Thursday, April 18, 2013

Red Hook Volunteers Supplies Needed and Work For Saturday

Hello Barbara! Yes there is progress! Thanks for the email. This will work even better. Here is the list of things we could use. I am also giving you a list of our Amazon Registry to give you a better idea of what we specifically are looking for. The list below is in importance order.

 Wheel barrels and Wagon Carts
 paint brushes and painters tape
 putty knives
 staple guns
 sand paper
 drill bits
 circular saw
 construction radios

Amazon Registry

 For Saturday I dont know for sure the projects we have lined up. It looks like we have some backyard clean up jobs from flooding damage, one of which would be helping rebuild a fence. I havent heard about electrical or drywall work for sure. I know we have some mold cleaning to do also but don't know if that is scheduled yet either. I really appreciate all you guys are doing. you have been a great help and doing great work on the projects. People love the work you do here and the love you show them. Thanks.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

How did I get to Red Hook?

Jovan and I drove into Brooklyn New York on Friday November 2nd because we wanted to help with Hurricane Sandy relief. We were on a roadtrip in North Carolina from Michigan when the storm surged up the coast. We got supplies and food and filled up with gas before we got into the city. We even filled up an extra gas tank because there was a gas shortage in the city. While driving or trying to drive into Manhattan we wanted to take the Holland Tunnel when we got there it was closed because of flooding still 3 days after the storm(it was actually closed for weeks). So we rederected ourselves towards the Lincoln Tunnel asking police for directions. We were stuck in a traffic jam in Hoboken New Jersey and asked the police officer how to get to the Lincoln Tunnel, she said we were in a gas line I needed to get in the other lane. This gas line that went around the corner and kept going we never saw an end to it. That happened a few times while I was driving in New York City. Hoboken was all dark except for flashers and headlights. Trash piled up all along every road. They were ambulance and Red Cross trucks and police cars. We made it into lower Manhattan to find more chaotic darkness. It was a very eerie feeling being in a big city that wasn't lit up all the way. Yet still, We made it to see Mike in Brooklyn without too much problem.

The next morning jovan, Mike and I drove to Coney Island to try to work at a site. It took longer to drive there than I thought it would because of different traffic jams(including more gas lines that people wait days in). We got there late and there were a bunch of people gathered at the address but no boss to put us to work. Some asked if I was the boss. Not yet. This was right on the coast and we were able to see the sand for blocks off the coast that had been washed up from the storm surge. Jovan was digging into the street to see how much sand was there and it was more than 6 inches deep. While waiting for the boss we walked a few houses over to the coast to find cars thrown against fences and to find the boardwalk in concrete pieces and found a boat washed up onto those concrete pieces. The boss eventually showed up over an hour later and didn't give us a job. He took our phone numbers and said he would call. He never called. We drove to the heart of Coney Island to find piles and piles of sand that had washed up on the shore and found more trees down blocking the roads. We found many stores and building close. We saw all lines of people waiting for some kind of help. We saw a fire hydrant opened so that people could get water. There was a man filling up buckets of it to take home. We drove back to Mike's sister's apartment and realized how much gas we used just that morning. We said we couldn't be driving around this much if we were not going to be able to get gas in the city. We were going to have to use the public transportation more. That afternoon we went for a walk with Mike to a flea market we drove by earlier. We found lots of cool stuff with lots of expensive price tags. That evening I wanted to visit Jessica who I had lived near in Wonju, Korea. So jovan and I had to take a special shuttle bus into Manhattan because the subways were not open yet between Brooklyn and Manhattan with the flooding. We met up at a Starbucks near Penn Station and talked for a while. Jessica also directed us to korea town or korea street. It felt so good to be back in the Korean culture. I took the job of ordering in korean and we had somgibsol and dokpokie and many other great korean specialties. After that we walked over to Times Square doing some people watching and seeing what Broadway shows were playng. We found out that Newsies(the greatest musical ever!) was playing on Broadway. So we splurged and bought some of the discounted tickets. The musical was amazing!

On Sunday November 4th Jovan and I where lazy in the morning. But then we found the schedule for the Brooklyn Tabernacle. We walked a long ways to get there and really enjoyed the service. Great music and more importantly a great heart for taking care of the people in Brooklyn after the super storm sandy. They were asking for people to sign up to volunteer. So we signed up. Then we walked around Brooklyn some more exploring and made our way back to the apartment. I got an email from Mike, who had left the night before, with a bunch of links to different volunteer groups in the Brooklyn area. I looked into those different links and found the closest one to us, Red Hook. And that is where the rest of the story has taken place. The start of a beautiful relationship with a beautiful community that was in chaos after the storm.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mt Fuji Hiking in Late September

Saturday September 29th 2012: This morning I woke up naturally at 5 or 6am after going to bed the night before at 1am on my college roommates couch in Tokyo, Japan. After spending a day off with him on Friday, today I was going to start 3 days of exploring on my own. Ryan my old roommate and I did some research on hiking Mt. Fuji and that has become my goal for Saturday and Sunday. A goal I need to get on fast because there is a Typhoon threatening to come through late Sunday morning. This morning after packing lots of warm cloths and anything else I could think of I left with Ryan's Tokyo roommate Mike to get on the same trains to get me to the busiest station in the world, Shinjuku Sta. Mike went off to work from there and I waited in line to buy a 5,500 yen ($70usd) round trip ticket to Mt. Fuji. When I got to the counter they said I was at the wrong place and very poorly directed (pointed) me to where I was suppose to go and wrote out(because their English wasn't good) to me that the office I needed (JR East tourist information center) opened at 10am. It was only 9:30am. I found this extra time to be good for loading up on food for my hike and food for my breakfast. The first stop I got tons of power bars, energy jells, and other snacks that looked like they had lots of calories. I also got some Tylenol in case the altitude gets to me while hiking. I didn't know if it would do anything, but that is what I think Ryan suggested. My second stop was KFC next door to get a sandwich set that came with a bigger than expected OJ. Then my third stop was Family Mart to get 2liters of water and 2liters of Pocari Sweat. After that, it was time to find this office that I was pointed to, which I thought meant it was close and should be easy enough to find. I didn't see it but asked some other Japanese speaking JR East employees where I needed to go to get this (pointing at the flyer I had for the round trip ticket). He was able to point and say, "down and left." So, following his accurate directions it still took 10 minutes to walk there. Buying the ticket was easy and a very helpful english speaking employee was able to answer all my questions. The next train wasn't for over an hour at 11:30am. During the wait I bought some more food from Good Times bakery to add to my breakfast. In Japan they have designated areas to smoke and on the train platform they had some rooms they made for all the smokers to congregate and bestow their smoke to each other. Walking by one of these rooms I saw this little 5 year old in one and I was a little worried. What's he doing in there? Someone has to get him out of there. Looking a little closer I noticed his dad standing over him in this smoke filled room. I was a little more angry than worried at the point. I had to take a picture for evidence of the child abuse.
Waiting for my train I was able to find a seat and some WiFi to check my messages and the like. The first train ride connection I was able to get a 20 min nap for the 1 hour ride to Otsuki Sta. I was glad to only get 20 mins because the views were amazing on this train ride. It kind of reminded me of taking the train through France, with gorgeous mountains and valleys and small villages. These valleys also had deep lakes and canyoned rivers below all the amazing green mountains. There were many tall pines within the views that had a Japanese feel about them. From Otsuki I had to get on the fujikyu railway train that was decorated with lots of different Mt. Fuji cartoon characters that had different shapes and facial expressions. This fujikyu railway train took me on another beautiful ride up into the city of Mt. Fuji, Fuji Q amusement park and Kawaguchiko Sta. in the city of FujiKawaguchiko or the Five Lakes area. I found a map and talked to the information lady to see where I wanted to explore before I took the Fuji Tozan (climbing) bus up to where I would start hiking. At this point in was about 1:30 or 2pm and I wanted to catch the last bus at 4:50pm to the Fujisan Gogome (fifth station) on Mt. Fuji. I wanted to explore this city and the biggest of the Fuji Five lakes with this extra time. Walking around this town it really had a european feel, almost a German or any other mountain european town feel. I walked down to Kawaguchiko lake through the tight streets with the vehicles driving on the left hand side of the road just like in europe itself. I really need to be careful with this because many times I want to look the wrong way to see if cars are coming. This could be deadly, and I heard that it is for many tourist not used to the changes. These streets led me to a very beautiful lake that was very active with Japanese fishermen and women, speed boats, paddle boats, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Surrounding the lake are beautiful steep green mountains and lava rock coastlines; an amazing testament to Mt. Fuji's closeness and forming influences on everything I see around. As I walked along some of those rocks and around some of the lake I took pictures of it's beauty and tried getting pictures of what I now noticed was Mt. Fuji being hidden by many clouds. I walked along a big bridge that crossed the big lake to get more great views. Looking back I should have just sat and soaked in the great views as I had lots of time before the bus.
I took different roads back to Kawaguchiko sta. Half way back up I found another Family Mart corner store where I got another 2liter of water as I was hoping to finish the first one before I started hiking. I also bought a really good sushi tray and a meat dumpling for my dinner. I ate it back at the train station and then asked the information about the weather for the night and tomorrow. It looked pretty good with chances of thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon, depending on the direction the threatening typhoon decides to take. I asked about the temperature on the mountian top also, and she said negative temperatures (C degrees) at night. They have had snow on the mountain already over some of the nights that melted during the warmer days. Well I am glad I packed many layers and borrowed a winter cap from Ryan.
While I was still in a short-sleeve shirt and the temp was around 80deg F, my plan was to hike Mt. Fuji at night so that I can be at the summit at sunrise. This is a normal thing to do with this mountain as I have seen pictures of the trails lit up with hikers headlamps during the normal busy season during July and August. But, this is not the normal season, it is almost October and getting colder. Still, it is probably doable as long as you don't ask the Japanese. I have been told that they like to follow everything by the letter of the law, and the open climbing season for Mt. Fuji and this Yoshida trail is only July and August. They think you have to be crazy to do it another time, or you can't it isn't possible. After the weather news I wanted to find a watch in case my phone dies during the night. I would like to know the time as I am hiking to try to make it before sunrise. I didn't find a watch, but I did people watch waiting for my bus to take me to the the fifth station. Mt. Fuji has different trails and all of them have around 10 stations of huts along the way to the summit. These stations are where you can buy expensive food and drink and sleep in an expensive bed or probably an expensive spot on the floor. The buses will take you up the fifth stations at four different sides of the mountain. These stations are usually at least half way up. This leaves 5 to 6 hours to hike the rest of the way to the top, and another 3 to 4 hours to get back down.
The bus taking me up was with just one other guy; a Japanese(I think) guy that looked like he had water and food for a hike, but didn't look like he had warm clothes. During the hour bus ride up I dozed off a few more times and woke up to amazing views about the first layer of low stratocumuliform and stratiform clouds. The bus started at 800m altitude and is taking me to about 2300m. Which leaves another almost 1500m to go up by foot. I got to the fifth station around 6pm and many were lined up to take this last bus down for the night. Not many people are up here and everything is closed as it gets dark. I take a few pictures and look around a little. I find a nice clean bathroom which is also warm to put on more clothes. Then I look around a little more to see if the information office is open; Nope, that is closed also. I don't think they expect people here at this time of night, this late in the season. Well, I don't want to start hiking because I don't want to wait on the frozen top for hours for the sun to rise. I head back to the nice warm bathroom and scope out a good place to rest.
I found a large separate handicap bathroom with motion lights. There was two handicap bathrooms so I didn't feel bad about taking one, and I don't think there will be too many handicapped people up here this time of night wanting it. I lock the door and set my stuff down to make myself a pillow of clothes. As I lay down I notice that the floor is heated! This is going to be a perfect place to rest for a few hours before I want to hit the trail. I set my alarm for 10:50pm to hike 5 or 6 hours to make it for sunrise. I end up sleeping from 6:30 to 8:30pm. It was great and really warm. It was also sometimes dark based on how much I moved around. I have a good eye shield to block the light for when I am not still. There are many people coming and going out of the bathrooms, which I kind of surprised by because I don't know where they are all coming from. The noise slash excitement and nerves keep me awake the rest of the time. This created a great time on a warm bathroom floor to write this all in my journal. I left for the trail before 11pm, but talked to some hispanic Americans for a little while then went at it. I found a good walking stick that someone left and I would find to be very thankful for as I get further up the mountain; many times it saved my legs and saved me from falling.
The clouds for the most part were light and the moon a day before it's fullest was bright. For a good part of the hike I didn't even need a headlamp because it was so bright. It was also feeling a little warmer than when I first got to the station at 6pm. I met a large group not too far up the trail and they were heading back down. From then it was hours before I saw anyone else. I saw some lights every once and a while either above me or below me, but I never seemed to be able to catch them or vice versa. The first person I saw was sleeping in a sleeping bag at one of the station platforms. I don't know which station it was because I found them to be very poorly labeled and hard to keep track of which hut was an official station and which wasn't. None of them where open at this time of year and/or this time of night. Back to the man sleeping, I had stood and rested many times coming up the hill. I was getting defeated by the hill, the breathing cardio, the cold, and the hour of day. When I saw the other man sleeping that was too tempting for me. So, I added my thick raincoat to my already 4 layers of shirts. The raincoat was to help keep the heat in and the wind out. It worked a little bit and later on I would notice how much is keep the sweat in as well. Well, I did fall asleep for a while I think but woke up colder because of laying on the cold ground and not working up my body heat. I kept pushing on exhausted, but with a little more energy. I needed all the energy I could find. I haven't worked this hard in I don't know how long. I haven't hiked this much constantly up in I don't know if ever. I continue to stop and go and grab more snacks and drinks here and there. I am glad I brought a lot because all of the stations were closed. At one moment and one slip of the foot I dropped my water out of my REI pack pocket and the cap popped off. It drained a good amount. Less Weight! Less water. While trying to pick that up quickly the other bottle of Pocari Sweat fell out and bounced down the rocks. It tore the wrapping but nothing was spilled. Keep going. I sit down to rest once and take my pack off and really feel the cold on my sweaty back. I am so tired I dose off a little. I think I am starting to get a little head pressure pain now as well; maybe because of altitude change, maybe because of dehydration, maybe because of exhaustion, maybe because of the winter cap, maybe because of the layers on my head pressing my glasses to my face tightly and out of place, maybe just because of the cold. I don't know, I haven't figured out my body out yet of why I get these weird headaches(maybe migraines, maybe not) and I don't know why these headaches often lead to me vomiting, more on that later. Well, keep pressing on and up even though many times I think of excuses why I should quit or slow way down so I don't make it by sunrise. That goal keeps fading away as it gets closer to time of lightening up. I remember Ryan's voice saying you better not come back without making it to the top. I also think, I might never get this chance again to climb My Fuji. I am not a quitter, all the time. I keep going and pass another sleeper in a bag. Later I notice what might be little snow flakes; it might also be just dust from the wind disturbed mountain. The lack of significant cloud cover makes me think the later, but I want to believe the first thought. I finally run into my first awake hikers. It was a group of 3 guys heading back down the hill. We small talk. They say it is really windy at the top, you won't be able to stay there long, and won't want to. They ask me when sunrise will be. I guessed maybe 4:30 or 5am after they told me it was already 4:15am. I hadn't checked my watch/phone in a while. According to my first given estimate I should be to the top already if it wasn't for my few breaks/naps. The 3 guys tell me I probably have another hour till the top. We head opposite in directions, me taking the harder road. I notice it starting to get a little light and I don't think it is just the moon. I am still feeling really exhausted and beet and feeling a little ill. I sit down on another inviting rock this time keeping my backpack on to keep in the heat. I doze off again. I get woken up by another hiker heading up. He asks me if I am alright. I partially lie and say yes. I find out later this is a Russian man who has been in Japan for a long time. There is another Japanese man that I think is with him a little ways behind. I start hiking again before he passes me, I look back and noticed him sit down where I got up from. It was cold and windy, but it wasn't until I saw the icicles dripping off the rocks that I knew it was at least freezing. Freezing, but hopefully getting warmer while it starts to get lighter. There were two forces working against that, however, increasing elevation and increasing windspeed. One thing that helped was increased body heat that came with the exhaustion.
The last stretch I could see the top or what I thought was the top. I keep taking pictures as the sun working it's way into view was supplying great views. I had to be careful because my camera battery seems to drain faster with colder weather. I see the last stretch up to the asian lion statues and arch gateway, and I see the sun close to poking it's sphere above the horizon. I hurry up to the gate and take many pictures until it is not nice to take them.
A few more steps up and I am to a small village on the top of Mt. Fuji! The village is closed tight like everything else on the mountain. It is also hard to stand still in because of the super strong winds. I explore a little to find the amazing crater and take a few more pictures.
I consider walking the 45min loop of the crater, but decide to start heading down out of the wind and cold. I start to descend with the Russian man and the Japanese man, leaving a few others at the top. It was good getting to know the Russian man a little. We were descending the same way we came up; lots of rocks, lots of steps, and lots of thankfulness for the found walking stick. I was feeling good and awake talking with my new friend. Then realizing I still had a full normal hike ahead of me of 3 or 4 hours. It took me 7 hours to get to the top with all the naps. I got ahead of the two guys and then last them. I think they switched over to the descending trail, which I didn't know existed. Well, I didn't know it was going to the same place and didn't know it was specifically designed for descending. It was less rocky and less steps to try to find your step on. I passed many people that were heading up and I was hoping that they would make it down before the threatening typhoon comes up. Some of them I was not betting on. I thought for a while about rushing down to make the 9:40am bus, but then I felt the lack of sleep creeping in. I found some good ground and dozed off again. It was warming up nicely and I decided to get rid of the raincoat layer. When I did I found pools of sweat. I tried to drink a lot of Pocari Sweat on the way down to wash away any chance of dehydration and hopefully headache. I needed Tylenol to also try to fight the headache, but it doesn't seem to work. Coming down the mountain in the light was a whole new experience with amazing views, different terrains that I don't ever remember seeing on the way up or ever in my life. Volcanic rock everywhere, and green down below.
It was a beautiful wasteland. The hike really felt like two different trips, night and day different, literally. I made it back to the almost flat land and returned my walking stick to where I found it so that another ascender could benefit from it. I took many pictures of the mix of of red and black lava rock and yellow shrubs and green pine and other trees.
When I reached the fifth station again I went back to my large bathroom and cleaned up a little and changed. My headache wasn't getting better, but I was back to the bottom. I made it there by a little after 10am, 4 hours to get down and an 11 hour total trip. My bus was at 10:40am, so I had time to try to heal my head. I laid down for a while. It didn't go away. I walked over to the bus and sat outside it for a few minutes. When the driver let me on I had a seat for a few minutes then felt the head pressure kicking in my vomit reflexes. I rushed off the bus with a plastic bag in hand that I grabbed for the occasion. The bus driver got off also and went to find more plastic bags. The vomit tasted like Pocari Sweat, not to bad, if you wanted to know. I still didn't feel very well, but well enough to get on the bus to fall asleep. When I awoke I felt a lot better. I pushed the button to get off of the bus around the train station. I had about 15-20 mins to catch my train. But, I couldn't find the station. I did see the Fuji Q amusement park not too far away. I tried to walk there quickly to make it to the train stop there. The last 10 mins I was running and made it 2 mins before the train arrived; safe and sound ready for another nap. I woke up in time to wait for a train to take me back into Tokyo. On the trains home, especially on the crowded ones, I noticed people noticing my smell. I don't think what they noticed was something they liked. I also don't know why people keep sniffing when they smell something they don't like. You would think you would want to try less to smell in those situations. I stopped a few places to walk around in the light rain coming from the front of the typhoon. I made it back to Ryan and Mike's apartment. Mike was has home and noticed my oder right away as well. He threatened to kick me out if I didn't wash up quick, and wash my clothes. I did and then chatted with the Mike and Ryan about the adventures.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sometimes I need to seize the Opportunities

Sometimes I need someone to get on my case and sometimes I need grace.
Sometimes I need forgiveness and mercy because I feel like shit already, I just need to be encouraged that I can do this, encouraged that I am not worthless and that I have something to offer, encouraged that I won't always be defeated.
Sometimes I need hope!
Sometimes I need to borrow your hope.
Sometimes I have lots of extra to give you.
I was talking about camp a few weeks back to some of my friends over a dakgalbi dinner and it started with the " I am sure you have some crazy stories... It sounds hard... I couldn't do it" kind of reactions. So I fell into that opening of the conversation with going into the crazy times and talking about the problems; hitting, bitting, pinching, restraining, yelling... because that is the entertaining stuff and what they were asking for.
This reminds me of the time I asked a coworker's father for all the dirt on his son, while he joined us on a hiking trip. My friend's father blew me away with his response, making me realize the error in my question without even trying. He started sharing all the good things about him, about his son! Sharing how proud he was of his son! I went at the conversation all wrong, thinking we could get some interesting stories we could all laugh at and make my friend feel a little worse, but in fun. But the father seized the opportunity to encourage and build up with the conversation.
This is also where I and some coworkers went wrong with conversations that almost led to others getting fired. We wanted to talk about all the funny dirt stories that made people look bad even though we love these friends very much. Another coworker caught on to this and knew we were missing something and not heading in the right direction in the convo.
The trick is seeing it and redirecting the conversations. A few weeks ago I realized I had headed in the wrong direction and painted a picture of camp that wasn't true. Sure the stories were true, but the heart of what camp is all about was false. So I corrected it and started talking about the relationships and care and love and success in kids lives. It was only for a few minutes though, and then we had to split. I missed the opportunity to share about the detailed messy stories of how God was working in these kids lives, in mine, and in the rest at camp.
I love laughing having fun random conversations, but I also love having meaningful encouraging inspiring conversations.
Sometimes I need to share those stories.
Sometimes I need to hear those stories.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Build Me A Son

This Prayer from Douglas A. MacArther is on the window as you walk into my school. I noticed it right away and liked it. A month later I was drawn to the words on the window and began to connect to it in a deeper way. It was what I needed this week....
Oh Lord,
Who will be strong enough to know when he is weak,
and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid;
one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat,
and humble and gentle in victory.
Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be;
a son who will know Thee and that to know himself is the foundation stone to knowledge.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

8th Album - And Still Great! I Love the new Album!

Many great sounds and like always great messages. I really like the messages and artistry of this 8th Album of Switchfoot.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

1. The sound of a dog barking across the street providing a familiar language I can understand.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do you think the growing dependence on high technology hurts us or makes us stronger? What are the major advantages/disadvantages of this dependence?

Last week I watched an American movie titled “Hannah” that was about this young teen girl that was raised her whole life out in the wilderness by her father. Then she entered into our modern world all on her own. While this movie had many themes in it from DNA altering to loneliness and CIA assassins to friendship, there was one interesting scene that showed Hannah’s difficulty with adjusting to all the noise and chaos of the high levels of technology in our times. There was the buzzing of the lights and air conditioning along with the flashing lights of the television and the telephone that kept pulling Hannah’s attention around the room. Then the voices over the phone, over the television, and on the other side of the door drove her crazy.

Why doesn’t all of this drive us crazy? Not only are we used to the constant noise, but also for some of us we go crazy when there is no noise and when we don’t have access to some sort of device to keep us busy. As I write this essay lying in my bed typing on my wireless keyboard that connects me to my laptop and second screen, which I have to see better from farther away and because it is cool, I am also checking my phone that has access to my email and sports updates for the night, while listening to Switchfoot from my ipod. My experiences in my life also currently have me working in the woods 24 hours a day 5 days a week; in the woods without electricity and cell phones, in the woods lighted by kerosene lanterns and heated with firewood. Is one of these worlds better than the other? What do both of these worlds have to offer us?

I come to these questions with two ideas. We all are made to help the people around us and we can all make a difference in this world. If we focus on these we will become stronger and we will cause less hurt. In the woods where I work there are boys that have come and unplugged from everything else to help them grow. Many of my boys have problems with the relationships with their families, and with motivation to work on their education and help around the house. They have trouble building relationships with their families because they keep typing texts while their parents try to talk to them. The boys I work with don’t care about education or helping because they just want to watch the next episode of Family Guy or next Youtube video, or play the next level of Assassin’s Creed. Sometimes my boys text mom and tell her they are running a little late or that they love her.

I also live in a world that I have learned about children in Africa that are being forced to be soldiers from a movie and then I learned online how I can help these kids. While I was online I connect with my old friends that really needed someone to talk to. While I was online I missed out on talking to my friend in the other room and missed helping the kid that is being mistreated next door.

We are all going to be connected to something, whether it is our headphones or the person in our class that really needs a friend. Are we ready to plug into what really matters in the world? Are we looking for the person who needs our help and the opportunity to make a difference? What ever that is we need to go for it all the way. Wherever we are lets be fully there.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day in the LIFE

what a day in the life a mike looks like... Well... It is hard to describe of

My job consists of being a counselor, nurse, teacher, parent, coach, pastor,
friend, leader, and motivational speaker to a group of 10 boys 24
hours a day 5 days a week with a couple of other adults. We do
everything together and do it all in the woods. We live out in the
open air all year round and learn many things about life and how to
live with many other people, and how to solve our problems. We build
our tent / cabins in the woods ourselves, go on trips and many other

My day usually starts around 5:30am with hitting the snooze button on
my battery powered alarm clock because we don't have electricity in
our campsite. Then around 6am I get out of bed and since it is winter
I go make a fire to warm up to and so the boys can have a place to get
warm when they get up. After making my bed and cleaning my tent, I
talk with my teammate and then wake the boys up at around 6:30am.
Which then means that I help them make their beds and start the never
being alone for the rest of the day.

By 7am The boys have made their beds, cleaned their tents, and we have
gone over all of our individual goals as a group. The boys all have
goals for things they want to and really need to be working on, from
talking out their frustrations to not arguing. So many problems and so
much time. Because by 7:30am the boys have cleaned our entire campsite
which included sweeping out tents, racking trails, cleaning lanterns,
setting up a campfire for the night... It is pretty sweet that we all
learn how to keep out rooms and our home clean even when we live in
the woods.

8am we are eating in our dining hall, with the other groups, food that
our wonderful cooks that we call moms have made for us. Unless it is
Wednesday or Thursday when we cook our own meals in our campsites over
the fire. Can you imagine 12 of us boys around one table trying to
have one guy talking at a time?... sometimes I can't imagine it
either. But it is what we try to do. After the meal we share with the
other groups what we did last night and what we will be doing in the
morning. We also sing lots of crazy songs and sometimes play games or
talk about different things.

9am or 9:30 we either sweep the dining hall out or take out the trash
and then head to the bathroom and then brush our teeth. Then we do
what our group has planned for the morning. This could be building a
tent like I will be doing tomorrow, playing games, carving crafts,
doing academics, canoeing, fishing, planning for trips, packing for
trips, go for a ramble hike... So many things that the boys get to
plan the week before for what we want to do and what we need to do...

that will take us till about 11:30am Because at that time we need to be heading back to the
Chuckwagon for lunch or starting to make lunch ourselves. Making meals
is a lot of fun at camp; the boys and us Chiefs decide what meals we
want and we make a menu for it, including what ingredients we will
need and how much it will cost. They can spend $2 per person per meal.
So lots of math and budgeting skills learned here and we cant for get
the cooking skills we all learn. Yesterday I got to spend some time
over the fire with a couple of my guys making bullseye eggs and
sausage pattie sandwiches. It was amazing if I do say so myself :)
When the meal is about ready at campsite or the chuckwagon we send a
couple of guys to set our table proper etiquette style. And then we
head on in when someone creatively calls us in with a short skit.

You might have noticed I referred to us staff as "chiefs" and that is
because when we work at camp we all get a new first name. And that is
Chief. You might be able to think of it like the changing of names in
the Bible: Abram to Abraham, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul, little
piece of no good garbage to Child of God :) So we are always referred
to by campers and and staff as Chief or more precisely for me Chief

So after another great meal with our boys talking about their favorite
superhero, or what trip we want to take and what we are going to need,
or some other story telling time about the man that cut trees into
shapes of turtles and spirals then we have a couple of guys clean the
table off and we do more singing and telling the other groups what we
have accomplished and what we will accomplish in the afternoon. If it
is Wednesday of Thursday and we are at our campsite we will have some
people doing the dishes while the rest of us are usually doing some
paperwork / academics. They have to write plans for what we will be
doing the following week, and articles on things they are
experiencing. Writing really helps the learning sink in as I know for
myself also. It also helps them learn how to write and spell and to
express their thoughts. So during this time I am usually checking the
guys work. I need to check for sppelling and an grammar mistake that
they might had. Give them suggestions and all that fun stuff that
isn't always fun.

So after the dishes are clean we take more bathroom breaks and brush
our teeth to prepare us for a SIESTA from 1:30pm to 2:30pm! This is a
great way to spend an hour. The rest of the world sees the importance
in siestas and so do we. This time for me is usually spend doing some
paperwork of how the boys are doing, reading, napping, working out,
preparing for the rest of the day, and/or like yesterday sitting with
a boy who had an attitude problem and wanted to be stubborn.

Then after Siesta we get the guys up and continue with our afternoon
plan which could be chopping wood, fixing up campsite, looking up maps
of places we want to canoe, planning a skit to share with camp,
designing a tent we want build, cutting down trees to build a tent,
hiking with our sandbag filled packs to explore our 900 acres of camp,
or swimming in our pond and jumping off the high dock. We are getting
so close to being able to do this!

When 4:30pm comes around we need to be getting close to our shower
house so that we can shower and clean our shower house after we make a
mess of it. We should be done with that by 5pm so we can make it to
table set at 5:15pm and be eating again the most amazing food at
5:30pm. We do the normal eating fun and sing and share with the rest
of camp what we are up to. This leads us into about an hour and a half
to take bathroom breaks, brush and do a settled plan for the evening.
These plans are usually personal academics, crafts, or settled group
games like homemade bounderbash. We then wrap up the fun by finishing
the day off with Pow-Wow a little after 8pm.

Pow-Wow is like sitting around the living room, or in our case a fire,
and talking about the day. We try to talk about the good things of the
day, what we learned, where we grew, what we liked. Even if it was a
really hard day and didn't seem like we were very successful we can
still learn from it and look for some positives. We even referred to
it last night as the sports center highlights of the day; there is so
much that happens all day long and we can't see it all but we can try
to recap the best parts of the day and feel good when we go to bed.
At pow-wow we will also read the plan that one of the boys wrote about
what we will be doing the next day, pray, and How out the day! Putting
the boys to bed and hugging them between 8:30 and 9pm on a good night.

"How out the day" is a term you might not understand. We at camp like
to "How" when we do something good, or welcome someone, or
congratulate someone, or honor someone; which is this loud cheer
"1-2-3 How How How." It is putting our mark of approval on something.
We also do a lot of evaluating throughout the day. Before every
activity including riding in a van and eating a meal or taking a
shower, we get a plan of what we expect from each other as a group and
maybe how fast we plan on doing it. This gives us something to measure
ourselves to and challenge ourselves and something we put our word on
that we will be successful in. So after we follow with our plan we
evaluate how we did as a group.

After the boys are in bed, we as Chiefs get a few things ready for the
next day and do some fun paperwork and maybe do some reading
ourselves, writing, working out, and/or talking like the great friends
we have become. These friendships are so important to our health. Just
like if there is problems with a married couple it can tear apart the
family. In the same way if the chiefs are loving and supporting each
other it can make for a loving a supporting group.

There is so much more I am sure that we do and that doesn't make much
sense in writing. It took me 3 or 4 days of visiting camp to really
start to understand that this place was something that I could do and
wanted to do. And now a year and a half later I am still learning what
camp is all about. Any Questions? :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Beaver Beach

Yadkin River (West of Winston-Salom, NC) July 10th 2009 7:30pm

So many cool things have happened the last couple of days on the river, but I want to write about what happened in the last 10 mins. The boys started writing articles from there experiences on the river so far, and I had to grab some of my stuff about 50 ft down the river bank. I saw a little beaver swimming a little ways down river and heading my way. I decided to stay still and wait to see how close it was going to come.
I was about 5 ft off the river and on a bank that rose 3ft up off of the river. The beaver swam 3ft off shore right pasted me and slowed down. I didn't want ot move at all, not even my head, because I didn't want it to notice me. But, it let me turn my head a little at a time, and then an ammo can slammed by my group of boys and the beaver turned around and swam away faster than it came. It stopped about 15 ft down river from me and came to shore and I couldn't see it anymore. So I walked very slowly over to where it was to see if it had went in a hole, swam under water, or maybe was chilling by the edge.
I came up to where it disappeared out of my sight and still didn't see it so I inched my way closer to the edge and saw some of the leaves of the weeds moving; the beaver was right at the top edge of the slope, 4ft from me, munching on the leaves. It didn't notice me and I watched it slowly eating the leaves for 10 mins. I slowly inched my way to get a better view.
I was 3ft from the edge and standing very still when the beaver saw some better looking leaves right in front of me. The beaver, with its short front legs, climbed over the edge and stopped to eat more leaves 2 ft in front of me. I was struggling to stay still this whole time because of bugs landing on me and the natural sway of my body, but now adding the raised heart rate and excited nerves made it really hard to not move. If I would have moved the beaver would be gone.
A few more minutes passed as I got to see its flat paddle tail up close and its little front paws feeding its buck teeth. The beaver was grazing and inching its way closer to me, focusing only on the food in front of him and ignoring the big tree of a man standing now only 1ft in front of him. I was enjoying this too much to disrupt the beaver, of try to catch it, or to punt it half way across the river; I only wanted to observe this awesome creature up close it its own habitat, doing its own routines.
I wasn't sure how close it would get or how close I wanted it to get. I know I didn't want it to walk over my foot if it got that close. I was thinking it might get that close because the leaves went right up to my feet. It did get closer and started walking past my foot only 6 inches away and I diceded that that was close enough. I stepped away gently and the beaver franticly ran away tumbing over the edge of the slope into the river water and then dove out of sight.
I had the biggest grin on my face as I walked back over to my group of boys who were writing their articles. I couldn't stop grinning and had to break their hard working silence and share what just happend. I then joined then by writing this great experience down.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

I just watched the Expelled Documentary and I thought it was great. I have been very effected by creation and intelligent design and evolution debates or lack of debates. I have always been very open minded to peoples thought and get turned off to people who know without a doubt things and call people stupid if they don't believe the same thing, what turned me off was the lack of questions they seemed to ask or acknowledge. Since I grew up in the Christian community with creation facts or theories I have heard many people call other theories stupid.
When I heard of some Christians embrace evolution ideas I wanted to understand that more and really see what this was all about. I know I don't know everything! (not even close) I need to keep learning and keep questioning. I need to seek so I can find out what things make the most sense and what things may be stupid and be able to understand why, not just because that is what I grew up with or the people around me believe. Being at camp in a very conservative environment of North Carolina, where people "know the facts" and have really been able to explain a lot of good evidence of an intelligent design, after being in the Northwest in a open minded no body is wrong unless you are arguing with or for Christianity or any Religion, has really rattled my brain again. I always liked to say sure why didn't God create the world using evolution, why can't we be both right. It all depends on your definitions of creation and evolution.
This documentary which is very well made in my opinion explores people being fired from jobs as scientist or journalist because of not completely denying some sort of intelligent designer because our science society has forced creationism to be taboo and stupid with know evidence. It also explores the questions that are not answered in Darwinism because no theory has all the answers even though some try to say it does. The film also explores the consequences of peoples beliefs. Many great interviews throughout this documentary. It is fun to watch.
I was at the North Carolina beach this past week with my kids and others form camp and we got to do a Behind the Scenes close encounters tour of the aquarium. it was a lot of fun and got to feed the largest tank with sharks and many other awesome fish. Our tour guide marine biologist Wayne made an interested comment about how we really don't know a whole lot about fish and are always trying knew things to take proper care of our tanks. Science is fairly knew in a lot of sense and we are trying to figure things out. It was definitely a humble approach to something that is way bigger than we can get our minds around.
Things are unpredictable at times and many are trying to force us to believe something that they admittedly don't have all the answers to prove. It really made me kind of angry / frustrated that many people try to force their own agendas that are harming us. Why can't we have freedom to speak and explore and publish our ideas and finding.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

10 years - Party On

I just listened to Mars Hill message celebration of 10 years that was a couple weeks ago and am inspired to enter back into the woods this morning to love my kids to life. Join that party I just remembered about and wrote about by being active in this world, and joining the things that God is active with.