Saturday, July 25, 2009

and.. we're rolling

My next few weeks of summer are BOOKED UP, starting tomorrow. Piccolo practice with friends, along with designing flute t-shirt ideas. Monday starts the beloved band camp. 4 hours of practice everyday for a week, Saturday is another CANOE TRIP, and then the next Monday I have band camp 8-5. Oh Lordy. I still haven't finished my assignments, but that can wait. Maybe. Not really. Let the freaking out begin...

But we'll be flyin' high the whole way! I'm so excited to see everyone again!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

anything and everything

My summer is in a wrap up. July 17 - 21 I'll be visiting my long lost best friend in Texas, the next two weeks after that I have band camp, one free week, and then SCHOOL. Already. Between then, I have two more summer assignments to do (Read Grapes of Wrath and do an American History assignment, but at least I finished How to Read Literature like a Professor)and... hang out with friends/school shop/find time to write, because I have a little story forming. I hope.

How to Read Literature like a Professor(HTRLLAP) was one of those books that all your friends hate reading but you secretly think it's not so bad. At times, I thought it pointless for me to read when I could be doing something else pointless, but it has taught me that I know absolutely about the Literature World. The author mentions countless examples, all of which I've never heard of except for a handful. I thought I knew stuff. I don't. It's like I'm at the beginning of a long, old, beautiful road, and I've barely put a foot on it.

Also, the book showed me that I absorb nothing when I read novels. When you have a story in your hands, it's not just a story. You read the facts, you get the literal meaning of the work, but there's this curtain, see, that magically appears after you read HTRLLAP. Then, after you lift a corner of the curtain, you find that symbolism is etched in novels but you're too blind to see it. At least for now.

Example: in the last chapter of HTRLLAP, the author includes the short story "The Garden Party" by Katherine Mansfield (I think). Read it. He asks what does it signify? Uh, a little rich girl's family throws a garden party, but right before she gets wind that her peasant neighbor died. She feels like they should cancel the party in his honor, but her family ignores her and continues on. Soon, she enjoys herself. After the party's over, the mother tells the girl to give the dead guy's family leftover party scraps. She does. Sees the dead man and thinks it's beautiful. The end.

Well, the author launches into this thing about the mom being Demeter and the girl being Pershepone and the dead man being Hades, and once he explains it I understand and think he's very clever for realizing that. Also, birds and flight is sewn into the story. (The girl's family are like birds who live in a tall tree, above everyone surrounding them.) That was very clever too, I thought. And I caught none of it. BUT I'm just beginning to venture on this new road of Literature, and maybe by the end of it I'll be a guru.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Preston, Oklahoma [the mission trip]

Saturday, June 20
Departed from Lake Charles
Arrived in Dallas where we spent the night

Sunday
Went to a "black" church with Pastor G. We were the only white people there but it was awesome!
Scaled some rocks at a state park in Oklahoma (pictures on facebook)
Arrived in Preston, Oklahoma, where we would be staying on Indian territory

Monday & Tuesday
Worked worked worked: Propane tanks, hauling old lumber, etc.
On Tuesday we got to see Cherokee Nations and meet the Second Chief (another term for VP of the Indian World)

Wednesday
Water park day! Every guy in our group wore a speedo. Or almost every guy.
Ate at Steak 'n Shake, which can top Dairy Barn any day in the ice cream department.

Thursday
Painted a ceiling and a kitchen a "mint shake" green.
Attended an Indian church service

Friday
Painted a second coat on cabin and painted the outside.
Finished early!
Had an Indian closing ceremony
Cried

Saturday
Traveled back to Dallas, where we would stay for the night
Ate at SaltGrass, an awesome steakhouse
Went to a chapel, where we had our big devotion (I'll explain later)
Everyone cried and we stayed in the chapel until 1 in the morning

Sunday
Back home!

-
Last year when I attended my youth's mission trip to Missouri, I couldn't believe what I was feeling. Jesus in my heart everyday! It was insane but so beautiful. Naturally, I expected this trip to be the same. I'd feel God 24\7, la dee da, all would be well.

Not.

I didn't REALLY feel God. Sure, maybe a flicker or two of fire in my heart, but the full bonfire I wanted? Nada. This really started to bother me on Thursday, after we had attended the Indian church service. It was devotion time (devotion is when someone tells a story attached with a verse---it's our most spiritual time where we talk about where we saw God that day and what not) and one guy said he was just overwhelmed with God's spirit at the service. You know what I felt?

Nothing. That's when I started to question my sanity. We were in the bus, I was alone, and I typed the following on my phone: (Keep in mind I was very distraught)

I used to have a fire in my heart. Earlier this year it was blazing, but each day the flames seemed to dwindle. Eventually, nothing but ashes were left. I felt like I could ignite the fire anytime I wanted. After all the foundation of it was there. Each day the ashes sat, waiting and discengrating. I thought I was fine. I thought I was right. That I didn't need to kindle the fire.

I tried to light the fire.

Nothing sparked.

I can't do this by myself. Jesus I need you to be my match. My lighter. My fire. how can I stand here by you and not be moved by it? I'm hollow. I'm empty. I wasn't ready to listen before. Now I am. What's wrong with me, God. Why can't I hear you? Please enter me. The night at the service, people were ablaze with your spirit. How come I felt practically nothing? Is it because I'm trying to feel you? Does it not work that way? Do I have to just let go and stop waiting/searching for your spirit? What's wrong with me? Last year's mission trip I was overwhelmed by you. This year, I haven't really felt anything. Is it because I'm stained by sin? I want to be overwhelmed by you. Please tell me why you put me on this mission trip. What's my reason? I want to be happy again. I'm tired of trying to live life by myself. Please don't abandon me.


Make of it what you will. What I wrote, I wrote.

Friday came along. Spirit time! It was at the end of the day, where we had the Indian closing ceremony. Each youth member shook hands and we formed a tight circle and prayed.

I bawled.

Also at devotion, I was crying. It was wonderful! I finally felt God. Finally.

And Saturday, I felt the warm, fuzzy feeling all day. From devotion in the morning, all the way to the intense devotion at night. For devotion on Saturday, we gather in a circle in a chapel, all lights off except a few candles. This is the most memorable night of the trip. Everyone cries. This year, we had so many confession, ranging from suicidal thoughts to feeling God for the first time. I actually spoke up to the suicidals and told them that life was their mission and to not give up. I was told that people can see God in my smile. Many tears flowed. Many hugs followed.

In the end, Jesus was there. The beauty of mission trips is that no matter how deep in sin you are, a mission trip will pluck you out and put you back at the top.