I’m sure your life is a never ending parade of wonderful things that happen to you, but occasionally, in my life, things pop up in front of me that I don’t feel like doing. Sometimes blogging is one of them. I’ve been dragging my face across the prairie for two weeks like a cowboy with his boot stuck in the stirrups and I don’t feel like it’s worth the bother of retelling it all so that people can go to the bother of not reading about it (although I’m sure you read all my blogs, dear faithful blog reader). Another reason, besides laziness, is that my life simply has not been that that exciting recently. However, I think once I get into the mood of writing here, I may actually end up enjoying myself. In fact, you probably won’t get me to shut up. Once I start honing my bitter edge of sarcasm, it can be hard to put that weapon down.
Ok, hold that thought. I’m literally needed in the bathroom right now (according to stress levels I’m detecting in Janice’s yelling).
(ten minute pause)
Ah! Back again. Crisis averted. It’s Sunday afternoon and we’re at the in-laws farm. I finally settled into the recliner to blog (after much procrastinating) and after a paragraph of typing, I hear Janice yelling that she needs help in the bathroom. “That’s odd,” I thought, “Janice usually takes care of herself in there.” Then I hear a THUNK and Adilene starts the fire station screaming that she’s so talented at. So, in a flurry of arms and legs I try to dig myself out of the deep sitting recliner I’m sitting in so I can be of assistance. As it turns out, Adi was getting a bath and took the opportunity to fill the bath tub with little floating nuggets. Being very concerned about the cleanliness of her bath water, she began picking up the floating nuggets and depositing them over the side of the tub into the towel that was on the floor. Janice quickly yanked Adi out of the bathtub so the situation could be brought under control. Then Adi slipped and fell on the tile floor and starting screaming, which interrupted my blogging. Being the selfless hero that I am, I put down my computer for five minutes to soothe my daughter and to get a pamper on her quick, although judging by the state of bathtub she won’t actually need a pamper again for several hours.
So we’re back where we started.
As you may know (if you bothered reading the previous blog), we were in the state of Pennsylvania so we could help teach Vacation Bible School with Shiloh Mennonite Church in the city of Reading. The first night went well. The second night could be summed up well with this historical photo:
My class size went from 5 boys to 13 boys which meant the sound volume in the class rose exponentially. We had three classes under one tent and all the other classes filled up too. There were probably 35-40 city kids and screaming teachers under the same tent. Then to make matters worse, it poured rain for maybe ten minutes. It sounded like ball bearings bouncing off of a giant bongo drum which made the nuanced spiritual components of my puppet show impossible to hear. Luckily Alissa, who was too sick to help the first night, made it the second night and was on hand to help quell any uprisings. We made it to the closing bell.
The next night I skipped the puppet show and employed the tactic of keeping their hands busy while I tried to cram useful teachings into their ear canals. That tactic worked pretty well and the rest of the VBS went much better. The last night we did “tie dye” shirts and just had fun connecting with the kids. The shirts were actually made with fabric spray paint Janice and I found at Michaels Craft Store. Tie dye is messy and takes a long time to dry. I had neither patience for mess nor time, so we bought the spray paint in hopes that it would work to simulate a “tie dye” effect. I let each child choose what pattern or effect they wanted on their shirt. Pedro, the first in line to get a t-shirt made, was like “I’d like a dragon attacking a bear on a mountain and I’d like the valley filled with giraffe’s and elephants, and daises in bloom.” I was like “Hmmm… How about some crazy horizontal stripes? Or maybe vertical stripes? Or maybe even stripes in random directions?” The kids still seemed to love it, even though I couldn’t graffiti tigers and elephants, and the best part of all was that the paint actually dried by the time class ended. The fumes were also pretty heavy in the tent so maybe that helped the mood as well.
While I was teaching VBS in the evenings, I was working for Art’s Hatchery during the day. Art’s Hatchery is across the road from Freedom Ranger Hatchery whom some of you may be familiar with (Kendall Fox is the benevolent dictator of Freedom Ranger Hatchery). This part time gig helped pay some traveling expenses of the trip and also helped Art out since one of his workers took the same week off to get married. A substantial part of my job was to power wash things covered in poop. Trays, trucks, floors, incubators. You name it – it’s probably covered with poop or egg shells at a hatchery. The process of removing all that garbage from 200 trays involves getting a substantial percentage of it splattered all over your face, mouth, arms, nose, ears, eyebrows, and shoes.
Washing all those trays seems like an endless task. You start on a stack and it goes fairly quickly but after what seems like an eternity you notice the dirty stacks aren’t getting smaller! In fact, they even seem to be getting bigger. This is probably because another worker plopped another couple hundred trays there when you weren’t looking. You start to despair that you’ll ever actually get done. You muster up the courage to get through another several hours and then you finally take a break. You check the clock when you’re in the office and notice that you’ve only been washing trays for several minutes! If time flies when you’re having fun, then my hypothesis that washing trays is no fun is proven by the fact that time slows down while you’re doing it.
Chicken poop does taste a little salty, which is a fact I bet you didn’t know. Also, did you know that chickens do #1 and #2 at the same time? Chickens can’t control when they go and this is what you can’t house train them, in case you were trying to house train your rooster without much success. Now you know. Fortunately you can buy chicken diapers so don’t give up on your indoor flock just yet. How do I know you can buy chicken diapers? Because I’ve been selling them on eBay for some time now. Yes, people do buy them.
But I’ve sidetracked myself yet again.
We left the fine state Pennsylvania and drove home to Indiana where milk products, strawberries, and gas cost less (seriously) and we were happy to be home! Janice informed me if I ever volunteer again to teach at a Bible School two states away, I could take the car because I’d be traveling by myself. In a deft use of Biblical teaching, I reminded her that woman should submit to their husbands. She mentioned something about putting cold Ramen noodles in my lunch for months on end. I reminded her that since I was a bachelor for five years, I have a high Ramen noodle tolerance and am adept at microwave meal preparation (although I did start a fire in the lunchroom microwave at Good’s Store in my teenage years). She reminded me that I did’t have a microwave in my car so I’d have to eat my noodle lunches raw. I pondered that scenario and conceded that loving my wife as Christ loves the church is the most important part of the headship order, especially if it involves sandwiches and banana cream pie in my lunches.
Last Thursday we went to an Amish wedding feast. I’ve never been to one before. It was a glorious and spectacular display of gluten and sugar! The Amish (around Indiana, at least) have the wedding ceremony in the morning and then have maybe four or five receptions throughout the day. Amish have their weddings at their family farm and prepare for months ahead of time making sure everything is perfect. They can’t be too careful in displaying just how perfectly humble they are, after all. We showed up at the immaculate farm and were ushered into the barn which was cleaned to perfection and decorated tastefully, I must say. There were rows of tables with benches. Each row had a server couple who were dedicated to making sure you ate as fast and as much as you possibly could.
First though, we had to say Grace. Something was jabbered loudly in Dutch by an unseen person in the crowd and suddenly everyone got quiet. I was looking around trying to figure out what just happened when my wife shushed me and indicated I should bow my head. Oh! We were praying! Quietly, apparently. I quickly bowed my head but kept one eye open. I made eye contact with a child across the table. He sheepishly put his head down again. I kept an eye open. Everyone was quiet for about a minute. It felt like everyone was waiting to see when everyone else thought the prayer was long enough. Soon some hushed conversation quietly started in the corner and within several seconds the barn erupted again in conversation. Then we had to sing a song. Again, I couldn’t see the song leader since he was hiding under a bench or something. Even though I’m sure everyone there knew the song very well, they all waited until the poor song leader labored through the first stanza of every verse before they joined him. Once the singing droned to an end, the food came out in waves. Not gentle waves lapping at the beach, but like a tsunami that hit you over the head and tore your feet out from under you. The servers started the bowls of food at the head of the table and passed it down through the row. You had to scoop food onto your plate as fast as you could because they were already handing you the next bowl full of food. It was like a Nurse shark feeding frenzy.
Buttered string beans, mashed potatoes, peppered gravy, BBQ ham slices, stuffing, some sort of unhealthy broccoli salad (it had several pounds of mayo in it I think), pecan pie, raspberry pie, ice cream, and homemade Swiss rolls. I was sitting on the bench with my head on the table whimpering from the internal pressure of pounds of the finest cooking the Dutch culture had to offer. Then, as if they were taunting me, some well dressed children came with a basket full of candy. I motioned them on to my wife. My wife asked me if I wanted Twix, or Snickers, or what? I moaned and waved my hand in despair. This Amish wedding thing is not for the faint of heart. Once the dessert was consumed we chatted with the fellow wedding goers at our table for ten minutes. Then, as if on an invisible signal, everyone started getting up and formed a line to congratulate the newly wed couple who seemed to have exhausted most of their joy several receptions ago. I mean, we were the third group of 200 people who were congratulating them that day so far so I don’t blame them for putting it into neutral and coasting through the line.
We had a second visitation from some Mormom missionaries. They always seem to come at the wrong time of day but I really enjoy learning to know them so I try to muster a brighter smile than them (is it a competition?) and invite them inside. They truly are just ordinary people who are convinced they know the way. Interestingly enough, Mormom missionaries are not in control of where in the world they are sent. The three guys, Elder Nielsen, Elder Stevens, and Elder Whatshisface are all from different parts of the country. Wyoming, Nevada, and Idaho actually. They all grew up Mormon and to them being Mormon is the normal thing. The elders in their church sent them all to Indiana and they were disappointed they weren’t sent somewhere else. That made me laugh. Come on God! Thailand! Bahamas! Africa! But Indiana? I felt the same way when I moved here but have grown to love the place. I showed them some Petoskey stones (Petoskey Michigan is the only place in the world to find Petoskey stones) and informed them of all the local places they had to check out.
Turns out Elder Nielsen’s family has a huge rock collection and never heard of Petoskey stones so he was intrigued. Pray for the missionaries. I feel like they are really sincere in their belief. Pray for me as I try to wiggle some doubt into their minds about their own beliefs. It lights a fire in me when I have to stand up and explain exactly why I believe what I believe. I love a good theological debate but I do truly want to impact their lives in some way.
Yesterday we went to an air show in Battle Creek, Michigan and had a great time. The heat index was a little over 100 so we cleaned out our pores thoroughly. It’s OK, it helped us enjoy our tiny, overpriced ice cream cones much more than we would’ve otherwise. The highlight for me was seeing the Osprey. It has rotating engine pods on the wing tips which enables it to fly like a helicopter and like an airplane. It was quite the achievement in design and I think several test pilots died during it’s development (don’t quote me on that).
I forgot the real camera and so I had to use my iPhone. The iPhone is fine unless you want to zoom in, then it’s terrible. Here’s some quick snapshots!
Update on our support status:
Our goal is to reach 25% of our support quota by the end of July!
You guys are awesome! We have had a generous spoken support pledge from a church yesterday although it takes a week or two to officially register in the office so that amount doesn’t reflect on our current support raised (it will in a couple weeks). We picked up three brand new supporters in the last two weeks (1 monthly and 2 one time gifts). One time gifts don’t count towards are monthly pledged support so those amounts won’t show up in our percentages either – although we are very grateful for the generosity! We are so grateful and humbled by people willingly sharing! If you want to become part of our team by supporting us, click here. We have to reach 100% support before we can move to Coshocton, OH to begin our training in the hangar. I’ll have an updated percentage by tomorrow (not including the spoken church support). Thanks again!