Monday, July 30, 2007

Mississippi Part 4

Felton Pres. June Mississippi Team

Our June Mississippi Team met last night to talk about the last trip and just be together again. It is always interesting to gather together a month or so after and share our experiences. The general consensus was that this was the best trip so far. We talked about the people that we met, the projects that we completed and the feelings that we had about our time together. There weren't too many negative comments about the trip at all. And most everyone asked "So when are we going back?"

I've struggled a little bit with that question. Not because I don't want to go back, believe me, but because I'm concerned about wearing out our sponsors. We've been to Pearlington 3 times in 14 months. We've raised and spent over $40,000.00. Not a dime of that was wasted, yet I'm still a little hesitant to ask the people who sponsored us the last three times to go it again. Especially because costs keep rising. But on the other hand if we don't go to Pearlington to help people rebuild their homes, who is going to do it?

So I started thinking and came up with the following statistics

  • 35 people have spent 18 days working in Pearlington, Mississippi. (People may have gone on multiple trips but were only counted once. The days do not include travel days or days off.)

  • Those 35 people over the course of 18 days have worked about 2,300 hours.

  • We've raised and spent $40,000.00 over the course of three trips. That's an average of $1,143.00 per person.

  • If we were to have been paid as day laborers at $15.00 an hour we would have earned a grand total of $35,000.00.

And then there's this gem of a statistic that we heard while in Pearlington.

  • 95 percent of the work that's being done in the Gulf Coast is being done by faith-based groups.

We have to go back. We have to ask our friends, family, church and community to support us again because we are the ones getting the work done. The government isn't doing it, FEMA isn't doing it. It's groups just like ours who are actually helping people get into homes after losing everything. If we don't go, who will?

My "Thank You" letters are almost ready to be sent to everyone who sponsored me in June and they will soon be followed by another letter saying "Please support our team as we head to Pearlington, Mississippi for the fourth time in December." Though I am hesitant to ask, I will because I know the good that is being done, because I've seen this town start to come to life again, because I know the answer to my own question. If we don't go, no one will.

Friday, July 27, 2007

My Friday date

For the past couple of years I've had a standing Friday date. An all day Friday date. We have a regular routine. Bible Study in the morning school year, hang time during the summer, lunch together and back home for a nice afternoon nap. I really look forward to my Friday date.

What's especially fun is the comments that we get when we are together. My date is pretty darn good-looking and can be very charming, always attracting attention from other people. There are always new adventures, new areas of life to be explored, it's really never a dull moment with my Friday date.

Oh, there's an important detail that I've left out. See, about 10 months ago, my Friday date changed a little bit. In fact, they stopped for a while. I was dateless for a couple of months and then they restarted again, with a new Friday date partner. I still see my original date on Friday's but just for a short time. Tonight they were both here, hanging out together. The original date decided that my new date needed to be "put in the basket" and then decided that he needed to be "in the basket" too. It was a lot of fun. I got pictures.

Yep, Little Boy and the Train two favorite Friday dates.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Adventures of Aflack Duck

Guest Blogger: Aflack Duck

It all started suddenly Monday Morning. I was sitting in my nice spot on Kelly's desk when all of sudden the door flew open and five people converged upon the office. They had mischief in their eyes. One grabbed a piece of paper and wrote a cryptic note: "We have your duck. You will only get it back if you are good this week." And then they all signed it in code...FPC Road Trippers. I was scooped off the desk and into a waiting mini-van. All the while crying "Aflack, Aflack, AFLACK!!!"
The road wasn't such a bad place to be, though I had no idea of where I was going. Most of the drive was pretty harmless except for the few times I found myself flying through the air unexpectedly. Scrat is a little dangerous and Pooh doesn't catch very well.
They took me to the Zoo. I was a little afraid they were going to leave me there. They made me pose in all kinds of places...I didn't appreciate the crocodile picture very much. It was a hot afternoon and not super comfortable stuck inside the pocket of a backpack. I survived though and it was back to the car and off on a drive.

They didn't tell me that I was going camping. I would have brought a sleeping bag. But they fixed up my sleeping place pretty nicely, for ducknappers.

Tuesday they got me up early and we headed to Starbucks. I had to stay in the car. We drove up a windy road to a town called Coloma where Gold was first discovered. I had a great time panning for gold, though no one let me keep what I found.

After driving and snoozing a little we wound up in Tahoe. We had dinner on the beach and then settled down for the night at our next camp site. These ducknappers didn't warn me about the bear! I was woken up abruptly several times with car alarms going off, air horns, whistles and people yelling for the bears to go away. The woods are scary at night!

I'm don't know what's going to happen next but I am happy to say I've made a friend...he's not a real bear! He assured me that I would be safe. I've noticed that these ducknappers don't make him pose for as many pictures.

My time is up. I've been told that I can write again. Don't worry Kelly, I'm okay...just a little dirty.
Edited to add: I've been corrected. Pooh never dropped was that other girl in the van. They didn't tell me all of their names! They were ducknappers, ya know?!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I pay for the cable at our house. When I moved in there wasn't any and I knew that one way that I decompress is by zoning out to a good sitcom. So I had cable installed and was a happy camper for awhile. It seems, though, that times have changed in a big way with cable TV. Most sitcoms are gone, reality TV has made it's ugly presence known. I will admit a bit of a fascination with some reality TV shows...Bridezillas is one...but in general, I tend to flip the channels a lot more than I used to. So when I got the latest cable bill and found that the rates have gone up, yet again, my first thought was "do I need cable anymore?" Could I survive on Netflix and movies I already have? I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'll tell ya, after flipping through over 100 channels and finding nothing that catches my interest, cable may be on it's way out!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hiding Places

One of the youth groups favorite games is Hide 'n' Seek. There are certain rules that we put into effect to make the game a little more fun. The big one is that if you enter a room and the lights are out, then the lights stay out. It makes the whole game a little more fun as well as frightening.

My favorite place to hide is in the conference room, in a closet where the choir robes are (secrets out!). It is so much fun to listen to the youth open the door of the room and cautiously enter this very dark room. They usually freak themselves out so much that my yelling "boo!" when they open the closet door, is more of a relief than it is frightening. But I sure have fun!

I appreciate a good hiding place. As an introvert, I treasure my hiding places. They are where I go to be restored, to regain my sense of well-being, to revive my soul. Usually my hiding places don't include a lot of people. My room at home, with a good book or movie. My car on a long road trip by myself. Grandma's patio. There are other hiding places, though, that aren't so hidden or secluded. I can hide while walking through a mall, trying on clothes, sipping coffee at Starbucks. I don't have to be completely alone to hide, I can do that right before your eyes as I retreat into my own thoughts and head, watching the world around me but not really paying a whole lot of attention.

I got to thinking about hiding places today when I disturbed a little rabbit that had been hiding under our porch. I got too close, not knowing it was there, and it scurried quickly away. Sometimes people get too close to my hiding places and I, too, scurry away. I find that place inside me where I go to be safe, to be revived and ignore the rest of the world. My hiding places are sacred places and sacred times, where I go to be filled with the strength, peace and grace to walk this path that God has me on. I'm grateful today for hiding places.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Traveling and home

Over the last three weeks I've been on 8 airplanes, in 7 airports, 7 states and in 3 different time zones. The first week and a half was spent with 17 other people in Mississippi , followed by four days at home and then 6 days with The Family in Massachusetts. I'm having a hard time figuring out what time of day or even what day of the week it is, not to mention what month we're in!

As I've traveled, I've come to appreciate home that much more. Each place I've been there have been good things about that place. In Mississippi I was enthralled with the beachfront from Bay St. Louis to Gulfport. I could easily imagine living in a home along the beachfront, looking out each day at the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying a slower pace of life. But then I remembered that the slower pace of life came from the ever present humidity in the summer and that many of those beachfront homes had yet to be rebuilt from a massive hurricane. Probably not where I'm going to wind up.

Massachusetts is beautiful with all the green lawns, foliage and trees along the road. Yo Momma, The Dad and I drove around many small towns with beautiful brick homes and lots of history. We showed our true California roots when driving past town signs that read "established in 1693"...Wow! I enjoyed the rocking thunderstorms that came through town and the smell of rain on the pavement. But the more I drove around, the more I longed for the beach on one side and mountains on the other to help guide me home, for lanes that were actually painted on the pavement and not just imagined by the other drivers on the road. And though I didn't experience nearly the amount of humidity, the hint of it was always there. Don't think I'm going to call Massachusetts home either.

Driving into my town yesterday I realized that I really like home. I like the mountains and the beach. I'm okay with earthquakes and droughts. I don't like fires but understand their original purpose. I can handle CA drivers who run the new red-light in town. I don't even mind the tourists and beach goers who clog up the roads in the summer time. I like hearing the birds outside my window...though if they showed up around 8am that would be better. I like the home that I share, where my memories of growing up are stored. I like my home.

It's good to travel and it's good to be home.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Airports and people

I’m sitting in the airport in Charlotte, NC right now. This is the 5th airport that I have been to the last two weeks. On Sunday I will have taken flights out from 7 different airports, with 3 different airlines. My head is spinning a little bit.

My first three airports, I was keeping track of 14 other people as we moved from gate to gate, plane to plane. We went through new terminals, old terminals and a terminal that at one time was a shelter for people misplaced after Katrina. Our destination was Mississippi and work and home again.

The next four airports I’m all on my own. No people to keep track of, just me and my backpack. It’s a heavy backpack. My destination is Massachusetts and the wedding of friend and home again.

It’s interesting to spend time in different airports. Each has their own unique flavor and feeling too them. They each have some of the same food choices, books, coffee as well as things that are authentic to their area. San Francisco has sourdough bread, New Orleans has beignets and Charlotte, as I have found out, has rocking chairs. Yep, white rocking chairs right in the food court area. It’s fascinating. I would have taken a picture, but they were all filled with people and I wasn’t going to bother them.

What each airport has in common is delays, frustrated people and a sense of anxiety. It’s the story of air travel that at some point you will be delayed. We experienced it on our last trip, I’ve seen it happen this morning and I’m sure I will experience it again (I’m flying out of Chicago O’Hare on the way home, almost guaranteed to have a delay). Delays tend to make people cranky. Really, really cranky. Just now a gentleman came to the gate I am sitting at and thought that his plane had left without him. He was mad. Cussing up a storm, getting aggravated with the gate agents and in general just being cranky. His attitude changed when he was told that his gate had been changed and his plane was still on the ground. He took off running to his gate, without so much as a Thank You to the agent who was helping him. Cranky.

I don't like running late, I'm not sure how I would react if my flight was cancelled...don't really want to find out either but I also appreciate getting to the place that I want to go in one piece. If that means that my flight has to be delayed, then by all means, delay it!

Last week on the way home we flew from New Orleans to Dallas. The Dallas airport had been closed the day before due to severe weather and flooding. Our flight out of New Orleans was delayed an hour or so, which was fine, we had a good amount of time for the layover and once we got to Dallas, we found that our outgoing flight to San Jose was also delayed, about a half-hour. Looking around the airport we saw the evidence of people spending the night at the airport, army cots were everywhere. The group got dinner and hunkered down to eat, sitting on army cots and chairs by our gate. After about 20 minutes the gate agent called our flight number and said our gate had been changed and the flight delayed again. The reaction from our group was mixed. Some people were sure that we were never going to get home (can you say cranky??) and some just shrugged their shoulders, willing to wait for the weather to clear and safety to prevail. As we gathered our stuff to move to the next gate Yo Momma and Debbie decided that they weren't taking any chances with being stranded overnight without something semi-decent to sleep on. They scooped up the cots and moseyed on down to our new gate. As I sit here observing people, I wonder what people thought of two ladies walking through the airport with their backpacks over one shoulder and army cots under the other. Those are the kind of people I like to travel with.

I kind of like hanging around these airports, in different parts of the country. It makes me realize that no matter where I go, some things will always remain the same. Delays, cranky people and anxiety are everywhere. And most of the time it's the people who you travel with that make the difference.

Edited to add: I posted this, went got a milkshake and came back to find that my gate had changed AND my flight was delayed because...drumroll please...the plane we were supposed to take has mechanical problems and needs to fixed, so we get to wait for another plane to come in. This is just proof to me that God does indeed have a sense of humor. :)