“Think I’ll Pack it in and Buy a Pickup / Take it Down to LA. . .”

Sitting at the Coffee Table on Rowena, enjoying some shade, a strong iced coffee, and a quiet room that is empty except for a queer-looking guy eating a salad and doing charcoal sketches. I am enjoying my official, sanctioned “afternoon off” — the first I have had since I’ve been here, really.

We are now in the middle of Week 5, and I consider the week to be pretty much over on Tuesday. That means there are only three more to go.

Week 4 was a pretty good one. We had 61 people, comprised of 5 small groups from Silverdale, Washington; Olympia, Washington; San Diego; Rochester, MInnesota; and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. They were good, they enjoyed serving for the most part, didn’t give us any problems. It was definitely the hump week for me — I had very little energy, had trouble connecting with the kids, felt like I didn’t really get to know any of them. We were just so busy, and things seemed more stressful than normal, with everything from ministry sites to Club to evening activities to staff meetings. The 4th of July threw me off, because it made our schedule weird — most of our ministries were closed, so we kind of just hung out at the ArtsCorp and at a BBQ the Midnight Mission had in Eagle Rock Park, and watched 360-degrees of fireworks from the Glendale/Hyperion Bridge.

But the week was over, and we were done with our Friday duties by 1:00, so we went to Burbank to shower and enjoyed delicious Chipotle for lunch. Friday night, Jennifer wanted us to come to dinner with her, but I was really feeling crazy and stressed out and ready to flip and like I hadn’t had a chance to sit down in about 3 weeks (which I kind of hadn’t). So I declined, and sat at the church instead; talked to my parents, talked to Justin, relaxed, and felt about 110% better in about an hour. So after dinner, Jennifer, Tyler, Ricardo and Becky came back with Hotel Rwanda, and we watched that together. Definitely a good film to think about, to put things in perspective, to reconnect with the real world. And then, just to continue in that vein. . .we went to Disneyland on Saturday! Yeah, I know. I wasn’t too excited about it at first, but a guy from our church works at Disney Imagineering and got us all free tickets to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure (the new park they built on the old parking lot when they put in the “Mickey and Friends’ Parking Structure” that holds 10,000 cars) — each a $75 value. So we went, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain and Thunder Canyon Railroad and the Star Wars ride and the only real coaster in the complex, California Screamin’ at the other park. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I ate a $4.50 ice cream cone for lunch that was delicious, and we stopped at In-n-Out on the way back for dinner. Then we went to Borders in Glendale, where I read trashy magazines and wrote some long-due email correspondence. Sunday morning we got up and went to Newhall, where one of the groups from Early Bird in San Francisco is from, because they were having a report-about-the-mission-trip service and wanted to “interview” us. Again, I wasn’t too excited about this, but once we got there it was really fun, really good to see and hear how they were processing their trip, 3 weeks later, and we ate a delicious potluck lunch. So although it was an extremely busy and scheduled weekend, it turned out pretty well, and especially after my afternoon off today, I definitely feel rested.

We have Week 6 here now — a small group, 9 from Phoenix and 20 from Moorhead, Minnesota, right near the North Dakota border. They’re good kids, good leaders, real get-er-done folk. They’re just kind of chill, are into serving, are into Club, like hanging with us. It’s nice because there are so few of them — I feel like I can connect with them, spend time hanging out, but not be drained, and have the chance to catch my breath a little bit, too. A nice easy week to break up the summer.

We are now on the downhill slide. . .3 weeks left and I can do it. Justin and I worked out some end-of-summer visitation plans, and I think I’m going to ride a train from Denver to Albuquerque after I spend a few days with KJ at the end of my closing retreat. Hopefully will get to hang with Brenna a bit (she doesn’t know this yet because she’s in Guatamala!) and then drive down to Glenwood for a few much-needed days of Jut time in the desert. Mom and Dad are coming to visit in a little over a week, so that is my current goal to shoot for — make it to that, and I’m golden.

Well, about time for Taco Tuesday preparation to begin, so I better suck down this coffee and put my game face back on. This afternoon has been glorious, though. Yay, God.

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