Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This summer:7: Feeling Lucky

I am currently in Japan for my time off. I just had a lovely night's sleep in my hotel on the Yokota AFB where I will be for the next 3 nights. My room is wonderful. I am so thankful to have a full kitchen!!! I probably won't do much cooking this week, but when I come back here in 2 weeks to lead Yokota's DI camp, it will revolutionize my eating. I am thrilled. No kidding, I have been researching ways to cook with a clothes iron. I am so used to being able to cook my own food, that I was going crazy always eating out or eating prepackaged meals.
The view from my room makes me so excited. MOUNTAINS!!!! I have been on mountain withdraw, ohhhh, for my entire life, I think. I am gonna go work out and if Charles is still sleeping, go find my way over to the bases' Outdoor Rec building and try to get the low down on cool stuff to do in the area. :)

The plane ride was a breeze. I thought it was going to be torturous, but I had a blast. I was in the very back seat, so it was quiet and I had extra space behind me to put my stuff. Every other row other than First Class had 3 seats in it except for mine! Also, there was a wonderful Japanese man that sat next to me and let me have the window seat. I spent a lot of time just looking out the window. Our path took us across the great lakes, western Canada, Alaska and the Pacific Ocean. Alaska and BC were BREATHE-TAKING from the air, and the clouds were incredible.

Other than looking out the window I read part of East of Eden (love it), read parts of my Lonely Planet Japan book, watched movies (part of Rain Man, most of A Beautiful Mind, slept during Chicago, the beginning of Mama Mia and Nine-dumb and dumb-, and the old classic The Holiday), played Tetris, slept (I didn't sleep the night before in prep), ate tasty Japanese plane food and most importantly, talked to the sweet man next to me.
His name was something like Tokonunoati. He has 2 kids and gave me a bunch of tips on Japan. Charles keeps laughing at me because I make friends everywhere we go. haha After every flight, my seat partner is always waving at me from across the airport, and Charles is like, "whaaaaa?" hilarious.

Okay, keep it tuned here for more adventures!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This summer:6: Brainwriting Week 2

So, at the end of each week of camp, we have each of the campers draw a picture representing what the week has meant to them, what they have learned, what they have liked about it....
I thought I would do the same. I lost my picture from the first week, but here is mine from this week.
I definitely feel like I am on the opposite side of the world as everyone I know. For a while I was feeling pretty lonely and couldn't shake it. It is really hard living on the road and only knowing one person (and not very well, at that.) Charles and I can get along alright and run a good camp, but it is kind of like an arranged marriage. You spend most of your time with this one person, but you don't have much say in the matter. Charles and I are having fun, but we both definitely need time apart after working together all day. It's funny... we find ways everyday that we are similar and ways that we are completely different. It is a very good learning experience, and I am looking forward to the rest of the summer, no doubt.
Anyway, I had an epiphany in the shower the other day (the best place to think.) I realized how much I rely on the friendships and relationships that I have. Many of my spiritual conversations are with friends and family, much of my fellowship is at church, my exercise is usually with friends, my confessions are to friends, my adventuring is with friends, my movie watching, my studying, my eating, my dancing... everything other than sleeping and time alone with God is usually done with people whom I love and love me.
On one side, it is somewhat stunting that once on my own, I feel lost, but on the other side, it is helping me really, really appreciate the relationships I do have in my life. And, now that I realize the reason for my lull this summer, I can work on strengthening my solitary relationship with God and become a more well-rounded person--building up a more complete set of armor and avoiding hazardous handicaps.
That is why I drew myself saying the verse I quote daily. I also know that even though my friends and family feel like they are on the other side of the world (and soon will be), I know that they are still in full support of me and praying for me.
That is an awesome realization.
Almost enough to make a girl feel on top of the world.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Feet, oh feet, they sure are neat

Amidst all this travel, I am gaining a greater appreciation for my feet. They accompany me everywhere I go and carry me places I've never been. They symbolize action, perseverance and faith.
If I were much of a poet, this is where I would present my hippy, metaphor-filled poem where I would muse about my feet with such passion that you would buy a new pair of shoes on the spot. Alas, I am a shoddy poet, and although I hold poets in highest admiration, I have put my personal poetry dreams on the shelf until someone can successfully explain to me the appeal of haiku.
Instead, I went on a search for pictures I have taken of my feet in hopes that poetry and the story of my feet can sing just as loudly through images as words.

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
Kahlil Gibran

“We have not wings we cannot soar; but, we have feet to scale and climb, by slow degrees, by more and more, the cloudy summits of our time.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Grab your coat, and get your hat, Leave your worry on the doorstep Just direct your feet, To the sunny side of the street.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalms 119:105

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
John 13:14-15

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
Henry David Thoreau

When you pray, move your feet. African Proverb

Saturday, June 19, 2010

This summer:5: Aint Life Grand?

So today Charles and I made the 3 hour drive to Minot, North Dakota. We talked about life, love and whether or not Jell-o is made with horse hoofs. We were eagerly anticipating our arrival to the infamous Grand International Inn, which boasts to having Minot's largest swimming pool, not to mention being recently "Renamed, Remodeled, Redecorated & Refurbished" according to the website.
We arrived in the parking lot--shared with a used car lot--and immediately realized it might not be as "grand" as the website made it off to be...


It's not that it is a bad place to stay, but just sort of funny and ironic... lots of potential for stories... yeah. There are so many funny things about this place, starting with the one, tiny window not unlike a prison cell. Then there's the bathroom layout (the toilet is wedged diagonally underneath the counter), the decorations (straight out of the Twilight Zone), and the mirror conveniently placed BEHIND the TV. Good one guys. I was able to cover up the smell of smoke by dousing the room in Downey Wrinkle Releaser, so that was a nice discovery. Possibly the favorite feature of the room is the smattering of paper napkins with the following inscription:

So bizarre. Windshields? Thanks?
Also tonight, I witnessed one of the most stunning thing I have ever seen. I was watching a movie from my bed and I noticed through the cell window that the sky was a strange cotton candy pink, so I stood up and peeked outside. there was the most beautiful rainbow stretching across the entire city. A full, double, sunset rainbow. I nearly collapsed. And since the (not so) Grand International sits on the only hill in Minot, I had the most perfect view.

Friday, June 18, 2010

This summer:4: Airports, Cheddar Biscuits and Sea Turtles

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. -Phillipians 4:13

So my first week of Summer Camps is over, and man have I learned a lot! It was so much work, but totally worth it. I don't think I realized how big of an impact this summer is going to have on me. After the first day, I knew I was going to LOVE this summer and any other experiential education work I do in the future. I don't really know what the job prospects look like, but I am definitely going to look into it.
Here are some short snipits of my week:
Arrive in Grand Forks Airport. Now this airport has one, count it one, terminal for passenger flights. The same room you check in is where you go through security/is where you buy a bagel/is where you get on the plane/is where you get off the plane/is where you get your luggage/is where you rent a car. My luggage ended up not making it on my flight, so I waited in the waiting room (aka the everything room) for a couple hours, luggage-less for Charles' flight to come in. Like a work of typical "Audrey 'Touched by an Angel'" magic, my luggage ended up coming in on Charles' flight unscathed.
We got to the base, met our wonder of wonders Point Of Contact, Jake, and went to our apartment-sized hotel rooms to sleep off the day of travel.
I ended up going to church with Jake because I thought it would be a cool experience to meet Christians from across the country. This was probably the best decision I made all week considering they had an old traveling singing couple leading the service that morning. They mostly told cheesy jokes then broke into synthesized Southern Gospel duets for an hour. Jake said that Garrison Keillor has written sketches modeled after this very couple, which I found positively delightful.
The rest of the day (literally) Charles and I spent organizing our materials for the week/summer. For the summer we will each have a roller-duffel full of non-consumable materials and get 3 boxes of consumables set to each base. We put everything into giant Ziploc bags so they were easy to find when we had to pull them throughout the week. It took a while, but made the rest of the week go SO much more smoothly.
The first day of camp was a blast. We only had 9 kids in the first camp and 8 in the second. The first camp comprised of younger kids (elementary) and they were nuts. It was a great test of our kid-wrangling skills. the second group was of older kids(junior high and young high school) The kids didn't know what to expect, so some coped by being extra rowdy, some by being extra reserved. it was cool to see our knowledge of reading behavior learned at staff training become applicable.
Now the kids knew what was going on the elementary kids reacted as being much more calm and focused, which was a relief. The older kids however decided to reek havoc... well, a couple of them. We had our first real discipline issues, which held strong through much of the rest of the week--even to the point of nearly dismissing a child from camp due to complete disregard of respect. Yikes.
One amazing thing started this day though. there was one boy that had played hookie for the first day of camp, but he showed up late for this day after a call from his mom announcing his arrival. We were told to watch out for this teen because he "spends most of his time in jail" and was well know around the base for having severe discipline issues. He was a follower that chose the wrong leaders.
This teen could not have been a better camp. He had perfect behavior and really got into the challenges and had a lot of fun! A few Challenges into the camp, he started asking about being on DI teams and actually stepped up as a leader of his group! Jake was entirely floored and had trouble not skipping across the gym floor in excitement for the dramatic change is this teen in just a couple hours! We wondered if he would show up the next day.
Camp continued and the Challenges got more difficult. As in life, wen the challenges get more difficult, weaknesses in things like communication, teamwork and attitude become wildly apparent. But this isn't a bad thing when addressed in the safe environment of a DI camp. We were able to do a lot of valuable processing with the groups after they "failed" Challenges or got in fights or frustrated. This helped them to step back and realize the advantages and disadvantages of the situation they were in... it is amazing to see that light bulb turn on in kid's heads.
My favorite example of the day was one boy that was constantly getting frustrated with another boy on his team(the one that nearly got kicked out). He was about to just shutdown and quit, but then we saw something click in him. All of a sudden his maturity level shot through the roof, and he was working to include this boy in Challenge solutions and make is ideas seem important. It was inspiring.
By this point nearly all of the students were showing growth. They were having fun and taking real ownership over their ideas. In the older group, the boy that was having such extreme behavioral issues elected to sit out from activities, and we allowed it after Charles and Jake spoke extensively to him since his mom made him come and he was otherwise inhibiting the other kid's growth too greatly.
One breakthrough really stuck out to me in an ultra-hyper young girl that got put in the older kids' group due to time constraints. Usually while her team was working on a Challenge, she was bouncing off the walls somewhere or annoying her teammates. Near the end of the day, I was talking to the team about how DI teams often assign roles to certain people that they have during every Instant Challenge. I suggested a role such as the Master Time Keeper, which I hoped would give a sense of purpose, focus and contribution to this girl. Boy, did we see a switch in her from that point on! Yes, she was asking me how much time they had left every 30 seconds, but she had a role and felt needed. Her team accepted her contribution, and with her extra focus, were able to mentor her to have a bigger role on the team. It was heart-warming and made me feel like I made a difference too!
We also had Family Camp Friday night. Well, after the tornadoes... The weather got crazy, and we thought we'd have to cancel, but last minute a few families showed up and we had a great time. After realizing a third of our attendees were 5 or younger, I accepted the challenge of chilling with the little kids while Charles and Jake managed the parents and campers. I realized after a week of working with elementary and junior highers, that may favorite age group is actually the little kids! They are so much fun, and while they are a lot of work, I don't feel like I am going to die like I do after managing a million older kids. Good thing to realize....
Last day of camp. So many campers had come so far from the beginning of the week. Teamwork and moral were at all time highs and the Challenge solutions were great. Charles worked his booty off to put together a wonderful DVD slide show of the pictures we had taken throughout the week, and I must admit that I was holding back some emotion while watching it. :)
One of the kid's moms thanked us and said that she has seen such a change in her son at home over the week, and that camp was all he talked about. So touching.
As for the teen that skipped on the first day, he is moving to a base in Texas next week and already plans to start with a fresh step and join the DI team on the new base.
Charles and I celebrated a great week with dinner at Red Lobster and ate some cheddar biscuits for Andrew, our boss who looooves them. :)

All in all, this first camp experience has exceeded my expectations. A quick story to sum it up: The Sunday before this journey began, some ladies at church in Bloomington prayed for me and shared what God was placing on their hearts to tell me. The words they said all seemed right, but one thing stuck out to me as seeming off-base. She saw my turtle necklace that my dad gave me and said that she couldn't get the image of baby sea turtles out of her head. She talked about how people will dig trenches leading from the sea turtle nests to the ocean to give safe passage to the babies, so often plagued by fatality. She said that she saw me as building "trenches" for these children to lead them to the right path in life...
At the time I thought, "Hey lady, this summer is about me traveling and staying safe and not dying of exhaustion. I really don't think that by only being at the bases for a week is going to have any life-long impacts. Seems rather over-the-top..."
Needless to say, I don't feel this way anymore.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This summer:3:_SHIFT_

Current Location: Indianapolis International Airport, IN
Location in 3 hours: Minneapolis, MN
Location in 4 hours: Grand Forks, ND

At the start of any significant momentum shift in my life, I like to set goals. I've found that if I don't have my focus on things that I find important and want to pursue, I will easily getting knocked off balance and fall to the mercy of my--often wild--surroundings. As the start of my job has drawn nearer, I've considered what this summer's goals will be. I've come to realize they are the same basic goals that I always seem to make for myself. Sure, I have silly little goals that change from year to year, but I think instead of thinking up goals for myself, I have discovered life themes... passions, if you will.

It's as simple as this:

Love God.
Love People.

This summer I want to start each day dedicating everything I have to God. Giving Him my job, my insecurities, my pride, my relationships, my safety, my laziness, my personality... everything. As long as I stop trying to take control and "make the most of everything" in my eyes and let Him lead me to what is most important, I will live more fully and learn to love God more deeply. I believe I have so much more to learn from my experiences this summer than to just be a better kid-wrangler and airplane traveler.

By taking the focus off myself and onto God, I will be able to better love other people as well. I know that times will get frustrating with people in the airport, at the bases and with my partner, Charles, but it will be a whole lot easier if I allow myself to put things into perspective and see through God's eyes. There is so much to learn from people, and I don't think we give them enough credit. Yes, the Bible is a great tool. Yes, sermons and prayer are great, but God has put so much of His love into each and every person that there has to be so much to learn just from loving them! Love on yo brotha; that's all I'm sayin. ha

Cool. that's bout enough for now. Here are some of my goals. If you don't hear me talk about them for the rest of the summer, kick me in the shins next time you see me.


_Take plenty of silly pictures.
_Take important pictures.
_Don't photograph EVERYTHING. Leave some things to memory.
_Take self-portraits.
_Don't break the camera.

_Really get to know Charles.
_Really let Charles get to know me.
_Make friends across the world.
_Be patient, kind, don't envy or boast or be proud, don't be rude or self-seeking or easily angered, keep no record of wrongs, rejoice in the truth, protect, trust, hope and persevere.

Daily Checklist-
_Spend time alone with God.
_Refine my dance skillzzz.
_Do something I've never done before.

_Eat food that my body was meant to eat.
_Exercise everyday.
_Rock climb as much as possible!
_Take my vitamins and meds.
_Learn to do hand stands.
_Don't have to use my epipen.

_Be brilliant. (That one's for Rusty.)
_Be a role model.
_Be in love with my work.
_Be resilient.
_Be flexible.
_Be forgiving.
_Have a ball. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mix and Match

1. delectable
2. splendid
3. luscious
4. tantalizing
5. rare


a. initiative

b. resourcefulness
c. courage
d. spunk
e. guts

Monday, June 7, 2010

This summer:2:

"I'm learning that life is made up of seasons, and that some are hard and some are easy. I know that life won't always be like it is right now. And because of that, I'm doing my best to soak it up, every drop... This is a lovely season, crammed full with so many people I care about and moments that make me happy and full on a deep level. The days are busy, certainly, but they're full of such good things. I'm thankful every day and aware every day that we have no guarantees. For every single day of this sweet season, I'm thankful, and when it ends, whenever it does, I'll hold it in my heart as one of God's greatest gifts to me."
-Shauna Niequist

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This summer:

So, I got pretty dang close to my dream summer job. It involves travel, creativity, kids, meeting new people, hard work and adventure. I would have been stoked to do it even if it was just volunteer, but it pays well too!

Starting in a week, I will be leading week-long creative problem-solving camps for 7-14 year olds at various US Air Force bases through the non-profit organization Destination Imagination (idodi.org). I was on DI teams for 5 years growing up and have volunteered in many capacities for the past 7 years. It had a huge role in helping me discover my interests and develop my confidence and problem-solving skills.

In nine weeks, I will be taking residence at the following US Air Force bases:
Grand Forks-North Dakota
Minot-North Dakota
(Free Week in Japan)
Misawa-Japan (Northern countryside)
Yokota-Japan (Tokyo area)
Osan-South Korea (Seoul area)
Kadena-Japan (Okinawa area aka tropical island)

My partner Charles and I will lead one or two 4-hour camps Monday-Friday at the camps' rec centers, then travel on Saturday and set up at the next base on Sunday.

My best friends are going to be my passport, my camera and adventure... well, and hopefully Charles. ha

Anyway, I'll try to keep this thing updated on my tales and adventures... possibly some pictures, but those will probably mostly be on the old facebook. Until then...