Carlos Avery Wildlife Management

Whenever we visit my brother Peter at Forest Lake, where we attended high school, he yanks Joseph and Jonathan away from their laptops and brings them to great Minnesota outdoors. Yesterday was no exception. Here we are at Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, Stacy, just north of Forest Lake. It’s over 20,000 acres of outdoor heaven!

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Amish tools

We are now back in Minnesota! We didn’t want Iowa to feel left out, so we stopped at an Amish town on the way here. Ever so curious, I asked one of the store attendants how some types of furniture were made without power tools. The answer was surprising – they cannot use electrical tools, but they DO use pneumatic tools, powered by compressed air generated by diesel engines! I found it somewhat confusing and wondered how these cows were welded.

The Wall Arch

I am editing some pictures in the back of the International Prayer House. I feel lifted and inspired. It probably has something to do with the place and the worship music performed by musicians 24-hours a day.
I came across this image while sorting through some pictures from last week. It brought back some intense feelings when I visited The Canyonlands and Arches National Park a long time ago. This is a piece I wrote in 2008 when one of the most famous Arches collapsed.
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I read in the news that the Wall Arch fell today due to inevitable force of nature – wind and erosion. I don’t exactly know why, but my chest felt heavy, as if a friend died.
I’ve been to Canyonlands Parks twice while I was in college. The first trip was with an organized school group; and the second, the year after, with friends, which I remember more. Five of us stuffed ourselves in Jack’s Buick, fully loaded with five Jansport backpacks and enough supplies for a week.
The drive was long and the cabin felt crowded, but the anticipation of sleeping under the stars without a tent, exposing ourselves to the pure elements excited us, enough for me to ignore the childish jabs by Steve and Dan whenever I started dozing off. Jack drove the whole way without a break, other than for gas. We saw hundreds of mule deer along the road, with their nocturnal eyes shining like the sparking fireflies at hot humid Minnesota nights.
I remember a particular afternoon in the park. While everybody was off exploring, I studied a piece of blue paper. After a few minutes, I began to see an intricate pattern of paper fiber, meaningfully interweaved in a delicate fashion. I was convinced that a person at a paper factory spent hours, if not days, creating that particular pattern, trying to have someone really see it for what it is, having it appreciated. He wanted to communicate to others that it’s special, that extraordinary things can be found in an ordinary piece of paper. At that moment, everything made sense – that everyone in the world is struggling to be understood, to be appreciated, to connect and to be connected. It was a turning point in my life. I would never look at another person in the same old manner. I understood that everyone was unique, but we want to belong and be understood. Nothing we do is meaningless. We all want and need to be connected, to love and to be loved. Blue pieces of paper – whenever I look at them, I think of that Spring break of 1987 in Utah. I remember the intense sun during the day and the cold desert night on my face, looking up at the satellite screaming across the sky, dodging between the stars. And of course, I remember the meaningless piece of blue paper, and how it changed me.
My heart is heavy when I look at the picture of the Wall Arch that no longer exists. Perhaps I know that my carefree youth ended a long time ago, or simply know that everything must come to an end, that nothing lasts forever.

Eight is Enough – The Hernandez

We are staying with Sonnie’s sister who resides in the International House of Prayer campus, Kansas City, Missouri. We’ll be here for a few more days. The Hernandez, a missionary family we have known for a couple of years, stopped by on their way to Minnesota. We had a wonderful time BBQ’ing and sharing travel stories.  Yup, they have a large family – eights kids in all!

Fish Balls

It was fun feeding the carps at a local Marina in Kansas City, Missouri!
Carps are highly sought after in many countries as sport fish and as food.
In America, however, they are considered to be trash fish. Not many anglers target them, and even fewer people eat them.
Millions of tons of protein lie just below the surface all over the Land of Plenty, yet there is a world hunger problem, even within America itself. Why hasn’t a food company or an entrepreneur figured out how to turn them into gourmet food? I am sure they are more nutritious than most processed food in store freezers, and it can’t too tough to figure out how to make ’em tasty into fish balls. Yum!

Hail from Hell

We already faced a pretty intense hail storm on our way to the Grand Canyon National Park last week. It happened again today in Colorado, but much worse! The projectiles were the size of golf balls! The force was so great that our rental car’s rear window shattered. The side mirrors were also blown apart, and yes, the dents – dozens of them all over the car. The windshield, although spiderwebbed, held. There was just enough clear part in the front of the driver’s seat for me to see out, enabling us to drive all night to Kansas City. It was the most intense and the scariest hail storm we have ever come across!

 

Connecting in the Real World

In this high-tech digital era, we have never been more connected, yet we aren’t. Text/instant messaging replaced most conversations, and many of us rather fiddle with our smartphones than pay attention to our immediate surroundings, rarely looking up to see what beauty, especially people, surrounds us.
We are created to connect with God and with others. We try our best not to. It’s just easier, riskfree, yet empty.
Our family decided to stay with a Couchsulfing.com host when visiting the Nevada/Arizona area for a few days. It saved us money, but more importantly, it connected us with locals.
Sam and Rebekah have been wonderful hosts. We came together as strangers but left as lifetime friends. Couchsurfing isn’t for everyone, but the point of this post is about taking risks, being real. We need to cut back on the digital world, interacting with one another face-to-face, strangers or not, organically, more.

Arches National Park

Waiting for the sun to rise, under the stars, at the Arches National Park, Utah. The silence deafening with thick darkness. This is kind of place and moment when we do not question God.

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After the sunrise..

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Four Corners

Can a family of four stand on four different states at the same time holding hands?
Yup, we had to do the typical tourist thing at the Four Corners Monument where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona merge at a single point!

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