Happy Holy week. Holy week is always a busy time in the life of a church. Beginning with Palm Sunday, continuing on with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, up to the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday. The Hollywood YAVs spent Palm Sunday in Phoenix Arizona. We took a long weekend to stay with Heather’s parents and watch a few spring training games. It was a mere 95 degrees for the Giants/Mariners game on Saturday. Fortunately, the temperature dropped 10 degrees for the Diamondbacks/Rockies game the next day. We celebrated Palm Sunday at the church Heather grew up in. We had an amazing trip of family and baseball. We quickly returned to our work week and the community house. Instead of attending a Maundy Thursday Service, we dyed Easter eggs and had an Easter egg hunt with the kids in our community. Some of our kids had never dyed Easter eggs before, and it was so much fun watching them explore the different colors and ways to make the eggs two toned. The Good Friday Service at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood was done in collaboration with Reality LA, a non-denominational church in Hollywood. I recently questioned why Friday is referred to as “Good” during Holy week, as it is the day that Christ was crucified. But then the pastor of Reality LA said, “In order to get the celebration of Easter, we must go through the suffering of the Crucifixion.” With out the death of Christ, there is no resurrection. Without death there is no life. It is through Good Friday we get Resurrection Sunday.
As a part of my family’s Easter tradition, we dye Easter eggs on Easter Eve each year. I have a picture of my first Easter, sitting with 3 of my siblings and my parents, the dining room table covered in newspaper and cups of vinegary dye with eggs in all of them. It’s tradition. As long as I can remember, I would plop my designated number of eggs into various colors and be done dyeing eggs in 5 minutes, and then sit very impatiently while my wildly creative sister would spend what felt like forever on her eggs. I got better as I got older, but never quite to Jennifer’s level. The wax crayon was my best friend, and I would write different things that I loved, my school, my pets, my sorority, my friends, my parents, and many other generic tokens. This year, I watched the kids dye eggs as fast as they could, trying to remind them to take their time, and enjoy the process, word I never heeded as a child. But today, my new YAV family and I sat down to dye our own eggs. This year it took me 2.5 hours to dye 5 eggs~ Here are my creative masterpieces:
Aren’t they lovely. The dyeing of Easter eggs is the tradition which brought us all to the table, to bring us together in fellowship and laughter. Most of the time only food can do this! Speaking of which, I finished my next book on the list! Peace Meals, is the personal memoirs of war journalist Anna Badkhen. She tells her journey of reporting from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war torn countries in the Middle East and Africa. In each chapter, she tells the stories of former warlords and terrorist, rape victims, American soldiers, translators and drivers, prisoners, and everyday people, and how the meals she ate with each person forged a bond. Badkhen writes in the epilogue of her book ” In extremity, an offer to break bread is more than invitation to hear someone’s story. It is a chance to link that person’s life and yours.”
Exciting News! I’m going to Virginia in May! I’m so excited to see all of my sisters for the first time in a year. I just booked my ticket so I can see my nephew graduate from VMI! See you soon VA!
Also, my birthday is one week!
As promised a brand new blog post about the dweller retreat. We left on March 4th at 9 pm and returned to L.A. on March 9th at 10:30 pm. In almost exactly 5 days we went to Copperopolis, San Francisco, San Anselmo, San Francisco again, back to Copperopolis, Yosemite National Park, back to Copperopolis, Sequoia National Park, and back to Los Angeles. If that sounds like a lot, know that it was. We had one day of our “retreat” that we set aside to spend at the house in Copperopolis to relax – but more about that later. Here is a brief synopsis of each day:
As I said, we left L.A. at 9 pm and arrived in Copperopolis right around 3 am. We wasted no time picking a bed and going right to sleep. The next morning we left for San Francisco at 10 am – we wasted no time on this trip. We parked in a parking garage and explored Chinatown. This was also where we had our first real meal as a group on the trip. We planned to then go to see where the trolley’s turn around. After leaving the garage and driving for 15 minutes, we ended up parking in the same garage where we came from. This quickly became one of the first of many jokes from the retreat. Following the trolleys, we had coffee and bought 1.5 lbs loaf of sourdough from Boudins Bakery. We took the the bread to Alamo Square Park, where you could see much of the city, a beautiful sunset, and the Painted Ladies, which are the houses where the exterior of Full House is filmed. We also spent some time climbing trees for an impromptu photo shoot. We ended our evening in the Mission District with dinner at an excellent burrito restaurant, some window shopping, and a delicious mango. This mango was purchased from a small bodega, and Heather and I took turns taking bites. This inspired the next big joke of the trip, our band name – Bite the Mango. Instruments that will be featured include the cowbell, washboard, Tibetan prayer bowls, sitar, steel drums, bagpipes, oboe, and many more to come. We only do covers and 5 second original pieces. We then drove across the Golden Gate Bridge into San Anselmo, where we stayed at San Francisco Theological Seminary, which will be my home come August.
The next morning, we woke up and toured my future campus. I got to ask all my questions, see the beautiful scenery and castle like buildings, and I got to share it with my housemates. We then ate lunch in Marin Country at a Puerto Rican restaurant. We then drove up to a lookout of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Like I said, we tried to fit it all in, in the few hours we had left, so we drove through Golden Gate Park to see the Bison Patty, saw the mosaic stairs on Moraga St., got free chocolate from Ghirardelli Square, I poked my toes in the SF bay, and we drank the original Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe. We ended our afternoon at the Fisherman’s wharf to see the Sea Lions on pier 39 and to eat Clam Chowder out of Sourdough bread bowls. The group made one more stop before we left San Francisco at the Wave Organ. The Wave Organ was constructed so that when the water hit parts of the statue, it would create music through pipes. Unfortunately it was low tide and no music was playing, but we saw a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Fran, and the Bay Bridge. We drove back to Copperopolis and went to bed.
The next day was our “rest” day in Copperopolis. We were so grateful for our friend Kristy and her family who generously allowed us to stay in their vacation home for the trip. Copperopolis is not a well known town, even by native Californians. It’s small, 12 miles from the closest grocery store, and on a gorgeous lake surrounded by rolling hills. It is here where we spent roughly 3 hours as a house looking at the our community over the last 6 months and what we wanted it to look like for the next 6 months. It was long, we talked about some tough stuff, and we laughed so much! I have been so fortunate to be place in Hollywood with the amazing community of my housemates. It’s been almost 1 year (minus 15 or so days) that I was called to L.A.. I was scared and curious about who I would serve with. I stalked Facebook and twitter to learn more about my housemates. We clicked from day one. We don’t agree on everything, and we get frustrated, but there is nothing that a bowl of queso or a huge loaf of bread that can’t bring us back together. We have never stopped laughing with and at each other, and this retreat cemented that even further. We came back with stories, jokes, and so many quotes that will be eternalized on our quote wall (which is a piece of poster paper in our dinning area). After long discussions we ended our evening with steak and salmon on the grill, which I did for the first time ever, and National Treasure.
The next day was spent in Yosemite National Park. This park is huge, and gorgeous, and has some of the most challenging hiking and rock climbing trails in the U.S. which include El Capitan and Half Dome. We took much easier trails that consisted of a .4 mile hike to Bridalveil Falls, a 1 mile loop through a meadow and to Yosemite Lower Falls, and 2 mile round trip trail to Mirror Lake. Jordan became a Junior Ranger, as is her tradition at all national parks, and I got to squish a penny, as is my tradition at anyplace they are available. We spent the majority of the day on the valley floor, as most of the trails above that were closed due to snow. The whole trip, I anticipated much colder weather, as we were in northern California, and every day my dreams of cold were foiled by Sun and 60°, even in Yosemite. As we left the park, David Lamotte’s song, Butler Street, played with the following lyrics:
These mountains speak to my spirit
I guess it kind of blows my mind
To think someone could look at that vista
And think God needs a neon sign.
Our last day, we packed and cleaned up the house at Copperopolis. We took a slight 4 hour detour on our way home to Los Angeles, so we could stop at Sequoia National Park. Another wonderful aspect of our Dweller community is our need and love of nature. We love to eat and we love to be outside while we eat. The best parts of our retreat, and of our year so far, are the times we are hiking, having picnics, going to the beach, and driving through National Parks with Oreos and Cheddar Cheese and Sour Cream chips, which is how we explored Sequoia. We went for the big trees we knew were there, and we got so much more. We climbed on top of tunnel rock, took pictures of the snow capped mountains, and threw snow balls. We don’t get a ton of snow in LA (and by a ton I mean none), so actually getting to touch and play with the snow was awesome, even if I did continue to wear my Chacos. Finally after the hour it took to drive to the trail, and the then the 1/2 mile hike, we saw the worlds largest tree, General Sherman. It’s a big tree. It’s fenced off so you can’t touch it, but if I could hug it, I might be able to touch 1/32 of the way around at one time. The tree is the biggest by volume, which means there are taller trees, and wider trees, but none as tall and as wide. Jordan, who was working to become a Junior Ranger there as well, informed us all that as we look up at the tree, we experience the same towering experience that a mouse has as it looks up at a person 6 feet tall. We had our final retreat dinner at a Brewhouse in Visalia. We didn’t rest a ton on the trip, so I’m not sure if “retreat” is the best way to describe the experience we had, but it was amazing to spend 5 days, exploring California, laughing at ourselves, and eating way too much food. As the great Julia Child said “People who love to eat, are the best people.”
In thinking about the next 6 months, and my impending reentry into the academic world, I have created a new challenge in which I would like to use this blog as a space to keep me accountable. As I toured my future school and asked a million questions, I was told two pieces of advice to get me ready for what is coming next. First learn the Hebrew Alphabet – which I plan to do, but may not bore you with the details. Second, to read, a lot and often, so that I am prepared for when I am asked to do so by several professors. I have added a new tab entitled Summer Reading. Obviously it is not currently summer, nor will I wait for summer, but I live in L.A. and it is suppose to be 90° on Friday, so I get to enjoy summer a lot longer. Also, I was never good with Summer reading, I might have read 2 of the dozens of books assigned in high school. Reading, while highly enjoyable, is not my favorite, or first choice, but I will work towards finishing as many books as possible during the next 6 months.
As always, thank you for so much support! Check out the Thank You’s and Photo Gallery for new info and stay posted for a new recipe coming soon!