Saturday, November 1, 2008

Back in the Land of "eh"

So, obviously enough, I've been busy of late. We arrived back on campus the 17th of October, had the weekend off, then jumped into classes. Classes include Pentateuch, Communications, Writing, Preparation for Intercultural Ministry, and Cultural Anthropology. I'm not sure what else to tell you folks about . . . we had a harvest party last night after collecting canned foods for the local food back. Next weekend is Reading Break. I'm not sure yet whether I'll stay on campus or invite myself home with someone.

Sorry for the boring update, but at least I updated, eh?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This Last Week - An Assortment

This last week, after my family headed home, I had quite the mixture of events happen. Monday was an "off" day... which means something, but not much. We always end up with random meetings called at various times of day, extra activities, etc., so the day was technically off, but still busy enough.

Tuesdya was a fun day all the way around. It was titled "Survival Class," and as such, we learned basic survival tips and procedures, as well as leadership in survival settings. And, the best part, we learned fire building! (Obviously, I already knew how to build a fire... but I love building fires!) In the morning, and one hour of the afternoon, we were in the classroom, discussing different scenarios and subjects, watching fighter pilot clips, and generally getting a feel for what a survival scenario is and how to deal with it.

*Note: at this point I should explain a little of the background of the teacher for this one-day class. He is a former Air Force fighter pilot who now works for Southwest Airlines... yes, it made the class a lot of fun!

So, then in the rest of the afternoon, we went to the woods. We walked around, talked about locations for safety, finding help, hiding, etc. We also discussed types of fire starter, which branches will burn, sap wood, and what plants are good for what. Then we each built our own fire with a flint and steel.

It had rained in the morning, so we had to work a little more to find good fire starter, but I soon had plenty of stuff gathered to light a decent fire. In fact, I was quick enough to be the first to start my fire! I then warmed up my hands and watched the newbies work on theirs. =) Okay, and I did give them a hand, and I did encourage them... but I wanted to gloat so badly. I'm just a pyromaniac at heart, that's all. Need to buy my own flint and steel... it was way too much fun. ~Smile~ So, that was Survival Class.

Wednesday through Friday we had personality tests/discussions and Spiritual Formation class. It was really neat seeing people find out who they were, at least personality-wise, and the teams really recognized some of their problem areas that could use improvement.

Friday afternoon, a retreat group came in from a Christian school in Ephrata, so the lodge was busier than usual... I ended up "hiding" in the library with a couple friends for most of the weekend! It was a lot of fun actually... very pleasant.

And so passed another fun and busy week. For those of you who would like to read the Discover newsletter, take a look at this link: I suspect you'll really enjoy it, especially some of the pictures.

Till later,
Assuming the creek doesn't rise
Also assuming that the rapture doesn't happen,
Also assuming my fingers don't fall off,
And assuming many other things...
If the Lord Wills,

Monday, October 13, 2008

Next Part: The Weekend... with my FAMILY!

After teaching English, I had a great thing to look forward to... my family visiting! They arrived Friday evening after traveling all day, and stayed until Sunday right after lunch. All day, my fellow Discoverites kept asking me, "Abner, when's your family arriving?" (yes, I have a nickname... and I do answer to it) I informed them every time that my family was arriving sometime around dinner... before or after, I didn't know. Thus, I was very surprised when walking towards the lodge mid-afternoon to have one of my teammates say, "I think your family's here!"

Yes, I was very surprised... in fact, I wondered what the mistake was, because I had talked with my family just an hour previously and confirmed that they were in Spokane. Well, imagine my even greater surprise when out of the lodge walked John Sutch! Evidently he and a friend were delivering a couch in the area and decided to stop by! We had a good visit, John was wearing "tourist" clothes... no Carharrt overalls... and I was highly amused, just like those of you who know John would be. Anyway, he took a bunch of pictures, visited, and then he and his friend continued on their way. It was a lovely surprise to see part of my church family while waiting for my biological family.

To continue with the story of my family and the weekend, my family arrived around 7:30 and I showed them around the camp. We then retired to the lodge and visited until late... Daniel stayed up with me until about 11.

Saturday morning, we ate breakfast together, then Michael and I did part of the challenge course with my team, Omega Force Nine while Papa, Mom, and Daniel went up to the cross, read books, and Mom worked on preparing chemistry lessons. Let me tell you, the challenge course was fun!

In the afternoon, Michael and Papa went mountain biking while Daniel, Mom, and I went up to the cross, down to the river, and then drove to town. We had a really pleasant visit, chatting about anything and everything.

The evening was awesome! We basically just chilled in the lodge, visiting, drinking coffee, looking at stuff online, and chatting some more. My dad gave me an amazing back rub and we snuggled a little. To be honest, I still miss his snuggling. We stayed up until midnight that night, then headed to bed.

Sunday was church and then they left. Church was really good, I was happy to see my family respond to my Bighorn church the way I did and do. It's a very homey and natural church, good music, real people, and great content. Anyway, we enjoyed church and the lovely drive to and from it along River Road. Then it was lunch time and then they left.

The End.

Wait, I should say that they made it safely home, really late, and now have no pity for me in relation to the food here... =) ... it's good.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Week: TESOL

The week of September 29th to October 5th, we focused on Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The interns taught this class, teaching us how to teach English, from grammar and vocabulary to differing methods of teaching abstract ideas and the history of teaching English. During the week we had application of the things taught us, as we taught English to some employees at Lawyer Nurseries during the afternoons.

As per usual, things didn't go quit as planned. We were supposed to have seven students to teach, and trade off teaching days so OF9 taught one day and KWA taught the next. The first day we had six students, so the teaching teams were reorganized a little bit. Jordan and I taught Javier and Alfredo. They were complete beginners so we started from the basics. Tuesday, however, KWA only had two students. Thus, the teaching teams were reorganized once again. Thursday, when OF9 taught again, we had three students, so J and I taught Augustine.

TESOL week was fun, difficult, and sometimes discouraging. Maybe I should label it "character building?" Hopefully I did build some character while doing it.

Well, I'm out of time to write, so I'll tell you about the weekend and last week later on. Hope you've enjoyed this! ~A~

Next Subject: Missions Focus Week

So, the week after returning from our rafting trip, we had a missions and ministry focus week. During that week, we learned about ministry, the how to, the heart of the missionary, and stories of different missionaries. We had at least a dozen different missionary/ministry speakers during the week, telling us about their area of ministry and preparation for ministry.

At the end of the week Discover had a practicum. We ran the entire Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of Plains-- Sunday School, worship, sermon, Children's Church, coffee time, etc. It was an adventure! A good kind, of course. I did the A/V and worked with the group on the Jr. Sr. High school Breakfast Club. It was a lot of fun!

The whole week was really neat. I met a lot of missionaries with different organizations as well as friends of friends. I could give you a lot more information on the week, but suffice it to say that we had fun, listened to tons of speakers, and ran a church for one Sunday.

An Update... First Part: The Rafting Trip

So, obviously it's been almost a month since I updated my blog. The last time I wrote, I was getting ready for an awesome rafting trip. Since then, many things have happened, so I'll write a few posts to update you all on the last few weeks.

The Rafting Trip:

We left Monday morning, right after chapel, and drove off into the sunset. Wait, it wasn't sunset... it was sunrise... well, not even that exactly. It was precisely 9 o'clock AM when we left, with a long drive ahead of us. We drove across Montana, the into Idaho and down to the Salmon River. The drive took around 5 1/2 hours, during which we slept, read, laughed, and stared out the windows. Not necessarily in that order though, obviously... I think the order was more like sleep, read, sleep, laugh, sleep, read, laugh, sleep, stare out windows, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, wait, this is getting repetitive somehow. =)

After arriving at the Salmon River, we unloaded everything from the vans and trailers, changed into river clothes, loaded everything on the rafts, and started paddling down the river. Unlike Explore, who learns everything about rafting before doing it, Discover started down the river and then discovered that many of us didn't know the first thing about river protocol... so, we learned.

We went about an hour and a half down the river, then pulled out and set up camp. By that time, it was around 6:30, and the sun was getting ready to set. So, I worked with the dinner crew getting food ready for the group while others unloaded rafts, set up the Schruter*, layed out the tarps for sleeping and generally had fun.

*Note: At this point, I should explain the Schruter. It was the bucket-toilet, named because of a certain character from the Office, namely, Dwight Schrute. The nickname stuck.

We went to sleep under the stars, enjoying a warm breeze floating down the river canyon. Unfortunately, the warm breeze did not stay warm, and we woke up COLD. I woke up early and lay in my warm sleeping bag looking at the stars. Shortly after the stars disappeared, Luke woke us up to go do personal devos. Then it was breakfast, loading rafts, and down the river again.

Tuesday, we traveled quite a long ways. I could go into more detail, but my journal isn't handy, so I'll just re-construct as I can. Tuesday, we had fun doing various things, from cliff-jumping to pirating, to swimming a little rapid as a group. The weather was amazing, as soon as it warmed up, the water was warm, and the group spirit was fun. We ended the day at a normal sort of time, did dinner and dessert, visited, and went to bed. The stars were lovely and it was pleasant to wake up during the night and look at them.

Wednesday was a fun day. We had harder rapids to do, so it was a little more focused during the first part of the day, but we aced the rapids and enjoyed the extra measure of danger. After the main rapids were over, we had a long section of smooth, deep water, and most all of us went swimming. Then it was back in the rafts and doing a couple more rapids. We ended rafting a little early that day, around 3, and then had fun. We went swimming, flipped a raft upside down and used it as a water slide, and hauled the fully-loaded cargo rafts up a 20 foot hill of sand. My work crew grilled up hamburgers for the group and then we had a group meeting.

The theme throughout the week was "pointing positive." This is a river term meaning that when you see rocks or something in the river to avoid, don't point at the problem, point the direction you need to go. The application for this was that we as a group and as individuals need to not be pointing at our problems, but pointing at the direction we need to be going. The evening meeting was focused on the idea of pointing positive and how we could practically do that. We each grabbed a rock and as we set our rock down (making an arrow pattern) we named something that we enjoyed or appreciated from the day. Then, it was off to bed and sleep.

Thursday was team day. On previous days, each raft had a guide from Bighorn in it, making sure that we could do the rapids and giving us instructions. Thursday, the guides were gone, all on cargo rafts, and Omega Force Nine and Killer Wicked Awesome (myself being a member of OF9) each had a paddle raft to guide themselves. Each member took a turn guiding the raft and we had a nice pleasant morning with little (and a couple bigger) rapids. Team rafts continued through the early afternoon, and then we got guides back. Not too long after the guides returned to the paddle rafts, Zack (OF9's guide) asked for a couple volunteers to swim a bigger rapid. Naturally, I volunteered! Mike from my raft and Jake from the other also swam. It was a blast! Slightly scary too, but that made it even more fun. Jake got stuck in a pillow for a little while, but managed to get out. I got into one briefly, but popped out right away. Not too long after that, the Salmon River joined the Snake River, then things got hard.

We stopped at a waterfall briefly, took a picture of the group there, and continued on.

The killer part was the next two hours. There was a wind coming up the canyon, trying to push the rafts upstream, so we had to paddle constantly. Zach kept us cheerful though, and we tried to encourage each other a lot. Eventually we got to a camp site and set things up. That campsite, however, was rattlesnake heaven. There were three rattlesnakes spotted, of varying sizes, two of which were killed. This is one of the victims:

Friday morning we were waked up early to do solo time. We packed our dry bags, ate breakfast, and then went off for two hours separately to spend time with God. It was pretty awesome. Then it was back to the river on the party barge. Because of the slower current, small number of rapids, and wind working against us, we pulled out a small outboard motor, tied the rafts together, and used the motor to do the work for us. Here's the party barge:

After a couple hours, we were in Washington and pulled out near Asotin. After unloading all the rafts, changing clothes, debriefing, and eating lunch, we took a picture and got in the vans to head back to Bighorn.

The van drive returning wasn't quite as long, due to the fact that we were traveling more interstates. We stopped at Pizza Hut in Spokane on the way back, then slept, read, talked and laughed our way back to Camp Bighorn, arriving there about ten o'clock.

The end of the trip was really on Saturday, when we cleaned everything up, including the Schruter, and put all our stuff away. Thus ended The Rafting Trip. The End.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


So, now I'll try to show you some pictures from the last week. I don't have too many, as my hands were busy most of the time.

This is the place I'm staying:

Here is the river that runs next to the camp. (along with a little bit of Brittany)

Here is Kaitlyn with Kayleen's guitar:

This is the bell that brings us to everything: meals, meetings, classes, etc.

This is Zach, on staff at Bighorn, but also one of the instructors for the WFA class.

This is the main instructor for WFA, Sue.

This is when everyone was practicing taking pulses (L to R- Zack, Vanessa, Cori, Mike, Kaitlyn, Erica:

This is Jessi, looking on:

Here are the feet of all the girls in Discover:

This is Robin, one of the daughters of Ruben and Sarah, who host my Impact group every week.

And this is the flag I look at every morning:

Yes, I love the flag. =) I'm enjoying looking at it every day. It's such a beautiful work of art.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

And so I update...

So, another week has passed, and I'm back to update. This last week, Explore went on a 5-day backpack trip while Discover did Basic Missionary Medicine and Wilderness First Aid. The medicine skill week was fun, for sure. The first two days we covered the different philosophies of medicine, the christian view of medicine, and how medical missions worked practically. Then we started WFA.

Wilderness First Aid, or WFA, or, as we pronounced it, "wuhfa," was a ton of fun! Even though I was sick for most all of it, I still enjoyed the learning and experience. We learned about perfusion pressure, ischemia, infarction, and anaphylaxis, to name a few. After each teaching section, we got to practice what we learned on "patients"... half the group were patients and half were rescuers. We "saved" countless people from hypothermia, anaphylaxis, seizure, bruises, broken bones, and spinal injuries. Of course, one of the first things we learned was how to take a pulse...

The head teacher for the course has been a medic at base camp, ski patrol in Colorado, medic for a British news team in the Sahara desert, and numerous other exciting jobs. She was amazing to listen to. After giving little bits of information here and there, it was fun to see her help us piece together the dots and show us what we knew, that we didn't know we knew!

One day during the week, I think it was Sunday, I went with some of the girls to the river. Kaitlyn brought Kayleen's guitar, and we sang a little, some of the girls swam, and mostly just visited or looked at the pretty view.

After class was over Friday, I had a nice relaxing afternoon. I played the piano here for awhile-- it's a really annoying one-- really out of tune, and several glitches. At least it plays "music". ~shrug~ Beggars can't be choosers, huh? Some of the others went down to the shooting range with Darron and I joined them. That was a blast. Between a guy who's in the NRA and the Canadian guys who hadn't shot before, it was an intercultural experience!!!

Later, I went to the river with some of the girls and swam a little. The air was warm, but the water cold, so it was really refreshing and pleasant. I'm definitely looking forward to being on the water next week!

As I mentioned briefly before, I've been sick this week. It's been manageable, but slightly miserable too. Hopefully I didn't pass it on to too many people. =(

Today Discover spent an hour or two getting stuff ready for the raft trip next week. Explore started trickling in at 9 AM, one team at a time, until all were back by lunch. They seem to have enjoyed their trek, hiking the state line trail between Montana and Idaho. It was amazing how quickly they got changed and took showers... one might even think that they hadn't showered for five days! =) I read a book, played with a frisbee, took a nap, played the piano, and visited with Explore friends. 'Twas nice. A few things are different though, now that Explore is back: the internet is slower, the food line is longer, and the lodge is noisier! Not that I mind, they're nice people, after all.

A few details on the raft trip we're taking:

-We'll be traveling 5 1/2 hours to the start point in Idaho.
-The route is around 50 miles on the Salmon River, then 25 on the Snake
-We'll leave Monday morning at 9
-We'll return Friday evening, sometime
-The Discover Director's wife (who is also a Discover Director) will not be coming with us, because she is PREGNANT!!!
-Mauricio, our field coordinator for Guatemala (who lives in Guatemala) is flying in tonight and will be coming on the trip with us.
-We'll be taking class 1-4 rapids.
-It will be fun.

~smile~ Did you know that? Oh, right, of course it will be fun... 'cause everything I do is fun, huh? =) =) =)

Anyway, that's my update. Sorry I can't give you any pictures in this post, the internet keeps cutting out, and uploading pictures just doesn't work right now. Hopefully tomorrow?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Trip to Town

Well, let's see here. I have several subjects to cover in this post, so I'll start with the longest ago event and then continue to the most recent one.

This last week, we did a leadership class. It was a ton of fun, as well as a good time of learning. We did group activities, small discussions, big discussions, and a few lectures. Most of the lectures were held out on the grass, so some of us are a tad bit sunburned. Tough luck to the guys on one team who shaved their heads. =( In my opinion, it was a great time of bonding, learning more about each other's thinking styles and strengths, as well as a good time of personal growth as we each realized areas in which we needed to improve.

Last night, we celebrated with a big game of Sockee. For those of you who have never played, it's an indoor game wherein the players all wear socks and slip and slide on a hardwood floor while trying to kick a whiffle ball through the other team's goal-- soccer in socks. To prepare for the game, we moved most of the furniture and breakable items in the lodge into one corner. Here's Anna, trying to reach the light fixtures to remove the covers... obviously, she was a little short. =)

Others moved chairs, and then they swept up all the random grass and dirt that had collected on the floor. This is Anna and Mike, sweeping up.

Some people really got into the game... my fellow Discoverite, Mike, for example:

Others looked calm and collected, but played a really mean game... like Peter:

Some of the Bighorn staff's kids looked on:

Some people were spectators... not so much spectating the game as spectating their computer screens... but at least they were sorta participating.

Then the game started!

Folks brought the loudspeakers down from upstairs, and got everyone in the mood for a tough game... and believe me, the music was loud and the game tough.

Sometimes things were slow, and players stood around a little.

Other times, the game was so fast, it looked like this:

Here are a couple more shots from the game:

Towards the end of the game, some of the girls (and Mike) decided to dance like fairies... it was amusing enough that I snapped a picture.

So, that was Sockee. Ridiculous game but fun to watch. =)


Today we went to Missoula and shopped. There were two groups that went to town: the "I need everything under the sun" group and the "want a couple things, but mostly just want to get to town and have fun" group. I was part of the latter. We left at 9 and drove for quite awhile. I don't know how long exactly it was, because I slept both ways. =) People-pillows are comfortable... not that I originally intended to use them.

The first stop was REI. A visit to the clearance rack yielded a nice shirt, so I bought that, and then wandered around, waiting for the others to be done. After aproximately an hour, everyone was finished shopping there and decided to continue on.

Second stop-- Walmart. I bought several things there, mostly stuff for the rafting trip, but also a couple other assorted items I forgot to bring to Montana with me.

After Walmart, we visited the "biggest gun shop in Montana." THAT was fun!!! They didn't just have guns, they had knives, fishing gear, sleeping bags, all sorts of other outdoor things... and a HUGE assortment of Carrhart clothing! I had fun trying on various hats there.

4th and final store stop was GoodWill. There wasn't a huge variety of things there, but it was nice to see things with decent prices on them. A couple of guys bought rather, um, disturbing shorts-- well above the knees. They wore them to dinner with socks and sandals and a horrid sweater over the top. If you don't believe on their outfits, I can describe them in more detail, but be assured that you're likely to be scarred for life. =) I bought a belt and a Bing Crosby movie.

Finally, we got to the purely fun stuff. We wandered downtown Missoula for about an hour and a half, taking pictures and wandering in random shops.

No, we didn't go in this place.

I loved this sign in the coffee shop we went into:

The shop had dozens of different kinds of drinks, as well as a lot of coffee beans, loose teas, crepes, and supplies for making all of the above.

After leaving the coffee shop, I went and took a few more pictures. There are murals all over the place:

This is a World War II memorial, with the County Courthouse in the background:

Another picture of the Courthouse:

Timo and Nathan came by, so I joined them.

Then Timo decided to climb a tree:

Oh yes, I bought a hat at Camp Bighorn, so here is me and my hat, with espresso, in Missoula:

Anyway, that's a summary of my last couple days, along with a detailed description of today. Hope you enjoyed it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The U S of A...

Well, I'm back in the United States, the "land of the free and home of the brave." And very happy to be so too... even though it's still not exactly little-town WA.

Last week was really busy. We, the freshmen class at PBI, did a three-credit course in one week... 6 1/2 hours of class each day plus assignments. Unfortunately, I must admit that I enjoyed it. ~grin~ Intense though it was, I really liked having a complete overview of the Bible, learning (or re-learning) the major themes of each book, backgrounds, people, places, and observing throughout the grand scheme of Scripture-- Heilsgeschichte-- God's plan to redeem mankind. (okay, so I like that word... I'm going to practice it in my sleep.)

Monday, Explore and Discover did the exam for the previous week's class at 7:30 AM, then had meetings most of the rest of the day. That evening, after quickly packing, I went for a walk.

It was beautiful outside... the sun was setting, the crickets were chirping, and the town had quieted down a little. Walking out towards the railroad tracks I decided to snap a picture:

It wasn't actually that dark out, but I decided to see if I could catch the twilight effect. After looking out, I glanced down, and decided to take another snapshot:

It doesn't appear that amazing in the picture, but the intricacy of the tiny flowers was really neat.

Anyway, that was Monday night. Tuesday morning, bright and early, we headed out, got breakfast, and loaded the bus. We took a greyhound-type bus with most of the people and luggage, and a couple people drove a van down with the rest of the luggage. All ready to go at 7:15... and then discovered that three guys hadn't appeared! So, a couple people went to wake them up and bring them down while another person grabbed them lunch bags. Finally, around 7:45, we were off!

For the first hour it was quiet. Some people slept...

... while others read books or listened to music. Eventually, the bus came to life again and became noisy. After not too long, we could see the Rockies in the distance to the west.

Sorry about the glare, it was impossible to avoid. After awhile of driving next to the mountains, we started to go through some:

For some reason, around the time we got to prettier scenery, others decided it was time to watch a movie... so we did. I say "we" in a non-inclusive sense, because some of us didn't appreciate it as much as others. ~laugh~ And I was part of the some. Needless to say, I continued snapping pictures... however, due to the fact that the bus was moving, not all of them came out well. This is the Frank Slide:

Shortly after Frank Slide, we stopped for a brief "washroom" and caffeine break. Of course, a loaded bus doesn't take a very quick break, so some people started climbing around on the different walls and barriers. =)

Here are a few more pictures along the way while still in Canada:

We crossed the U.S. border, of which I didn't take any pictures. For once, we had some really friendly customs people, so that was fun. It took awhile, but that's no surprise, considering that they had to check every single person's passport. Just after we were cleared to go, we discovered that one of the tires was leaking... so, another stop. I took a panoramic picture of the view looking away from the tire shop and visited while others played ultimate and wandered around.

The flat fixed, we continued on our way, south through Montana, then east. Finally, we arrived at Camp Bighorn. This is the lodge building:

The view across the road and rive from the lodge:

Another view of the lodge:

And I'll tell you right away, it's lovely to be in a place where I wake up in the morning, go outside, and see this:

Yes, I love my country. Hopefully I'll be able to keep you all updated a little better for awhile. We have leadership class this week, then wilderness medicine next week. The week after (15-20th) is a raft trip. Take care, everyone.

P.S. Ruth, whom I believe I mentioned in a previous post, did get an apartment! She's doing better now, and enjoying her own space. =) ~A