funny excerpt from the afternoon:
Aunt T: What ya doing over there mum? Granny: Why won't this knife cut? (one of those plastic things) Me: Ah, it looks like you're trying to cut with the handle there. Granny: Oh geez! Mom: I'm cutting you off. (grabbing her wee glass of beer)
It was a great lunch. I don't see my family near enough.
I went to bed late last night. I was up doing Russian homework. However, I was awakened around 2:00 AM. You know what is really annoying? False fire alarms. So freaking annoying! I woke up just annoyed, but Shannon woke up a bit panicked, "wha-what's going on!?" So I had to get up and take a look at them all. I pulled the batteries out of each of them, and licked them to make sure they were good. Nine-volt Zap! Yep, all good. The whole time, the fire alarms would sound for a minute and then be silent for a minute, on and off. Then they just quit after about fifteen minutes.
I went back to bed, but about twenty minutes later... Ahhh!!! What is going on! Are there evil mischievous spirits just messing with my patience? Maybe it's radon or something, I don't know. So I checked the crawlspace or oubliette as my brother likes to call it. It looked fine. The furnace wasn’t reporting any trouble codes. The fire alarms were still going on and off. Oh, and they are all interconnected, so if one goes off they all do. Shannon was about to smash them all with a hammer so she could get some sleep, but I managed to talk her out of it. So after some opening and closing of the alarms, and other seemingly pointless things, they finally stopped. Of course at this point it was a little bit difficult to fall back asleep. We were both wired from the alarms going off, and we nervously waited for them to start doing it again.
Luckily, they didn't, but I was a bit later getting to work than I wanted to be. I talked with Sharon at my office this morning, and she said that sometimes little insects get into the sensors and set them off. I also read about that here. I bet that was the problem. It is the season when insects start to come out of hibernation, suspended animation, or whatever they do during the winter. I think I'll take a can of air to them tonight. On a lighter note, spring is in the air. The crocuses are beginning to bloom around town.
Slightly related: You know what the word for crocus is in Russian? Шафран (shafran). That is interesting because the spice saffron comes from crocus flowers.
February 18th I went with Chi Alpha to Crow Agency, Montana. Crow Agency is on the Crow Indian Reservation. We were going there as a “mini mission.” A mini mission is basically a local service project designed to give college students a feel for what missions are like, but on a smaller scale. Our plan was to help out the local church with whatever we could.
Kenny’s dad is the pastor at the Four Square church in Crow Agency. Kenny used to play guitar for XA, but he moved back to Crow. That’s how we got the connection.
Sometimes when you are on a mission, you get the feeling that you are going there to do great things for the church that they couldn’t do on their own. Like you are going to be this big blessing to them, and boy are they lucky to have people like you coming to help them. I think this a trick to make you start feeling prideful. Also, when you start to think like this I think it can become easier to do damage that the local church is going to have to clean up. You don’t have to stick around and work things out with the people whom you have hurt or offended, but the church will. On this trip, I think we really had to guard against this. Scott even prayed for it the first night. We were there to help with a thing that was already started; just servants.
We got to the church around midnight Friday, set up on the floors, chairs, and tables and went to sleep. Zach and Riley cooked the next morning. Even though they woke up late, everything turned out great. Saturday we spent the day assembling bunk beds, painting, and picking up trash off the church property. We took about four truckloads to the dump.
Later that afternoon Tyler, Kenny, Dan, and I went to Kenny’s uncle Bruster’s house to cut some wood for the sweat lodge. A sweat lodge is a traditional Crow sauna. They do it in other tribes too. You make a fire, throw a bunch of big rocks on it, and once they are superheated, you put them in a pit inside a tent-like structure covered with blankets (they used to use buffalo hides). Then once everyone has stripped and got in, the door is shut and it pitch-black, the pourer (Kenny’s uncle), pours water over the glowing rocks. The steam fills the sweat lodge, and really heats it up. Of course there were separate sweat lodges for guys and girls.
Once we collected a truckload of me-sized logs, we brought them back and made a log-cabin style fire. Bruster started it with a blow-torch. He said, “see what assimilation does to an Indian.” We all had to chuckle. It was great talking to Bruster. They get a lot of mission teams from back East and out of state, and he takes a lot of people to the sweat lodge. Some of them try to be all Indian and stuff. They bring their own sage, and try to make the sweat lodge into the ritual that it may have once been. Bruster says that if he’s not doing all that, why do they feel like you need to?
Sunday, after church, Kenny took some of us up to the mountains. I did not expect it to be as beautiful as it was. It was breathtaking. At the top of the mountain, there was a monument built where a Crow chief from the late 1800s was buried. He was the chief who had gone to Washington to meet with President Grant to find out what was going on with his people. They were dying from the small pox in the blankets given to them by the government.
From there we hiked down to the cliffs overlooking the Little Bighorn River. People still come up to this mountain to pray. It is surprisingly similar to Central Mexico. It was so beautiful; I could have stayed up there all night.
We drove back to Missoula Monday after hanging out in the park for a little while. We were going to do an outreach there, but no one showed up. I think it was because it snowed over night, and who wants to play basketball in the snow?
Overall, it was a beautiful trip. As with every mission I have been on, I was more blessed than those I went there to help. Everyone says that, but that's because it's true.