The Past Few Weeks

Wow! What a crazy past couple of weeks! Where to start?

Well I guess from the beginning is as good as any other (as long as I can remember it correctly). My last week or so at home in California with family was great! Most of the family got together in the midst of a busy time for all of us. I was leaving to come here to Urbana, IL, My cousin was getting married, nieces and nephews (and cousins) were all going back to school! August this year had to be one of the busiest months in 2013.

The first destination on my trip out here was DISNEYLAND! So many memories from that place from when I was child, and it has a way to make you feel like an eight year old again. Seeing all the characters, the fireworks, Fantasmic and of course the rides took me back. It was some great time with my family down there too with my parents, my aunt and her mother. Truly one of the happiest places on earth!

After two days at Disneyland, we stopped in to see a cousin down in the area. That probably was the highlight of that week. I missed a family reunion last summer so stopping by to see them was great! Even though we were only there for a night, it was great to know how close my extended family is. From there we traveled to somewhere in Colorado, then Nebraska, and then to the Twin Cities.

While in the Twin Cities it was good to connect with some friends. While that was not the point for going there (the real point was to grab all my stuff out of storage) it was good to reconnect and hear what other people were up to and planned on doing. After taking care of business on the first workday of the week, I started my trip to where I am now in Urbana.

The welcome from the congregation I am serving my internship at (Trinity Lutheran Church) was a warm welcome! It was great to meet people for the first time and start to get to know them all. Unfortunately when you meet 200 people in a day, you only remember about 10 names and the faces that they go to. So that is going to be a huge challenge for me. One member of the congregation said that they will forgive me for forgetting names until the end of October, but after that there will be no forgiveness. The pressure is on!!

I am looking forward to the upcoming year! After two days in the office I can tell that I will be challenged in ways I have never been challenged before. Also it is weird not knowing any body in a new town (other than the congregation members). That is one of the biggest difference I have already noticed from college life to real world life. Meeting new people is not the easiest thing. However, it is all in God’s hands and I am looking forward to what he has planned for Trinity and myself this year!

Until next time (which might be tomorrow. I am beginning to dig the Starbucks spot!)

Stuck in My Head

For the past two days I have had these two songs in my head. The first one is Easy by Sheryl Crow. It’s her new song. I heard this on the radio before, but didn’t enjoy it until recently. Now it’s stuck in my head and I am trying to learn how to play it on guitar (and that is harder than it sounds). I dig the rift and the guitar solo, but for me it’s a work in progress.

The second song is Copperhead Road by Steve Earle. This one has been driving me nuts because out of nowhere I start dancing and people give me weird looks as I line dance in lines at the mall by myself.

Anyways I thought you might want to share in my torture. Enjoy the videos, but enjoy the songs even more!

And just for kicks, here is what the line dance looks like so that you have a clear image of someone doing this randomly at the mall.

Recent Events

Hey all! I am back! I got back from training last week, but then had to take care of a few things over the weekend. Prior to going to this month-long training even I was a little nervous, but now looking back on it there was nothing to be nervous about. I was completely prepared and knew what I was doing at all times. With all that said, that does not mean that I did not learn anything, but  I will save learnings for another post.

Currently I am “that guy” sitting in Starbucks, writing on his blog in the corner with the only outlet easily visible. I am somewhat smirking and laughing at my self for being “that guy” currently because I use to make fun of people who did that. Now look at me! Oh well. I will embrace it! What else am I supposed to do while being home in California where I barely keep in contact with friends.

Now with all that said I am truly glad to be home. It is warm…ok that’s an understatement. IT’S VERY HOT! Especially yesterday, and the heat wave is supposed to continue over the weekend. I was hoping for good weather while I am back in my hometown, and I guess the weather is not letting me down. Even being back a week I have gotten a pretty awesome tan (soon to be). I burn first then tan. It’s great!

Over this last week I have been doing things that I love! This includes helping out with day camp! Mt. Cross came to my home congregation to put on a day camp for kids from first grade through sixth grade! Needless to say, the kids had a great time! There were kids that cried because camp was over yesterday. There is something that God uses about camp that connects with so many kids. Many of the kids enjoyed the songs, skits and games. Those will be the most memorable moments for them that they will take through the rest of their lives. This is very important in ministry because the themes of the day (Bible, worship, prayer, hospitality, and service) will stick in their minds and provides a basis to build on in education as well as growing in their faith. This reminds me of Proverbs 22:6:

Direct your child onto the right path, and when they are older, they will never leave it. NLT

How appropriate that is to children’s ministry. My supervisor over the last year has stressed this to me. He kept saying that if anyone desires to do youth ministry they have to do second grade ministry because that is where it starts. As church workers we can start building those relationships with children that way when they are older (and hopefully even when they are young) they are comfortable to have meaningful conversations especially around faith.

This brings me to my high point of the week. On Wednesday we were teaching the children about prayer. I had overestimated my third and fourth graders understanding of prayer. I realized this when the counselor that I was working with asked me to help a child to think of something that they wanted to pray about. I asked the child what has ben on their heart and mind lately. She said a certain television show that she really enjoyed had been taken off air fairly recently. For her this show was a source of entertainment, relaxation and allowed her creativity to grow. However she didn’t think that God would listen to her prayer about this certain television show because it was something silly to pray about. It was at that time that I realized why so many children do not want to pray and talk to God. They view God as one who does not desire to listen to children concerns. When I told this child that she could pray for it and God would listen and answer she was amazed. This then propelled me to take a moment and reread the scripture lesson for the day. It was Luke 11:1-13. I stressed to them verses 8-10.

But I tell you this-though he may not do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you what ever you need because of you shameless persistence. And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. NLT

Every single one of the children were astonished. Nearly every child came up with something that they thought was silly to pray for and asked me if they could pray for it. The news that they could pray for those things blew their minds! I remember thinking that the hymn, What a Friend We have in Jesus, was appropriate for that day.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

In short it is good to be home and be with family and to see what God continues to do through my home congregation and those involved there! His kingdom is moving forward!

As for the rest of my time home, I have no idea what I will be doing. I will probably go on morning runs, drink some more coffee and write more blog posts. I will definitely get in touch with some old friends of mine and visit with them. I will go visit with more family while I am here. Starting next week I will start preparing myself for internship which starts in one month (SO EXCITED!). Anyways that is what has been up in life!

Recent Adventures II

Well I have not posted anything in a while and I thought it is time to get back to it. Recently, it feels like a lot is happening, but in reality there isn’t much that is new. As time passes as I am anticipating my month-long adventure to WA I have been slowly preparing myself for leaving St. Paul. Last weekend I took one last trip down to Camp Omega where God has blessed me with many friends and memories. The camp was having an open house for people to enjoy the outdoors and some of the camp activities in general such as archery, canoeing, the pool, a slip n slide, wagon rides, and pontoon rides. It was definitely a pleasant way to enjoy a Saturday.

Once all those activities were done, the camp director allowed me to use some tools in their shop to fix my car. Over Spring break, I had accidentally knocked by right side rear view mirror off while trying to avoid knocking off my left side rear view mirror. Ever since then, my mirror has been held up by duck tape and it prevented the door from opening otherwise the mirror would fall out-of-place and hang by the wires again. Needless to say it was nice to put the new mirror on so that I do not have to worry about it over the summer.

Finally to conclude my time at Omega a few friends who were visiting and I stayed for campfire. It was sad to know that it was going to be my last campfire for the summer, but awesome to be in God’s creation with friends worshiping our Creator. At the conclusion of the campfire it was time to say good-byes. I HATE GOOD-BYES! Most of those people who I said good-bye to I will not see for a good year. Others I will see in a couple of months and still others I will not see until after the first of the new year! definitely will miss them all! Good thing there is always letters, text messaging, and social media to be in touch.

This last Tuesday I picked up a new book and a new interest. I decided that I will teach myself some Biblical Greek! We will see how long this motivation to learn Greek will last, but right now I am currently rolling along absorbing the information faster than a Sham-Wow picks up water. Hopefully, I do not overload my brain with too much information and forget it all over the month that I am in WA. However, learning Greek will be one of my hobbies as I go to internship in August.

Speaking of internship, this summer just got even more exciting! After spending a month back home in California in July, I will be taking a trip down to Disneyland, stopping at a family members house to visit, and making a stop in Vegas! I am really looking forward to this! I have not been to Disneyland in YEARS! Truly is one of the happiest places on earth! The family that I will be visiting are my moms cousins. I believe I met them once before, but it was quite some time ago. It will truly be a blessing to see them again! As for Vegas, I am slightly excited about because I am old enough now to actually enjoy the area. Last time I was there, I was around 10 years old and there is normally nothing for 10 year olds to do in Vegas. However, it is always cool to see the lights.

I think this catches everyone up on things in my life. 6 Days!

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 NLT

Everyone is a Nerd

So I am just going to be honest with you all, I am a complete nerd! I was having a conversation with a friend and a security guard (yes a security guard) yesterday on video games. The security guard was saying that he didn’t want to share what video games he played because then my friend and I would think he would be a complete nerd. So naturally, we had to ask him what game he was referring to and reaffirm to him that we would not think that he was not any more of a nerd than what we already thought of him. Turns out it was some morbid online game where you could collect ears of other gamers that you killed. He said he didn’t like it because one it was too violent and everyone on their was some kind of video game nerd. He then stated that when they got killed they would then harass you and say some very inappropriate things that are very graphic and should probably not be repeated, especially on this blog.

This whole topic got me thinking that we all have something we are completely nerd out about. For some people its video games. For the ones who never leave the gym and just stand, flex, and look at themselves in the mirror it is working out and body image. For vegetarians it is not eating meat (which reminds me I have a funny vegetarian story for another post some day). For those jocks in high school it is knowing the careers of all the professional athletes within their sport. Everyone has something that they are nerdy about.

As for me, I have a couple of things that I am nerdy about. One thing is the news. I absolutely LOVE (L O V E) the news. Especially national and international news. I do not turn on the news to see who murdered who today. I turn on the news to find out what is going on in the world. If there is a mass murderer on the loose then that is something noteworthy and should be brought to light or if someone did not get due process that is something that should be distributed on the news. But the news is so that people are informed about the world and the impact it has on their life. The GOOD as well as the bad. That is the important stuff that every news network should be broadcasting. Not just to attract an audience because it is not a television show. It’s the news.

The second thing that I am completely nerdy about is history. I really enjoy politics and history of warfare. I think it is fun to look back on the history, on the politics and view the situations that caused things to happen. A lot of times though, I feel like in our history classes we focus a lot on the things that went wrong and what caused them (such as the World Wars and the Great Depression) and we don’t spend a lot of time looking at what was successful like what caused the Roaring 20s, and why the civil rights movement was successfully won. Those should be just as important to study and learn from. Normally in text books these topics are pretty much only mentioned by giving them one or two paragraphs, but they are not seriously studied giving someone a better understanding of what was occurring at the time, who was involved and their background, etc.

One other thing that I am ashamed to admit to being nerd out on are alien conspiracy theories. I do not believe them in the slightest, but they are intriguing. When I shared this with the security guard he said that watching sci-fi and letting his imagination go wild is crazy enough. He didn’t even want to conceive the idea of having a conspiracy theory on aliens mix with his imagination because that would make him go insane! Quite frankly, I can’t blame. With the stuff that I had (and for lack of a better word) studied up on it has made my imagination go wild. And honestly I think that is why I find it interesting. It is so far-fetched that anything could be a possibility.

However, the one thing I have always been nerdy about since I was a child has been the Bible and ministry. I can not get enough from God’s word. It is something that is constant. It is true. It is life changing! To hear from God the story of Jesus coming to Earth to die on the cross to forgive our sins. And that he resurrected in three days is something that once one has been brought to know, it does not easy to leave that faith because you are God’s child. You are in his hand. He leads your life. My life. I find the Bible as the most interesting book ever because it has news and it has history (no aliens – don’t listen to the history channel), but the most important thing that it has is the truth of what God has done to fix a mess that we created through His son Jesus. That is life changing.

When I was a child I had a good chunk of the Bible accounts (notice how I always use the word account – not stories – because stories imply some fiction. Account implies that it is factual and true) memorized and I knew them well. As I grew older I didn’t use them as much and they started to fade away in detail from memory. Since college a lot of those details have been brought back into my Biblical knowledge. And there is still a thirst in me today to want to learn more. One thing I would like to buy is a chronological Bible where the books and chapters are in their proper order and the whole Bible can be read as a narrative from beginning to end (put that on my wish list).

Another thing I did often as a child was play “pastor.” I had a large, button down, yellow shirt that my dad gave me to play with and used it as a robe. Then I used the fireplace as the altar. I was like 3 to 5 years old when I did this. I am pretty sure my parents have a video of me playing “pastor” somewhere in the house.

Anyways my point being is that we are all nerds in some way shape or form and there is always something we are nerdy about. I apologize for the scatter-brainness, but that is just how I roll. Thanks for reading this novel!

The Waiting Game

Well, for my first post, I am sad to inform you it is not very interesting. This is really more of a vent of frustration and an expression of desire for things to get moving! I am currently stuck in a four bedroom apartment/dorm by myself and was told a couple of days ago that I was going to be moved upstairs to another four bedroom apartment/dorm to live by myself since I will only be here (Concordia St. Paul) until June 13. On the 13th I get to go to Fort Lewis, WA for Warrior Forge, which is a training and assessment period that all cadets go through. I am looking forward to it. It should be challenging and test me in a ways that I would not expect to be tested.

But the biggest thing I am looking forward to is internship at Trinity Lutheran Church in Urbana, IL. The start date for the internship is August 26th, but needless to say my patience for this internship to start is already being tested. I want to be thrown into a new experience away from academia and get my hands dirty with some real DCE (Director of Christian Education) type work. Lately I have been in touch with a few people at the congregation. I have heard nothing, but good news about this site coming from various people. It just makes me want to get started. I will most definitely be praying for patience as the summer goes on.