Monday, June 30, 2008

Elvis Has Entered the Building!

Okay, maybe Elvis hasn't re-joined us from the aliens yet. But the campers came last night and we didn't run away!
This week is our smallest so far, there are only 41 campers and counselors. Things have been going pretty smoothly so far. We have five vegetarians, one severe dairy allergy, and one vegan. We have been getting somewhat creative with their food, trying different egg substitutes and soy instead of real or powdered milk. They are out on chocolate chip cookies too, so we made the dough without the chips and added a hunk of peanut butter. Hopefully they aren't allergic to those too!
The campers have enjoyed our meals (which is always a blessing), but I think they might be dreading peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they leave. It is the only option for lunch. Last night we had grilled cheese with tomato and chicken noodle soups, salad, bananas, and the SSP classic, Love! We have a team from LA and they asked me what was for dinner before we had started cooking. I told them that it was going to be "hecka good," and all four of them gasped and took a step back in fear. NO JOKE! They later told me that they were talking in the car ride up about all the NorCal stereotypes they were about to encounter. Glad I could be the first one to fulfill them!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

McNowhere, Nevada

My father fondly re-named McDermitt, Nevada, to McNowhere, Nevada. This is where I'm spending the next month of my life with Sierra Service Project. It is a Methodist based non-profit that sets up service projects for youth to do home repair on mainly Indian reservations, but is currently branching out to Mexico and Honduras.
So here I am as a chef with 7 other people on staff. We have two chefs, myself and Kelley. Then there is our construction team of Martin (our only permanent boy for the summer), Jennifer, and Lisa. Amy is our spiritual life coordinator and in charge of doing the Jesus part of the camp. And of course, there is our fearless leader Mallory who keeps us sane.
We also are going to have a girl coming in next week to shadow all the jobs and lead worship for us. She leaves on Saturday morning, and we are getting our friend Phil Saturday afternoon to come play guitar for us for the next two weeks. He'll probably be our free-floating do-it-all guy too, since he won't want to sit around and do nothing. We are staying in a town with a population of roughly 350 people, two casinos, a gas station, a market, and a motel. And a small library. We are hanging out at the K-12 school, Home of the Bulldogs.
So as a chef, it is our job to make menus for the week, have a snack a day, and feed the kids fresh and healthy (and of course delicious) food. All 50 of them. Our last week we will be feeding over 70 campers. YIKES! I will be ready for almost any size dinner party whenever I get back.
Kelley and I made the perilous trip to Winnemucca (the closest city of any size) an hour away to buy groceries. Six hours and $1,700 later, we finally were on the road again, armed with enough food to stock a convenience store. We certainly got a number of looks when we pulled up to the cash register with 50 loaves of bread and 11 carts full of food! It took an hour to check out, and about half an hour to get all of it out of the store and into our cargo van. We were all quite impressed.
So far things haven't been too busy other than that, we are just setting up until Sunday afternoon when the first wave of campers come in to play. Today Kelley and I will be making enough granola for the rest of this week and hopefully the next, as well as cutting about half of our lettuce up to have ready-made salads on hand.

Here are some pictures for your fun and enjoyment!

Lisa, myself, and James on the way to Wendy's during training (James is in AZ for the summer).

This is our stack of First Aid Kits before they got loaded into all the vans.

This is the playground of our school with the awesome view of the mountains.

=Standing on the corner in McDermitt. This is the main drag. Quite exciting.

That's right, we walked to the Oregon border. Too bad its only 400 yards north! From left: Jennifer, Amy, Kelley, Martin, Mallory, and me. Lisa is taking the picture.

A large boulder of no importance that I thought my family would enjoy. Truckee, anyone?

We get to see sunsets like this every night. Beautiful!

We found a forklift outside the market with keys in it. So Kelley thought she would try it out!

We also walked to the Nevada sign. We think the border is somewhere between the two, but its about 100 feet of no-man's-land. We decided that we would claim it for our own and succeed from the Union sometime in the near (or distant) future.

The McDermitt Bread Basket. Lots and lots of bread.

Kelley hiding behind all of our baskets. I think we scared a few people with the amount of food we were buying.

The end product! Those kids better be hungry.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Some Good Advice

Twice within the past month I've been given the best advice I'll probably ever receive. It is in no way complex or fancy, quite simple and profound at the same time. Even though it isn't hard to conceptualize it doesn't mean that it is easy in practice. It actually is something I will be trying to do my entire life, struggling the entire time.
Both Phil and James said it in the same exact way, heartfelt and kind. It was in reference to campers I will be working with all summer, but what would happen if I applied it to my everyday life? "Let them know that they are loved by God." Isn't this supposed to be what I do every day?
Once I told my roommate freshmen year that the best gift that anyone can give is the love for the other. I'd now like to revise this statement. Certainly love from person to person can be beautiful, but it is nothing without the love of God. The best gift anyone can give to another is the love of the Father.
How do you put into words the all expansive, all forgiving, redemptive love of God? Even my own mind cannot fully comprehend why he loves me so; all I know is that I am whole because of it. If I knew not the Father, I know not the gift. Love without the knowledge of the Holy is worthless indeed. For what else can bring sight to the blind and healing to the brokenhearted? What else can show me my true self and love me in spite of it?
This is the LORD: slow to anger, rich in love, good to all. It is this love that we are to generously pour upon the world. This is what the world so desperately needs.