Friday, September 26, 2008

ACTS Weeks 2 and 3

The second and third weeks of ACTS were characterized by settling in to our new lives. With the “summer camp” get-to-know-you activities over and classes beginning, we got into a routine together as ACTS Team 9.  Our first few days of classes were on Ephesians (It’s a book.  In the Bible.  Check it out, it’s sweet), taught by the wonderful Val Sutton who, with her husband Jeff started ACTS.  She’s a sweet, gentle, and kind lady, so basically everything I am not and aspire to be.  Then came Michael Turay.  Ah Michael.  This boisterous West African from the great country of Sierra Leone was quite a change from the soft-spoken Val.  In his 7 days of teaching (finishing week 2 and all of week 3) we learned about Romans (like, the book in the Bible, not the people in Italy).  And by “Romans” I mean we did an intensive study on but a few verses in the book and dug down deep.  Real deep. We learned about the soul, sin, salvation, and such useful pieces of information as that there are in fact four different Greek words for our English word “if.”  So basically, everything we thought we knew, he was challenging and turning upside down.  It was amazing.  If you would like my 29 pages of typed notes from those classes, let me know.

Outside of class we had several noteworthy occurrences, including the annual church picnic, a progressive trimming of Nate’s hair (note: he STILL has the rat tail, now two weeks later), and a birthday party for Bobby that ended in Emily and I smearing cake all over Jordan’s face after he “accidentally” dropped water on her.  Something worth mentioning about Jordan is that he is a germophobe.  He hates being dirty.  Hates it.  So it was ultimately a great way to get him back for the water spilling.  Later that week I came home from being downtown to find that my laptop wallpaper was a rotating myriad of PhotoBooth pictures of Jordan (if you have a Mac, you know what this is, if you don’t have  Mac, well, you don’t deserve to know.  Sorry, was that mean?).  Well played.

At the church picnic

Stage Two- RAT TAIL!

Cake face!  Booya!

The single greatest event of weeks two and three was rock climbing.  One evening Dan and Keith (two guys on staff) asked a few of us if we wanted to go rock climbing.  I had never been and happily agreed to try a new adventure.  Let me just say, it was amazing.  I had an absolute blast.  Not only was it beautiful with stunning views and wonderful landscapes to photograph, but it was sunset.  Adding to that the fact that we got to hike up to the place where we rockclimbed, and that the “rocks” were actually large columns between which there were nooks and crannies into which you could crawl, it was an all-out rockin (ohhh pun) experience.  Though I didn’t make it quite to the top, I did a reasonable job for my first attempt ever, and as I rappelled down I was so excited to find how FUN rappelling is once I actually “got it” (unlike our rappelling adventure from Week 1 where I basically sucked).  Makes me want to do it again.  And get to the top.

Going back down from crawling up through the columns.  I got stuck.  It hurt

The view from between some of the columns

Levi going up, Keith (on the right) coming down

Me going up! Dan looking goofy... his natural state

Me rappelling down.  I made it up a little past the big rock that juts out on the right of where I was climbing

And then it was dark.  Like the real kind of darkness that doesn’t involve a glow in the sky from Times Square.  In the real kind of outdoors that doesn’t have paths with ropes and fences and nicely landscaped terrain.  And we had to hike back down the mountain to the car.  It was at this point Dan and Keith informed us that rattlesnakes are common there.  Well, perhaps they had told us about rattlesnakes earlier, but not that we would be hiking down in the dark nor that they like to come out at night.  Or maybe they told us that too and I wasn’t listening.  In any event, there we were, seven of us hiking in the dark with one headlamp to guide our way.  We were moving along quite nicely over rocks and boulders and down slippy dirt paths when all of a sudden we heard it.  The absolutely unmistakable sound of a rattlesnake’s rattle.  Now, you may ask how I know it’s unmistakable.  Had I previous experience with snakes of this variety?  No.  But let me just tell you, there is no denying the sound of a rattlesnake in the dead of the night in the pitch blackness.  Crystal.  Clear.  They’re not trying to be all sneaky and hide from you- that is their one and only warning- I AM HERE.  GO AWAY.  NOW. 

The only problem was that while we could immediately hear the rattler, we couldn’t see it.  Thankfully it gave a prolonged shakey shake shake, so Levi diligently shone his headlamp with all its might to find the sucker.  We’re talking a large sucker, too.  Immediately the guys took action, utilizing the large rocks they had dutifully (expectantly?) carried in each hand to throw at the head of the snake.  From a safe distance.  After a few blows Mr. Ratty was deady.  Mom, you can stop holding your breath now.  Needless to say, the boys were quite excited to examine this dead snake and count its rattles.  Which is OF COURSE the first thing on my mind after I kill a snake.  Let’s get right up close to it and COUNT THE RATTLES.  Obviously.  As it turns out, Mr. Ratty was quite advanced in age and had a grand total of twelve rattles.  I’m not sure if the number of rattles correlates in any way to the amount of poison or anger or spite, but alas, I’m glad we didn’t have to find out. 

So we continued on our jolly (jumpy?) way, eyes and ears open.  We encountered one more rattlesnake, though just a baby, and we killed him (her?) as well.  And we killed the scorpion that was nearby for good measure.  Not a bad headcount, if I do say so myself.  Thankfully I had my trusty camera, and since MY first thought after killing a rattlesnake is “Oooooh let’s take a picture!” we were able to document that great moment for all of time.  And for all of the internet to see.  But alas, something is wrong with Blogger right now and as I went to upload this last picture, it refused.  Five times.  So, I will add it in later.

I’m pretty sure many of you are reading this saying the same thing my aunt Anne said when I sent her pictures of my rock climbing adventures (I left out the snake killings for that email…) and she replied, “What kind of training do you need that they’re making you do all this crazy stuff??”  To that I would like to respond- none.  This is all voluntary, heck, even FUN.  Yes, this east coast urbanite is willingly putting herself into situations that are nothing short of adventurous, and nothing more than good clean character building fun.  Contrasting, this is not, as my brother said, “all fun and no serious,” because we certainly get our fill of serious.  It just so happens that things like rock climbing are more entertaining to read about than lecture topics.  So there you have it.  Week Four update about our trip to the Oregon Coast coming soon.        

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