"Being Belmont"

Here's a story that my alma mater, Belmont University, has put up on their website.  Most of it is drawn from the talk I did for the homecoming chapel service in February.  I hope that Joshua, Hannah, Yvonne, and Alex don't mind their picture getting a bit of play.  I didn't ask them, but it's a lovely photo of all of them, and they are forgiving sorts of friends.


Goodbyes to New Friends

Well, we just wrapped up our three week SPLICE session in Palmer Lake, CO.  Saying goodbye on Friday was surprisingly difficult, considering that we had all only know each other for 19 days.  But during that time, we really bonded as a community...from common interests and desires, shared goals, similar stories.  We met people going to every continent in the name of Jesus, to do everything from work at orphanages to dental ministry.  It was amazing to get to know people and walk alongside them as we learned about conflict management, stress, Sabbath rest, and grief.

One great thing about our time at MTI was that not only did WE get to enjoy meeting new people, but everyone was so sweet and kind to our kids, too.  Maggie and Ben both had some good buddies by the end of the time:

"Mr. Dustin" and Nigel...Maggie would specifically request Mr. Dustin to sit by her at every meal.  Why?  I mean, he's a great guy and all, but the real draw was the Angry Birds app on his IPad....
 Ira is a missionary in central Mexico.  Very nice guy but pretty stoic...until Ben walks into the room.  Ben and Ira became good buddies.  They especially liked hanging out at 5:30 every morning. :)
 Miss Carol, Maggie's teacher.  Maggie went to "school" every day from 8:30-12 and 1:30-4.  She had a blast and loved her teacher.

Aunt Allyssa (another one, in case our faithful readers are confused).  She is going to work with the Roma people in Romania.  And ALL the kids (and parents) were tremendously blessed by her heart for children.  She was great!

One night, we had a little fire in the firepit (you flip a switch and it turns on, sort of cheating) and made smores.  Here's Maggie watching me toast her first ever toasted marshmallows.
 Meanwhile, Ben enjoyed his graham cracker.

One of our last days there, a rainbow showed up in the sky, always a good reminder of God's promises.  We are blessed to have know the other 27 adults in our group, and we look forward to seeing them again.  Someday.


Visiting "Focus Family"

Nestled away in the suburbs of Colorado Springs, with the snows of Pike's Peak in the background is the headquarters of Focus on the Family.  They have a visitor's center.  We tried to visit it in 2006, but they were closed for the Thanksgiving holidays.  Now we have had our revenge.

The pictures in this post are likely of little interest, save for a few people, and I am related to all of them.  There are, I guess, entire rooms and sections of the visitor center that are not directly related to Adventures in Odyssey, but I can't say that for certain.  And I may go back (after all, it's a free place for the kids to have a great time playing!), but I have little intention of explored the non-Odyssey sections.  And I know my family will resonate with that.  Without further ado, our visit to (as Maggie says) "Focus Family".

Outside the building

You have to take an elevator to the Odyssey section, but if you look closely, it's not really an elevator!  It's the Imagination Station, ready to transport you (and an obligatory novice friend who doesn't quite get it) off to another time, where a virtuous person of history is striving to make the right decisions!

Inside, just push the red button (behind Maggie)!

Here is the Whit's End soda shop.  We didn't buy anything there, but it's fun nonetheless.

After that, you have to travel through the Secret Passage, once used for transport of slaves during the Underground Railroad, to get to the rest of the areas.

I don't know who Maggie is supposed to be, because the only girls I can remember are Robyn, Lucy, and Donna Barclay, and I never pictured any of them with reddish pigtails.  But, in the back, there is a window into the KYDS radio station.

Maggie played with some of the puppets and costumes available for shows at "The Little Theater".

Out in the hallway, the staff offices (I guess) are all decorated with Odyssey names, such as this one as Bart Rathbone's Electric Palace.  There was also a "Harlow Doyle, Private Eye", and a theater poster for a Shakespearean drama starring Edwin (not Dr. Regis) Blackgaard.

Our kids hung out in the toddler room a good bit, which is painted to resemble Camp What-A-Nut.

And the best non-Odyssey moment went to the room that had a wardrobe, that you could open and walk through into a magical Narnia room (you may remember that FOTF did radio theater versions of many of the Narnia stories.)  It was like living a childhood dream.
Overall a great trip.  Things I would have liked to see:
  • That secret room with all the knobs for controlling Whit's End
  • Timmy's cabin, stayed in and possibly built by Johnny Appleseed
  • Less of the cartoon characters from the videos, who never looked quite right to me (especially Eugene and Whit)
  • A timeline of the various exploits of the Barclay family
  • A timeline of the various generations of Odyssey children, whom I guess had to be retired when their voices changed.
  • A to-scale model of Whit's End.  They had one from the outside, but it would have been fun to see how all the rooms fit together.

Maggie wants to go back.  Given that it's free and that my parents are coming out to visit, I foresee a good chance of this happening.



So, phase 4 of our year in the States has begun.  Phase 1 was Nashville, phase 2 Phoenix, phase 3 Michigan, and now, Colorado.  Our family is here for six weeks attending some missionary training sessions at a place called MTI (Mission Training International), just north of Colorado Springs.  We are spending three weeks doing cross-cultural training, have a week off, then two weeks of language acquisition techniques (how to learn a language).

We've finished our first week of the cross cultural studies, and so far it has been good.  There were some questions about if we needed three weeks of this after living cross culturally in Kenya for 2 yrs, but so far I would say that it has been really good.  We're in the class along with about 30 other adults, most of whom have not served long term on the field, going to 15 different countries with 16 different agencies...aged just out of college to retirement age.  The sessions are on things like conflict (and finding our conflict styles), lifestyle, building relationships, becoming aware of our own culture, etc.

Maggie has also been attending her own "school" with other 2 and 3 yr olds, learning lessons about expressing her feelings and being part of God's creation.  Very sweet.  Ben likes the nursery. :)  It has been nice to settle in to one place and unpack all of our stuff into the dressers provided.  Highlights include the train tracks by our window (really, it's not too loud and the kids are totally fascinated), a constant supply of hot beverages from the dispenser by the kitchen, and the great friends we are making, as well as Ben learning how to walk!  Hopefully more to come from this "SPLICE" class.


Easter Eggs

We spent Easter with my cousin Sara in the Denver area.  It was great!  Eric worked through Good Friday and we needed to be in Colorado by Monday, so I ended up flying with the kids, and Eric drove the 18 hours Fri night/Saturday.  We both think we got the better end of the deal. :)

Unfortunately I didn't get any cute photos of the Easter apparel, but here are some other pics from Easter.

 We had only been at the Zillinger's for a few minutes when Ben found his favorite toy.
 Maggie and Keira became good friends!
 Ben loved Elijah's cars
 As well as Jaina pushing him in a "real" car
 We dyed 4-5 dozen eggs, yikes!  Maggie really got into it.
 Sunday afternoon we did an egg hunt.  Maggie and Ben's eggs were orange...nice to have the color coding so each kid had their own eggs to find!
 Mags LOVED finding the eggs
The boys, chillin' after the egg hunt