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Archive for November, 2008

The ECMT officially began on October 1st.  But so as to not freak my workplace out too much (and get a few more things done and my sub trained better), I didn’t leave until Friday the 3rd.

Most of the kids (as well as the directors, their kids and the bus driver), flew into Oklahoma City on Wednesday and started mime tech and piece training (as well as some other random stuff) on Thursday the 2nd.
Thursday after getting out of work later than usual and coming home and finishing packing, my parents and I left and headed for the Baltimore area (after dinner at Red Robin).  I had reserved at hotel with free shuttle to BWI for my (I think it was 6) AM flight.  Figured if I was going to be straining my body on tour, I’d better be smart about my sleep before it began!
I flew into Kansas City, MO (several hundred cheaper than Springfield) and then rented a car one-way, driving to the Springfield airport where I was picked up and taken to Branson.  I got there shortly before dinner Friday night and was absolutely bewildered arriving in the middle of a meeting seeing nearly a dozen faces I’d never seen before, plus about a half dozen I had.  Okay, actually, it was more like 15 and 10 (if you count the little ones).  And I may be off.  Like I said – I was bewildered and ‘out of it’ for awhile there…
Training then lasted through Monday.  There were meetings and Bible study prep and learning pieces and a little technique (including my first introduction of forms to them).  And they had a 2-piece presentation on Sunday.
Tuesday AM we loaded up – 13 of us – into a 15-passenger van (plus bookbags, sleeping bags, duffles, props, an amp and office/workshop stuff).  There 7 “kids” (3 girls, 4 boys, ages 13-19), the directors, their two little ones (10 mos. and almost 3 years), our driver (who was Mrs. Director’s mother) and myself.  We spent the night in Tennessee and had another 9(ish) hour drive again on Wednesday.
We spent Wednesday night – Friday night (October 8-10) in Blacksburg, VA where we taught a workshop to the team there.  I led 3 mime technique sessions (plus one with their mini-mimes), finished editing and reformatting (onto my computer) our workbook and I think our tour kids taught their team like a half dozen pieces.
Saturday morning we were up at 4 and on the road by 5:15 for Purcellville, VA where we spent Saturday and part of Sunday.  On Saturday they presented 2 mime sets at a Fall Festival (then helped with games and cleaning up) and Sunday they presented our newest piece (and a group favorite), ‘The Faithful’ at a church.
Sunday afternoon we drove up to my place and spent about 2 days in the Chambersburg area.  Sunday evening, the 12th, they did a presentation at a church in Marion and Monday evening they did one at my church!  Monday during the day we went to Gettysburg for some sight-seeing and then had lots of homework time.  (I also got to feed them ‘my’ food – no pasta lasagna and sugar-free cheesecake.)
Tuesday morning we left for the general Lancaster area and spent a few days hanging out with the DRAMA team there.  We went to the Mennonite information center and then Tuesday night hung out with various parts of the DRAMA team (they have like 5+ teams in that ministry alone) then sat in on practice of a drama group Tim was helping out with.  Wednesday we toured Lancaster Bible College (almost fun to sit in on a class again), then went to a park to hang out with DRAMA people.  Wednesday night we went into York where Tim is working with another mime team and helped out there.  I taught a brief mime tech class there.
Thursday morning we left for Jersey.  Jersey was our longest stay, arriving mid-day on Thursday (the 16th) and pulling out Monday morning (the 20th).  They presented at an assembly at the church’s school Thursday afternoon and we began the workshop that evening.  I worked with one of the groups (they were split into 4 groups to learn pieces) but can’t remember if I taught any technique – yes – I think I did do one combined technique class.  The workshop ended Saturday just after noon with a presentation – a few of our pieces plus the pieces the kids had learned in the workshop.  (That was a ‘typical’ workshop for us – mime classes, learning pieces, Bible studies and challenging the kids to memorize scriptures.)  Friday during the day we traveled to another place in Jersey to a homeschool co-op.  I did a mime tech class there.  Saturday after quickly cleaning up, we went into New York City for a couple of hours.  Mostly drove around but did stop (bathroom) and walk to Rockefeller Center and back. Sunday they presented for children’s church and we rushed about again to make it out to the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island (think lunch and mime make-up removal in the van)!
Monday morning we left for Connecticut.  We were there the 20th – 22nd.  We did a workshop in the evenings.  I think I may have done two technique sessions there.  Tuesday I think we did something in the morning, but I can’t remember.  I know we had lunch and homework time at the church.  Wednesday morning we visited the Submarine Force museum and took a tour of the Nautilus, then stopped at a rocky shore on the way back (Rhode Island was to the left and a New York island was across the water).  Wednesday night was another presentation (mostly us with some of the pieces the workshop kids learned).  It was in Connecticut that we had one person finish all 5 sections of scripture memorization and Bible study homework!
Thursday we left and headed back down, this time going to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  We were there Thursday and Friday, doing afternoon/evening workshops.  I think they presented one or two of the Bible studies but it was mostly technique (I taught once or twice) and learning pieces.  Friday during the day I went with Megan and Mrs. Cooper (and the two little ones) to a nearby clinic.  I had gotten sick and wanted to make sure it wasn’t strept because (a) I seem to be extra susceptible to it and (b) it is highly contagious – esp. when you’re living in cramped quarters with 12 others!  It wasn’t, but the doc did give me muscle relaxers to help me sleep better (I hadn’t been).  Friday night there was another presentation.
Saturday we headed up to Dover, DE where we ran another small workshop (again mostly mime technique and piece learning) Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon/evening.  Sunday during church I got very dizzy and spent most of that day sleeping or resting.  Sunday night there was a pretty nice bonfire with the Dover team.  Monday we had a service project during the day, then homework time and then the parents wanted a presentation (to share what their kids had learned).  The coolest part of Dover was that their team and ours knew Virtuoso so we had them do it mirroring one another.
Tuesday we drove back down to Federalsburg, MD (on the Eastern Shore – home to one of our tour kids) where we cleaned house again and had more homework time.  I think Tuesday night we went over to the Rice home and ate there, then had more homework/paper plate time.  I really connected with their family.  Wednesday we did some sightseeing and then went to another little church who had us come in for their mime practice that night and help with some pieces.  There our tour kids got a kick out of teaching me a part in 5 minutes so I could help teach the piece!
Thursday morning (Oct. 30th) we left Federalsburg and went into DC, taking in a tour of the Capitol and spending time at the Air and Space museum before heading on through to Purcellville.  Thursday night we worked with the team in Purcellville (I did five minute of mime technique). Friday we toured Patrick Henry College and then helped out at a Halloween-alternative event where the Purcellville team was presenting.  Saturday was another work (service project) day, then we did an afternoon workshop with their team (I taught a technique class).  That evening was our big end-of-tour dinner.  Mrs. Cooper (queen of the kitchen) made a special meal and we presented our paper plate awards and the kids had gotten gifts for each of the adults.
Sunday we got up and headed into DC again, eating lunch in the van before putting on make-up and starting a series of 3 or 4 sets presented at the Lincoln Memorial.  It was November 2nd, just two days before the election.  And ACTION has a lot of patriotic pieces – including ones calling our nation back to God.  My parents met us there (and Mom got to see a piece to her favorite song – Battle Hymn) and I said goodbyes (as did Josh whose parents had also come to watch and pick him up).  Then my parents whisked me away and we headed home – stopping at a restaurant (maybe a TGIFridays?) for dinner.  I remember I got steak.  Then we walked across the parking lot to a Starbucks where I got a sugar-free steamer.  It was VERY cold and windy that day.
Got home between 9 and 10 and went to bed.  Up Monday morning and went to work!
This was somewhat of a unique tour in that instead of offering workshops with different tracks (mime, drama, sign language, etc) that the kids teach, most of the places we went this year wanted to focus on mime technique and learning pieces.  Which is how I ended up teaching so much.  (And loved every minute of it.)  I think I introduced forms and mime twister to every team we stopped at.
I also did most of the registrations, workshop paperwork and the like.  Mostly on my computer.  And though it was a lot like my day job – I enjoyed it!
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For most of the month of October I was away from home on ACTION Impact Missions’ East Coast Mission Trip.  Throughout these blogs I’ll likely refer to it as ‘tour’ because that’s what we used to call them and I am not broken of that habit yet.

For those who don’t know, ACTION is the ministry I interned with during PRIME (a required internship for my youth ministry degree in college).  That was back in 2001.  May(ish) – December.  They are a wonderful ministry, now headquartered in Branson, MO, with teams (called AIM teams) all over the nation (and some abroad) and they work mainly with homeschooled youth and each year take different groups of these youth on like 4-6 week mission trips in different parts of the country presenting Bible studies and workshops and gospel presentations through mime (with a little drama, sign language, flags and such thrown in).
But the heart of the ministry is discipleship.  And even though the ministry has really fleshed this out and flourished in the years since I finished my internship, it was this central feature that caught my attention in the first place.  Here was a ministry that sees in today’s youth a potential to make a difference for Christ and works to encourage them in that.  Now.  Not “when they grow up.”  And I can tell you one thing, whenever I am around these ACTION youth I am constantly amazed, inspired and encouraged.
I went on two tours with them during my internship.  One was to Alaska in May/June which wasn’t a “normal” tour for them.  We met a youth group already there and trained them, taking them on a ministry road trip for like 2 weeks.  The big “regular” tour was the East Coast tour in September/October.  We had like 17 kids (ages 14-18) from all over the country plus several adults in one of those white van-bus thingys and spent 6 weeks traveling the East Coast from Virginia Beach to Boston including New York area and DC.  (And we left just 3 days after September 11th.)  It was an awesome time of watching God move – in our lives and in the lives of those whom we came across.
I finished my internship in December.  And then over the next 6 years as I finished college and then went to seminary, I was sporadically involved with them.  The 2002 Regional Arts Festival in Louisville, visiting the Apple Valley team in the fall of 2002, teaching at several leadership camps, family camps and Apple Valley team workshops from 2004-2006, a few miscellaneous trips with the Apple Valley team, seeing the 06 East Coast group at the National Creative Arts Fest (where I got to teach a session), going to hang out with the 07 ECMT when they were just a couple hours away (and ending up teaching) and making it back out to SoCal for Family Camp 2008!
They’d asked me a couple of times to consider coming on as a missionary with them at headquarters and asked a couple of times if I was available to chaperone a tour or something.  I always said no.  Usually it was bad timing or work or money or what not… but eventually “no” became my automatic response.  Until this year.
Something kept me from saying “no” as I was talking with Tess on my earpiece in the car on the way home from work.  I was sitting on the off-ramp of the interstate at exit 20, waiting to turn left.  And instead of saying ‘no,’ I told her ‘I’ll pray about it.’  And in my previous post you can catch a glimpse of what had been going on and how I ended up saying yes.
I believed then, and still believe, that it was a God-thing.  I was able to get off work, raise the money in about a week and survive through 4 weeks of host homes and being ‘on the road’ with my fibro and hypoglycemia….

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The following was originally posted on my Facebook account and I thought before I went into all the tour and post-tour stuff I’d put it up.  Sort of a prelude.

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So a friend of mine wrote this poem several years back about answering the call, not the need. And it basically spoke of how the need is abundant all around us but if we are to be in God’s will and letting Him bless others through us, than it is His call we are to look for rather than a place where we are needed.

I loved the poem the first time I read it. Unfortunately, I have not fully heeded its wisdom.

After all, I am a people-pleaser. And I love filling needs. And I have a really hard time saying ‘no.’

I was thinking about it again this morning in the midst of making a decision about whether to say yes to this “last-minute” mission trip – being an adult leader on ACTION’s East Coast mission trip next month (less than two weeks away).

For the past year or so things have felt off. Like I’m in the right place but on the wrong track. (If that makes any sense.) And it occurred to me this morning that for the past year or so I have been saying yes to needs. I’ve been saying yes because I was asked, I was needed and I figured it was close enough to my calling to be the right thing. But apparently not. For I feel as though the past year or so I’ve been in a whirlwind, mixed-up, turned around, backwards and upside down – not able to get a footing or catch my breath.

And it struck me this morning that I was probably seeking and answering the need, not the call. Doing good ministry things, but not doing what I was supposed to…

I said “yes” today. I agreed to be an adult leader on ACTION’s East Coast tour starting in less than 2 weeks. I have to miss 4 weeks of work, I have to raise monetary support to meet the financial commitments I have that my missing work will effect and I have a lot of prep to do (at home and at work) in the next two weeks to make this go…

But it was the right thing. I was at a place where saying “no” to either my boss (who was somewhat encouraging even if he is rightly concerned about stuff getting done while I’m gone) or the ministry would not bring any guilt or regrets. And that’s a great place to be. It freed me up to truly hear and respond to the call.

I believe this to truly be a God-thing. And not just a “I never could have gotten through this without God” thing – but a “this is where God is calling me to be right now” thing.

This is good.

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… and I’m not pregnant!  In fact, I’m not even married – I’m still a virgin!

But tonight I bought a maternity shirt.
And it’s going in my hope chest.
Now, for this to make sense (and to be understood as profoundly as I see it), I’ll have to explain a few things.
1. Ever since high school I’ve wanted to be a “housewife,” but never really dreamed about having kids like I did about having a husband.
2.  I’ve never been good with kids or babies and so often wondered if I’d even have any.
3. With the fibro I thought it might be better if I didn’t have any.  (When my wrists were so bad I didn’t know how I’d ever be able to hold my own child.  When I learned fibro is genetic I wondered how I could chance passing this mess on to a child.)
4. I’m starting to dread my 30th birthday (13 months from now), not because it’s a bad age, but because I’d always figured I’d be married by then…
5. In recent days I keep wondering if we really have long until Jesus returns.  Not that I’m a end-of-times prophet or day counter or anything, but it seems to me like the end could be near and I’ve wondered if I’ll even get married before Jesus comes and would I really want to have kids if it’s the end of days (and it’s not a great argument and you’re getting a good dose of the strange things that cross my mind), but anyways…
So tonight we were in Sears and I looked up and saw the cutest maternity shirt ever.  And it’s not “spectacular” but it really caught my eye – and heart.  And I wanted it.  And it started as a joke but I said to my parents about buying it for me – for in my hope chest.
And somewhere along the way I truly wanted it.  Wanted it for in my hope chest.  Because I do want to get married and I do want to have children.  And I’m still not sure that I can picture myself pregnant, but that’s beside the point at this point.  In all my prayers (on this topic) over the past few years I have never believed Jesus to be saying that I was going to be permanently single or not have a family.  So it felt right.
And my Daddy bought me the shirt to put in the hope chest he made me.
So someday…

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