Wednesday, June 5, 2019

{Grief Unexpected}

Never had I been so thankful for a Monday morning pile of laundry. Drew and Maggie had just pulled away, waving their farewells after a weekend packed with wedding celebrations and family get-togethers. My eyes blurred as they drove off . . . then as they returned to grab the Cheez-Its . . . then as they drove off again, eager to tackle the last few weeks of classes at Eastern. 

The day stretched before me, grey and ordinary, especially compared with the excitement of the last few days. To tell you the truth, I really just wanted to curl up on The Big Chair, drink my tea, and retreat. For about a week. Knowing this was hardly realistic, I instead stepped toward the thing I knew would at least get me jump-started on the day. I sorted laundry.

Somehow, this prosaic act is often the gentle nudge I need to "do the next right thing." There's always laundry to be done, and the act of quiet, rhythmic sorting or folding can be the warm up I need to then move on to the next task in my day . . . and the next.

Heavy on my mind as I sorted and piled, however, was the news that my grandfather was in the hospital, very likely living his last days on earth. Indeed, the next day, a sense of urgency prompted my family to gather at his bedside. My parents, sister, aunt, cousin, and I knew that our "next thing" was now to sit, visit, remember . . . to watch and wait.

We watched and waited all day, and late that night, after my sister and I had gone home, Grandpa drew his last breath. A text flashed on my phone, and I knew. Even as my eyes blurred over the message, my heart rejoiced. He was released from pain, from confusion, from the mind disease that had infiltrated and robbed him of health and vitality. He was home with his Savior.

I grieved as memories flickered across my mind, memories of the way he called me "Hunny Bunch" and "Juni," memories of him expertly navigating the tractor over the sands of El Morro . . . memories of him conversing in his Donald Duck voice . . . memories of watching him slow dance with Nanee . . . memories of his strong, work-worn hands resting on his Bible.

This was the grief I expected. Yet as I looked through old photos and recalled sweet memories, I was blindsided by an unexpected grief. It was as though I'd inadvertently re-opened an old wound, and I grieved anew over the death of Nanee. I wanted to update her on the kids; I longed to tell her all the fun little details she loved to hear; and I really wanted to take her out to Beaches for a nice, juicy burger.

My mind delved into the deeper strata of loss, and I grieved unexpectedly over my maternal grandparents. Why had my grandmother died at such a young age? I was only eight when she passed at 55, and it didn't seem fair that I never had the chance to share my adult life with her . . . . It didn't seem fair that my own mom never got to share the delight of grandkids with her mom. 

Grandpa's passing marked the end of an era. He was the last of my grandparents, the last of my kids' great grandparents. His passing, therefore, had somehow awakened a sense of loss connected with each of my grandparents. Yet it also threw into greater relief the season in which Jamie and I now live. It's a season of great change, transition, and excitement. Our kids are growing, and while our nest is not empty, our birds do have nice, strong wings. And boy are they eager to use them. 

Yet even here I have discovered an unexpected flicker of grief. It's the grief that comes with change, the grief that comes over remembering what once was and what can no longer be. For over 21 years my life has been devoted primarily to motherhood. And, while I will never stop being a mother, I grieve over the ways in which my role has changed. My kids don't come running up to me with fist-fulls of dandelions anymore. They don't beg for another reading of Goodnight Moon (which I still have memorized). They don't shout from outside, "Mama! Come watch me!" (Yet, thankfully, nor do they holler at me from the bathroom.) 

Yesterday, as I was walking the pond, I listened to Emily P. Freeman's podcast of the week. The topic was remarkably poignant and timely: Hold Space When Someone Dies. As I circled past the towering foxglove and cheerfully nodding daisies, I wondered if I had "held space" for my grandpa, if I had taken the time to pause and grieve in a way that brought a sense of peace to my heart.

I then recalled the Psalm I had read the day after Grandpa's death. It was Psalm 100, a passage I had known since childhood. Yet never had I connected it with death. Suddenly, it was a beacon of light: Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting; His faithfulness to all generations.

I could envision Grandpa entering heaven's gates with thanksgiving. And I could proclaim in my heart that "all shall be most well" because of the Lord's faithfulness and lovingkindness to all generations: to the generations that now remain, to the generations to come. This, then, is the way of grief. It is a way that hurts, yes. Yet it is also a way that gives thanks, a way that penetrates through the tears and the ache. Whether our ache lingers over a death, a change, a loss, a season of unknown, or even if we find ourselves in a season of what seems prosaic and mundane (see: children who still holler from the bathroom), no matter the ache, we have reason to give thanks.

Finishing my jaunt around the wetlands, I took a deep breath, wiped my eyes, and gave thanks for a quiet moment to "hold space" for my Grandpa, to allow myself time to consider and give name to the grief I'd held over both the expected and unexpected events, changes, losses, and transitions of the past weeks, months, and even years. 

My phone buzzed and I looked at the screen. (This is the young adult phase of "kid holler.") Bethie had just picked up her cap, gown, and cords. She will graduate with honors. Later, Drew would text me, saying he got the editor position he'd hoped for . . . Aidan would pull together his paperwork, eager to dive into Running Start as a junior this fall . . . and Avery would whip up a fresh batch of cream puffs. Life continues, life is beautiful. And it's okay for a mama to "weep a little weep" of joy, even over cords and cream puffs. 

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Monday, March 11, 2019

{My Teacup Runneth Over}

On Friday if you had asked me to share a special memory associated with Psalm 23, I would have shared about little Drew, who had the chapter memorized at age 2. Of course I was eager to share his brilliance with extended family, and on one occasion asked him to recite the passage at the dinner table. His sweet voice confidently proclaimed, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . . ."

At one point Drew paused in his recitation, so his uncle, whom the children called "Bobo," gently prompted him: "What about 'Thy Rod and Thy staff?'" Drew didn't skip a beat, but turned matter-of-factly to his uncle and calmly explained, "They comfort me, Bobo."

Yes, that would have been my Friday story. But by Sunday afternoon? My Psalm 23 story would have gone a little something like this.

The forest trifecta: moss, creek, and a split rail fence.

Don't let the halo fool you.

This weekend my cup overflowed with God's goodness and abundance. I took part in our church's Women's retreat and delighted in the many ways God revealed to me the blessing of community. From a skit performed with co-workers and late-night conversations with kindred spirits, to English Country dances with new friends and hikes in the woods with fellow moss lovers, I could feel my somewhat depleted cup beginning to fill.

Glenwood Staff Ladies. Business as usual.

Dancing with 30 exhausted, hyper ladies is hilarious. 

I love learning from Judy!

Isn't my Marmee cute?

If I could liken this overflowing "cup" to a cup of tea, I would say the cream and sugar were about to be added . . . in the most unexpected way.

My dear friend Dayna was our retreat speaker, and she taught from Psalm 23 with wisdom, insight, and encouragement. Her faithful "yes" to her Savior is a constant inspiration to me and many others, and time spent with Dayna -- limited now that she lives in North Dakota -- is always a balm to my soul.

I regretted not having had more time with Dayna over the weekend (alas, Annie and I had to share her with dozens of other ladies), so I was excited when, at the end of the retreat, she suggested taking a quick hike up to the falls before heading out. Annie and I -- her fellow carpoolers -- were game: the sun was bright and warm, the sky a brilliant blue, and those mossy trees and gurgling streams beckoned irresistibly.

Did I mention the moss?

So we informed Michelle, our fearless leader, that we'd be taking a quick jaunt. She, in turn, informed the camp personnel that a few hikers were still on site. We took to the woods.

An hour later, we returned to the car, refreshed, yet eager to head home. We pulled out, approached the gate . . . and found it to be locked. Very securely . . . locked. Not yet alarmed, we figured someone must still be on site. We drove around and hollered . . . and honked . . . and hollered and honked some more. Yet the only sign of life was the grazing deer who quizzically perked her ears and then calmly sauntered toward a patch of sunlight.

At this point we decided to rope Michelle into our awkward predicament. Dear, faithful Michelle, already on her way home, ready to rest after a full weekend; Michelle, who pulled over to the nearest gas station and remained a steadfast point of contact for us as we, one by one, exhausted our resources.

Resources which included scaling the fence to ask neighbors for help . . . .

Brave, strong Dayna.

. . . trying to contact the retreat center itself . . . calling friends and family for advice . . . and finally scouring the grounds for implements with which to perform our great escape. 

We looked at each other with calm determination. Dayna reasoned, "We can do this, girls. We've read all about things like this, right?" Surely three literary homeschool moms could break out of a chainlink fence. Dayna valiantly, romantically attempted to pick the lock with a hairpin. It works in movies. It works in mystery novels. It did not work for us.

Brave, creative Annie.

Annie, who was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic, was ready to resort to more desperate measures. She procured a pick axe and cable from some shed and determined to miraculously combine these tools with her van's tow hitch. I tend to be more cautious, and nervously pointed out that it might be unwise to yank the entire gate out of the ground. This might be considered vandalism?     

I wondered at which point we should call 911. Annie wasn't so sure. "No! We'll end up on the news! We'll be the three lunatic moms who got trapped inside a Bible camp!"

Where had we gone wrong? At about this time I recalled having passed fellow hiker-friends on our way into the trail. We had waved goodbye to these friends who were just finishing up their hike. It dawned on me. What if the retreat personnel had seen those women return to camp and assumed they were the ones to whom Michelle had been referring? No one would guess that three more women were trapped in the idyllic woods.

A path on one of our earlier hikes. I was so blessed to visit with a number of younger women this weekend.

My phone battery was uncomfortably low by this time, and service was limited. I continued to run back and forth from the van to the one patch of land where my coverage was strongest, keeping Michelle up to date on our escape attempts. Michelle continued to try calling those whom she thought might be able to help us out, and was ready to come fetch us herself. (I could envision the three of us scaling the fence upon Michelle's arrival and began to consider which of my possessions I should toss over. The church curtains would be a definite must . . . . )

Fairly certain we were out of options by this time, Annie's husband was ready to head north with some bolt cutters. If we were resorting to bolt-cutting, I was thankful to contribute the suggestion that my in-laws lived less than an hour away. I hated to inconvenience them, but I knew they'd not only have the necessary tools, but they'd also be all too willing to help. I gingerly made the call, embarrassed we had gotten ourselves into such a scrape. "Hey . . . so . . . do you guys happen to have any . . . bolt cutters?" My mother-in-law laughed, checked their escape-tool-arsenal, and assured me they would head over as soon as possible.

Knowing that help was on the way, we began to relax. Yes, we were still locked in. Physically, things hadn't changed; but our outlook had changed: we had a new, calming assurance. So, with Psalm 23 fresh on our hearts, we spread out our coats in a patch of green pasture . . . right beside the still waters. A table was prepared before us in the form of the various leftover snacks we had on hand: Red Vines, carrots, hummus, one apple and several granola bars. Dayna positioned an unlit candle in the middle for ambience. We could survive for quite some time.

(Kayla, your leftover Dayna-snacks were a banquet that saved our lives. Ann, thanks for letting Annie snag the Red Vines.)

It was a powerful picture to me that these camp boundaries became beautiful in my sight. Here I was, trapped with two of my dearest friends. We were forced to sit, to rest, to talk about the real, heart-felt things. And, really, in that moment, we had everything we needed. We were blessed to think of the many friends and family who were ready to jump in and help. We were blessed by the snacks which had been shared with us by others. We were blessed by a weekend full of laughter-inducing activity, delicious food, gracious camp hosts, thoughtful conversation, and deep wisdom. We were blessed by the warm sunshine that continued to pour down on us. We even found comfort in the rod and staff which reminded us of our glaring need for a wise, forgiving Shepherd.

He restores my soul.

The cream and sugar were added to my figurative cup of tea. Annie refers to the three of us as the Bermuda Triangle. She's right. But we are also tea with cream and sugar. Annie is the tea: her energy is a hearty dose of caffeine that has always bravely inspired us to push limits and take risks because we serve a mighty God. Dayna is the cream: her words are soothing, her presence calming, her spirit rich, and she pairs beautifully with a piping hot cup of tea. That leaves me as the sugar: I quietly insert myself here and there, sweetly attempting to keep my friends grounded and rational with gentle, unobtrusive questions. Questions like, "Is this considered vandalism?"

The Great Escape.

Finally, my in-laws pulled up, and they worked their magic. Never have I hugged them so tightly. We laughed over the story, secured the gate behinds us, climbed into Annie's van and breathed a sigh of relief. My ever-mindful father-in-law pointed us toward the road we should take to head home. We grinned our cutest grins and bashfully demurred, "Ummm . . . can we just follow you out? We have no idea where we're going." 

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Monday, December 31, 2018

{The Twelve Months of 2018: A Musical Letter}

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Dear Friends and Family!
In lieu of a traditional letter (alas for my sentimental heart!),
I bring you this digital format, which allows me to share pictures so much more easily.
So pour a cup of tea, let the familiar tune float through your head
(ignoring the poor rhythms along the way), and join me for . . .

"The Twelve Months of '18!"


“On the first month of ‘18 our Bethie, she did say,
'I’m off to SkyZone today'”

Bethie turns 18 in just a couple of weeks. She continues to enjoy working at SkyZone, our local trampoline park (she especially loves to see familiar faces, so bring the kids on in!), and keeps up her senior year studies as a Running Start student at Clark College. Her readiness to hop in the car and chauffeur or run errands is a huge help as we manage many ever-shifting schedules!


“On the second month of ‘18, son Aidan did preside
O’er the Glenwood musical slides”

Aidan -- our 15-year-old sophomore -- keeps busy with a variety of activities, including monthly slide projection at Glenwood, outreach events with the youth group, and daily texts, memes, and Snapchats (did I get that right?) with his brother, cousins, and friends. He also recently (and bravely) taught me the Hype dance and concluded, "Well, you're doing it right . . . it just doesn't look right." Such is midlife.


“On the third month of ‘18 the Lawsons, they were bound,
For a brief stay away in the Sound”

As our family grows, we become increasingly aware of how quickly time and circumstances change. It won’t always be the six of us, gathered in the home nest! We took advantage of this season of togetherness and spent Spring Break on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. How grateful we are for Jamie's video production business -- he's enjoying his 10th year as the owner of Team 302 -- which allows him to work from home and take time off for such special occasions.


“On the fourth month of ‘18 we sensed eternity
And God’s love for the Stevens family”

April ushered in a powerful time of transition for our family as my Dad’s mom -- our Nanee -- went home to be with Jesus. How blessed we were to share the last months with her, to hear her spin the final, familiar old stories, to witness her testament to God’s faithfulness through it all: “It’s been a wonderful life!”     


P.C. Carolyn Nichols

“On the fifth month of ‘18 my mom and I did pray
O'er the birth of our musical play”

Many years ago, my mom had a little seed of a dream planted in her heart. That dream was to write a children’s musical. Over the last couple of years, that dream blossomed and bloomed. She invited me to co-write the script, and it was an incredible joy to see the May performance of my mom’s heart work, “Wisdom in the Wild.” And the icing on the cake? Avery Kate -- daughter and granddaughter -- took part in the production.


“On the sixth month of ‘18 Julianna did see,
A quick plane trip -- and lots of VBC!”

It’s been a joy and privilege for me to serve on the Glenwood staff in Children’s Ministries for three years now. June is always a busy time in the CM world, and I was delighted to work with the preschool Vacation Bible Camp class this year . . . especially since it gave me opportunity to share Bible stories through a favorite medium: shadow puppets! My parents and I also hopped down to California to celebrate Nanee's life and legacy with family down there. We were so close to Disneyland, that Mary Poppins' mantra proved irresistible: "If we must, we must!"  


“On the seventh month of ‘18 our household was awhirl
As we prepped to journey ‘cross the world”

July was filled with meetings and studying and packing and purchasing and double-checking. We were prepping our little hearts out for the August trip to Slovenia: connecting with the students who would be joining us, keeping in touch with Johnny and Brooke for last minute updates, purchasing supplies for the middle school students we’d be meeting!


“On the eighth month of ‘18 we got the passport stamp,
And headed toward a week of English camp”

Jamie and I had the incredible honor of taking a team of students to Celje, Slovenia, where my brother and his family live. There, we helped lead an English camp for middle school students. We are extremely grateful to those of you back home who supported us through prayer, financial support, and the cheery comments you delivered via Facebook and Instagram as you kept up with our activities. Because all financial giving was anonymous, we have not been able to individually thank those of you who joined in this adventure. Please accept our warmest gratitude! It was a life-changing opportunity for each one of us.


On the ninth month of ‘18 we bade farewell to Drew,
Who travelled back to Eastern U”

Drew, just a few months shy of 21, is a junior at Eastern Washington University, working toward a double major in Public Relations Journalism and Print Journalism. This fall he was thrilled to land a position on the school newspaper, “The Easterner.” He covers a variety of sports, which is right up his alley, and we’re always thrilled when we pull up the online paper ( and see that familiar byline!


“On the tenth month of ‘18 our table stretched and burst
With a special meal -- the honorary first”

Jamie and I continue to work with the young adult ministry at Glenwood, "The Calling." In October we instituted "Lawson Family Dinner," and, much to our delight, hosted a table full of students for lively conversation, belly laughter, yummy food . . . and even some Neil Diamond records. (Pictured is our November meal.) It is an honor to get to know these men and women, and we are grateful for the privilege of spending time with them.


“On the eleventh month of ‘18 the days did simply flee
As we shared some time with friends from JV”

This year has been marked by many rich, jaw-dropping moments. One such occasion was our opportunity to spend time with Urh and Doroteja Kolar, Slovenes -- and friends of Johnny and Brooke -- who work with Josiah Venture. We gobbled up their time here in Vancouver and delighted (often with misty eyes) over the way God brings His people together.


"On the twelfth month of '18 the mixer whipped and whirled
With creations by our Avery-girl"

Avery, 13, is in 8th grade this year. She spends a vast majority of her time thinking about culinary creations, whether she's whipping up cupcakes, watching the Great British Baking Show, dreaming of fondant, sketching a cake design, or trying out a new puff pastry technique. (As I write, she's pulling vanilla cupcakes out of the oven!) We are all highly in favor of this hobby.

* * * * * * * *

On this 12th month of 2018, we look back with hearts full of gratitude,
and we look ahead, filled with the hope of Jesus that never fails,
the love of you -- our precious friends and family -- who put action to that love,
and to the promise of the peace and presence of our Emmanuel, God with us.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Dear Ones!
With love from The Lawson Family

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Thursday, August 30, 2018

{English Camp: The Music and the Message}

My sister and I grabbed each other's hands and began to twirl around the living room, dancing and laughing hysterically. We had the bare bones of a routine choreographed, but in our teen hearts we were convinced it was phenomenal. At the approach of the chorus, our dad turned up the volume. We pulled out all the stops and kicked our legs up as high as we could, duly impressing our family:

But I would walk five hundred miles 
And I would walk five hundred more; 
Just to be the one who walks a thousand miles 
To fall down at your door.

Never would I have guessed that this song would bring tears to my eyes. But, three weeks ago, that's exactly what happened.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

By Thursday morning, we had this whole camp gig down pat. We also had the whole hostel gig down pat, which was rather ironic: it was time to leave. There was a period of three or four days where the rooms were unavailable to us, so it had been arranged that we'd stay in the homes of the JV missionaries for a time and then return to the hostel.

Thus, my Thursday morning tea took the slightest turn. "May I have it in a paper cup? To take with me?" Once again, our hostess understood, and my tea was ready to go. Along with our assorted 50 lb. bags and suitcases. By 7:20 a.m. (We were very thankful for our brawny young men who eagerly shuttled our bags down the flights of stairs and into the awaiting van.)

Once at the church, we began as usual. Our combined team shared in morning devotions, and when the campers arrived, each team member fell confidently into their various roles, whether describing a game, leading an activity, or displaying song motions.

One of the highlights of camp was the music. Music brought us all together -- and quite literally, too. Some songs were meant to draw us into the same room (we had a camp song that, when played, was our signal to gather together, which we did with much dancing a laughter). Other songs were played for all-out fun and community, such as "Lean on Me" and "I'm a Believer." Still other songs filled the void in order to enhance hilarious games like "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles."

Our camp song, "Reign Forever," was a partner song with choreography, which everyone learned. By the end of the week we had those moves down (although I never could manage to make my twirling grapevine land in the right place). We also knew who to partner with in order to achieve a successful trust fall. This was important, for obvious reasons.

But for me, it was "500 Miles" that caused a lump to form in my throat. I hadn't heard this version of the song -- "We Have This Hope," it was called -- but I sure did know the tune. As soon as Johnny started to lead us that first day, we caught each other's eye. This song had a history. Years of images flashed through my mind in an instant. I pictured dancing in the living room with my sister. I pictured the many theatrical performances we coaxed our brother into joining. (Some of which included signed contracts; we just couldn't risk his fatigue or boredom, inevitable at age 8.)

We never could have imagined that, one day, he would be standing on a stage in a country called Slovenia, strumming that recognizable beat, teaching it to a crew of students and leaders, with a heart that beat wildly for Jesus. I was proud of him. Tears filled my eyes, and I was in awe of the way God faithfully -- and often unexpectedly -- lavishes the sweetest grace upon grace.

And I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the one who walks a thousand miles
To stand firm in my Lord.

It's a riotous, fun song. (And not really a tear-jerker at all, I suppose, unless one happens to be terribly sentimental. Like some people I know.) But the message is one we hoped to introduce to the campers that week: it is worth it all to stand firm in the Lord. And it's a message I've proudly watched my brother, sister-in-law, and niece live in their home in Celje: it is worth it all to stand firm in the Lord.

Jamie and Johnny both had opportunities to share this message throughout the week. Our late afternoon program included a session in which they introduced the Bible, King David and, ultimately, King Jesus. The talks were followed by discussion groups, which were entirely conducted in Slovene, the heart language of the students.

We all came to camp with our own heart languages that week. It was an honor and privilege for Jamie and me to lead a group of young adults who learned more and more to listen to that language, to understand more and more what it means to walk a thousand miles for our Lord. Sometimes the miles are swift and beautiful, traversing lush meadows and fragrant forests. Other times those miles are dusty, uphill miles, filled with ruts and boulders. But, with our Lord, they are all good, good miles with breathtaking vistas and marvelous landscapes we never would have encountered on our own.

Thursday evening, in our various missionary homes, we had opportunity to share more of this heart language with one another. It was a blessing to be welcomed into their homes, to talk about the deep things, the things that matter. The week of English camp may have been winding down, but we knew our hearts were still on the path of life-long loving and learning. A thousand miles stretched before us, our Savior beckoning, our Savior welcoming. And we wanted to be counted among those who would walk 500 miles, and 500 more.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

{English Camp: Afternoon Games}

I sat before my black tea on Wednesday morning, delighted. Our server had arranged our meals on wooden trays, knowing exactly what we had wanted. Language may have been a slight barrier over the course of our stay, but solid communication still took place. She showed us that she understood us and valued us. Once again, I felt the beauty of being understood, of understanding.

Confident in our ability to exchange ideas, I thought it would now be appropriate to introduce the next phase of tea perfection. I had already located the packets of raw sugar on Tuesday. One thing remained. "Do you have cream?" Her brow furrowed. I clarified, "Milk? For my tea?" Ah! Yes! She smiled and poured the daintiest little pitcher of milk for me. It looked quite charming alongside that wooden tray. I'm sure I was very loud and American when I pointed it out to the other girls, "Isn't this the darlingest creamer you ever saw?" They agreed it was and proceeded to partake of my unused portion.

In today's post I'll highlight the Afternoon Games, which were organized by our team and directed by Bethie. She did an excellent job describing the games each day. In preparation for camp, she and Jamie had taught the week's worth of games to the rest of the crew during orientation. This proved to be a very valuable sneak peek, as most of the games were new.

Bethie had the challenge of not only explaining new games to the campers, but in describing them, once again, with succinct, easy-to-translate phrases. Her translator, Iza, also did an excellent job of interpreting and communicating a variety of foreign ideas to the eager middle school students.

Monday's game was Rabbit Sticks, and it proved to be the favorite camp game. It had to be adapted somewhat in order to accommodate the layout of the church grounds, but once again, Bethie met the challenge, modified the rules, and made it work exceptionally well. (So well that we played it on multiple days.)

On Tuesday we introduced Haluta, a crazy variation of kickball. This ended up requiring multiple creative explanations, as the concept of baseball (on which the game is loosely based) was also new to the students. We were able to use a nearby field, and the kids pretty quickly picked up on the fun of the game, if not the precise rules of the game. I don't have pictures to document Haluta, as I was valiantly attempting to run the bases myself. Please accept instead this darling picture of Bethie and Nastja -- our amazing camp director -- with two of our campers.

Wednesday's temperature soared to the mid 90s, so it was a perfect day for the water war. (The day prior, Jamie and a few team members had sequestered themselves on the side yard of the church, where they filled hundreds and hundreds of water balloons.) We began water day with a (somewhat) organized, points-based game, and then unleashed the remaining water balloons for an all-out campers vs. leaders war. This, of course, was a big hit.

P.C. Urh Kolar

P.C. Urh Kolar
P.C. Urh Kolar
P.C. Urh Kolar
P.C. Urh Kolar
P.C. Urh Kolar

Thursday's activity strayed from the athletic, but it was just as fun. We headed to the nearby mall for a photo scavenger hunt.

"Team Pyramid"

"Find something foreign"

"Recreate a movie scene." 

Finally, on Friday, the kids (and leaders!) participated in a series of silly relay-type games. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.


And now, back to Wednesday. Following the water war, the kids made tie-dyed shirts as part of their theme day. We then transitioned to a nice, calm, well-chosen mid-week activity: an afternoon showing of Ferdinand. The church windows were blacked out with large garbage sacks, movie theater snacks were provided, and we all enjoyed a cool, relaxing close to the otherwise very hot and very active day. 

That evening, our Glenwood team headed to the mall in preparation for the next day's scavenger hunt. We split up, some of us to work on the hunt details, some to shop for souvenirs . . . and some to hunt down ice cream, the most important mission of all.

When we arrived back at the hostel that night, the common room was full, and folk-type music filled the air. I was intrigued. "I think there's dancing or something!" I eagerly announced to the team upstairs. It seemed only appropriate to go back downstairs, order a drink, and linger. Just in case there was dancing. One can never be too prepared.

So, a few of us sat on the patio with our orange Schweppes (a favorite among the students) and carefully observed. Not only was this dancing, this was organized dancing. The ladies all wore the same shoes, the couples all followed the same serious, measured steps. It soon dawned on us that this must have been a class. Accordingly (yet regretfully), we decided it would be best not to join them. After all, not only had we not even been invited to this class, but we'd been participating in our own camp dance all week; our feet were beginning to show decided signs of wear. But, once again, that's another story for another day. 

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