Saturday, June 20, 2009

Annual Convention 2009

This year's convention just again showed us God's faithfulness and about answered prayer. When we left last year's convention I didn't think there would be any way we would be able to accomplish what we needed to do this year. Amending, arguing and approving our new constitution would be no small task. I was pleased to see that we had LOTS of people show up to be part of this decision. While I don't know how the over 300 delegates compares to other years, the church seemed way more full than in years past. But despite passionate feelings and strong opinions, God's grace prevailed. It passed 233 to 66! I can honestly say that it was a time where I could truly feel that the Spirit was at work and His fruits were lived out. Not everyone got their way but I am sure that God's will was done in our work there! To Him be the glory!

As with every convention, the best part is seeing friends! It is such a joy to spend time with so many people that we love so much! Not only did we see friends from Fergus and all over the country but made new friends as well! The pastors' wives were able to get together twice, which was so encouraging to us in the ministry. It is so sad to think that now we will only see each other every other year. I'm not sure how we'll survive that long!!!

the guys at the pastors' dinner

Adam and Rebekah Ekelund hosted their 2nd Annual Seminary graduates BBQ dinner on Sunday afternoon before opening service. It is the perfect opportunity to see so many of our friends! Thanks guys, we had a fantastic time!
Ekelunds & Taguchis

Zeke and Nik

Cool hair Nik!

Me and Anya

Caristy and Elias

Ryan and Jay

Ren and Anya

Because Chris and I were without wheels this year, we decided to board at the girls' dorm at Hillcrest. When we arrived on Friday night we already knew there were going to be some challenges. The biggest one was having an 11:00 curfew! At 11 pm the doors were locked and if you weren't in, well... When we checked in the RA asked if that was going to be a problem. Our reply was, "Um, yeah." Staying on the fourth floor of a 100 year old building without air conditioning was also interesting, but we were warned and brought a fan to help keep the room a bit cooler. And it does seem a bit strange to have a boy sleeping in your room in the girls' dorm. :o)

After loading all of our stuff up to our private suite with our own bathroom, we were feeling pretty warm. So we set the fan in the window and headed out to cool off and take a stroll around Fergus Falls. The night air was perfect and we walked around town until well after dark but arrived back 20 minutes before our curfew. Much to our surprise the door was already locked. For a moment we just stood outside the "castle" wondering how exactly we were going to get back inside. We had no car, no keys (they wouldn't give us one anyway), and no way of getting hold of anyone inside. Stories of students sneaking in and out of the dorms after curfew started rolling through our minds. Thankfully we kept our cool and had Chris' cell phone. Then we remembered that we had received a call from the HLA office earlier that day. The machine picked up. At the very end of the message was the extension to the office in the girls' dorm. No answer. But at the end of their message was the cell number for the RA on duty. Bingo! Chris hung up the phone, repeating the number to himself while he dialed. A few minutes later the door opened and we were let back in.

how'd we get SO MUCH STUFF???

After three days on the road, sleeping in rest stops and Wal-Mart parking lots, we were ready for a hot shower and a good night's sleep. We turned on the water in our "Hello Kitty"-curtained shower and waited for the water to turn hot. And then we waited some more. After a few minutes Chris pronounced the water "maybe lukewarm". That was not what I had in mind. I made up my mind to storm downstairs and demand to know where my hot water was. Chris urged me to "give it a little more time to see what happens". After a very long 6 minutes the water ran hot. (Thankfully subsequent showers took less time to run hot)

We climbed into the bottom bunk that night ready for a good night's sleep without the noise of traffic, trains or airbrakes. A double bunk is a bit snug after being used to our king-sized mattress, but totally do-able. What wasn't do-able was the fact that every time one of us moved both the bed and the floor creaked. After a few restless hours we got up and dragged the mattress to the floor for a quieter night.

the view from our suite

While it was quieter, we noticed that it really wasn't any cooler in the now very stuffy fourth-floor room. Chris got up to turn up the fan in the window and realized that the air from the fan wasn't the cool refreshing breeze that he had expected. I guess that's what happens when you only open the inside window and leave the storm window shut.

The weather the remainder of the week was rather stuffy and so both windows remained opened the entire time. Even when it poured on Tuesday evening, it really didn't seem to cool off much in the room. Neither of us had considered the open window that evening until Chris went to get his book off our makeshift windowsill bookshelf for a bit of reading before bed. His book had made a wonderful sponge and soaked up all the rained that had blown into our room saving our other books from a similar soggy fate.

All in all it was an awesome trip and we are so grateful that we will be meeting in Fergus again next year!

On The Road

This year's Annual Convention was a BIG one for the CLB! Chris and I drove with Walt and Dena the over 1500 miles to Fergus Falls to attend. As usual it was so great to see all our friends and be a part of what God is doing.

Driving, or should I say riding, from Washington to Minnesota in the backseat of a pickup pulling a fifth-wheel is an experience. Thankfully it was a little smoother than last year but not smooth enough for my carsick stomach. Before the past couple of weeks I always laughed at people who could no longer eat certain foods that had at one time made them sick or preceded a case of the stomach flu. It's not really funny anymore. Just looking at the truck and fifth-wheel made my feel carsick. The sandwiches that we ate on our infamous crabbing trip where I heaved overboard into the Columbia Bar made my stomach wretch every time we stopped for lunch. Needless to say it was not the most pleasant trip in the car. But I found that sleeping not only makes you forget how crappy you feel, it also makes the days go much faster!

my first and only really good day on the road

But on the bright side the company was nice, we listened to some good books on cd, and stopped at some of our favorite places to eat! My favorite book we listened to was "Three Weeks With My Brother" by Nicholas Sparks. It was quite a tear-jerker but was a heart-warming story of his life and a three-week trip around the world he made with his older brother. I smiled to myself as we heard about spectacular exotic locations around the world while driving through the somewhat monotonous states of eastern Montana and North Dakota. On the other hand, "O Pioneers" seemed much more appropriate to the terrain. This was also a rather tragic story of a pioneer family trying to farm the harsh plains of Nebraska.

Not all dinner stops were able to correspond with a location that afforded much in the way of choices. We did enjoy eating at some of our favorites on this trip such as Space Aliens (we ate there both ways), Hunan Springs in their new location, Dairyland (a long walk from Hillcrest but totally worth it!), and Cracker Barrel.

We also got to try some new places. Jake's, somewhere on I-90 was more of a one-time-only stop. I would fondly refer to Jake's, the first place we stopped to eat, as a "dive". Anywhere that has a vending machine in the bathroom where you can spray your wrists with a "Obsession-like" cologne for 25 cents, gravy on nearly every item on the menu, a middle-aged waitress that refers to all her customers as "honey", and where every piece of artwork on the wall are available for you to purchase is in my mind a dive. But that is what makes driving for 28 hours interesting.

Rest stops along the way also vary greatly depending on your locale. Most are your pretty run of the mill rest stop: bathrooms, vending machines, drinking fountains, a pet area, and no overnight camping. But when you get to North Dakota all that changes. Rest stops in North Dakota aren't just a place to stop to use the bathroom or sleep for a maximum of 8 hours, they are a destination! The rest stops in North Dakota scream, "PLEASE STOP! We really do have things to do here!" The buildings look as if they were actually designed by someone not just thrown together with some concrete bricks. They have travel information, movies about local indian tribes, scenic viewpoints (yes, there are some), super hand-dryers, automatic sinks with hot water and soap, baby changing tables, and little seats in which to buckle in antsy toddlers. They are truly the Marriott of roadside rests! Just watch out for bison in the parking lot and don't try to get a souvenir picture with one! (Yes, we saw some but didn't get any pictures, it was too dark :o( Bummer!)

Chris and I at the Painted Canyon rest stop in North Dakota

We also learned that you can't always depend on your GPS. Don't put too much trust in a computer! More than once "Jill", what Walt and Dena affectionately call their GPS, tried to lead us astray. This just proves my point that robots really are trying to take over the world! I've seen enough movies to know it's true... :o)

All in all it was a pretty uneventful trip. The weather was perfect on the way out and only rained off and on on the return trip home. We slept pretty good thanks to our earplugs and we only had one flat tire on the trailer!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Confirming His Faith

Yesterday was Andy's confirmation. After two intense years of study of the Bible and the catechism, he publicly confirmed the faith he was given in Christ. He did a fantastic job! If he was nervous at all, it didn't show.

Friends and family came and helped us celebrate, which was fun! We had a terrific time and ate LOTS of FANTASTIC German food! It was the perfect way to celebrate our Lutheran heritage! And it was yummy, too! We had sauerbraten, spaetzle, fondue with breads and veggies, sausages, sauerkraut, potato salad, applesauce, Black Forest cake and apple crisp.

the grand finale: Black Forest cake
Ada like the spaetzle and applesauce

Will was a popular party game...
as was chess
Seamus was the party photographer
Ada liked the ribbon

Yay! You got it!

love the curls!

opening gifts

iTunes gift card

cool wall hanging
one-year devotional

picture frame, along with other gifts,
the giant Concordia study Bible and
the Thrivent confirmation cross
Thanks everyone!
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding Proverbs 3:3-5

We are proud of you Andy and are looking forward to what God calls you to!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Congrats Beth

Tonight Chris and I went to Rainier's graduation ceremony to watch Beth Murphy graduate. Not only did she graduate from high school but she was highly decorated, too! She had all kinds of metals and ribbons hanging around her neck! And she was valedictorian! Way to go Beth! You should be proud!

I didn't feel so bad about having my eyes closed since

Edwin did, too (maybe there's something in standing

on that side of Beth?) :o)