Monday, February 17, 2014

Crazy Stuff Continues

So, I've an adventure to share. But first, a short bit about what the days since the last post have been like, and what I've had brought to mind.

This whole past week has been about identity/worldview, both of which are things I was pretty sure I'd had pretty good knowledge of, seeing as I've taken classes and read books and stuff before. Apparently I didn't have as good of a grasp as I thought I did. And I rather enjoyed it.

This week's speaker was Joseph Avakian, a very expressive, creative person, and every day at the end of class the whiteboard looked like a mix between a large scientific diagram and a colorful rendition of spaghetti. One of the things that really struck me during his teaching, and the thing I dwelt on for the remainder of the week, was that God made you and He made what you like so He must think the two are good. I know it sounds like I'm being rather stubborn about it, and I probably am, but I generally shoot down the stuff I like as trivial or impractical, a thing to be forgotten so that you can focus on better things. Yes, I spend time on it sometimes, but I always cringe thinking of how much time I've "wasted" daydreaming. But why shouldn't I daydream? Why shouldn't I come up with worlds and creatures and ruins and maps and stuff in my head? Aren't I made in the image of a ridiculously creative God? Of course one should be able to focus and be productive, but shouldn't we be able to imagine as well, and enjoy the stuff that we are just drawn to as unique people? We're all different, after all. So now that I've got that to go off of, the next question is what to do with my particular imagination. I'll let you know when I've figured it out.

Onto my adventure.

A couple nights ago, my friend Kelby comes up to me in my room and says, "You want to go camping?" Of course, I said, "Heck yes, when and where?" So, he told me of the plans he had to get out past Waimea to a place called Pololu Valley with a group of people. I grabbed a morning sailing slot early in the morning on the next day, and was good to go. Matt, Amanda, Kaden, Tyler, Sarah, Jessica and I payed $2.00 for a bus ticket, and we were off.

And then we screwed it up and got off when we shouldn't have. The closest we could get now was Waimea on a bus bound for Hilo at four. So we waited an hour in a Little Caesar's in Kmart (didn't know they had those in there) and hopped on, deciding that we'd have to hitchhike the rest of the way. According to our navigation device as we were walking down the road once we got to Waimea, it was a mere 14 miles. According to the actual route I just looked up, it was 28. Yeah...

So we split into two groups, Matt, Amanda, and Kaden in the back, Jessica, Sarah, Tyler, and myself in the front. Of course, within half a mile of Waimea, the back group gets a ride from a pickup truck. I said, "They'll stop and pick us up too, there's a ton of room in the back." I ate my words shortly, our group smiling wide as they left us in the dust. Fantastic, thank you very much, totally feeling the whole team thing. After we quit staring down the road and thinking rather indignant thoughts, we walked on. And on. And on. Finally, after the sun set and we'd been walking in the dark through the hills together, someone actually stopped. "I really only picked you guys up because it's dark. I mean, it's D-A-R-K, dark," he said as we piled into his car, thank-you's abounding. Along the way, we find out his name is Mike, he owns an internet dating site, and is all about finding your inner self and letting your inner Chi and love of the universe flow through you. Interesting guy, but nice enough. He ended up bringing us even up to the parking lot outside of our trail, and we thanked him again.

Kelby and Teddi had gotten there that morning (Kelby is the luckiest unlucky person on base, his whole weekend, every weekend, is free. My gosh.), so we headed down the switchbacks with a couple flashlights to see if we could find their camp. For how low our visibility was, we made it down the rather steep grade with pretty minor injuries. Then we went a-hunting for Kelby and Teddi's campsite. After awkwardly stumbling up two a couple campfires that we were very much not a part of, we saw a headlamp, and found it belonged to Kelby. We followed him up the hill to find that they had run into five mission builders from campus, and we all just got to hang out. There are fewer things cooler than running into random people, not even being able to see their faces, but being at ease because they love Christ. After talking for a bit, and running out onto the beach when the full moon came out to silhouette the cliffs and shine off the waves (it was absolutely surreal), we went to bed.

Kelby woke me up at 6:30 so we could hike a trail up to the ridge, along with one of the mission builders, to see the sunset. Another amazing time I'll remember. Eventually we got back down, where we found Matt, Kaden, and Amanda wandering around on the beach. By the way, the beach is made up of black sand. Super cool. Anywho, we run down there to get the story. Apparently the guy that picked them up told them he'd only be able to get them a little farther down the road, so they'd basically leapfrog us, and it wouldn't make much sense to grab us. But then the guy changed his mind, and said he could get them much closer to Pololu anyway if he just took them where he was going, which was a different route. When they reached the town, they wound up spending the night on the porch of a coffee shop. I decided to be thankful for the way things turned out for my group.

Seeing as they just got there, Matt, Kaden, and Amanda were loathe to leave with us and the mission builders (who had a truck), and decided to hike around the valley for the day while we took off. Sarah joined them, and they left as we packed up camp. Kelby said something about the waterfall mentioned in my last escapade, and they said we should go, so off we went. Three in the front, seven in the back, it took us an hour and a half before we reached the bend in the road and pulled over. Scrambling back down the fallen trees for the second time, we found the waterfall was much less powerful, but the pool was just as clear and blue and we had a great time jumping in from the rocks.

Then came the most amazing part of Hawaii yet.

Someone decided to climb up the rocks past the waterfall, and discovered there was another one hidden behind it, and yet another behind that. The second had a pool at the bottom even deeper than the original one we discovered, and was even deeper, and the third was absolutely beautiful, running down a wall of old masonry above a overhang that made a sort of cave surrounded by rocks and shallower pools. My gosh, it was amazing. We swam, jumped, stood in the falling water, and climbed around on the rocks, all completely secluded and off the beaten path. I even worked up the guts (after watching three other guys do it) to jump off the rock face about 25 feet up the second fall into the pool below. Freaking scary, but so much fun.

But, eventually we had to call it a day and climb into the truck once more. I'm pretty sure that was my favorite day here thus far, full of good times and meeting new friends, and I look forward to (hopefully) getting over there again soon.

And now I'm off to bed. this week promises to be abnormally busy, which is saying something. Our speaker also promises to be unique, today he scratched his topic seconds before starting because he felt God telling him to speak on other things, to offer us guidance. He said that this is totally a first time thing for him, and that the Lord must have something special for our group, which I've heard repeated over and over. It's really starting to get my attention, and perhaps even make me nervous. What could God be up to? I guess we'll just have to find out.

Onward, to serendipity.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Whatever Comes to Mind

Well, I suppose it's about time I check in this week. But, I don't exactly have anything of particular importance to talk about, so I guess I'll just type up whatever comes to mind.

The second of February marked the first full month of my being here. It's been the slowest fastest month ever. There's always so much packed into a day, but a week goes by in a flash, and you've scarce got time to catch your breath and gear up for the next. It's all fantastic, mind you, but it's taught me something I'd wondered about myself: I love being alone sometimes. I'd always thought of myself as a pretty social guy, always ready for the next group thing or conversation, and that my "quiet place" could just be in my head. A lot of analytical, uninterrupted, fearless thoughts on everything and everyone goes on in there. But I'm learning just how healthy time alone somewhere is, both to keep a good attitude and focus through the day, and to maintain depth of connection with God. He's a person too.

Speaking of people, I'm really quite impressed with those in my DTS, including the staff. I have heard multiple times that the students here this time around are just a different, solid group, and I think I agree. Perhaps it's just something that's said every quarter (I'm a wee bit cynical, in case you didn't know), but perhaps it's not. I just get the feeling that this very unique bunch of people is bound for something very important, not just as outreach teams, but as individuals as well.

Which reminds me of my ridiculous urge to do something completely trivial. My inner nerd has been trying REALLY hard to break out these past two weeks. Seriously. All my daydreamings are of The Legend of Zelda, Tamriel, places to visit in Middle Earth, zombie survival plans, what the world would be like if we were still back with swords and bows and horses, alien invasions, the works. Even the time-consuming void that is Minecraft has made it into my imagination. (Don't worry, Rachel. I count Minecraft with you as time well spent.) Keep your head in the game, Levi. Or is it out of the resolve weakens further.

And now that I've thought of resolve, I must say, it's frustrating how I've let myself slip regarding exercise. Lack of time (or poor prioritization, not sure which) makes it difficult, but I'll have to change something. Perhaps the horrible agony of waking up early is necessary. Another thing I've found very difficult is finding time to write letters and emails. It's totally new to me to have to write my family for their birthdays rather than be there in person, so I'm still learning how to do that.

Ah, I'd almost forgotten to share about my outreach location. Basically, the DTS as a whole gets split into outreach teams, all going to a different location. To make things "blog official", I'll be going to Panama, to the Bocas Del Toro area. I hesitate to say officially what we'll be doing, because everything is always subject to change until it actually happens, but I've got an idea. Being the first team into this new location, we're basically the recon. My team and I are looking at going out through the jungle to find indigenous villages, totally off the grid and unrecognized by the government, so that we can map the location, as well as find out information like leadership, health concerns, etc. This will provide the information needed for any future teams to minister effectively (which I just might be able to be a part of). This is adventure, folks, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

I suppose the last thing I have to share is the classroom topic this week. The focus has been biblical study, and we went through the book of Philemon. We were shown methods of simply observing scripture, and how to keep from any preconceived notions. It was amazingly empowering to learn how to know my God's word, to know how to come to understand characters and customs and context. There is a heck of a lot more in Philemon than you see in a single read, and my thoughts on it completely changed.

And that's what I've got. I'm excited to see what God might have for me next here, in this "spiritual greenhouse", as I've heard it called.

Onward, to serendipity.