Friday, August 31, 2012

She's Back ... But For How Long? Pt.4

Two hours until Lora's plane is due to arrive. Time for Starbucks, newspaper, and more people watching.

I wonder if our vehicle is large enough to haul Lora and all her stuff. She took an awful lot with her when she left 5 months ago and I know she's accumulated more stuff while she was away. I saw a couple of pictures of her posted on Facebook while she and her fellow students did their outreach in the UK at the end of July and early August. She was loaded down.

I know she didn't take everything she took to South Africa along when she went to the UK. Just how much baggage is she going to have? Should I have brought a truck?

How long is she going to be home before she leaves on another adventure? Two months ago she talked about extending her stay in South Africa until Christmas. She's also told me she envisions herself being abroad more than she is at home in the coming years. 

Of course, whenever she raises that possibility she begins the conversation with, "Now don't freak out dad. I'm thinking of..." I'm not sure how to convince her that I'm not going to "freak out". I'm happy that she has opportunities to travel and do things like this experience at Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in South Africa. If that's what she wants to do and she has the resources, the opportunity, and the calling - GREAT! I was overseas in my late teens and now I wish I had done more of that when I had the chance. If this is what Lora wants to do; I'm completely in support of that.

According to the "Arrivals" board Lora's plane has been on the ground for almost 30 minutes by the time it indicates that her plane has arrived at the gate. How much longer will this take? I seem to be even more excited about seeing my first-born again than I thought I would be. 

Finally, there she is! Nuts! The digital camera won't start up fast enough to capture this moment. Doesn't matter - Lora's here! Safe. Healthy. With a big smile. A huge, long, teary hug. My daughter is back; pink stripes in her hair, a couple of new tattoos, and less luggage than I had anticipated.

After the hello's and a few other words I can't remember, I hear, "Dad, don't freak out now, but I've been invited to go back in January and join the staff team (at YWAM Worcester, South Africa). For two years."

She's back ... and now I know for how long!

" Blessed is the man 
who hears many gentle voices
call him father."
~ Lydia M. Child

Thursday, August 30, 2012

She's Back ... But For How Long? Pt.3

Sunday morning... Lora arrives this afternoon!

We woke up knowing that we could take our time getting started - we didn't have to check out of our room until 11 a.m. As we walked to the pool area where breakfast was served we greeted everyone we encountered with a bright, "Good Morning". It was interesting to note the different reactions. Some people responded in kind with a smile. Others seemed quite startled before returning the greeting. Some of the people we greeted reacted as if they were genuinely surprised to be greeted by us, almost as if being greeted by people of a different race than themselves was completely foreign to them.

Breakfast was a time of more people watching and a pleasant conversation with a woman from Regina, Saskatchewan. Then it was time to check out of the hotel and fill the hours until Lora's plane was due. We had decided to do that at IKEA. With all the fuss about an IKEA store opening in Winnipeg in a few months, this was a chance for us to get an idea of what the hype was all about.

Our walk through IKEA was thankfully a considerably lower assault on the senses than our time at the Mall of America had been. If Heidi and I were a young couple starting out on our journey together, building a home and providing for a young family, IKEA would have a lot of options to offer us. As it is, our kids are grown and embarking on their own lives, we've sold our house and are not intending to accumulate more stuff. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our tour of the big blue box store.

Then it was off to the airport - only 2 more hours until Lora's arrival. The excitement and anticipation was building.

To be continued...

"Humans are the only creatures on earth
that allow their children to come back home." 
~ Bill Cosby

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

She's Back ... But For How Long? Pt.2

After completing our memorable drive to Minneapolis to pick up my daughter Lora at the airport, Heidi and I had a whole afternoon and evening to do stuff.

Neither of us had ever been at the Mall of America and I thought it would be worth seeing what all the hoopla was about. We don`t usually wander through shopping malls just for something to do, but we had the time and it showed up as a point of interest on the GPS unit. Since we had arrived 2 hours earlier than we could check into our hotel, we headed off to the Mall which was less than 10 minutes away from our hotel.

Neither of us enjoy the madness of large crowds or driving in circles trying to find a parking spot but we went for it anyway. Afterwards we both felt the visit to the emblem of North American Excess had been worthwhile. The spectacle of out of control consumerism was a stunning counterpoint to the health and poverty struggles we were familiar with in our work in the mental health field. We spent almost 3 hours walking around the mall observing the crush of people looking to spend money on things they quite likely could do without. I have to confess, we made 3 small purchases; one a video I had been looking for for almost a year, a table game that we know would be fun to play by ourselves or with guests to our home, and a couple of 'devious' Sudoku books for Heidi.

We walked into several shops just to look at merchandise offered there and were astonished at how much money people were willing to spend on stuff; prices that were far beyond anything we would consider spending. We even stopped at one of the food courts, grabbed something to eat, and sat down to watch the craziness unfolding in the amusement park area of the mall. Finally, we took a quick peek into the Legoland shop, saw how jammed full the store was, and decided we had seen enough.

On our drive back to our hotel we went past IKEA, where we also had never been and decided to take a look at what the fuss was all about the next day before going to the airport. After checking in we went to an Australian restaurant next door to the hotel, jumped the 30 minute queue when the restaurant staff mistakenly called us before all the people waiting in front of us, had dinner and went back to our room for the night.

The night previous had been very short, and it had been a long day so it did not take long to fall asleep. Even the excitement of Lora`s return the next day could not keep our eyes open.

To be continued...

"We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs."
- Gloria Steinem 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

She's Back ... But For How Long?

This past weekend Heidi and I drove to Minneapolis to pick up my daughter, Lora, who has spent the past 5 months in Worcester, South Africa at a Youth with a Mission Troubadour Discipleship Training School. During those 5 months her class group spent 5  or 6 weeks on the UK (Coventry & London) doing a variety of outreach activities.

It was an interesting trip highlighted by seeing Lora again and a few other wrinkles and experiences. We left early (5 a.m.) Saturday morning with the intention of having some time to do more than just settle for the night in our hotel in Minneapolis. Arriving at the border at 6 a.m. we were surprised when the US customs officer told us to drive into the garage where they proceeded to go through our vehicle. I've never had that happen before.

The inspection didn't take long because we didn't have more than what we needed for a one-night stay and some snacks to eat on the 8 hr drive. We continued heading south, making good time when we came to a sign informing us that we would be dealing with road construction, for the next 128 miles. I think I groaned out loud at the prospect of having to drive at reduced speed for that distance - that was going to mess up the timing of our itinerary. Thankfully, we didn't have to slow down very much and the roadwork sections were only occasional, fairly short stretches.

South of Grand Forks we encountered some lightening, heavy rain showers and foggy patches which continued all the way to Minneapolis. The rain was so heavy at times that it was hard for the windshield wipers to keep up. I don't think I've ever driven 80 miles/hour in heavy rain before. It added some excitement and kept me awake.

We had borrowed a GPS unit from my brother and were rolling along, comfortable in the knowledge that we would have help finding our hotel in Minneapolis. All of a sudden we got a low-battery signal from the GPS unit which didn't make sense because we had it plugged into the cigarette lighter. We tested the lighter for power and confirmed that there was none. Wracking my brain for a solution I remembered that our son-in-law had disconnected the cigarette lighter so his mother couldn't smoke in the car. Heidi then worked at reconnecting the wiring while I continued driving in 4 lanes of busy interstate traffic, speeding along in the rain.

Heidi got the power to the GPS working in time for us to get directions to our hotel. The GPS responded by taking us to an intersection in the middle of a residential area and told us we had arrived at our destination. Another puzzler. When I looked for the correct destination that I had saved into the unit, it was no longer there. Good thing I remembered to bring the hotel name and address along. I re-entered the correct information and less than 10 minutes later we arrived at our hotel.

To be continued...

"The problem is not that there are problems.
The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking
that having problems is a problem."
~~~ Theodore Rubin

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Time!

It's time to write again.

Taking some time off from blogging was a nice break, but summer is almost over and it's time to get back into a productive routine.

This past summer had its highlights and not-so-highlights. With the hot and sunny weather I spent a lot of time out doors. Heidi and I got out of town a few times; I  was cycling up to 2 1/2 hours a day and working out at the gym for another 1 - 2 hours at least 4 days a week. My energy levels increased and my mental health was very good.

Halfway through July I began coughing and it got progressively worse. At first I thought it was just a response to allergies and ignored it as much as possible. The cough got worse and severely interfered with my sleep at night. Heidi asked me several times when I was going to get it checked out by our doctorbut I expected the coughing and congestion to get better on its own and just made do. One day I noticed I was coughing up a few little flecks of blood. Now I was starting to get concerned. I was only getting 3 hours of interrupted sleep each night, my chest felt congested all the time, the least bit of physical exertion had me wheezing, I had less and less energy, and my mood began to slide down.  With the downward slide in my mood my ability to concentrate also deteriorated and I got very little work done on my family history project and did next to no writing. Time to visit the doc.

Apparently, I had (have) bronchitis. I've gone through a round of antibiotics and the coughing has diminished significantly. Last night I actually had about 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I still have fits of coughing but they are considerably less frequent and severe. Hopefully the cough and congestion will soon be completely gone.

So it's time! Labour Day is a week away, back to school specials are rampant (so many of them are a joke - some of the goods and services being promoted as back to school specials have absolutely nothing to do with getting ready for school), and signs of fresh starts on structured activities can be seen all around. I too need to get back to a more productive routine. I've got to get back to regular daily routines such as spending time with God (meditation, reading & prayer), exercise, writing (including blogging), research, domestic chores, etc. (I haven't been to my "office" since early June - will they still recognize me?)

Blogging today is a start. I'll also work on putting together a daily schedule today and get back at the stuff I haven't done in far too long.

Time to get busy!

"Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of time that God has given us each day."
~~~ Billy Graham