Friday, August 20, 2010

Packing List

A few items from my list of "Things to Take to PN:"

  • 6 books. Over-ambitious, I know, but I like to have options. I think I need to hurry up and leave before I add any more books to the list.
  • 2 seasons of How I Met Your Mother. Again, over-ambitious (or is making a TV-watching goal, by definition, under-ambitious? I suppose it depends on your view of TV-viewing ). My sis has never seen it and I plan on laughing with her as much as possible.
  • Malaria pills. Because I leave for Nigeria in 19 DAYS!!!!!
  • My Flip-Video. Oh boy...this is going to be fun....but I'm not going to say anything about it until I return. :-)
  • My computer and a couple of old journals. I plan on FINISHING my Nurture Program application with the intention of starting in October when I get back from Nigeria. Praying for diligence on this one. Feel free to join me in that prayer.
  • A neck pillow. Because I work until midnight tonight and my flight leaves - LEAVES, as in takes-off-from-the-ground - at 0530 tomorrow morning. And I still need to finish packing. Brutal. I am setting three alarms.
  • Sweatpants and a long-sleeved T-shirt so I don't get myself in a situation where I would have to wear the slanket again.
  • A couple of piano books so I can enjoy the full-sized grand piano.
  • My appetite. Oh man, we eat so well when we're there.

Ok, so my appetite isn't actually on my list, but the amazing cooking is definitely one thing I am looking forward to. That, and the jet skis. And the sun. And all the Rook games. And teaching my mom another lesson. And morning devotions on the floating dock. And lazy days on the "party barge." And reading. And laughing. And dancing to Carole King. And Rita's. And executing our plan to make my other sister feel not-quite-so-bad that she can't come this year. And watching movies. And cuddling with my mama while we watch Law & Order. And listening to my dad sing while I play the piano. And hanging out with my extended family.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Last week I had the privilege of spending 4 days in the BWCA (stands for Boundary Waters Canoe Area, although I think it should stand for Boundary Waters: Canoes & Awesomeness) with 5 amazing girls from Rochester.

Here is a summary of some of the highlights and lowlights from the trip.


  • Despite my body being riddled with mosquito bites, I was spared from getting any mosquito bites on my eyeballs thanks to Chinwe spraying highly concentrated DEET directly in my face at point-blank range. Love you too, roommie. :-)
  • I got to 2nd base with Rach on our first night in Ely. I don't think it was intentional but it sure was funny. (In her defense, she was genuinely looking for a "foot vent" on my sleeping bag. She just happened to be looking all. over. my sleeping bag).
  • Only having one set of clothes. The only clothing decision that needed to be made was "Do I wear my shirt or do I not wear my shirt." I consistently chose to wear my shirt. But I did ask once if I could not wear my pants. And the answer was no.
  • Napping in the hammock every afternoon.
  • The. most. amazing. stars. I. have. ever. seen.
  • Sleeping on an island.
  • "Sleeping in" until 6:30 one morning. It was accidental (we didn't wake up to the usual 5:30 alarm) but no one seemed to mind.
  • Crying as I cuddled with Rach beside a dying fire and realizing that although I was crying tears of sadness because I hate to see her leave, they were mingled with tears of profound gratefulness for years of friendship, meaningful memories and precious time spent together.
  • Singing silly songs with my canoe-mates while ignoring all warnings of the impending rocks. Oops.
  • Figuring out on the third night that my Thermarest sleeping pad actually has a valve you can open to let air in. This accomplished two things: 1) It actually helped keep me warm at night, and 2) It gave me more than a 2 cm barrier between myself and the rocky ground. Awesome.
  • Becoming "that group" that people envy on the portages due to the incredible efficiency we had developed by the last day.
  • Morning prayers with my canoe-mates.
  • Seeing all sorts of different strengths come out in my friends as we worked together, accomplished goals, encouraged one another, ate, played, canoed and just generally survived in the wilderness.
  • Eating better there than I eat at home (steak, fried potatoes, bacon, chicken fajitas, pancakes, pudding, etc.).
  • Mastering the independent canoe hoist.
  • Winning Nertz with a 5 card handicap. And a lisp.
  • No cell phones, computers, or any other technological "noise."
  • Wearing my pink and silver "Las Vegas" fanny pack (courtesy of Emily Lundberg) all over the boundary waters.
  • Breaking in my KEENS!!!!!! Holy buckets. I. Love. Those. Shoes. Wanna climb up the side of a sheer, wet rock cliff? Put your Keens on and I bet you'll get traction.
  • The surroundings. Obviously.

It. Was. Breathtakingly. Beautiful.

  • The amazingly yummy strawberry malt from the Ely custard shop.


  • Waking up Thursday morning and feeling that all-too-familiar neck pain that has come and gone over the past 18 months. I was sufficiently worried that it would render me useless for a majority of the trip, but between snacking on Ibuprofen and keeping my muscles warmed up with all the activity we were doing, I actually managed pretty well. The really intense pain didn't start until the car ride home on Sunday and thankfully started to ease up a little this morning.
  • The mosquitoes seemed to be particularly attracted to my upper, inner thigh area which is a fairly awkward place to scratch. Thankfully, no one in the wilderness really cares that much.
  • The 170 rod (0.5 mile) portage. It would have been rough had it merely been a rocky 0.5 mile hike with a 52 lb canoe on my shoulders. Add in some massively tight shoulder muscles and an occasional-to-frequent sharp nerve pain starting in the shoulders and shooting up the neck and it was downright brutal.
  • Having to finish fajita #2 when I was probably already sufficiently full after fajita #1. But I asked for it. So I had to eat it. All of it. Because there is no garbage. And it was brutal.
  • Overdressing on the final afternoon (because I had been so, so, so cold the two prior nights and I didn't want to have to change again before bed) and getting overheated to the point that when I finally bit the bullet and began to disrobe, I asked in all seriousness if I had to wear pants while sitting in the tent playing cards with the girls. (The answer was yes. I had to wear pants.)
  • I. Was. So. Hot.

  • Cleaning up after the fried-potatoes-and-bacon meal and ending up with pitch. black. hands (from the potato skillet) and a ring of bacon grease in the wash bucket that measured appx 1.5 inches in height and 0.5 inches in depth. Gross.
  • Not seeing a moose.
  • Game: Throwing ropes over branches to string up our food at night. Or Wildlife Bingo which I may or may not have made up.
  • Moment: Leaning against a rock watching the sun set over the water that was lapping gently at my feet and listening to two dear women recite God's Word by memory while one of them played with my hair. I can not think of any way I could have possibly been happier in that moment. The only bad part was not being able to decide if I wanted to close my eyes because I was so at peace or keep them open to watch the golden sun set over the glassy water so I just kept opening and closing...opening...closing....
  • One-Liner: When we were on attempt #4 in looking for an acceptable food-bag tree, using our teamwork to throw ropes up in the light of our head-lamps and trying to keep our mosquito bites in the double-digits (fail) and I said that at any moment I was expecting a "leader" to come out and say, "Okay, you guys are doing great. Good teamwork. Keep trying to solve the puzzle, except now Jill is blind and Emily can't talk," to which Chinwe added, "And I have a lisp."
  • Bedtime cocktail: 600mg Ibuprofen and 50mg Benadryl.
  • Outfit: The one I brought.
  • Afternoon activity: Napping in the hammock (when hung at an appropriate height).
  • Picture:

The trip. was. amazing. And even if we hadn't had an amazing trip full of fun and laughter and beauty and teamwork and steak and meaningful memories, I think I would still go back just for the feeling of taking a shower and lying down in a warm, soft bed after 4 shower-less days in the wilderness and 4 nights of sleeping on the ground. That one single moment would have made it all worth it even if every. other. single. moment. hadn't already made it one of my favorite trips ever.

BWCA 2011 - Can't. Wait.

(More pics here if you're interested.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Sad Tater

It is true that a few years ago I made a secret group with a couple of friends of mine, just like a bunch of 5th grade girls. And it is true that it was one of the first things that made me feel truly settled and at home in Rochester. And now it is true that I am the only tater left in town. Or in the state of Minnesota, for that matter.

I am so happy for my friends. I love seeing the different roads that God is taking them on and the amazing stories he is weaving from their lives. I am encouraged by their faith in God's leading and how they trust him in such a way that it gets them excited about things they might not otherwise be excited for. I am thankful for every precious moment I have had with them and I refuse to say "It wasn't enough," because every minute I have spent with them and every way I have been loved by them was nothing but an outpouring of blessing from above.

So I will be happy. I promise that tomorrow I will be happy. But for tonight, for just this one night, I am giving myself permission to be one sad little tater.

Love you, girlies.