Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Corner Turned and There's No Turning Back

Last night was the first council meeting for me at my internship site. It was full of the regular council stuff, old and new business. Reports from the various committees. General concern about certain goings on at the church, but there was something else that was unusual. There was a report from two women of the congregation that were not part of the council. The unique part of the report is that they are the only openly gay couple that are in the congregation (at least from what I can tell). I won't go into the details of why they were there (there was a very distasteful action as well as come good conversations for them to report on) but it ended in a resolution for further communication in the congregation, especially in light of the recent actions in the ELCA. The corner has been turned and there is no turning back.

In the two plus weeks that I have been working at this church, this is the first time that a large group (approximately 15 people were at council) had discussed this in my presence. And I could tell from the reactions of the people in the room that this was not going to be an easy conversation to have. Just amongst the council there were people that seemed as if they wanted to engage in honest, open and respectful conversation; while others seemed to not care about what was going on, doing their best to not engage in what is going on. I would hope that these conversations bring the congregation closer, but I know by their very nature that they can cause divisions.

There were encouraging parts to the meeting. There were some very strong voices of support. The president of the council said that the church needs to continue to focus on the fact that all are welcomed in the church, no matter what they've done or who they are. He sighted the mission statement of the church that all are welcome, saying, "When we stop welcoming people we seriously need to reconsider what we are doing as a church." I seriously hope to be a part of this group that is discussing this, but I don't know if that will be possible.

It's interesting. I was thinking about writing a post on Monday and I didn't get around to it. It was going to be inspired by the fact that on Sunday during the second service I saw a small boy (whose name I cannot remember) literally ran/danced up to the communion rail and held out his hand eagerly awaiting the bread and grape juice that would be coming his way. And I thought that if a small boy could be that excited about going up for communion then this is going to be a great year. And it still could be, but this conversation(s) that is about to take place could cause some conflict and it is not going to be resolved by the time that I leave here almost a year from now. I hope that the conversation brings growing and closer relationships between the church's members, but I have no gauge of how it is going to go. People here seem content with ignoring the issue. But I am afraid that this is something that can no longer be avoided; and my fear is seeded in the fact that people don't know how to react. But I am hoping for the best. I think that internship just got a lot more interesting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Installation...what am I a shelf?

This past Sunday I was installed as the second intern of Family of Christ and when it was all said and done I didn't feel any different. Granted, I am now officially the second intern and I now officially have to pay attention to Sunday mornings, but I don't feel any different. After the second service was over on Sunday I went an socialized with the 20 or so people that stayed after service and talked for a bit, but I didn't feel any different. And I have to say that this whole, start at a new church thing is weird.

I am getting to know a whole new community of people and it is a bit overwhelming. It's really easy for all of them to remember my name but I only know the names of a handful of people. I need to learn little bits of information about them. I need to learn who to contact in different situations. I need to learn who are the leaders and who likes to stay in the shadows. I need to learn my own responsibilities, all of this in a year. And I am learning, but it is slow. When you are drinking out of the proverbial fire hose it is hard to remember who you've met and what their names are and what they do and this and that and the other thing. But I guess this is just part of the deal. You are expect to stumble through this first part of this chapter of life, there's no way around it. Even if I were to sit with the "mostly complete" church directory I would still be at a loss. Life is going to keep going and I will do my best to keep up. And this week will help with that.

With my supervisor out of the office most of this week. I am going to need to be really proactive to be able to do what I need to do and actually find work to do. I know that there are people I should go and visit, just to get to know the congregation a little better and I have an article due for the church newsletter, so it's not as if there is nothing for me to do. But at the same time I just want to go take a nap and enjoy what looks to be a very nice day.

On the bright side, I found a wonderful little Mexican restaurant that I can see myself frequenting quite a bit while I'm here. Until next time...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Interns! OH MY!

Yesterday was the official start of my internship and to be completely honest it hasn't quite sunk in yet. There is still so much for me to understand and figure out. Like: When is my day off? What are my learning goals? Who's on my internship committee? What is it that I am supposed to do while I sit here in my office? When do I get paid? When do I tell the pastor that I want to go on vacation in May? And more questions. Some things are slowly starting to fall into place and I am slowly (emphasis on the slowly) learning peoples names. So far it has been like someone handed me the directory and told me to know everyone all at once. I know that it is going to be a gradual process but I feel so overwhelmed with the whole enterprise. And I'm not entirely sure what it is that I'm doing right now. I feel lost. But I'm not sure that I should be feeling anything else. I mean, isn't that the whole point of intership? To throw someone into the mix and not just let them dip their toes into the shallow end? (Sorry for the mixed metaphor.)

And yesterday was a long day. I got to the office at 8:30 or so and started to begin the process of making my office mine. It is a humble beginning but I already have stupid Jesus paraphernalia (Jesus Band-aids!) and all of the books that I brought with me in my office. It is a rather sad looking book case, but hopefully I will fill it with pictures and other fun stuff soon. But after that I had my first staff meeting, which was kinda quick and didn't really do much besides have me meet the staff. I also met with the Preschool staff over coffee. It was an interesting group. Then I go back to my office and do some work and I soon realize that I didn't bring a lunch. So I go back to my place and make a quick lunch so I can bring it back with me.

I eat my sandwich and then try to look busy for the next couple of hours and decide that there is nothing left for me to do so I go home and start making dinner. After I eat dinner I have just enough time to finish watching the episode of How I Met Your Mother and change and head back to the church and met with the deacons and diaconal candidates. I felt a little out of place as I have very little experience with the subject but was still able to offer a little to the meeting. I get back to my place at about 8pm and I have to clean up dinner, which gives me just enough time to relax for a little less than an hour before I should go to bed.

Now today is much like yesterday. Morning prayer, me trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do, but today I brought lunch. But like yesterday I have more meetings in the evening. So I'm debating as to when I should leave for the day so I can come back tonight rested. I'm sure I'll make that decision soon. I have to say it is weird to know that I should be doing something but not knowing what that something is. Hey, at least with writing these blogs I look busy. And that counts for something right?

Tonight I meet my internship committee (which they have decided to call the Intern Task Force, which sounds like it belongs in some sort of ELCA published comic) and I'm kinda nervous. I know that they are here to support me and offer me advise, etc. But both the committee and myself have no idea what we are doing so I wonder how things are going to start. But for now I guess all I can do is tread water until I know where it is that I am supposed to swim.

I Only Wish I Would Have Seen a Horse of a Different Color

On August 29th I decide that I am going to go up to Seattle. The day before I make a phone call and meet up with Doug Oaksford in the Emerald City. Now I will admit that I was not particularly happy with how the day started.

The day started with me waking up at 5:45 in the am. Now I will admit that I was going to wake up at 6am anyway but there is something about waking up in the 5 o'clock hour and earlier that just does not settle well with me. So I decide to watch some way early Saturday morning TV (which is mostly infomercials fyi) and then went on to getting ready and the on the road. First of all, it is almost a three hour drive to Seattle from Vancouver. I was thinking it would be two hours, but evidently my guess of distance between Seattle and Vancouver on the atlas was off by a good 40-50 miles. Secondly, it was raining. Go figure, it was raining in Washington, the problem was that when you are tired and kinda sleepy you don't want to be driving under grey cloudy skies and the occasional shower. But after almost three hours of driving I finally make it to Doug's house in Seattle and the adventure begins.

First thing we do is make our way to a monorail that starts (or ends?) near the Space Needle and makes its way into Downtown Seattle and a round trip ticket is $4. So we ride the monorail for 90 seconds (really, that's all it took) and head down to Pike's Place. We walk down to the first Starbucks, and I have to admit, it was a little disappointing. It looked like every other Starbucks and didn't really show much if any indication that this the first Starbucks. Anyway we walk around the market for a while and look at some cool shops and then make our way to Pioneer Square where the underground tour of Seattle takes place.

It's about an hour until I tour so decide to eat lunch at the very same place where we bought our tickets. I had some wonderful crab cakes and fries while Doug had a bowl of mac and cheese. I have to say that my lunch was better, but I'm not a fan of mac and cheese, so just about anything would have been better than that. After lunch we were herded into an adjoining room and were told some brief history of the area where the tour would take place. And then we are divided into different groups to start the tour.

Now let me start by saying that we had an amazing tour guide, she was witty, funny and just excited enough that it got others into the tour without being oppressive. She could be a jungle tour guide at Disneyland. But I digress; the tour was pretty cool and I found out that Seattle (at least large portions of downtown) was built on the second story of Seattle. The first floor (the ground level) actually is underground due to unfortunate events, but now it makes for a cool tour. Evidently all sorts of dastardly deeds happened at the turn of the 20th century when the underground came to be, including prostitution, gambling and other haberdashery (I'm pretty sure that is not what I want it to mean, but it sounds bad).

So our next stop on our downtown adventure was a store near the Sound that had all sorts of oddities and weird things in it. It really was a tourist store but the owner had some how been able to come across and own all sorts of oddities. You may be asking, what kind of oddities? Well, I'll tell you: four-legged chickens, human bones, two headed lambs, shrunken heads, mummies (not the Egyptian kind) and that's just the beginning. It was way cool and full of all sorts of different things. And our next stop didn't really happen. Let me explain.

I was in Seattle four years ago on choir tour with CLU's University Choir. A few of my friends met up with a mutual friend of ours and some of her friends and they took us to a place called Rainbow Condom (at least that is what I think it was called) and it was a pretty funny little store that had more condoms than any one store should have. But they literally had condoms in just about every imaginable shape and color. Now here I am four years later and Doug had never been to this place and I think that it would be great to take him there. So now I have a general idea as to where it is, so I look it up on my phone and I find an address. So now the search begins. We go to where it tells us to go, and it's not there. We walk up and down the streets, looking in different little shopping centers and no dice. So as we are walking down the street I look at my phone again to make sure we are at the right place. And as we are walking down the street a woman with a baby asks us if she could help us with directions. I look at Doug and we both say no. Now I know that this is Seattle and it probably was not the weirdest thing that this woman had seen or heard but to me, the two of us asking the woman with a child where a condom store was, was a little beyond where I was willing to go. So we never found the place, and it's sad because I think it would have been fun.

So we go back to the Monorail and head back towards the Space Needle. Now I didn't go up the Space Needle, every person that I've talked to has said that it is way over rated and too expensive. But we did go into the Sci-Fi museum that is right there by the Space Needle. Now I will admit that the $15 dollar price for the museum was a bit pricey for what I saw, but it was a pretty cool little museum. After a little over an hour of walking around the museum we made our way to what Doug called the Gas Works, which is a park in Seattle that over looks downtown Seattle. Now the reason that the park is called the Gas Works is because the park is built around and in an old Oil Refinery. It was a pretty cool little place and I got some pretty cool pics.

After this we went to get dinner. We got pizza. Now, normally pizza isn't too exciting. But this was not your normal pizza place. The small pizza weighs about oh...2-3 pounds. It was fully loaded with toppings and I could see why this is Doug's favorite pizza place. The two of us couldn't finish one small pizza, it was that loaded. After pizza we made our way back to Doug's house and we watched one of the Futurama movies that has recently came out and then it was time for me to hit the road so I could make the long ride back to Vancouver.

All in all it was a pretty fun day and it was great to visit with a friend.

A Three Hour Tour...Hike...Whatever.

So on my way into the great city of Vancouver (Washington not British Columbia) I drove by a beautiful falls that was by the highway. It was huge and I would have stopped right then and there if it wasn't for two things: a) I had no idea where my camera was and b) I just wanted to get to Vancouver so I could unload my car and be a little less stressed and get my life a little more organized. So I drove right on by and decided that one day I was going to go back and look at the wonderful falls and take pictures and generally have a grand ole time.

Now I need clothes (but Doug, what do clothes have to do with beautiful and wonderful falls? I'm getting there), more specifically I need dress clothes. So I needed to find an outlet mall and get said dress clothes. So I find a place online and I realize that it is in the same general direction of the falls that I saw on the way in. So I decide that I will go there when I go shopping for clothes. So on August, 28th I go and head out to the outlet mall. After a few hours and a few hundred dollars I finally am able to move on from the outlet mall and go to the falls. Now I don't remember where the falls are exactly but I do remember two things. They weren't right off the interstate, they were on a historic (or something like that) highway and there were signs for the falls off the interstate. So I have a decision to make, I can drive on the old highway hoping to find the falls or I can drive on the interstate and hope that I don't pass it and totally screw myself by passing it. I go down the old highway.

I come upon a parking lot and a smaller falls that I had not seen before so I decide to stop (oh, and I did bring my camera). Now I hadn't thought the whole trip through, I should have a) brought better shoes and b) brought a water bottle, but I didn't and so now I need to figure out those two things. Oh and it's lunchtime and I've had no lunch; hurray for old pretzels and jerky that I found in my car. So I go to look at the falls and they are full of pretty and nature and I see a sign for the falls that I really want to see, it's a quarter of a mile away, no big deal. So I walk on down the path, snapping pictures along the way and finally make it to the falls. And I'll be honest, it was pretty darn cool. But I was hungry and I needed hydration stat.

So I stop at a little snack stand and get a pastry and a water bottle. The water was better than that pastry (I know, it's sad). Now from the little stand I can see that there are two way better viewing areas for the falls, a viewing area at the base of the falls and a bridge. So I go up to the viewing area (photo, photo, photo) and I decided that I could take way cooler photos (photo, photo) from the bridge. So I go up to the bridge and see along the way a sign for a trail that leads to the top of the falls (the TOP of the falls!) that is a mile up the trail. I'm thinking sweet! So I go to the bridge (more photos) and I make my way up the trail to the top of the falls.

Now let me explain something about this trail, it starts off about wide enough for two regular size people to walk side by side (which was fine until you want to walk by some old couple that is putzing up the side of the mountain and refuse to let you by) and then gets to the point where two small children would have trouble walking side by side (then the same old couple goes from being annoying to a potential 911 call). But after 11 switch backs and about a mile and a quarter of hiking (the sign lied, lied I tell you). But the old people weren't even the worse, as I am hiking up there is a family that is hiking down. Not a big problem as there were many families hiking, this family was different though. They thought it would be a good idea to bring their huge stroller to the top. Now I have nothing against infants. But I do have something against idiot parents that think it is a good idea to bring a stroller up a trail that is narrow and has 11 switch backs. The dang thing took almost the whole path way and I'm sure that I was not the only one with this opinion: next time forget the stroller. I finally get to the top of the falls. And it kinda sucked. Now it was cool to be at the top but you couldn't really look down over the falls at all, in fact I was able to see more of the interstate than I was of the lower falls and the area around the falls. I was not particularly happy, but there was some come things just before the falls.

So now I begin my decent down the trail, thinking great, downhill is a lot easier than up. Oh how quickly I have forgotten how hard long downhill hikes are. I start the hike down by going behind these two young women (about my age) and I forgot how stupid some idle conversations are. One of the women had a small Pomeranian and whenever a large dog would come close, she would stop the dog (hers not the big one) and pick up the dog and say the following thing, "I know I shouldn't worry, but I do. I do worry." She would never say why, although it was implied that she was worried about the large dog eating her small dog as an appetizer for lunch, and then she would repeat that same phrase at least a dozen times (really, this is no exaggeration) and her friend would simply say, "I know, I know." And the conversation was never any deeper than that. It made my brain go numb. But at least the view was nice.

I finally make it down the trail to the bottom and I see a little fudge stand offering free stands, this is bad. And so I look at their selection and they have Amaretto fudge and it was divine! So I get three pieces of fudge (raspberry chocolate, the Amaretto and standard chocolate fudge) and am quite happy with my purchase and then I realize that I need to make my way down to my car still. So I make my little hike back to my car and finish my trip with some fudge as I drive along. And after three hours of hiking I was happy to be sitting and driving back to my new place. All in all it was a good day.