Since I only have two hours left of freedom, and I'm need to watch a video from the fam, as well as make lunch, these will the only pictures I share this week. (It takes SO long to upload them here!!)

Sunset at the camp.

Yoga wasp! I found him while I was cleaning out my apartment to move.

This is where I stayed for the first two weeks at the camp (before the other staff arrived).

Rather spartan, but it worked. (At least I had my computer and phone! ^_^ )

I love being surrounded by all this nature! It's WAY better than LA.

A Sabbath hike up to the horse corral...

I love the wild orchids that grow around here.

A song service from staff training week (and a bug attack!)
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. The LORD redeemeth (ransoms) the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” {Psalm 34:8, 22}
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” {Isaiah 55:8, 9}
Wow. What a week. (Nine days, actually, since my last day off... now I understand more of why God instituted Sabbath rest. I don’t like not having it!)
They took away our computers and cell phones on the first day of Staff Training, which would be the Sunday before last. I had heard, and was hoping, that they would let us keep our phones and comps during training week, but no such luck.
I wrote six letters last week. Boy, how I miss communicating...
Staff training was busy. The returning staff say that they don’t remember working this much or this hard during training weeks before. I wouldn’t know any different. My days are all pretty much the same, since I’m in the kitchen.
I feel like some sort of superhero (or maybe supervillain?)-- by day, I’m a mild-mannered member of the kitchen staff. By night... I am a girl’s counselor. Yeah, yeah, nothing too thrilling in the way of saving the world. But, if you think about it... I am helping to save the world a little bit. The kids look up to the staff, and the way we interact with them could affect major life decisions. Kids are extremely impressionable, especially at this young age (6-8). So as I am a good influence on these girls, I am helping to make the world a better place, a little bit.
When the campers showed up on Sunday, I realized what a heavy responsibility we have as staff. I remember being a camper and being in a sort of awe around the counselors (not the kitchen staff, unfortunately!), like, “Whoaaaaa... They’re so COOL, and so much older, and so... whoa.” Now, I’m the staff. How the tables have turned!
The reason I included those verses at the beginning was because I’ve had an interesting experience with God these past nine days. I did NOT want to be in the kitchen when I first came up here, then I was okay with it, then I had to come to terms with the fact that I might be in the kitchen all summer, and now... I’m in the kitchen all summer. And it’s okay. As a matter of fact, I’m enjoying it!
I got my Food Handler’s License last week. I got to play short-order cook and crank out quesadillas for a hundred-odd people. I got to be part of the serving team for 600 people last weekend. There have been a lot of challenging experiences, and a lot of fun and laughter to go with them. I just pray that I can be a shining light for God, no matter where I am. The LDS group that was here had some nice things to say to me.
“You’re always so cheerful and smiling! Look at her! She’s filling up the lettuce, and she’s still smiling!”
“You have the most gorgeous voice.”
“Thank you SO much! I love croutons!”
Then there was the homesickness that I have dealt with for the last two and a half months. It got so bad that I was going to leave... again. I just wanted to go home, to be where I was wanted and loved, because I was feeling like a failure or a burden here. THEN, in one of our staff meetings, the Boss told the group that anyone who was homesick should just go home. They don’t want homesick people here who are going to be bringing the kids down, or doing a halfhearted job. I thought, “Aha! An easy out! But should I take it? Should I actually leave?”
So I prayed... and cried. I did a lot of crying. And I prayed that God would help me. But the feelings didn’t go away. I was still down and sad and missing home desperately.
That night, I dreamt that I actually drove back home, and I walked into the living room and the family was there, and Juneaux was there, and I was so happy to be home, and they were so happy that I was home, and... I was miserable when I woke up.
So in my quiet time with God, I prayed again.
God, if you have a reason for me to be here this summer, then I need you to take away my homesickness, and give me a heart of happiness and joy, a heart that’s willing to serve.
I still felt sad and lonely, but I went to work anyway. Around lunch time, I stopped short as I realized, I’m happy! And I’m not homesick anymore!
Don’t get me wrong, I still miss home. It’s a wonderful place to be, and I want to be back there as soon as possible... but I’m not homesick. I can wait. It’s okay. I’m not desperate and pining and miserable because I’m not at home anymore.
And time has passed, and the horrible waves of homesickness have not washed over me again. God is good. I tasted, and I’m amazed. And I know that his plans and thoughts are way higher and better than mine... because I sure didn’t plan on being in the kitchen this summer, but it’s been a growth experience that I never would have anticipated. It’s been good, and I’m glad.
Yesterday, I was told that 5 or 6 of the kids here at camp are here because I went to their school recruiting. I got an “attaboy” from the Boss. :)
I’ll probably do a separate post with pictures of the camp, so I’ll wrap this up... because I want to call D. I haven’t talked to him yet (I had to go shopping for jeans yesterday, and I don’t do well shopping and phone talking at the same time), and today’s our 2 month mark.
I’m glad I’m here, and now I know that God has a reason for my being here this summer. No more uncertainty. I like that.
Today's the day. I'm all packed up and moved back into my car, ready to head to another cabin. The only thing that's waiting is for me to head down to "Headquarters" and receive my cabin assignment to move in there.

One of the other counselors flew in last night and spent the night in my cabin. It was nice to have someone around when I got up this morning... even if Boss did wake me up when he brought her to my house. (10:45!)

So... we'll see what the summer holds. If it's anything like the last couple of weeks, it's going to be a doozy. Lots of learning experiences. As D and I were discussing the difficulties I have with the Boss, he said, "Maybe you're not supposed to enjoy the summer." Thanks, D, for the uplifting and encouraging thought. lol. He clarified, and what he meant was that maybe this summer is not supposed to be a happy, carefree, easy summer for me, but a hard one, for growth and character development.

Whatever God brings my way, I'll be okay with... eventually. I know I don't like the tough times when they're here, but usually I can look back on them as some of my favorite times.

So... anticipation, excitement, and trepidation are all vying for a place in the forefront of my mind. I'm just going to take it as it comes.

Hang on to your buttons, kids!

I found out that I'll be in the kitchen "for a while".

Whatever that means.

It does mean, however, that I need to get my Food Handler's Certificate.

Don't ask me why, but this feels significant... like God is setting me up for something.

Puzzle pieces are falling into place, I just can't see the picture on the front of the box. And you know what? I'm okay with that right now.

I can hardly believe it, but... I think I'm glad to stay in the kitchen. I've come to enjoy it.

Today, one of the cooks gave me a compliment. Before I knew I'd be in the kitchen a while longer, I said to him, "Today is our last day working together, I think. I wonder if I'll be in the kitchen this summer?"

He replied, "I hope so. You're a good helper."

Awww, thanks, O! I'm glad to know that I'm a good helper. Sometimes I feel so very inept.

And, incredibly, I have survived those nine days that previously seemed so overwhelming and potentially fatal. Even more incredibly, I have survived with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart... even without talking to D for a week.

God has used this brief interlude to teach me so much... what in the world will the summer bring??
Today is my day off! Woohoo! I'll be heading down the mountain into town in a few minutes.

Yesterday was difficult. After my morning time with God, where he helped me process through the dream and its accompanying emotions, when I had that "battle of the worth"... I was fighting feelings all day.

I was down. It was a hard day. The neat thing, though, is that I knew that, even though I felt down, what God had said to me earlier was true. And I knew that, eventually, these emotions would pass. How I felt that day was not an indicator of how the rest of my life (or even my week!) would be.

Feelings come and  feelings go, and feelings are deceiving.
Trust alone in the word of God- it's something worth believing!
(Thanks, Dr. Nedley, for that neat song.)

Even though I've turned this over to God, it still hurts. It's painful. It feels like the wound had finally scabbed over (again), and God peeled back the scab to deal with the underlying infection. OUCH!

Any time that wound is bumped, it hurts so bad, all the way to my core.

But God is faithful.

Yesterday was difficult, but God is good. That's a good summary of the day.

I got to talk to the family and have worship with them over the phone. That was so nice. I miss them... but the ache is starting to subside. I'm getting used to it, I guess.

And now... to commence the day off... I must Google the shops I want to visit.
I think I may have just forgiven my abuser(s).

"May have? Shouldn't you know if you've forgiven someone?"

Yeah, but, you see... I'm not sure how forgiveness actually works in a scenario like mine... I don't know what it looks like, exactly. But I think it just happened.

I had a rough night last night. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I had bad dreams last night about being abused/molested. It was awful and humiliating, and the worst part about my dreams is that they are so vivid, I feel like it's actually happening. So that's how I spent my night, or at least part of it.

I woke up out of that dream to go to work this morning, and I was fighting flashbacks. Memories were resurfacing, and I was thinking, Not here! Not now!!

I had managed to forget. Sure, it happened. Of course it did. But I had pushed it to the far reaches of my mind where I didn't have to recall it anymore, where I didn't have to feel anything about it... I could discuss the fact that I was molested, but it was an apathetic discourse. Numb. No feeling.

Today, the memories resurfaced (at least, some of them), and now they were accompanied by the feelings of fear, helplessness, and humiliation fresh from my my awful dream.

Finally, work was over, and I went home and just sobbed before God.

I don't even know how to begin processing this!! I feel so humiliated, so worthless and filthy and used... Like, this is all I'm good for- to be humiliated so someone else can get their kicks.

Somehow, God spoke to my heart as I was sobbing... he showed me the Cross.

"You're not worthless. See what value I have placed upon you? What happened to you is not an indicator of your worth and value, it's an indicator of the depravity of the other person. That's what happens to hearts when they are turned away from Me. You have value, my child, and worth. You are loved."

And when I realized that G and C's hearts were turned away from God... I realized that I could forgive them. What they did was wrong. They humiliated me, they hurt me, and it was wrong. But it's not my place to hold it against them anymore. Yes, it was wrong, but now they are accountable to God, not to me.

I even said it out loud. (Well, kinda whispered, but whatever. It was audible.)

"I forgive you, G."

I put him in prison. I still think it was the right thing to do. Even if I forgive him, he still needs to be accountable for the wrong, illegal things that he did. He needs to experience the consequences of his actions.

"I forgive you, C."

The humiliation and shame I experienced at his hands was a direct result of the warpage I received at the hands of G. If I were healthy, I would not have stood for those things.

His heart, too, is turned away from God... and I see what an ugly bent the soul takes when you walk that path. He's accountable to God now. I don't hold it against him.

Is this forgiveness? Whatever it is... I feel like it's a step forward.
D and I are having problems. Rather, I should say that I’m having a problem with D. He just doesn’t know about it yet. I’m going to talk to him about it next time we talk, because I want to address it so it doesn’t turn into resentment in my heart.
We haven’t talked in several days. That’s not the problem. I know that our lives don’t revolve around each other, and I survived 23 years without talking to him on the phone once. Not talking on the phone is not the issue.
The issue I’m having is that, 3 days in a row, he’s said he was going to call... and then he didn’t. (Actually, I have to amend that. He called last night, but after I was asleep and my phone was off... even though I told him I was going to bed at nine. Maybe he was thinking Alaska time? I dunno.)
See, he’s working again. That’s wonderful, and I’m happy for him. He’s remodeling a house, and they’re working crazy hours. Again, that’s not the problem. I miss being able to talk to him whenever I want, but it’s okay. I’m glad he’s working, and I know he is, too. 
But it’s the fact that he said he was going to call, and then didn’t. I really look forward to our conversations, especially right now when the days are long and I’m rather isolated, and I look forward to conversations with those back home. Talking with him is fun, it’s relaxing, and it helps me to refocus and sort of recharge for the next day. Since he said he was going to call, I began anticipating the phone call... only to be let down. It’s happened a few times before, when he didn’t have service. It’s understandable. But to have that let-down several days in a row... it’s painful. I don’t like it. If he doesn’t think he’ll be able to call, I’d rather he not say anything.
And now, I find myself all skeptical. He left me a voicemail, saying he’s working crazy hours and all, and that he’d call today. I found myself thinking, Yeah, sure. I’ve heard that one before. I don’t like that!
Of course, there’s some hurt mingled in with the disappointment... I know he has good reasons. I know he does, and that’s why I feel so dumb for feeling this way. But there’s a fraction of me that feels, You’re not very important to him. When he’s got nothing to do, sure he’ll call you. But when there’s stuff to be done, you take the back seat. You’re not a priority. Because, when he says he’s going to be calling, I make space in my schedule for that. Our phone calls are important to me. But there are other conversations I could have had, people I could have connected with, if I had just known that he wasn’t actually going to call!
I’m glad I’m processing through this now, so that I don’t jump down his throat about this or anything. No attacking. I need to communicate how I feel, is all.
And you know what? My reaction would be the same if any of the people in my life close to me did this. At first, I was scared that I was overreacting... then I thought about how I would feel and react if it were various people... and my reaction is the same. Good to know that it’s just a “me” thing and not a “relationship” thing, if that makes sense.
The other day, when I was having a DIFFICULT day and just wanted to leave more than anything else, God brought this song to mind. I sang it to myself as I did dishes, and it really helped to encourage me.

There's a chance that I may be in the kitchen the entire summer.

I almost cried when I found out.

But, as I recalled the rest of the conversation with M, the head cook, I realized that God could use me just as powerfully in the kitchen as anywhere else.

Apparently, the Boss hires kids to work as counselors, then he takes a look at the lot he's hired and sticks some of them in the kitchen. So these kids come thinking that they'll be doing one thing, then they get the Surprise! that they'll be doing something they didn't want to do or sign up to do and were not told that they were going to be doing... as M says, it's not fair to the kids, and it's not fair to him, because then he ends up with a bunch of disgruntled employees who do half-hearted jobs so they can escape to break-time.

I'm less and less impressed with the Boss's methods of handling the camp. Could just be personal preference, but the whole waiting-till-the-last-minute-to-let-people-know-things routine is going to get pretty old, pretty quick. And, rather than hiring people to be kitchen staff, he just sticks random people in the kitchen? Mer.

Anyway, as I thought about the impending kitchen situation (while sending desperate pleas up to God, Don't put me in the kitchen this summer! Please! PLEASE!!), I realized that God has given me a natural influence and the ability to excite and motivate others. (At least, according to other people...) I could use those gifts in the kitchen this summer... if that's where I'm placed. I'm still kinda hoping that I won't be, even though it's getting better being in there- I'm not desperately fighting overwhelming urges to go home anymore. But if that's where I end up, I won't be as devastated as I might have been last week.

Oh, it'll be hard... but good, I guess. Having a day off really helped to recharge me, and I realized that it's not an all day every day thing. I get days off, and it's only an eight hour day. Three meal times. That's all.

It really helps when I just focus on one meal time at a time. I don't worry about the rest of the day. I focus on where I'm at, and getting through that particular block of time. It seems to be a good way to handle it.

And I like the people I work with, too. That helps. As more time passes, I'm able to joke around with them more and more.

So I'm not wildly pacing the perimeters of the camp... yet. We'll see what the summer brings. God knows best.

What is a mile, a span of distance?
On paper it means nothing--
insignificant millimeters on a map.
But when that mile multiplies a thousand-plus times,
it keeps me from your side,
and I wonder how I ever thought Alaska wasn't very far from here.

What is an hour? Sixty minutes is all,
a drop in the bucket of a day well-spent.
Elastic, shape-shifting increment of time--
one rushing by, late for a date with Destiny,
another casually wandering through, enjoying the sights,
yet another digging claws painfully deep,
afraid of its fate and refusing to budge.
The last one knows me well-- it sits on my lap and
breathes down my neck as we wait, together, for your call.

What is a hand? They are all around me,
shapes, sizes, colors-- all varying.
They bend, they grasp, they close, they open,
they work and rest and bear the brunt of our intentions...
They also unite, heart to heart. They calm and comfort.
I look at my hands, and I think of your hands,
and I wonder how they would look together?
This week has been hard... Hard, but good.

They seem mutually exclusive, but I think that the difficulty enhances the goodness. (When, of course, I can see it!)

I am so grateful for friends who lift me up when I cannot stand on my own any longer.

I almost went home... again. (This seems to be a pattern of mine... When things get difficult, I want to pack up and leave... and I come so close, but something inside me tells me, "This is not the way you want to leave. This is not how things should end. Try a little longer, and see what happens.")

Only eight more days until I'm done with this part of my job. I thought that keeping a running tally of days left would help encourage me to keep going, but I found that I only got overwhelmed by the thought of  eight more days of this... so I started telling myself, and God, "I can make it through this meal time. I can do that. That's all I can do right now, but I can do that much. I can last until this meal time is over." Eventually, enough meal times will pass, and I'll be done.

It's not so much the work that bothers me, it's the monotony. At first, it was apprehension because I didn't know what I was doing. That lasted about two days. The third day, I actually enjoyed myself. The fourth day, Friday, I was desperate to go home, desperate to escape the monotonous cycle that had become my life.

6 am- Wake, have Time with God

7:30- Report to kitchen

10- Cook my breakfast, eat, do something with remaining time (short nap?)

11:00/11:15- Report to kitchen

2- Cook lunch, eat, shower, read/nap/blog/play guitar

4:30- Report to kitchen

7- Cook supper, eat, phone calls/blog

9/9:30- Bed

I like routine, but not monotony. (My schedule in ID was good- a weekly routine, but each day was a different thing.) D phrased it interestingly- he said he likes the good kind of monotony, but not the bad kind. Good vs bad? I asked him to elaborate, and he said the good monotony is comfortable, whereas the bad monotony is, well, not. Like stability vs. mind-numbing boredom, I guess.

Today, however, is my day off, and I've enjoyed it. I'm coming down with a respiratory infection, so the rest has been good. I need to drink more water, and get ahold of some vitamin C powder somehow.

With a few minutes before suppertime, I think I'm going to call the family.
J called last night, so I got to talk to her and the family. It was so nice! I miss them... not overwhelmingly, like at times... just a general ache... like a toothache, but bigger.

We ended up talking about D (of course! I need someone that I can laugh and giggle with about it!), and I admitted something to her that I haven't been able to bring myself to say out loud yet. (Of course, then the whole family perked up- "What? Something important and secretive? Tell us!" and I had to repeat it so they could hear LOL)

Basically, I told her that I think I'm falling in love with the guy, and it scares the living daylights out of me. Why? Well, several contributing factors, I think...

1. It's only been a little over a month! I mean, I liked him before we started dating and all, but are you even allowed to think about this kind of thing so soon?! So that scares me... that I have these feelings for him, so soon... (and I know it's not just a physical attraction lol. As I'm getting to know him through our conversations, I'm just more and more... impressed with who he is, and how he thinks. I really admire him in a lot of ways... but it also makes me nervous that I haven't seen any negative character traits in him. Am I romanticizing, or airbrushing, or justifying, or is he really just that great?)

2. I'm afraid to love someone again, because last time I did, it was incredibly painful and difficult to part ways. I'm not certain of the future in any way, shape, or form, and if D isn't the one that I'm to marry, then I don't want these feelings to be here, because it will be painful to part if God asks us to. Granted, we don't have anywhere near the level of intimacy that C and I had, but it will still hurt.

3. What if it isn't mutual? I know that hurting me would be the last thing on earth that he would do intentionally, but what if he decides that this just isn't going to work for him? Then I'm left out in the cold with these dumb feelings!

4. He's not what I envisioned myself falling for. He has this history, and he's older, and he's not a colporteur or part of that culture AT ALL... He's not what I expected. (I feel like I must always "defend" him when people ask about him.
"So, tell me about this guy! How old is he?" That's almost always the first question. WHY?!
"Oh, he's in his thirties..." But only for one more year! lol
"Oh, really? So he's older, huh? Well, has he been married before or anything?"
"Actually, yes."
"...Oh. ...Really?"

And so on, so forth. Maybe I feel threatened? I don't know. But I hate that sense of surprised consternation that emanates from people when they find out these facts. I just want to straight out say, "Look, he's more than his age and his past. I made mistakes, too. I'm not holding his against him, and he's not holding mine against me, and God's forgiven us both. Can we please move past this?" Maybe I should.

I think it's because I want people's approval. I want them to be happy for me, and they kind of aren't. If he were my age, they would! But because he's older and has a sketchy past, they have these reservations, which, by the way, are totally understandable and legit.

This is the longest side note ever.)

And he's not what I expected. He surprises me in a lot of ways. I would never have pegged him for the "people person" that he is. I never would have thought he was so tender and thoughtful. However, he is every bit as rugged and resilient as I thought he was, and then some.

None of this is what I expected. I was terrified entering this relationship, to be sure... but I went into it with this unconscious set of expectations. I didn't expect him to be so encouraging and uplifting. I've always been the one that's done that in the past... GM was encouraging, but in a stronger, different way. I don't feel like I'm being "fixed" with D. I didn't expect him to care about my thoughts and feelings as much- as in, liking to hear me talk about my day and my reactions to it, or my opinions on matters. I didn't expect him to, well, kinda cherish me... I don't know if that's the right word, but that's the sense I get. I didn't expect him to enjoy my personality.

I didn't expect to enjoy and look forward to our conversations this much. I didn't expect him to be concerned when I'm not feeling well, and to be okay with my food and health limitations. I didn't expect to laugh together this much. I didn't expect to miss him this much. I didn't expect to have so much in common... I thought we would be so strikingly different... and we are, in ways. But we're so similar in a lot of funny, little ways, in addition to bigger, more important ways.

I didn't expect him to believe in me and my potential. I didn't expect that I would grow to respect him this much. I didn't expect that I would have to hold myself back from saying so many things that I would like to, for the sake of both our hearts... for the sake of the relationship. I didn't expect that he would look forward to communicating with my family.

I didn't expect that I would feel this way... especially so soon. My internal panic alarms are going off... Mayday! Mayday!

I don't trust myself to love him, if that makes sense. It's not that I'm not capable of love, because I love the S's, and I love my family, and I love H (both of them!), and I love... lots of people. That's why I so long to be back home. But those loves don't require me to weigh whether or not it's wise. I'm supposed to love them! But with D... I don't trust myself to love him unselfishly. I don't trust myself to figure out what's really love and what's just infatuation. I'm scared of that, too. I'm afraid that it's just infatuation and I'm not really falling in love with him. I'm afraid that I'll be completely twitterpated, run off and marry him, and then wake up one day to realize it was a mistake. That's what I'm afraid of, really. Because falling in love precedes marriage, and what if we shouldn't be married? What if it's a mistake?

Ahhhh! I'm so glad he can't see all this. If only he knew what he was doing to my braiiiiin!

Anyway... I think he might call tonight. That'd be grand.
(That's another thing I didn't expect- for us to develop these little traditions, such as him being the one that calls me. Always. With very few exceptions.)
Finally! Time to sit down and process through the last couple of days!

Monday, I arrived at the camp, and was immediately put to work in the cafeteria. After supper was over and the kitchen cleaned, then I headed over to my "new" house to move in... but I was waylaid for about half an hour by my friendly neighbor, J, who also happens to be my half-boss.

There is a reason why I'm here before summer camp starts... The story is that there was this guy who worked here at the camp- nice kid. Totally normal. (That's what they always say!) Then, one day, he apparently snapped, shot and killed one of the housekeepers, and was going to kill all the rest of the staff. However, he must have come to his senses, because he turned himself in. After this story got out, camp attendance dropped... drastically. (Uh, yeah!) So, this year, the Boss decided that he needed someone to go around to the different elementary schools and pump up the camp, get the kids excited! That's where I enter the story.

I'm basically here because some guy freaked out and killed someone else here on camp grounds. But here's the best part... My little apartment they gave me to stay in? Yeah, it was the killer's house. D laughed so hard when I told him... he said it was "haunted" (jokingly, of course).

But no one had really even stepped foot in here for about a year and a half, since the guy's parents came to collect his stuff. So it was pretty dirty... and strewn with the carcasses of bugs... and the evidences of mice. So, in between work times yesterday, I scrubbed and swept and vacuumed and aired out the place (which means I essentially worked a twelve hour day yesterday- no wonder it was so hard for me to get up this morning!!)

D called last night, and I was thrilled to hear from him. I had been hoping he'd call. It was a bright hope to look forward to... and it got me through the day. (Odds are he won't call tonight, though. Drat.)

See, the thing is... I don't like working in the kitchen. But, this is where they need me the most, so I'll do it... and God is using it to teach me cheerfulness and thankfulness in spite of circumstances. It's been good, but challenging... and I can't wait for each day to be done.

I made a mistake today in the time I was supposed to come in for lunch prep, so I was fifteen minutes late. Gaaah... Kill me. I hate making mistakes! So I did the dishes as penance. I think I'm the only one who thought of it that way, though :)

I've realized that my being in the kitchen is a witnessing opportunity. It's kind of weird, because I never thought of it that way, until I actually found myself there, but my interactions with the people we feed really can influence their conception of Christians in general, and Adventists in particular. I get the chance to serve them, and to show them Jesus. That applies to my fellow staff, too... so I've been really praying about maintaining cheerfulness.

The funny thing is, the group here now is a rather conservative group (and vegan, which irks the kitchen staff somewhat)... the culture is much the same as SOULS. However, the staff here don't know I'm from that culture, so I get to hear exactly what they think about it without there being any walls of caution there. And, interestingly, the group doesn't realize that I'm "one of them". They think I'm just another staff member. It's like I'm caught between two worlds, but I don't belong to either one any more. I've got an interesting perspective, that's for sure...

One guy, though, pegged me as a SOULSer. He stopped me in the lobby. "You're from SOULS West, aren't you?"

Yes, I am. How did you know?

"I saw you speak at Faith Camp last year."

Oh, really? Yeah, I gave that talk on Ezekiel 28.

"That's right. So you're working here this summer? Good for you!"

It was funny. But it was also sobering, because I realized... people are watching me. So, although I don't really care for the work that I'm doing, I'll do it with a smile... because that's what I want people to see about God- that he's enjoyable.

D helped to encourage me last night. I shared my thoughts about cheerfulness and thankfulness, and what I'm learning, and how I'm choosing to view this thing as one big adventure... but then I also shared my honest opinions. Hehe... they're not necessarily the best. I'm not super impressed. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure I'd work here again. Regardless, I'm here now.

I so appreciate how D can help me to see the positive when I'm overwhelmed with homesickness or fighting discouragement and disillusionment. Because, really, seeing the positive is what's going to get me through this... adventure. If I focus on any or all of the negative things, I will easily be overwhelmed and swept away.

It's pretty obvious that we both desire to be in the same place. I haven't seen him since before I left, which would be two months and some change... and it's going to be many more months till we see each other again. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad for the way things are, and I appreciate what we have, a lot. But I do long to be near him, to see him, and to do stuff together. He said he'll cook me some fish :) But, as Jim Elliot said, "Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living."

Maybe it will be easier when the summer gets going, and I'm distracted by all the kids. (And only able to have my phone once a week.) He's going to send me letters, though. I'm so excited! I love letters :)

I miss my family, too. When I'm in the kitchen snapping peas or chopping yams, I smile to think that I'll be doing that for the family soon. The summer will fly, I'm sure... but I can't wait to go home. (It's been two months already... *sigh*)

I made it safely to the camp.

Upon arrival (which took two less hours than previously thought- surprise!!), I popped into the cafeteria to see what I could to to help... and left three hours later.

Tired... One thing I don't particularly mind is cooking. As a matter of fact, I rather like it. One thing I don't particularly like is cleaning up after cooking. As a matter of fact, I'd rather avoid it.

Oh, well. I guess that's what happens when you're assigned to the cafeteria. I'll be doing a lot of both!

Anyway, after work, I had a nice long chat with my partial supervisor. He'll be my boss when I work grounds/maintenance. Apparently, I'll be doing a lot of leaf-raking.

After our nice long chat, I finally began hauling things into my temporary little apartment, and... oh, my.

Bugs, bugs, everywhere (dead bugs, thankfully)... and mouse turds. Mouse turds in the bed sheets, which haven't been washed since who knows when (but I have no choice but to sleep in that bed, at least for tonight). It's cold. Quite cold. I can actually see my breath outside... and my heater doesn't work. Oh, but at least I have hot water! ...But only in the bathroom, which doesn't actually have a working light... which means no shower for me tomorrow! Cold water and I do not agree.

Oh, yeah, and my laundry detergent leaked inside one of my suitcases... but my clothes smell great now! (It only got a couple of things.)

What a day! And how I miss H's cozy little apartment already... or, better yet, my snug little room at home, with my kitty purring my ear off. Ahhh... home... That's what I'll be thinking about as I drift off tonight. Oh, yes... and I have to report to work at 7:30.


Yay, life!! I'm so happy to be living it, challenges and all. (Plus, really, I have it WAY better than a ton of people on this planet right now. Yeah. Seriously.)
Off I go, into the wild blue yonder...

I'm heading up to Camp today. Pretty much everything is packed- all that's left is to pack up my trusty car.

This summer... I want it to be... good? Yes, good, but more than that... impacting. I want lives to be changed.

I get overwhelmed when I think about all the needs to be met... all the people that I'm supposed to witness to... and it's scary, because when I think about sharing "the blessed hope", I wonder... how can I share what's so shaky within me in the first place? I mean... I struggle so much with just the basics... I was a Bible worker, and I can't even give a basic Bible study on salvation. That's bad, huh? Like, if someone were to ask me, "What does the Bible say about salvation?" I could not guide them to the correct verses.

I could, however, tell them what God's done for me... but then again, I'm not the inspired word of God, so how much weight does that carry?

I guess I'm just discouraged/encouraged... because in my Talk with God this morning, I read Psalm 105, which said to me, basically, YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT GOD'S GOING TO DO! He does the most unlikely things- seriously. In addition, all those big events swirling around the Israelites... God was in control of them, the whole time. If he didn't actively cause something, he allowed it.

How can I fear about the state of the world around me? Do I think that God is too small to notice, too weak to handle it?

The cool thing was, verses 1-5 are a capsule of how to "live Christian", if you know what I mean. Basically, this is what walking with God is all about. It's pretty cool! And, it is a big relief, because I think, "Whew! This is not as intimidating as I had thought... this might actually be possible in my life! Yippee!"

Anyway... I wonder if the kids' parents know that one of their *potential* counselors is this... I don't know... what's the word... immature? I guess I just feel that, since I went to a Bible College, I should be past this.

However, voices in my head, I will inform you that this struggling and hashing things out is the building blocks for a solid future, thankyouverymuch. So get out.

I've got to go pack now.

(Okay, one quick side note... super hilarious... when I was talking to D last night, I mentioned that I had "found the best thing in North America!" He immediately responded, "Oh, you mean me!" LOL! I managed to choke out a reply in the midst of my shock... something to the effect of, "Pssht, what-ever! I meant a radio station." It was funny, though. He's quick, that one.

And, just now, he sent me a promised picture of the mountain across the river from him... with the caption, "Good morning, beautiful". Eep! I'm not even going to respond to that one. I'll pretend I never saw it. What in the world would I say to something like that, anyway??)
I have discovered the most amazing thing in North America, and quite possibly the universe as well.

(But it's only amazing if you like the Baroque era of music. Just a warning.)

Sunday Baroque

I've been listening for the past... 3 hours. At least.

Finally, a Sunday I enjoy! Usually, I dislike Sundays, just because the rhythms of the day tend to get messed up with sleeping in and all... banks are closed, post office is closed, etc. It just throws everything off. They are awkward.

Buuuut, today was rather enjoyable. (So far.) I had a good Talk with God this morning, the shower was nice and hot (it's hit and miss around here), I feel TONS better than I have the past several days, and I found this amazing music to listen to. I got the fridge cleaned out, most of my stuff packed, a pot of beans (sans garlic this time) simmering to freeze later, and I think I'll make bread this evening, after I pack up my food items. Oh, yeah, and an amazing lunch! (Penne alfredo- made with sunflower seeds and pine nuts, toast with olive oil and fresh basil leaves, and broccoli. YUM!)

It's been a day of getting things done. I like that.

In addition, I wrote H a thank you/goodbye card to leave with the jasmine candle I got her. We had oohed and ahhed over the Yankee Candles in a nearby art and framing store, and the jasmine candle was the one that tickled both our fancies the most... so I figure it's an appropriate parting gift. I didn't have any wrapping paper, so I wrapped it in tissue paper (not an easy feat, considering the candle is cylindrical, and the wrapping paper is square) and folded some kudsukama flowers out of pretty paper to decorate the top. (Note to self: do not use heavy paper next time!)

It's been a weekend of reality check, too... I bumped into a friend of mine in church yesterday, and after a while he asked what my plans were next year. I told him, of course, that I'm headed back to Idaho to study agriculture for a year (it sounds so impressive, doesn't it?), and that I was praying about starting a support group for abuse victims. He immediately encouraged me to do the group, which meant a lot to me, since I really respect his opinion. He knows about doing new ventures for God... After all, he did start the Magabook industry back in the 80's.

I've been praying... Lord, should I do this, or should I not? Is it just because I want to feel like a leader? Do I really have anything to contribute? Is this my idea, or yours? Is this just me, or do you really want me to do this? After thinking about it a while, the only things holding me back are a.) Hesitation that it might not be what God wants me to do, and b.) fear of failure, fear of risk... just... fear.


Oh, and this weekend, I read another book, When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy. It helped me understand what C was talking about with the "feminine mystique" thing- at least, what I think she was trying to get across! It was less being coy and more preserving my purity and not selling myself cheap. I was challenged when I realized that saving physical affection and sexual purity for my future husband isn't really the end of the line. Someday, I want to be able to give him my heart, my emotions, my everything... and I don't want those to be things that I carelessly tossed to the highest bidder. Now, don't get me wrong, I know how to do this... when I'm single.

The problem, and the challenge, lies in the fact that I'm now dating D. How do I maintain my emotional purity while in a dating relationship? While pondering this, I realized that I had gotten too "into" this relationship... I was so ready to hand him my heart, without him even asking! No way, dude!

I mean, I know that the relationship needs to progress in order to be healthy, but... if I'm throwing everything I have and am into this from the get-go, there will be nothing for him to discover... and there will be nothing to save.

Does this even make any sense? It does in my head. We're getting to know each other. That's a fact. We both like each other. That's undeniable. But that doesn't mean that I should now drop my reserves and completely expose my heart to him. Discretion, I believe it's called.

What I was yearning to pour into D, I'm now channeling elsewhere. I've started writing letters to my future husband. It helps me keep perspective, and gives me a place to put all that mushy gushy stuff without endangering or rushing my relationship with D.

Mom once told me, while I was still getting to know/ dating GM, "Treasure this time. If things move forward, you won't ever have these moments back."

She's right. I'm going to savor this phase, and not worry about what lies ahead. What does rushing into the future gain? Absolutely nothing.


Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the "rests." They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear.

If we sadly say to ourselves, "There is no music in a 'rest,'" let us not forget "there is the making of music in it." The making of music is often a slow and painful process in this life. How patiently God works to teach us! How long He waits for us to learn the lesson!

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; 
It shall not return to Me void, 
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper 
in the thing for which I sent it. 

“ For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills 

Shall break forth into singing before you, 
 And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

{Isaiah 55:11, 12}
Did I imagine it?

Was it all a dream?

Those valleys we forged together, the deep darknesses that clawed their way to the core of my being, scrounging for victory, only to be driven back by your brilliant light... again and again... We've come so far.

Did it really happen?

Here I find myself, staring at the blank faces of the brick walls I've erected... again.

God, will I never cease to shut you out, one way or another?!

I sense you calling me... arms outstretched, heart bursting and aching with love... cheeks shining with the evidence of your love...

and I sit, catatonic, unmindful.

Tears course down my face, too, but they're not tears of love, they're tears of brokenness.

How did I end up here again? I am not setting out to be unresponsive, I promise you I am not, but... I just don't know how to be anything else. I don't know, God- I just don't know how to do this! It's so hard. How do I do this? What does it even look like? What does it mean?

What is love, God? Why am I not changed by it? I want so badly to be renewed, to be transformed, to love and live radically... but why am I still the same?

I'm so tired of fighting. So tired of fighting for peace... so tired of trying to do it right. I don't know how. I just don't know how to do this.

So what do I do?

How do I open up? How do I let you in? God, I want to let you in... but it seems like every time I do... it doesn't stick. How do I mean it?

God... I'm broken by my inability to be broken. Does that make sense?

So here I am... tangled shards of good intentions. Do what you can... whatever that is.

I'm tired of building walls.

Lord, I hope I didn't make a mistake, eating all that food...

"All that food" would be referring to one grapefruit and half a cup of oatmeal. It's the most substantial meal I've had since Monday.

And, in the intervening minutes between breakfast and this blog post (oh, about 5), I realize that it was, in fact, a mistake. I should have stopped at half a grapefruit.

I don't know what to make of this sudden, inexplicable relapse. I have no appetite (usually a sort of nausea has replaced the appetite- you know, that feeling that something's stuck in the back of your throat and you're about to throw up any moment?), but when I do eat, it sends waves of pain coursing through my abdomen. I'm almost sure it's my colon, rebelling. But I don't understand... I haven't eaten anything I'm allergic to! I've been taking my medication faithfully! And I haven't been that stressed! I mean, it's life. Stress happens.

Ugh... here come the swords...

Maybe I need to see a doctor.
It's funny... how when someone gives me advice... my brain almost always interprets it as You're hearing this because you're doing it wrong! Even if the advice is just "Hey, watch out for this pitfall that you might run into" stuff. Like today.

C, dear C... and M. I enjoy them so much, and I'm so happy to see them happily married. I've been there for most of the whole thing- helped C through many a rough spot when she wasn't sure about M, then she was, then there were trials, then she was madly in love... so on, so forth. And M and I are very similar in our bluntness and openness. We click well.

And so, upon finding out that I am in a relationship, they proceeded to give me advice, because they care about me. I treasure it. I just wasn't sure I wanted to hear it. Because now my mind won't rest... it's playing and replaying all my conversations with D, thinking, Did I do it right? Was that peace false? Is my happiness a farce, a false apparition? Did I even do the right thing in entering this relationship? Aaaaaaah!

Especially after I shared some of the details regarding how we got together... my friend warned me that providences aren't the most solid way of determining God's will. So... great. That totally undermines my trust in God's leading that I've experienced. Thanks. I know you didn't mean it that way, but it's slightly devastating to me, especially since I've been struggling with trust so much anyways.

Maybe you just don't understand how much of a baby Christian I am... SOULS aside, I'm a fledgling! I'm still struggling with some of the basic tenets and principles of our faith! Forget prophecy and proof texts... I am struggling to trust God right now!

And another thing... I almost dread the question, "So how old is this guy?" Because I fear the inevitable shock and questioning to follow. Yes, he's older than I am... by quite a few years. So what? And, yes, he has a rough past. I'm well aware that this could cause problems down the road... but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I have a rough background, too. I made mistakes as well- big ones. But you are enthusiastic about me, so why not him? Ah, it's because you don't know him. That's why. You fear for me, because you love me. I understand.

I did realize, while driving home, that no matter whether others think I'm doing it wrong, or that I've made a mistake, or that I could do better, or whatever... ultimately, I am the one who has to live with my choices. I need to be pure before God, and settled in my own heart. As for the rest of 'em... they aren't my conscience.

But I am trying to value their input, and not be defensive. I know it's given in love. I just hate the onslaught of second-guessing that follows.

Oh, yeah... and she instructed me on the art of feminine mystique... Don't throw open the shutters to my heart right away. We all agree that I'm a very open person (which they called "refreshing" and "a good thing"), but when it comes to relationships, I have to make him pursue me, apparently.

Can't I just be myself? I mean... that's the person he likes, right? Ugh. This is confusing...

Good news. I'm hungry for the one of the first time in days. I'm going to eat something while this lasts. I haven't been eating much.
"C, I believe in you. I see so much potential in you, and I really think you can do this. But whatever you decide, I'll stand behind you. I won't judge you, and I won't abandon you."

Were sweeter words ever spoken?

Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for pointing out that, if this world was perfectly wonderful, we wouldn't want to leave. Thank you for reminding me why I signed up for this in the first place- the kids, those dear little starfish...

And so the fight continues.