Dear Friends (and Family) in Colorado,
I’m leaving Colorado tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Leaving Colorado has been one of the most bitter sweet things I think I’ve ever had to do, even more so than at the end high school when I left Seattle for Colorado. The hardest thing for me has been trying to express how I feel. The deep love I have for all of you. The extreme sadness in the fact that I have to go. The giddy delight that I’m returning to Seattle.
I’m sitting in my grandma’s back yard right now, on one of those rocking benches. It’s pitch black out, save the glow from my screen. The wind rustles though the leaves. The wind chime softly sings. It’s one of those perfect moments of reflection, when everything finally comes into focus.
This past year has been amazing. Being a fifth year senior presented a unique set of challenges, and an equally amazing set of opportunities. Most of my friends graduated a year ago, leaving me and just a handful of others left. At the same time, a spark in my faith set me on a journey. I regularly attended church for the first time since leaving Seattle; not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I found an amazing new set of friends through church (both Merge and The Annex). What’s more, this renewed sense of faith found me challenging my beliefs, which is always a good thing, I think. And when I stumbled, you guys were there.
The biweekly Feed1 was often my cornerstone during the week, grounding me when school, and life, was just to much.
At the beginning of this school year, I very desperately wished for school to just be over. However, I’m glad I wasn’t allowed to sleep through these past nine months, as they have easily been my favorite nine months of the last five years. Part of me wishes I could do the first four years over again.
So thank you. To you. To all of you. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for all of you.
With Much Love,
P.S. My hope is that this is not the end. Colorado always has been2 and will continue to be a second home for me. I will be back. And of course, you always have a bed (at least for a few nights) at my place in Seattle.0
Notes From The Annex, Part 4
Several months ago, November 4th, 2008, to be exact, Gordon MacDonald came and spoke at The Annex. To say he was amazing would be an understatement.
The Annex listed some of his books, which I’m now listing here, so I check them out at a later date (and I can throw out this piece of paper I’ve been holding on to for the last 6 months).
- Renewing Your Spiritual Passion
- Who Stole My Church?: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century
- Ordering Your Private World
- Mid-Course Correction: Re-Ordering Your Private World for the Second Half of Life
- When Men Think Private Thoughts: Exploring The Issues That Captivate The Minds of Men
- A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What
- Rebuilding Your Broken World
- The Life God Blesses: Weathering the Storms of Life That Threaten the Soul
- The Effective Father
- Restoring Joy
Notes from The Annex, Part 3
My notes from Jennie Fletemeyer’s talk at The Annex, How’s your driving?, March 3, 2009.
Potentially relevant passages:
Thoughts I wrote down:
- Trust an unknown future to a well known God
- Belief is not the same as trust
- Faith alone saves, faith all alone doesn’t
Notes from The Annex, Part 2
My notes from Bill Stephens talk at The Annex, A Loving Response, February 24, 2009.
Potentially relevant passage: James 2:14-17 (NLT)
- God loves us, therefore we are saved for eternity, thus our actions don’t matter
- God loves us, therefore I don’t deserve it, this I work my butt off to earn eternity. (“Checklist faith”)
Other things I wrote down:
- Max Akaido (spelling?)
- Holy Sweat
- A love story: Love is what connects me and God.
- God could show himself, but would that wipe out faith?
Notes from The Annex
My notes from Bill Stephens talk at The Annex, Just around the riverbend…C’mon, the unknown future sucks!, March 10, 2009
Potentially relevant passages: James 4:13-17
What I learned in the battle of the unknown future:
- I can’t always trust my emotions
- It could go either way
- Strong Godly voices are strong Godly voices
- Getting more information is not as satisfying as it seems
- No information and trusting in God is better than partial information and trusting in myself
Think about the:
- Present: 80% of the time
- Future: 10% of the time
- Past: 10% of the time
Other things I wrote down:
- Railroad Theology
- Stay close, even if you don’t want to. Trust.
My Faith Journey
I wrote this at the beginning of the year for a missionary organization that I was applying to. I ended up withdrawing my application for other reasons, however, I thought this was worth sharing. And what better day to share than Easter? He is Risen.
I’ve never really been sure how to best answer this question. I do not believe there is a single identifiable point in time where I became a Christian. I was raised in a loving Christian home, as both my parents are Christian’s. My faith has been, and continues to be, a wonderful journey of understanding. Along the way, I have developed a relationship with the Lord that I can call my own. My goal is to seek Him, incessantly. I can, however, identify some critical points in my journey.
High school was a time when a lot of my faith flourished. I went on student trip to Lake Shasta through my church and an organization called Sonshine Ministries. I became part of an amazing Bible study that, even after high school ended, still stays in contact with each other regularly.
College has been hard though. I attended Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Campus Crusade for Christ for a little while my freshman year, but it was radically different from what I was used to and I soon stopped going. Sophomore year, I tried going to a variety of different churches around my school. Toward the end of my sophomore year, I thought I had finally found a church: First Presbyterian Church of Golden. I went for the remainder of sophomore year and the start of my junior year. However, it just wasn’t sticking. I found the sermons uninteresting and inapplicable in my life. The audience was also predominately older couples and children, there were practically no college age students. So I gave up and coasted for a while, going to church only when I was back in Seattle.
When I was back this last summer, I was talking with our senior pastor, Earl Palmer, and some friends from my Bible Study. One question came up about how to find another church away from home. Part of what I got out of the that discussion is that I was missing something when I was trying to find a church in the past: the community.
When I got back to school this past fall, I called up a friend, Matt, and asked if he wanted to go this church I’d heard about, Flatirons Community Church. As it turned out, he was already planning on carpooling up with another mutual friend, so we all carpooled together. After church, Matt introduced me to his community at church. This is when I stopped coasting in my faith. I had found community within a church; which is the part I had been missing previously. And it has been an absolute blessing to be in this community.
I have been enjoying going to Flatirons. I’ve also been going to The Annex (a college ministry run by First Presbyterian Boulder) on Tuesdays and I recently volunteered to drive freshmen from their dorms to The Annex and back.0
The Free Range Method
After talking with many great people, I think I finally have a plan.
There are really two parts to this story, however I’m going to tell them in reverse order.
On Monday, I was feeling quite anxious. I’ve been feeling rather anxious all semester and I wasn’t entirely sure why. I went to More on Mondays, which is a targeted “seminar” that The Annex arranges. This past Monday was specifically for graduating seniors and they brought Cindy Smith, a woman who specializes in transition. Cindy usually deals with missionaries, expatriates, and repatriation. But being a senior is not entirely different. She provided us with a slide that shows the major steps of transition and then walked us through them:
Click image to embiggen
This was really helpful. Just realizing that transition, especially on this scale, can be stressful and chaotic. This also helped me realize another thing: transitioning from college/Colorado to mission trip to work/Seattle would be way to much for me to handle. So I pretty much have nixed the idea of doing a mission trip over the summer, and I think it’s a good call.
Second, I talked with Jessica a couple weeks ago. She spent last fall traveling for about two months in Europe, which is great because that’s basically what I want to do – although I may go farther East than she did. I also filled in some important details of my trip. For me, it will probably cost about $4k-$5k, which is a lot, but I don’t think unreasonably so. I saved at least $1000 by using airline miles to fly from the US to Europe (assuming there isn’t some insane “fee” for booking said flight). Keeping cash on hand seems the way to go, which is what I remembered from my trip to Europe a couple years ago (I paid cash for everything…still have some left over, too).
In terms of getting around, Jessica said that using RyanAir (which I’d heard of) and easyJet (which I had not heard of) were probably better than getting a Eurail pass, although I don’t have to make that call just yet. In terms of sleeping accommodations, HostelWorld.com is the site to visit. I poked around it a bit and it seems really easy to use and should fit the bill just perfectly. The Lonely Planet series of books is what Jessica used, I currently have one on reserve at the library to see if I like the format and what they cover. If not, I may just end up using Rick Steves’. Or just wing it.
The plan, thus far, looks something like this: fly into and out of Europe via Paris or Frankfurt using airline miles. Spend several days in each city until I’m ready to move on to another city. Use HostelWorld to find places to sleep and meet new people. Theoretically find some other people travel with at a hostel and join them for a little while. Rinse and repeat. I’m calling this the free range method.
I would like to list out some places that I would like to visit, although I don’t want to attach a particular time or order in which to visit them. I think this will help move my journey along.
One of the other major things that I need to resolve is what I’m bringing. I would like to bring some photography equipment, but I’m not sure what and how much. There’s also the problem about what to do with all my photographs after I take them. Since I shoot in RAW, I need some special equipment and software to do any sort of editing, I can’t just upload them to Flickr. Do I want to just bring a stack of memory cards? I’m thinking about purchasing a netbook1 to bring with me. Costco is currently selling an Acer Aspire One Netbook with 8.9″ display, Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 160GB HDD, no optical drive, and integrated webcam for $299.99. I could load it up with the most basic of RAW viewing tools so I could delete any photos I think are absolute crap and would never keep (e.g. blurry photos) and then upload the rest to a secure storage space online. This way I wouldn’t be completely SOL if the netbook was stolen, lost, broken (not that I’m planning on any of that happening).
Also, how much stuff do I really want to be taking? I want to be nimble.
If you’ve ever traveled abroad in this sort of fashion, what did you bring?0
A netbook is a small and cheap computer used primarily to access the Internet ↩
What To Do? Where To Go?
I’m still no closer to finding out where to travel or what to do for my summer travel.
Here’s the my thought progression so far:
Initially, I wanted to study abroad. I had narrowed it down to two universities in the UK before I decided that doing so would set me back another semester. If it was going to take an extra semester, I might as well just travel after I was done with college. So I decided that after I graduated, I would return to Western Europe (UK, Italy, France, Germany, etc) and spend a summer there.
I was bored one night and procrastinating homework. I started looking at my United award miles and where I could fly and how many miles it would take. Two important things popped out at me. First, roundtrip travel from the US to Europe is 55k miles; second, a round-the-world ticket is only 200k miles and provides a maximum of 5 stopovers and “is defined as one Pacific and one Atlantic crossing; you must use legal routings as defined in pricing rules and continue travel in the same direction.” (Source: http://www.united.com/page/article/0,8566,1141,00.html?navSource=RelatedLinks)
So now I have this idea to travel around the world in 90 days.
After talking with friends who have spent time visiting just one country, it seems pretty clear that traveling around the world in only two-to-three months is a bit ridiculous. But I still like the allure of a round-the-world ticket, so I compromise and decide that I’ll only visit countries in the northern hemisphere.
Well, after more thought and some talking, this still seems like too much. So now I’m back to just visiting a region. Currently thinking about Eastern Europe plus a couple of Western Europe countries that I missed last time I was across the pond (Germany and France, for starters).
Another idea that has also been floating around my head is to go on a mission trip. Practically everyone I’ve talked to says I must go on a mission trip, and I think there’s merit to their claim.
I spent some time looking at mission work, especially mission work that could utilize my skills as an engineer, such as through Engineering Ministries International. In talking with friends (and on my own), I’ve also been pointed in the direction of Adventures in Mission (including The World Race), Pioneers’ The Edge, and even Messenger.
There’s still some part of me that would just like to get a ticket into Frankfurt and see what happens.
I think I will need to have something to do while I’m traveling, some sort of goal or mission, which makes mission work appealing. At the same time, I could also see being someones assistant. Anyone looking for an assistant to travel the world with them?0
The Annex: Courage
9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9 (New International Version)
A Bible verse we went over tonight at The Annex, thought it was worth posting.0