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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Whew, I just got back from Mobile, AL. I was teaching and working at a one-day puppetry event, Summerfest, which One Way Street hosts during the summer only (good name!) For those of you who know the puppet festival format, there are a few differences. Like I said, it’s Saturday only instead of Friday night and Saturday. Summerfests are usually smaller- in areas where OWS is trying to build up their base. And they don’t give awards for competition, except for a People’s Choice award. However, the winning team does get $50 worth of merchandise- so that’s not bad. Since the Sumerfests are smaller, so is the staff. This weekend, there were 225 attendees and we had 4 staff plus the hostess and her team. We worked mighty hard to keep everything going.

I taught three workshops:

Puppet Team Devotions- how to put ministry at the heart of your team

Children’s Church for the Klutz- oh, I love this workshop- even with its crazy name. It’s not a resources or how-to-do-Children’s-Church workshop; but rather, how to lay a biblical, spiritual, worshipful foundation in raising children up through Children’s Church.

Blacklight Puppetry- not my favorite because I have to drag a lot of stuff with me- but puppet teams need to know how to do it!

I also judged the competition. I like to judge competitions, but sometimes they can get a bit boring if there are a lot of “bronze medal” level performances. However, at this festival, one of the songs was one of the best songs I have seen in a long time. It was performed by a small, mostly family team from Mobile, Alabama. The song they did was “Jesus Is Still Alright” by DC Talk. A 16 year old boy on their team choreographed it, made all the props and even made a moving mouth puppet out of foam noodles. I told them they should be very proud of their efforts- because it was a great performance. I loved it…and I would love to grab hold of that puppeteer!

I also had to open the conference with a devotion that I didn’t know I was doing until during the trip down there via a message on my cell phone!

On Friday before I traveled down to  Mobile, I had a two hour committee meeting for another ministry in which I am involved; then I drove the 6 hours to Mobile and stayed up late printing handouts for my workshops and planning the morning devotion. By the time the whole thing was done about 5 PM central time, I could not drive all the way home. I drove to Montgomery, approximately 3 hours and spent the night. I was almost sick by the time I got there- just worn out, you know. The next morning I got up in time to drive to Atlanta (remembering the change from Central to Eastern time!) and then met Darrell at the Fox Theatre to see Shrek the Third at the Fox Family Film Festival. It was fun. I only slept through about a third of it, which for me, is typical, regardless of driving 12 hours in two days and working a 10 hour festival! After we got home from the movie, I took about a two hour nap, was up for about three hours and then got a good night’s sleep. So, I felt almost normal today!

Anyway, once again….there’s no place like home!!

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Here’s what I’m working on right now:

Concepts 21 Kids Club (see Square Peg Ministries tab above)- this is the last week of Superbook Olympics. We’ve been studying the book of Mark. We’re only going to finish through Chapter 5. However, we did learn a lot of Bible stories and where to find them. Most importantly, we learned how kids can tap into the same Jesus of the Bible stories to help in their own everyday lives. Tomorrow, we’re going to end this season with ice cream sundaes. Yum!

Royal Family Kids Camp– the three of us who are starting the Cherokee County camp next summer are e-mailing back and forth with follow-up details from our meeting last week. We’re working towards an Open House/Informational Reception next month for folks we hope will be interested in joining this ministry next year.

M&M Puppeteers’ 20th Anniversary Reunion/Performance: It’s hard to believe we’ve been in ministry for 20 years- but we’ve got the videos and the hairstyles to prove it! We’re planning to do an anniversary performance at the Atlanta Puppet Festival next month. Sooo, we’ve been meeting and planning for two weeks already. Working practices begin next Tuesday. Seven more weeks to go!! We’ve identified approximately 75+ people who have served on the puppet team through the years!

N. GA Church of God Children’s Leaders’ Committee: Since I fulfilled my 12 years of service on the national team, the local group asked me to join them to help put on the annual North Georgia conference. I am helping find and contact exhibitors for the conference. We’re beginning to get some response. However, the event is only 5 weeks away- so we’re hoping and praying for the best.

Atlanta Puppet Festival: I mentioned the M&M Puppeteers performance- but on top of that, there’s an entire festival to put together! We’re expecting 700 people. This year we’re hosting it at Crabapple First Baptist Church. The festival is an exciting ministry training event- but it’s a lot of work. However, the benefits of rubbing shoulders with like-minded people and the resources we receive make it worth the effort.

Square Peg Ministries: putting together an effective board to help govern the direction of the ministry. ‘Nuf said on that one. Getting out our newsletter with details about fall: school-year Kids Club format begins, middle school Bible Study and activities, we’re starting a new Hispanic puppet team, Homework Help/Tutoring begins after Labor Day, Open House/Sign Ups for our ministry programs. Getting our Compassion In Action project together. It’s a bunch of stuff to think about and do!

Summerfest/Mobile, AL: I’ll be teaching at this one day ministry training event. However, I’m driving to it- so it becomes at least a two day event. And I’ve got to prepare my workshops pretty soon. It’s next week!

Camp Rocks (see tab above): I know it’s done, but I’ve still got thank yous to get out. No small task!

Trying to keep up a blog: mixed results! Yikes!!!

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O’Hare Airport

I-Fest is done and I am back in the Chicago airport. I shipped my suitcase and a box that had all my workshop stuff in it. I won’t need it for a while! Getting back here was considerably easier than getting out of here. Less stuff and no rental car problems made for a much smoother day. Chicago traffic on a Saturday afternoon is pretty unbelieveable however. Really congested and slow.

Unfortunately, I left the cable that connects my camera to my laptop at home (I hope) before this trip. Certainly, I didn’t leave it at camp!! I took pictures of some of my favorite people at IFest which I will post as soon as I am reunited with my the cable.

I will arrive in Atlanta tonight about 10 PM, drive home, wash a load of clothes- find that cable (!) and then leave in the morning for Huntsville for a week of Royal Family Kids Camp training. This is a camp we are starting in 2008 in partnership with Woodstock 1st Baptist Church, Camp Gideon and Square Peg Ministries for children in the local DFACS system. Thankfully, this week I will strictly be in training- no leading or directing anything!

Well, boarding for my plane has begun!!

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Travel is fun and interesting and outrageously difficult and boring all at the same time. Like the title says: a mixed bag. Especially when traveling by air.

I am at I-Fest this week. That’s the International Festival of Puppetry and Ventriloquism, hosted by One Way Street. It’s outside Chicago- and it was a “planes, trains and automobiles” experience in getting here. Here a couple of the mixed bag experiences I had:

In bed at 2 AM after finishing my packing.

Up at 4 AM to get out of the house in time to get to the airport two hours before my flight time.

Leave the house at 5:15 AM- no real traffic to speak of- but it still takes about 50 minutes to get to the airport.

For some unbelievable reason, I decided to park in Economy parking, which means I rolled (dragged) my luggage (the largest suitcase known to mankind, plus the second largest and my briefcase and laptop computer bag) from approximately Macon, Georgia to the terminal.

I enter the terminal at the complete opposite end compared to where I am trying to go. At this point, the shoulder straps of my two carry on pieces are trying to draw blood from my shoulders.

When I see the line at American Airlines, I cannot believe it. It’s approximately 6:25 AM and the self-service lines are so congested, I can see it’s going to be extremely difficult to navigate around them to get to the regular ticket lines, with my over-sized luggage. BTW- I have nothing from One Way Street but an e-mail of my flight times. No flight #, confirmation #- nothing. So, needless to say, it makes me a little nervous as I stand in line. However, everything was OK with the ticket agent- and I got through that line pretty quickly. The main thing was I got rid of my two gigantic suitcases!

Next stop: security. As I turned from the ticket counter, I saw the line went pretty far beyond the staunchions which were to contain the travelers- but I didn’t think it was so long I would miss my plane. To my horror, when I got to what I assumed was the end of the line, there was an American Airlines employee waving us down a hallway, around the corner and way, way down the next hallway. I literally could not believe it. If you know the Atlanta airport, I was standing in the security line for T Gates and we were so far back, we could see into the A-E Gates security lines- which  is very far away from the T Gates. Well, at this point, I knew I would not be able to make my flight. However, to my surprise and due to the efforts of yelling TSA emplyees, the cooperation of travelers quickly getting nearly undressed in public in the security lines, then twice through the security “buzzer”, I actually made it through in 45 minues. Enough time left to get an egg and cheese biscuit from Burger King (I was starving!), gulp it down and get onboard.

Here’s the next thing I love about traveling, getting on the plane without knocking someone over the head with your carry-ons. And then actually getting to your correct seat so you can finally breathe a sigh of relief for having accomplished such an effort-filled ordeal and relax. On no…that was not to be for me on this trip! I got to my seat, 18A, and there was an older woman, not originally from the US, I think- sitting in my seat. I told her she was in my seat, allowing her a view of my boarding pass which clearly showed 18A as my seat- but she would not get up. At the urging of the other passengers around us, I pushed the call button and moments later, a flight attendant appeared by my side. Quickly sizing up the situation by looking at both of our boarding passes, the flight attendant determined the woman had incorrectly sat down in my seat because on the next leg of her trip, Chicago to Rochester, she was already assigned to 18A.  For the Atlanta to Chicago trip, however- that was my seat!!

Now, here’s the part that gets a little “dumber.” Rather than just ushering the woman to her correct seat as shown on her boarding pass, the flight attendant said he would have the head flight attendant take care of this matter. So, while I am standing up, virtually in the aisle, trying to make myself as skinny and unnoticeable as possible, passengers are doing their best to get by without plowing into me. I finally go stand in front of an empty seat so as to get out of the aisle. I’m sure the guy I was standing next to for about 10 minutes straight was not too appreciative. By this time, everyone has boarded the plane, the woman is still sitting in my seat, and I am still standing in front of an empty seat which is not mine (now that  think about it, it was probably the woman’s seat.) Regardless, the head flight attendant finally comes down the aisle and is very disturbed with me. Where is your boarding pass, he demands of me. It was in his hand- which I pointed out- but he didn’t look at it. Instead, he told me to move to 12F which was a window seat. Well- I didn’t want to move to 12F. I don’t like window seats. I like aisles- which is what I had requested and received except now an elderly, foreign, stubborn woman is sitting in it, watching this whole little drama between me and the flight attendant unfold. Not to mention she had watched me standing in front of her for the past ten minutes. I told the flight attendant I didn’t want to move to 12F- but what was wrong with the aisle seat in front of which I was still standing- just one row ahead of my real seat of 18A. Oh no, this flight attendant (also foreign) could not understand that concept. He was insistent I move. I kindly, told him I was not going to sit in a window seat and if this plane was going to leave on time, he would have to let me sit in the seat I was standing in front of. Well. He did not like that. So, for some reason, that made him decide to move the woman after all. Of course, this was unnecessary- and I didn’t want this elderly woman to have to move several rows up and crawl over two other passengers in order to get into 12F. As I tried to explain the solution of leaving her where she was and letting me sit in the seat where I was still standing, even other passengers around us chimed in. Finally, the Head Flight Attendant, relented, although I think without understanding of how/why that arrangement would work. The rest of the flight went without a hitch, I guess. I wouldn’t know- beause I slept the whole way. I guess they served and cleaned up the beverages without my even waking up. I hope I didn’t snore!

Finally, we landed in Chicago, and the next order of business was collecting my luggage and figuring out how to get my rental car. The Chicago airport is having the unique privilege of remodeling the entire baggage area. What a mess! And what difficulty it made in trying to get on the rental car shuttle bus. Due to the construction, there was no real way for the shuttle to pull into the proper pick-up area. We customers had to drag our luggage a long distance to get to our appropriate shuttle, or get on in the middle of the street with traffic honking and swerving around to get past. Remember I’ve got all this incredibly heavy luggage strapped around me again. I am beyond glad when my luggage is finally loaded on the Hertz shuttle and I can sit down and relax for the short six minute ride. Fast forward to after man-handling my luggage off the shuttle and getting to the rental counter. After clicking around on her computer keyboard for a couple of minutes, the person behind the counter asks me how to spell my last name. Oh-oh. That usually only spells trouble. Of course, she could not find my reservation, but I had had the foresight to have my printed reservation nearby. I whipped that thing out so she could easily look up my reservation. To my horror, she uttered one, two syllable word: Avis.  I was standing at the Hertz counter, to which I been brought 5 miles away from the airport via Hertz shuttle and now this clerk uttered two syllables that struck terrror into my heart.

Well, what could I do, but wait for another shuttle to come back to Hertz on his way to the aiport. I dragged my luggage back onto his shuttle, back to the airport and then got off in a completely dfferent area of the airport from which I had originally started and hoped and prayed an Avis shuttle would appear. One did eventually, and once again, I took the six minute ride- only this time to Avis. Well, at Avis, the line for car rentals snaked all the way through their lobby and outside. That did not look like a good sign to me- which it was not. Approximately 45 minues later, with shoulders to prove I had too much luggage with me- I finally dragged myself and the luggage towards a very nice SUV, got into it, checked my maps and got on the road. It is now approximately 10:30 AM Central time. I have been trying to get here from Atlanta since 4 AM Eastern time- and I am still one and a half hours by car from my destination.

Actually, there are no more snares or foul-ups to report. I made it to Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbannaise, Illinois without any further problems. There was lots to do  when I arrived- but at least I was there!!

More on I-Fest to come…

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Oops- forgot to get a couple of van videos in the last post:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2385688677445850965

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3622934684486625247

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It’s hard to wrap my mind around the words: We’re back from vacation. Yuck! Vacation is kind of a mysterious, romanticized, almost over-anticipated event in our lives- and I LOVE OUR, generally annual, FAMILY EXCURSIONS.

This year, we went to Columbia, Missiouri for our nephew Caleb’s wedding to his now wife, Meagen. More about their special day in upcoming blogs.

We traveled to Caleb and Meagan’s Missouri wedding through north Georgia, criss-crossed Tennessee, cut the western edge of Kentucky and then to the heart of Missouri in a 12 passenger van full of luggage, 6 adults, one three year old and one 17-month old, plus baby paraphenalia! What a privilege for my dh and me to spend an entire focused week with our children, their spouses and our over-the-moon, cute, cute, cute granddaughters.

I can tell that I will be blogging for some time to come about this trip. But since the van itself is such a big part of the adventure, I’m going to post a couple of pix and vids to give you a feel for it! Enjoy!

The Driver!     We already look a little tired.     Lydia passes the time by reading.

Yeah, you’re smiling now!     Lydia also likes to suck her thumb to pass the time.

PaPa is washing Nora’s window.    

BTW- the camera we ended up geting is the Casio Exilim. It is little, easy to figure out and I like it very much. We were worried about having to charge the battery all the time. However, the camera came with a tiny battery charger. We just plugged it in every night and the battery was good to go all day, every day. It seemed to hold its charge longer than previous rechargeable ones we’ve dealt with.

Anyway, we ended up getting the red one, even after I kind of poked fun of the girl who gushed about her pink camera!

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NCLA

Today I’m at the Church of God National Children’s Leaders Conference with my ministry partner and friend Staci. We traveled to Greenville SC last night too late to participate in any of the opening night activities. The main thing we wanted to do however, was check into the hotel and get in bed. Staci had been at the Dove Awards in Nashville with my daughter Amanda. They drove a half day back to Atlanta, Staci jumped into my car and then we made the three hour trek to Greenville. For my part, Thursday is a long day of ministry – which I’ll explain a lot more about in future blogs. But by the time I got to Greenville, I was ready for the bed too.

BTW, we’re at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville. This is one of the nicest downtown areas you’ll find anywhere. Wide sidewalks, lights in the trees which line the main drag, restaurants, shops and boutiques. Plus, the Hyatt has remodeled since the last time I stayed here- and it is nice!! Extremely comfy beds and pillows, flat screen TV…It’s a great break.

 I was one of the founding members of NCLA 13 years ago. This is the first year I’ve attended without being on the Leadership Team due to bylaws restrictions regarding our length of service. So, it’s kind of different- but nice to not have the  behind-the-scenes pressures while I’m here.

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