Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Busy times!

Well, I finally feel like I'm in school! It's weird having so many assignments due for the same week. But I can do ALL THINGS through Christ my strength. So it'll work out!

Last Monday (not yesterday), a bunch of us went to a beautiful beach called Cape Kiwanda. The water is too cold for swims, but the view is simply amazing. Here are some pics :

Then the rest of the week, and up till now, most of it has been spent in blitzing through homework. book reports, learning Greek, and working. I'm feeling a little bit tired, but it's all good. God's even blessed me with a physio grad roommate who gives amazing back massages!!! It's fun to be challenged in learning like this. I may be a geek, but essays and book reports and learning new stuff is actually quite fun. I never thought I'd be going to school at this point of my life, but I'm really not complaining about it. There's a time for everything under the sun, and I'm grateful for God's provision in bringing me here in this season.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Camp, The Pacific and Back to School!

Getting settled in a bit more in my new home and environment, I actually, looking back, haven't been here all that much yet.

After being in Portland for a little over a week, we packed our bags and headed off to camp out East, in a valley in the middle of the desert. I'd never been to the desert before. It really is dry, and you don't realize how quickly you can get dehydrated. But this camp was a man-made Oasis in a valley, surrounded by big brown hills, and felt surreal. Pictures can't quite capture it, though I've tried.

A deer coming to eat from the rich grass and leaves in the valley; there were 4 : 2 moms, and 2 babies. They came as close as a couple feet from me! I guess they figured they needed to compromise with human presence in order to get the goods. You can see the dry mountain in the background. That's what the area looks like for miles around there.

Here's a view of the valley from half-way up the hill I climbed I sunrise. The lake and the pool and the green grass are visible, and you can see the difference between the lushness of the valley and the dryness of the hill I'm on. Got up at 6 am for this trek.

The area had been built by the Rajnishi, followers of this Indian guru who tried to take over the government in the 80's. However, they got in trouble with the law, and ran away, leaving some well built structures and a beautiful oasis. It was later bought by a Christian businessman who converted it into a Christian camp. It's now called Wild horse Canyon, though I saw more deer than horses...

We had chapel time every evening after dinner. Each session was very good and challenging, and we had Pr Jude Fouquier and a few of our own pastors from City Bible Church speak. There would always be some activities after chapel, like night-time in the pool or the rec centre, with wall climbing, games and volleyball and basketball courts would be open. In the morning, after breakfast, we'd have either another teaching session, or small group time, etc. Lunch, and lots of afternoon free time. We had ziplines, aka flying foxes, etc, volleyball courts, a swing that reminded me of a mini extreme sky flyer from Canada's Wonderland, some big jumpy things called The Blob, and the pool and some more activities in the lake. There was always something to do.

Every year there are camp olympic with relay races, human hog-tying, belly-flop competitions, synchronized swimming, etc. I didn't really participate, cause being my first year, I didn't really know what was going on, but it was quite entertaining to watch - and our team won.

This is an attempt at catching pics of the Zipline. That "thing" on the water is someone splashing in. That was me a few moments ago.

The blue water of the pool is starkingly bright compared to the flat colors of the hills. This was one of the games during the pool olympics. Our team won - all from my cheering ;)

On the last day, I got up a little earlier to catch a bit of the sun rising over the hills. I went for a walk up a steep hill, quite the work-out. On the way to the path leading up the hill, I spotted the deer that were happily at breakfast. Such beautiful animals!

Though I really enjoyed all of camp and was very challenged by some of the teaching sessions, and will now take proper steps to apply some of what I've learned to my life, I think what I enjoyed most from camp was getting to know some of the people here a little bit better.

I admit it's been a bit difficult adjusting. I don't feel quite as independent and confident as I did 5 years ago when I took off to Brazil all by myself. Sometimes I've been getting discouraged. But then I began to pray about it, and remind myself and my silly mind that God's with me here like everywhere else, that He's got a good purpose for this year, and that others need my friendship too. It's easy to get focused on your poor self, but really, pity parties ruin everything. I've really been taking a stand against discouragement, and it's been getting better and better.

In order : Rachel, Mary, Shalane, and me, in front of Shalane's house and a giant something or other with a specific name that I forget. Lovely beach house though, about 20 minutes drive from the actual beach.

Saturday, Rachel, my roomy, and Mary and I headed to Longbeach, Washington, on the West Coast. I'd never been there before, and it was so exciting! Very chilly and cloudy all weekend, but still very much worth it.

Rachel and I in front of the pacific ocean.

Mary, Shalane and Rachel. Mary and Shalane graduated last spring. Shalane was preaching at her church that Sunday, and did a great job.

I'm a ballerina!

Getting arrested by Shalane and taken into the police station... I've never seen a police station look this rustic, so I had to take a pic.

The world's longest beach in America! something like that...

Now we're back to routine. I've been thoroughly enjoying my classes, and even my assignments, though I wrestled with one of them today. We have an assignment due tomorrow for our homiletics course; it's an outline of a sermon on how to be born again. See, I can sit with someone and explain the message of salvation, the Gospel, the cross, the history of mankind's sin and restoration to God, no prob. I love talking about it, taking it as closely as possible from the other person's point in life. But how so you put it into a sermon without over-simplifying it, or giving it the "accept Jesus and you'll be happy" swing, etc. I fought with this assignment all day, wanting to give a clear picture of who God is, what it means to know Him, and what Jesus did on the cross.

Finally, I just threw in the main message of it and a bunch of scriptures. I'm not sure that's exactly how I'd preach it, but it's a start. I'll see what my professor says about it, and learn from it all. All in all, he really just wants to see our ability to draw out an outline.

Another thing that's been really neat is, sitting in Lanny Hubbard's class on Hermeneutics, exploring the history of interpreting the Scriptures and how it's been done, what's influenced it, etc. I love listening to Lanny. He's such an endless fountain of knowledge and wisdom. And history is so fascinating, and he knows it so well. I love seeing the patterns of philosophies and culture that have affected our theology and thoughts as a society and as Christians. I know it may sound dry coming from the reader's end, but everyone here enjoys it. It's the same kinda interest that's peaked sitting at tea with John and Susan Boyce.

So I'm quite excited about this upcoming year. It seems to me like I'll be learning a lot of head stuff, history and such, but also heart stuff. I already have been.