Nicole and I talked briefly on Thursday right before they had their send-off celebration in Banta. Everything has continued to go really well (health, in-services, team unity, etc.). Today the team is back in Freetown enjoying some time off and relaxation before flying back to the US on Sunday and Monday.
Today, tomorrow, and Monday I'll be trying to get done lots of things around that house that I haven't gotten around to yet in anticipation of Nicole's arrival.
I'll be able to talk to Nicole tomorrow morning (afternoon for her) and then see her (hopefully if all flights go as planned) on Monday night.
I've found myself missing Nicole way more this year than last year. I think the primary reason for this is because last year I mostly just wasted time playing video games and such while she was out of the country. This year, not playing video games at all basically, I've found myself really busy and really wanting to spend time with Nicole doing things together.
This summer I've been blessed to have lots more hours at church. Most of these hours have gone into spending time with students and hashing through my thoughts on youth ministry and setting up some short and long term goals and objectives for our youth program.
I've really been wrestling with what I see as a basic dichotomy between the need to provide a youth environment that is cool, exciting, engaging, etc. in order to attract students vs. the desire to be real, genuine, and avoid the pitfalls of feeding youth self-centered entertainment all the time.
On the one hand, I've seen from personal experience that one has a hard time growing a youth program without answering the question, "why would 16-year old so-and-so come here tonight instead of going out with his friends?" This leads me to believe that part of reaching students with the Gospel really does mean catering to their desire for entertainment, coolness, and excitement.
On the other hand, I look at "successful" youth programs at large churches in this country and all I see are glorified video arcades with a little bit of Jesus sprinkled on top. I do not believe it is good for youth to spend their lives plugged in to games, and I do not believe it is good for youth to believe that the world should cater to their desire for entertainment and amusement.
I also do not believe that unchurched youth are liable to attend a "boring" youth program and hear the Gospel.
Somewhere between these two extremes I think is a youth ministry model that offers students the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ, manages to excite their interest, and avoids teaching them that their entertainment is the chief pursuit in life.
Just got off the phone with Nicole (which is awesome).
* In-services are going really well * Nicole is healthy * Team dynamic is great; everybody is getting along well and working together * Nicole got to participate in a "dance-off" with the youth group last night... :)
She and I should talk again next Thursday, so until then you can keep an eye on the SL team blog for updates from Sarah.
I was able to talk to Nicole this afternoon for about 5 minutes. They had just arrived in Freetown and were waiting for the ferry to take them from the airport into the city itself.
The team missed their connecting flight in London and was rerouted through Nairobi, Kenya, adding an additional 10 hours or so to their travel time. Nicole is feeling pretty healthy, which is a definite answer to prayer as this point in the trip last year she was pretty sick.
Things to pray for: * Safe arrival of luggage. Currently everybody on the team just has their carry-on stuff while their checked baggage sorts through England, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. * Safe travel from Freetown into Banta * Good health for Nicole and other team members
In other news, I'll be heading to the mountains tomorrow with some of our youth for a camping trip. Forecast said it might snow...
I wrote quite a few posts. A good blogger would probably spread the wealth out, but I am a very busy blogger with no internet at my home right now. You might ask how we are surviving :)
On another note, Denver boasts 300 days of sunshine a year. I would just like to say that it has pretty much used up its allocated 65 days in the past several weeks. During May, it would be sunny all week and then pour on the weekend when I could finally enjoy it. Now that I'm done with school, it just rains all the time. This has proved difficult trying to move our stuff.
Now before you Texans start telling me I'm a wimp, I know. And that's why I (mostly) like Denver.
So Cuddles the Clever has recently proved just how conniving a kitten can be. I guess she didn't survive as the runt for nothing! Here is a picture of her in our apartment bathroom sink. She took it over a couple months ago when she decided she liked to drink running water. Apparently the water bowl wasn't cutting it. Her routine had become when we got home she would run for the bathroom and jump up on the counter meowing til her thirst was quenched. When we would fill up their food and water bowl, she would stand by the sink waiting to lick the remaining droplets from the faucet.
Eric was not a fan. So he decided that we were not going to let her drink out of the bathroom sink at our new home. I a-okayed and that was that.
ha ha ha.
Late last night, Cuddles the Clever started meowing. I followed her to her food and water bowl and noticed that their water had gotten a little dirty. When I picked up her water bowl, she stopped meowing, and I went to fill it up. As I was filling it up in the bathroom sink, she came bounding in and jumped eagerly up to the faucet. That was all she wanted.
As I told Eric, we can never fill their water up from the kitchen sink!
in our new home! It was a pretty exhausting day. We attempted to move some bedroom furniture around.. but tiredness won out! Remind me to never again fix up a house to move into and plan to leave the country in the same week!
Here is the man behind the beautiful kitchen in our new home. I am slightly afraid that he will be left with quite the mess to deal with when I fly away. And I am very happy he let me document him in a first night picture :) These are the kittens who were not very happy with us when we moved them in the rain. I think they are going to be okay though. This morning they just ran around my feet meowing. I felt like a mother with toddler twins.