Friday, July 17, 2009

Wrap Up and Beginning

Today I find myself in an interesting point of transition, a simultaneous wrap up of beginnings and endings. Beginning this weekend, 3 YES teams return for 2 weeks of re-entry...which is in itself, an ending. Beginning is a time of being with good friends fresh off a unique experience; seeing ways they have changed and grown. Yet ending is the YES experience. Even though they've been away for eight months, there's still a sense of connectedness after having been here for training with them and knowing they'd be coming back. In two weeks, they head off their own ways, and we go ours, or in my case, don't go.

This past week, we realized suddenly, was the last week of just the four of us volunteer staff. The next two weeks, the afor mentioned teams will be here, and shortly after that, a new staff member will be joining us (yeah Melanie!). And a few weks later, we'll have a whole new staff. And before long, it's time to get ready for the fall training. Which is a whole new beginning.

So here I am, the business of the past week or two having kept me 'till a few days ago unaware of the amount of jumbled upcoming transition. So here it comes. Perhaps it's better that way. Overthinking and overdreading is usually what makes change and transition difficult. So as things come, take them, and as they go, say "'till later."

So that's a bit of what I'm thinking about this morning. As for the past month and a half, well, lists are boring, so I guess it'll be a black hole in this blog's history. And hopefully there won't be any more that big.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Staff Extention

This is just a quick update that I have decided to extend my term on staff until December. The main reasons are that I've really enjoyed my time on staff, wanted to do another YES training, and felt a peace about doing so. So I'm really looking forward to this fall, being here for another training (those of you who will be in the training that I already know, especially looking forward to you guys!).

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, I'll try to remedy the fact after this weekend.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Little Lessons from Turtles

We've just gotten back from staff retreat. One of the activities of staff retreat was catching turtles and making an imitation Chinese wet market (see picture below) before releasing them when we had to go home. In just those few short days, I noticed a lot things about the little shelled creatures. Some just fascinating, but some applicable to life.

-It was fascinating to notice that turtles have personalities too. When you picked them up, their reactions ranged from trying to swim away as fast and hard as they could, to tucking inside their shell and not coming out until they were placed back into the bucket.
-Chicken Neck turtles are not pacifists. Our turtle tally for the 1/2 week was 8 painted turtles and 3 chicken neck turtles. The chicken necks were donning full camo; shells covered in algae (picture below), yet none of the painted turtles appeared in such military attire. However, while pacifism may be in painted turtle doctrine, I had doubts as to how much it is practiced after seeing a one of them put a fellow turtle into a monster headlock. Fortunately, the other critter was fine and pulled off a victory in the race the two of them were in.

-Persistence is not always a virtue. "Aim high and dream big" people say, but I say that constantly evaluating walls you are climbing is a good idea, too. One evening, Andy and I walked past the two buckets of turtles and saw one of them motionlessly lying upsidedown on the bottom of the bucket. Thinking it might be dead, Andy tapped it and it moved. Then he turned it back on it's feet. The first thing the turtle did was go up to the wall and start scratching it's way up the side of the bucket until it toppled over, right back into it's former predicament. This wasn't the only time during the few days that we had to give it a hand. Isn't there a point and time when you have to take step back and say, "You know, maybe this just isn't my forte. I just might be a lot more succesful if I learned to excell right where I am instead of putting everything on the line to try and find out if the water is clearer on the other side of the bucket."
-Know your strengths and use them. When approaching a turtle in a canoe, their best defense was to swim away into deep water/muddy, mirky water where we couldn't see them. This worked quite well, as 99% of the time, if we didn't net it the first time, we were unsuccessful at chasing it down. Most knew this, and exploited this advantage very well. However, as we glided through shallow water towards one particular turtle, it saw us coming and slipped off the log it was sunning itself on, and out of sight. Swim away in almost any direction, or even stay still, and the odds were all for it, but suddenly, I saw the round shape of a turtle shooting through the water right towards me. A simple motion of stabbing the net into the lake bottom right in front of it, and lifting up, and it was caught. So lesson learned, know what you do well, and do it.
-Finally, DON'T PROCRASTINATE!!! If you are lazily taking your time going back into the water, and are far behind the rest, Audrey just might decide that you need some help and shot put you into the middle of the lake.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I realize it has been a while since I last updated you faithful readers on what's going on around here. I usually find updating a difficult task because of my muddly memory. Recalling events from the recent past has never been one of my spiritual gifts. When I worked on Dave Charles's farm, sometimes I'd get home and my mom would ask what I did that day and I'd respond, "Um, I fed the cows?" drawing a blank on 90 percent of the days activities. Of course if the calves got out and I had to chase them around for half an hour because ever time I almost got them back to their huts, the dog came and chased them away again, I'd remember that. But for the most part, none of the calves around HDC have gotten out. Things have been going steadily, but surely; no one big event stands out. So allow me to fly by the seat of my pants and see what I can think of as I go:

I returned to HDC Friday evening after being at home for a tad over a week. Much to my relief, nothing bad had happened. It has seemed that whenever I go home, something bad happens here at HDC (One of the YES participants breaking his toe, a van window getting bashed in, and the Carraige House flooding were all events that happened on weekends/days that I was home). The next moring was a Community Cleanup event which drew a huge crowd. We were split into groups of about 12 and sent to cover different streets. Trash bags in hand, we went after all the litter and garbage that is so common on the streets of Harrisburg. I haven't heard a number of how many bags we picked up all together, but it's quite an enormous number, I'm sure.

Last night I reminded myself how bad I sometimes am at decision making. I was in the side yard throwing a football around with a bunch of kids, and it happened. I don't even remember how or why I did it. All I remember is that all of a sudden, I was holding a kid by his arms and swinging him in circles. Fun for me, fun for the kid, how can you go wrong? I've found that swinging kids is like growing bacteria. One becomes two, which becomes four, which becomes eight, which becomes sixteen. Before long, I was surround by about 10 kids all saying that I had said they were next. In no time at all, I was dizzy and out of breathe. Yeah, I took breaks, but the problem with breaks is that they are like dying bacteria. Each break only has about half of the stomach settling, diaphram relaxing effect as the last one did. But needless to say, this is one area that I'm sure my decision making won't improve, nor do I want it to. There are plenty things I can't do, but I can swing kids in circles (all joking comments aside, I do think my dizziness tolerance/stability is above average) so, hey, why not?

I was reminded to be grateful for modern technology while I was home. Especially for digital photography. My family went to one of my favorite local hiking spots (tae quan glen-that spelling is not "Ben-guarenteed") and I took 87 pictures. Yup, 87. I think 4 or 5 are duplicates. If I would have had to worry about the cost and effort of changing rolls of film, my afternoon would have been much less enjoyable. So thank you, technology. In many ways, you've made civilization less civil and your labor saving schemes have just created work that's harder to understand, but never the less, you sometimes do work wonders.

Even as I write, I can see the clouds rolling in on the "calm" that we've had here for the past few months. Monday-Wednesday, we will be at the main EMM offices in Salunga all day for Action Week. We'll basically be parts of discussion teams on different aspects of EMM/YES. Thursday-Saturday, we'll be going to a camp ground near Jacki's house for Staff retreat. The morning after we return, we'll be heading to Indiana until Wednesday or Thursday (not entirely sure when we come back). The week after that, we'll be busy getting ready for a re-entry of 17 people, as well as do chapel at Christopher Dock on May 4. So there's a lot on the schedule coming up.

Monday, April 6, 2009

April Fools

I'm usually not much of a pranker. April 1 isn't ever highlighted on my calendar. However, sometimes things just fall right into your lap.

Audrey had a bad computer. A really, really bad computer. You might as well go take a quick nap after you started it (depending on how bad it decided to be that day). Then she got a new one. Audrey was super excited. As in, jumping up and down excited. Not only did she get a new computer, she also got a new monitor that didn't take up the entire desk like her old one did. When did she get it? March 31. Like I said before sometimes things just fall right into your lap. The video below shows Audrey arriving at her desk the morning of April 1 to find that her nice new monitor has magically transformed into her old tank.

(p.s. the music in the back ground just happened to be playing on my computer and I think it actually fits quite nicely!)

The great thing is, she assumes it was Andy Hock! (probably with good reason, given past track record). Hopefully this gave a glimpse into some of the fun things we do with...or to each other here at HDC. Oh, and no fears, her monitor was actually behind the conveniently piled high trash can on the left of the screen. Still plugged in and everything. I also fessed up before they did anything to Andy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

South Allison Hill

Here's a few pictures of HDC's surroundings. Taken from the roof where the garden box is being built (see staff blog). Each picture pans roughly 90 degrees to the left. The street in the 2nd and 3rd picture is 13th street, one of the main streets through South Allison Hill (the area of Harrisburg HDC is in.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Random happenings

The past several weeks havn't had any big head line stories, so since it's about time to update you all a little bit, I'll try to recap some of the recent happenings here in South Allison Hill.
  • We have continued doing some recruiting around here, including going to churches, the "Calvary Vision" event (I think that's what it is called), and manning the booth at the Celebration of Church Life weekend. We also have plans to do chapel at LMH on March 31 (probably only two of us will go, not sure if I'll be there) and Christopher Dock sometime around the end of April/beginning of May.
  • I've started doing some work in the Carraige House thanks to the burst pipe a couple months back. Basically tearing down walls. Probably a good thing too, given that it's the drywall holding up the rotten studs rather than vice versa.
  • All of the staff took the Strenths Finder test and my top 5 strenths are: Ideation, Strategic, Adaptability, Analyical, Responsibility. The odd thing was that in one of the action steps for "Ideation" it said to partner with an analytical person to question and challenge you, therefore strengthening your ideas. What can I say, I guess I can do it all. Jacki was also not quite sure what to think when the strength at the top of her list turned out to be "Woo."
  • I've enjoyed some good times with one of the kids I've been tutoring at Center For Champions, the after school program I'm volunteering at, after we, to say the least, didn't get off to the best of starts. Quick recap, our first tutoring session he had the attention span of a goldfish with ADD. He interpreted that because of my efforts to try to get him to concentrate enough to get at least some of his work done, I must not like him one bit. So halfway through the session he stormed away. The next 15 minutes were me trying to explain to him why I was being somewhat strict and that he was a really cool kid. It didn't seem like he believed a word I said, but next week when I went back he appologized for some of what he said. So whatever the reason for the change, praise God.
  • Saw a few random snowflakes fall...on the way to Rita's...on the first day of spring. Go figure.
  • Had a good laugh at two sets of doors into LMH's chapel that were no more than 10 feet apart and opened into pretty much the exact same area. Above one set of doors, a sign read "Section A" and above the other, "Section B." Because clearly if you went in the "Section B" doors, there is no way you could possibly make it to Section A. One "Sections A + B" sign would have quite sufficed.
  • I've been reminded why the NCAA basketball tournament is the only time I ever watch basketball. Maybe it's just coming from my days of playing goalie where you go up for a ball and bang into people and people bang into you and it never even crosses the ref's mind to blow the whistel, but in my eyes every other foul that's called looks like something field hockey players could get away with. And that's saying something. What's that? The guy brushing your shoulder messed up your shot? Well try jumping in the air and catching a cross while simultaneously colliding with all 180 pounds of the opposing striker, and the only way play is going to be stopped is if one of you two get hurt! (this is no exaggeration, by the way. On one such play I ended up with a minor concussion, but the other guy was slow getting up so I had to settle with taking a free kick from the spot rather than being able to punt it. Grrr...)

So...hopefully that was somewhat informative.