I tried blogging from my cell phone last night to no avail, so my apologies if anyone is waiting with baited breath for an update.
Yesterday morning, the Excelsior UMC church service featured our group getting sent off in style complete with prayers, votive candles, a prayer shawl, and the passing out of work gloves, which I know will come in handy. Nan was wonderful enough to make sure we had everything we needed to make some delicious sandwiches so we could take off and get a few hours and miles between us and home without worrying about stopping for lunch. Everyone arrived at church before me, by the way, which is just how I roll, of course.
The drive down was smooth sailing, though Chris might tell you a few tales of insane drivers weaving in-between semi trucks across four lanes of traffic and well above the posted speed limit. We traveled in two vehicles – Nate, Kelly, Chris, Jerry, and Kent took “Ruby,” the Excelsior UMC / Camp Kowaken minivan, and adults Steve, Dave, and Kristen with youth Trevor, Pete, Kelsey, Piper, Leah, Molly D. and Molly N. took the 15-passenger white van. They had another guest, Tom Tom, to act as our sixteenth group member.
I drove Ruby the first four and a half hours or so to Des Moines and traded up, making sure adults were rotating driving duties. I was on again for the 3:00am-7:00am driving shift, as well, and I kept myself awake singing along to Eddie Vedder songs in the CD player while everyone else slept. Meanwhile, in the other van, Dave and Steve alternated driving the youth were asleep by the time we passed through Faribault – roughly forty minutes into the trip. They also woke to say ‘hi’ to each new state on the journey, though the seats didn’t lend themselves to quality sleep at all.
After a drive down mostly Interstate 35 and a few side highways, with a stop at a restaurant, gas station or two, and IHOP, we arrived in Port Arthur just before 2:00pm this afternoon. I’m blogging from the cozy confines of the Procter Baptist Church library while the rest of the gang unloads their gear, stretches the canvas of their cots as taught as possible, and takes some much-needed showers. We’re staying in a large gym on the side of the church and the girls have already claimed several pieces of furniture to set up all of their stuff, while the guys have kinda thrown their stuff in a corner, more worried about finding outlets for cell phones than comfort. We met some of the church staff and another volunteer group from a Texas UMC group who are staying overnight, as well. There’s also a couple staying here, too, Chris and Steph, along with their cute little puppy, Mischief.
Highlights so far include Molly D. buying some stylin’ pink plastic sunglasses, watching a server cough over a big plate of butter in a restaurant kitchen, attempting to get Pete to eat chicken fried steak at every meal, sing-a-longs, naps, stories and jokes, huge plates of chocolate chip pancakes, and I almost paid $3.99 for a cup of ice. The action was probably in the other van; my van was full of adults only and we’re pretty boring, don’t ya know (that said, I did learn the iPod-to-radio hook-up didn’t work so Steve’s choice of smooth jazz lead the youth to don their headphones).
As I say, we’re chillig out for a little while, and hoping Nate (not me, another Nate) stops by tonight with directions on what sort of work projects we’ll take on tomorrow morning. We’ve set up some small groups for work / discussion, and half the group has gone grocery shopping. If I have more to report, I’ll try and blog again tonight.
Speaking of blogging, I’ve been informed that my access to the church library will vary. I may not have access after Tuesday, but tune in just in case. Some staff may be in and out of the church to let me in but with the New Year’s Eve holiday, I can’t say for sure. I also seem to be having trouble with uploading photos but I’ll see what I can do.
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