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.