Sunday, May 22, 2005

How In The Heck Did I End Up Here? (part three)

This is the third part of what is becoming a longer & longer series of posts of my history in ministry. Unlike the previous two posts, this one is pretty much original to the blog, as it tells the story of our summer adventure.

In the spring of 1997, I resigned from Dalewood to spend the next few months preparing to plant the church @ hickory hollow. I attended conferences on GenX ministry (the prime one in Mt. Hermon, CA!) and Shari & I took a 7 week trip across the western U.S., visiting GenX church plants, seeing family, and camping.
That trip was an adventure in itself...

  • we drove through 10 states: Tennesse, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, & Texas
  • we saw 10 national parks: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Grand Canyon (North Rim), Zion, Sequoia, & Kings Canyon
  • we visited 10 churches: 3 in the Denver area (none of which were particularly impressive... but the most interesting had an intermission in the service so folks could go & get coffee and Italian ices), 3 in San Francisco (Highway Community, Graceland & The River Church Community), 2 in Los Angeles (NewSong & Calvary Church Newport Mesa), 1 in San Diego (Coastlands), and 1 in Waco (UBC)
Strong trip memories:
  • hanging out with Shari's very cool great-aunt in Shawnee, OK
  • looking (in vain) for a bathroom in northeastern New Mexico
  • hiking to the mythical gold mine (which we NEVER found) in the mountains above Pueblo, CO
  • visiting a charismatic church's "GenX" service in Denver... complete with a "word of prophecy" (we should read our Bibles more) and a message guaranteed to draw GenXer's closer to God (on the current nation of Israel's place in the end times... sigh)
  • the aforementioned church with the Italian ices
  • stopped on a two lane road high in the Rockies, we are approached by a Jehovah's Witness who wants to, well, witness
  • Shari sunbathing at 7,000 ft without sunscreen... and the 3 days of misery that followed
  • racing up the slickrock at dusk to catch an incredible sunset view at Arches National Park (UT)
  • carrying a gallon of water (heavy!) across slickrock spines in one of the most amazing hikes I've ever been on (again at Arches)
  • the air mattress springing a leak on the same night it rained so hard the tent was weeping (at Bryce Canyon, UT)
  • hiking down the winding switchback into Bryce Canyon, then climbing back out to avoid a thunderstorm
  • eating dinner in the hotel overlooking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon... on the way to dinner, we walked along the canyon edge and managed to walk within 5 ft of a baby deer
  • trying to set our tent up just outside Zion National Park (the ground was so hard it broke our tent stakes)... and having one of the most memorable marital fights in our marriage (I refused to ask for help - and Shari was righteously ticked at me
  • holing up in a hotel in St. George, UT, to recharge our emotional batteries
  • watching people robotically play slots in Vegas (a sick fascination)
  • climbing Moro Rock to the top for the first time (I'd frozen trying to climb it in high school)... which meant defeating a personal fear of heights (Sequoia National Park, CA)
  • spending time with Keith & Melissa for the second time in 3 months (Keith was/is my best friend from high school)
  • buying games (El Grande & Siedler DSK) from the best game store on the West Coast, Gamescape... which sits on the dividing line between Haight/Ashbury and the Castro (wild area!) - the clerk had multiple piercings & green hair, but as soon as we started talking games, all the cultural barriers dropped
  • visiting Graceland in Santa Cruz, CA... feeling like we were the nerdiest/least hip people in the room but still feeling welcomed to worship God (still remember the solo by a girl dressed in a top that showed off the rose tattoo on her shoulder, apologizing to the crowd that they might not know the song by this artist, Sandi Patti... he he he)
  • eating one of the best burgers I've ever tasted at a bar in Big Sur, CA... btw, the only cheap place to eat in Big Sur
  • fighting with a hotel clerk in San Simeon, CA, because Shari was sick and she wouldn't let us into the room we'd reserved early
  • the worship music at NewSong Covina
  • the surreal experience of Calvary Church Newport Mesa... an odd but wonderful blend of Willow Creek and GenX
  • hanging out with my Grandpa in Pomona, CA - letting him drive (which was a major mistake... it's a wonder we're still here)
  • enjoying major time with Aunt Nancy & Uncle Richard in San Diego... Shari's first "intensive" experience with the wonder that is my Aunt Nancy
  • visiting Coastlands Church and feeling hope - these guys were starting a church on a shoestring just like us (and Evan Lauer is still one of the coolest godly dudes on the planet)
  • exiting a buffet in Tuscon, AZ, at 8 pm and it STILL being 105 degrees
  • time with Shari's family in Houston (teaching my nieces & nephew to play Sindbad)
  • hanging out with my best friend from college (Tim Formby) as he showed me the house they were restoring in Tyler, TX
  • going to Six Flags over TX with Tracy (Shari's cousin) and Chris Herndon & Mark Hollingsworth, who'd road-tripped down from Nashville to join us
  • getting home, exhausted, and moving into our apartment
I'm still glad we got to experience that trip... it formed so much of what we were thinking & feeling about ministry & church. And it was an incredible marriage experience as well. (Can't imagine doing the same kind of trip with 2 kids... wow.)

To Be Continued...

2 comments:

keithmonaghan said...

I'd forgotten the story about setting up camp in Zion. I'm laughing just at the memory of you two telling us the story. Oh, man, I have tears in my eyes. It's funny even now. What I would give to have been there...

Enjoyed learning about the rest of the trip too. Nice post. Thanks!

Scott said...

Mark,

Looking forward to part four...I'm envious of your great trip in this post, even if there were some hiccups along the way!

By the way, I've been to Pueblo, CO. Don't remember knowing anything about a gold mine though.