Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm Here!

      I'm in New York!  My plans changed a little bit since my last post.  I decided to come out here by myself, so I left camp on Saturday morning and spent the night in Lansing with my cousin Bekah and her kids.  I feel so blessed to have lived so close to them this summer.  Every time I went to visit we ate at my aunt and uncle's house and I thoroughly enjoyed their massaged kale salad and other yummy healthy treats (don't get me wrong, I enjoyed their company more than the food!).  I was a little concerned about having enough fallish clothes, so Bekah and I went on a little shopping trip and now I'm all set!
      On Sunday morning, I set out around 9:30.  The sun was shining in a clear blue sky and the road was calling my name.  The first two hours of the trip were quite enjoyable, just driving along through Michigan to the tune of some music that I can't quite remember at the moment.  Then I hit Ohio. Ugh.  I hope I never have to drive through Ohio again for the rest of my life.  First of all, I knew I was going to have to pay a toll and that I should probably have cash on hand.  The problem was that I didn't think about that until I was in the car on the road, headed towards the Ohio Turnpike.  The only thing I could think to do was to stop at a gas station with an ATM and get cash.  I figured the small service fee for using an ATM other than my bank's was preferable to getting a ticket for failing to pay the toll.  I got off on one of the last free exits before the turnpike and drove in at least one complete circle around some random place in Ohio before I finally found a gas station.  I must say I felt kind of threatened there.  People were scary looking and everything was dirty.*  20 minutes and another wrong turn later, I was back on the road.  I was determined to make it all the way across Ohio without stopping for any reason, since I would have to pay to get off and back on.  It took me 2.5 hours to cross the state, after which I definitely had to  to the bathroom.  My gas gauge said that I had about half a tank left, so I thought I should probably try to find gas as well.  After paying the $11 toll (Really? The roads aren't that fantastic), I pulled off Interstate 80 to try to find a gas station.  The town was equally as dirty as the previous one and the people even scarier, so I made a couple loops and kept going.  Thankfully there was a rest stop just across the Pennsylvania border where I could go to the bathroom, which meant I could then focus much more clearly on finding a gas station over the next hour or so.  Needless to say, I did not make friends in Ohio. 
      Pennsylvania was equally frustrating.  I thought it was going to be a smoother ride than Ohio, but of course it wasn't.  By 6 o'clock, after 3 and a half hours of driving across the state, traffic had come to a standstill at least two separate times due to construction and one of the times was in the pouring rain.  On top of poor visibility and the hazard of stopping quickly between ginormous semi-trucks during a rainstorm, the GPS on my phone could no longer find my location due to the mountainous region in which I was driving.  At least the scenery was beautiful.  I pulled over at another rest stop and called my dad, slightly panicky since I hadn't seen a town for at least 2 hours and I was getting tired and ready to stop for the night.  My dad, after checking trusty Mapquest, reassured me that I was getting close to a few times and should stop when I found one since I was crying and obviously exhausted.  I thanked him and pulled back onto the interstate.  I passed several stopping points over the next two and a half hours, but none of them were satisfactory.  I finally stopped at 9 o'clock in the janky town of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.  I had been praying for God to show me when and where to stop and that little Super 8 in that dirty little town was definitely the answer to my prayer.  The lady at the front desk was very friendly and even told me where I could go find something to eat.  With my AAA discount, I ended up paying less than $70 for the hotel - they even had free breakfast!  I found a McDonald's for dinner (not very healthy but it was cheap and I was hungry) and called it a night.  I was so thankful that God kept me safe during my eleven and a half hour drive and through the night in a sketchy town!  
      I drove the rest of the way to Nyack on Monday morning.  The trip took me about an hour and a half, even though the traffic was insane and it started raining again.  The closer I got to New York, the nicer the cars became.  I can't remember the last time I saw so many Lexuses and BMWs in the same day on the same highway.  I drove a little in New Jersey before I crossed into New York, which means I drove through a total of 5 states on my way here.  What happened when I arrived in Nyack and the ongoing culture shock I am experiencing is another story for another day.  Be excited :) 

* My imagination becomes very active when I travel, especially when I'm alone - this is my disclaimer for the rest of the story.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Life Update!

      Hello!  It has been a while since I've blogged, so I decided I better give a quick life update.  Camp officially ended on the 17th of August, but I am staying an extra week, since seminary classes don't begin until September 5th.  I'm just doing odd jobs around the ranch, like laundry, kitchen duty, and housekeeping.  My main job is to wash over 100 sets of linens before tomorrow, and I am actually doing quite well.  I am proud to say that I am now an expert at folding fitted sheets!  My friend Mel stayed as well, so I have a roommate in my trailer - it's been a fun time!  Next week we're just going to hang out around Michigan before heading up to New York by way of Toronto.  I must say I'm super excited to finally set foot in Canada!
      Tonight, a guy here at camp is teaching me how to change the oil in my car.  Definitely a life skill I will never be sorry to know.  A tire changing lesson is somewhere in the near future as well!  This summer, and particularly in the past week, God has been teaching me to rely fully on Him, especially but not only in the lonely moments.  He has been using the people around me to remind me to take one day at a time, to trust Him with the details, and to take time to enjoy the life He's given me.  Stay tuned for updates on my adventures - there will be plenty!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Highlights

       Almost a month since I last blogged, which will make a total of 3 posts this summer (except I accidentally deleted one of them...oops).  7 weeks of camp are behind me, only one week left before summer camp officially ends.  This week is an off-week for me, so I am spending it at home with my family.  I didn't think I would come back this soon, but it was a pleasant surprise.  I love camp, but it's nice to just hang out and do nothing for a while!
       When I left off, it was just after week 4.  So much has happened since then!  One of the things that I was disappointed with week after week was the lack of interaction I felt I had with campers.  Yes, I administered medications at every meal, bedtime, and usually sometime in the middle of the day, but other than that I just kind of hung out waiting for someone to get hurt.  My prayer was the same at the beginning of every week: "God, please give me opportunities to connect with campers. I want to make an impact."  Every week, He answered my prayer in a different and unexpected way.  Sometimes it was as simple as holding a crying eleven year old girl and praying for her stomach to feel better.  Sometimes it was chatting in the barn store with high school guys about the Bible.  Sometimes it was hanging out in a middle school girls' cabin so the counselors could connect with the girls one on one.  Sometimes it was playing Skip-Bo at the beach with a group of girls who didn't feel like swimming.  All unexpected, all all seemingly unimportant, all answers to prayer.  If I've learned anything this summer, it's that God's love is endless and He listens to His children.
      Here are some of the highlights from the summer!
      - Friendship Camp dance parties
      - 4th of July Parade around the family campgrounds
      - Going to Bay City to see fireworks 4th of July weekend
      - Shooting my first (and 2nd and 3rd and 4th) gun at Saturday night fun
      - Spending a weekend with my friend Cyndi who drove up from Chicago
      - Archery with Kyle and Justin...I'm actually not bad!
      - Skip-Bo with my "adopted" cabin whenever we had time!
      - Getting corn rows for the first time, courtesy of my dear friend Lea
      - Sunday worship with the staff and family camp
      - Making my first friendship bracelet
      - Weekend in Lansing with my uncle, aunt, cousins, and friend Ashley
      - White Caps baseball game with the staff in Grand Rapids