a vestige of thought...

Friday, June 29, 2007

An Apology in Advance

Hello faithful readers! My travels this summer have made my internet access unpredictable, as I'm sure you have gathered. This is simply a note to make you aware that I am not sure when (if) I will have access again (on my own computer) for the rest of the summer (until I return home July 31) because of the nature of our next several stops. I may (as I do now) have access on someone else's computer for a time, but since all of my blog entries and photos are on my own computer, I may not be able to post them. In any case, I am still typing them up and will post everything when I get home if I am not able to before then.

I hope everyone is doing well! God bless!
posted by Christy at 9:50 AM 0 comments

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Stop #5: Tifton First UMC; Tifton, GA

We arrived in Tifton, GA late Thursday afternoon. There was nothing planned for that evening, so the five of us hung out and took advantage of the wireless internet access for a few hours while the youth staff was in a meeting before going out to dinner. The youth pastor, Stacey, and her two interns, Scott and Anna, were all fantastic. We went to Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner, and it was wonderful to have time to get to know them without having to worry about the youth group coming in an hour or so.

On Friday the Messy Olympics took place. We took a ton of food to someone's house and set up a bunch of messy games with it. These included Gravy Sock Wrestling (fill a baby pool with gravy, have each person put on one sock, wrestle around in the gravy until one person pulls another's sock off), Russian Egg Roulette (1/3 of the eggs are hard boiled; pick one and smash it on your head), and the Truly Sick Relay (including covering yourself in flour, rolling in a baby pool of chocolate pudding, and sliding down a mayo slip-n-slide). I smelled horrible by the end of the day, but it was extremely fun. We went out to dinner again that night (Zaxby's) and then my team, Scott, and Anna went to go see the new Fantastic Four movie. I have so much fun with those people!

Saturday around noon we left the church to Albany, GA, an hour away. There we saw a movie (which, due to a time fluke, ended up being Fantastic Four again), ate dinner, went to the Great American Fun Park, and ended the evening at Krispy Kreme. The Great American Fun Park was probably the highlight of the day. We played laser tag, guys against girls (which, of course, my team lost horribly), and mini golf for most of the time. It was fun, as the park name would suggest, but I was exhausted when the day was over.

Sunday was nice and relaxing. We went to the contemporary service and then the traditional service in the morning before heading back to Stacey's house to have a cookout. We spent most of the time either playing with Connor or sleeping on the couch (with Nascar on TV). It was a nice lazy afternoon. That evening Ashton went with Stacey to drop off the van that they had rented from Albany. I went with the guys back to their host home (at the parsonage where Chris, the associate pastor ,lived). We hung out and did not much of anything for a couple of hours before making a Walmart run. When we got back, around 9:00, we still hadn't had dinner. Chris offered to grill us fish, so I got a cooking lesson. He taught me how to do a bunch of stuff with fish and make some amazing salad dressing. The four of us ate dinner (which was amazing) around 10:00 and then I went back to my host home to crash.

Monday morning we packed up the van and then went with the youth to a local soup kitchen to help serve lunch. To be honest, that was probably one of the most stretching things we've done so far. I love talking, but I had the hardest time starting conversations with anyone there. It was mostly one huge awkward turtle moment. Allen and Wes (aka Herald and the Destroyer) played guitar and sang a bit, though, which was a nice distraction for everyone. We had a fairly long drive to our next stop, so we quickly loaded into the van after lunch was over and headed toward Rosinton, AL.

Bob for an apple, then stick your face in a pan full of flour, find a piece of bubble gum, and chew it until you can blow a bubble.

Fill a kiddy pool with gravy, give four people each one sock and wrestle in the gravy until on person has lost their sock.

This is Allen chasing me with a flour bomb, but it rather looks like we're doing some sort of coreographed dance.

Andrew and I (the only two from our team to really get dirty) in the midst of a food fight at the end of the day.

Andrew and I at the end of the day.

Kristen, the daughter of my Tifton host.

Silly Ashton, sitting in the middle of the church parking lot.

Wes and Allen... doing something. I'm not really sure what.

Andrew and his pet zebra.

Ashton and Andrew at Krispy Kreme.

Gotta love those boys. And their hats.
posted by Christy at 4:28 PM 1 comments

Monday, June 18, 2007







...yet touchably close.

Wes has since shaved, but I don't have a picture of that yet.
posted by Christy at 11:24 PM 0 comments

Stop #4: Williams Memorial UMC; Blountstown, FL

Our fourth stop has been the hardest for me so far. This was mostly because of a bit of culture shock. I never realized how much of a city girl I am until reaching Scott's Ferry (near Blountstown), FL. This church is near the borders of both Georgia and Alabama and (according to Ashton, the resident country expert) is about as Southern country as you can get. The church had a regular attendance of about 40 people and the roads to most of their houses are dirt. We went to the Sunday night service/dinner as soon as we arrived, and I'm not sure I made a terribly good first impression. I was never quite able to figure out what I did wrong the first couple of days, but I think it was mostly that the nuances of being polite are a bit different there than what I am used to. I wasn't really sure how to act around them, and they weren't really sure how to act around me, and the first day or two was very awkward.

I don't really know what changed, but all the awkwardness vanished by Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday were wonderful, and then we had to leave. It's so sad that we always have to leave just as we're starting to get really comfortable with the kids.

Our schedule was the same every day. We had the mornings free to plan or do whatever. This mostly consisted of sitting around in the Fellowship Hall and either sleeping, playing guitar, or planning devos. It was a lot of time, but I was able to have some really good, looong quiet times where I could pray. I'm really grateful for that time. In the afternoons we had the kids (anywhere from one to five at any time) from lunchtime until 4:00 or 5:00. Then we had a two hour break before doing something in the evening. All three days we were supposed to do a service project. The first day, however it was 102 degrees outside, so we decided it would be best to stay in. The second day in rained (poured) all afternoon. The rain was beautiful and much needed, but it prevented us from doing our outdoor service project. Finally on Wednesday we had time to do two of the three projects that we had planned, and neither took as much time as we had expected.

Tuesday afternoon during our break Erika (one of our two regular kids) and Ashton took me 4-wheeling through the mud after it had rained. It was a blast. We came back filthy, but it was completely worth it. Ashton says that I've now been initiated into the South. :P Perhaps my favorite part, in a funny sort of way, was when the ATV stopped and we couldn't get it to start again so we had to walk barefoot down the dirt roads to Erika's house to get her brother to start it for us.

Wednesday evening was probably the highlight of my week. We did the evening service, which this time consisted of Allen and Wes leading music, us doing a skit, and then each of us giving short testimonies. I don't care how many times I've heard the testimonies of my teammates (I could probably tell it for them by now), I love hearing them again. God has been so faithful and so incredibly good to each one of us, even though our lives have all been so different. At the end of the service the pastor had all of us come up to the altar and everyone at the service prayed over us. I love it when churches do that, and I always feel most unified with my team during those moments. After the service the five of us went to the parsonage (where the guys stayed) and talked with the pastor and his wife for several hours. They are amazing people. One of the hugest blessings of SMT is being able to meet so many great Christians. It's incredibly humbling and a great spiritual challenge as well.

The woman Ashton and I stayed with, Miss Joyce, was amazing. She had to be close to 80 and had never been married. She lived in a house with her best friend until the friend's death in 1999. She spends a huge amount of time in prayer and studying the Bible. When she's not doing that, she is driving people to and from the church so they can participate in activities, or taking people who need it to doctor's appointments and such. Wow.

Thursday morning we left around 9:00 in the morning and, because we had some extra time, stopped to get Andrew's hair cut. He wasn't sure if he was actually going to go through with it, but Allen said that if Andrew cut his hair, he would dye his red to match Wes's. (Photos to follow. I didn't have time to upload them this time.)

Wes, getting comfortable to play his guitar.

Andrew and Larry Beans the wonder dog (who belonged to the church's pastor)

Look out, Christy has a gun! (I did not hit a thing.)


After 4-wheeling... you can't really see how muddy we are

Three of the team with our two regulars, Erika and Jared.
posted by Christy at 5:56 PM 0 comments

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Stop #3: Mulder UMC; Wetumpka, AL

I am so behind! I deeply apologize for my negligence. I had most of an entry for Wetumpka typed up already, but lost it somehow. Phooey. Anyhow, I shall do my best to make up for it and write an overview of my four days at Mulder.

Monday & Tuesday:
We started out both Monday and Tuesday morning with an hour or so of games and devos and a couple of hours painting the trailer Mulder uses as their youth room. Both afternoons we had off, and in the evenings we had a speaker (Brad McClain, who was wonderful), Allen and Wes did some worship music, and then we went somewhere fun. Monday this was to a mall with an ice rink, where we played broom hockey. I was not terribly good at, but it was fun anyway. My team nearly made a tremendous comeback after being down by 5 points, but ended up losing by one. Tuesday night we went bowling. Overall I did pretty poorly, but I did do well enough to earn myself the nickname "spare ribs" due to my ability to completely miss the pins on my first roll and then knock them all down the second time. Ashton was sick on Tuesday and had to miss much of what we did, but fortunately recovered enough to join us again the next day.

Mark, the youth pastor, lived on a lake and on Wednesday he had the youth group out there to spend the day. We took turns riding Mark's boat, tubing behind it, and swimming or jumping off a neighbor's boat dock. Somehow my legs got insanely bruised up after tubing. It looked like I had been in a fight of some kind. :P It was worth the bruises, though. I had a blast. In the evening the team put on the mid-week service. Our guitar duo did the music, we all did a skit, and the Allen preached (extremely well, I might add). The time after the service, though, was probably my favorite time all week. Allen and Ashton spend a long time talking to and praying with one of the guys in the youth group. While waiting for them, Andrew, Wes, and I hung out with one or two of the guy from the youth group. We didn't really do anything terribly significant, but we had a great time just goofing off and playing on the fantastic playground at Mulder UMC. I wish I had some pictures of that playground. It was amazing.

For our last day in Wetumpka we drove 3 hours to Six Flags over Atlanta. It was fun, but I'm not much of an amusement park person and it was a loooong day. I was with two girls from the youth group and we spent most of the day walking around and riding a gentle ride every now and then. After lunch my group met up with Andrew and Wes's group and the 12 of us all went on a white water rafting ride where everyone got completely drenched. Not long after that we noticed that everyone was moving toward the park entrance and quickly discovered that the park was closing at 7, rather than 9 as we had originally thought. I don't think anyone was sad to leave early, though. I was pretty exhausted.

Through (another) miscommunication we had a free day at the end of the week, so the guys' host family, the Calhouns, took us out on their pontoon boat for the afternoon. Adam, an intern at Mulder, came with us as well. The lake we went to was beautiful, and we had a wonderful, relaxing afternoon. That night we went to a local Mexican restaurant, San Marco's (yum!), and then packed up and got ready to leave the next morning.

Silly Wes. (That's a rolled up flyer from the Tumbling Team's tour over spring break.)

Broom hockey

Wes and Allen leading music on Tuesday.

Bowling feet.

Me, Camden, and Ashton getting ready to go tubing

Silly Andrew.

My group at Six Flags: Hannah, Me, Lauren

Our silly team being our silly selves at Six Flags

Ashton, Wes, and the cow at Chick-Fil-A on our way back from Atlanta.

Andrew and Adam holding Allen as he flies like Superman on the Calhoun's boat.

Captain Andrew (Liz Calhoun: "Does anyone have a boating license?" Andrew: "I do!")
posted by Christy at 12:19 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Stop #2: Asbury UMC; Maitland, FL

Finally, wireless internet! I wrote most of this last week, but haven't been able to post it before now. Anyhoo, I hope all is going well wherever you are reading from.

* * * * *

If you can believe it, our first stop is already over. After staying the night at a hotel in Chattanooga and, after sorting out a mix up regarding our arrival date in Florida, a night at Ashton's sister's house in Macon, GA, we made our way to the Asbury United Methodist Church in Maitland, Florida on Tuesday. We arrived around dinner time, so Bill-- the youth pastor-- and Brenda--the woman that Ashton and I were to stay with, ordered pizza and we all hung out in the youth room for awhile. Brenda and her husband, John, have three kids: Cierra (12), Paul (11) and Joshua (6). The whole family are amazing Christians, and staying with them has been really cool. That evening there was another mix up regarding where the guys were supposed to stay, so all find of us ended up staying in Brenda and John's small house.

Wednesday we spent all day at the beach with the youth group kids for surf camp. It had started the day before, but we jumped right in. Bill coordinated with a Christian surfing organization to bring in an experienced surfer to teach us. This beach, New Smyrna, was about an hour drive from the church. Once we got there, we started out with a devotional and then spent the rest of the day surfing, kayaking, or just hanging out in the water. I went out a couple of times to surf with an instructor, and I stood up on the board and once rode the wave all the way in! I hope that I have another chance to practice again, because it was really fun. That evening we were invited to stay at a beach house near Daytona for the night. The youth group was coming to spend the night there the next day. This house was beautiful, and we had such a great time hanging out there, first by ourselves and then with all the kids.

Thursday morning Ashton and I got up really early to watch the sun rise on the beach. I've always wanted to do that. It was cloudy, so the sunrise wasn't as amazing as it could have been, but I still loved it. When we got back, we discovered that our van had a flat tire. Fortunately, Allen and Andrew are awesome and were able to change it right away. We spent that day at the beach in Daytona. I got pretty badly sunburned the day before, so I didn't swim Thursday. It hurt to even put my swimsuit on. Mostly I split my time between wading at the beach and hanging out at the Hite's beach house. In the evening we watched Noah's Arc, a surfing movie about a group of surfers from the Outer Banks who all became Christians and now have been touring, showing the movie and sharing Christ with other surfers. It was pretty cool, but I was so tired that I nearly fell asleep in the middle of it. I was really excited when the leaders decided that lights out was at 11:00. After team time, I got to bed around midnight and didn't have to get up until 8 or 8:30.

Friday we spent a little more time at the beach before packing up and heading back to Maitland. Once there we were able to check our email at the church and then had a grand ol' time at Walmart before Ashton and I went back to Brenda and John's and the boys headed over to another host home. We didn't start dinner until nearly 8, but after we ate we sat at the table and talked until 1:30 in the morning. One by one each of the kids fell asleep, and their parents would carry them to bed. It was pretty funny.

I was pretty sad the first night the guys went to a separate host home. We've had some fantastic team times this week, and I missed all five of us hanging out together in the evenings. Pretty much, I just have a fantastic team. :) Our first team time of the week was the night we all stayed at John and Brenda's. I was a feeling pretty stressed over my treasurer duties that evening, and in addition to all our other prayers, each person prayed for me and were all incredibly encouraging to me. The first night we stayed in Daytona we all went out to the back porch of the house where we stayed and listened as Allen and Wes got out their guitars and had a jam session. I love listening to those guys play. I especially love journaling while they play. I wish I could play guitar myself, but perhaps writing is just my (quiet) way of joining in. Some pretty cool writings have come out of those journaling times while the guys jam. Our team time the next night was great as well. After the kids had lights out, the five of us crossed the street and took a long walk on the beach. We stood in the waves and prayed for a while... I can't really come up with any other words for that time. Good stuff.

On Saturday, we acquired a bunch of free tickets to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando. This was definitely a highlight of the week. We saw several shows, including "Praise Throughout the Ages" and a reenactment of the crucifixion. By far the coolest part, though, was the tour through The Scriptorium, a building housing dozens of old, Bibles in a number of different languages (including Latin), in addition to several other historical books, such as a first edition of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.

Sunday we went to the contemporary service at Asbury UMC and performed a skit to go along with the sermon. Oh man, if all acting were like this, I would take it up professionally. Our skit, intending to demonstrate how the foundation of a family should be Christ, involved a father (Allen) teaching his teenaged daughter (Ashton) to drive with Grandpa (Wes) and a younger brother and sister (Andrew and me) in the back seat. Practicing and performing it was so much fun, and involved Andrew and I beating each other a lot. Hehe.

This week I have learned (or am learning):
~how to identify each member of my team by their body odor
~there are so many Godly people who have so much to share if I am willing to just shut up and listen.
~sunscreen goes bad after a year. If it's been sitting in a closet for 2-3 years, it's not going to prevent much sunburn.
~when you're riding the top of the wave, stand up! Freaking out and clinging onto the board is not surfing, and is not cool.

Andrew and his bunny (at Ashton's sister's house)

For Ashton's birthday (last Tuesday) we wrote "Happy Birthday Ashton" and "Honk if you love Ashton" on the van. We had to take off the letters before we started driving, so we put them in Ashton and Wes instead.

Allen at the beach.

That little dot out there is me on a surf board. No one saw me stand up, sadly, so I'm just sort of hanging on for dear life in this picture.

A nice snapshot of my sunburn.

Snake Wilcox and Sneaky Feet Benningfield

A couple of girls from the youth group being silly. I always laugh at this picture, because right after I took it someone came up and said, 'Hey look, white trash!"

The Temple- part of the HUGE miniature of Jerusalem circa 66 AD at the Holy Land Experience.

Me and my buddy Joshua.
posted by Christy at 2:12 PM 2 comments