Bridging the Gap

As I prepare for my second week of school, I can’t help but reminisce over my experiences during the last month of summer. I returned from geology field camp on the first of July and immediately began work for a demolition company in Denver. I soon realized my list of extensive duties included filling up a small dumpster with trash from a site, taking the trash to our truck, and dumping it at a local scrap yard. Yes, I know, very extensive. Though the tasks may have seemed dull at the time, the job allowed me to interact with local workers whose daily, monthly, and yearly income depended on this demolition job.

Most of the guys I worked with spoke solely Spanish and had little knowledge of the goings on outside of their respective communities. I fortunately obtained a minor in Spanish recently and was able to communicate with the “hombres” throughout my time there.

Each one of these men allowed me to catch a vague glimpse of the world through their “lens”. I learned a lot about what each person values, the difficulties they experience on a regular basis, and their aspirations. This opened my eyes to further realize how interconnected we all are despite race, language barriers, and opportunities. I wish I could spend more time with these guys to understand more about their lives, but sadly, life must move on, and here I am back in college for my last year. Consolation lies in the memories I have of these great fellows.

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Most of the guys I had the privilege of working with for a month this summer.

Fads

I know it’s been a little while since Pokemon Go hit smartphones around the nation, but I thought I would give my thoughts on this subject.

To me, it’s interesting to see just how fast fads can take shape in the modern world. The internet has made it extremely easy to see what the latest fasion, gadget, news item, or viral video is beginning to attain popularity. Pokemon Go sets a shining example of just this. In slightly over a week this app exploded its way throughout the United States, leaving parks strewn with “zombie” like people engrossed in their game.

After talking with a friend and proponent of the game I was still unconvinced of downloading the app. I can see that it gets people out of their houses, into the fresh air, a bonus of the app. Developers of the app also have extreme influence over where to send these players, mainly placing Pokestops in parks and natural areas. This is all good, but for me, in an age of distraction, the least of my concerns is dumping my time into another sinkhole. I’m sure with a little more of this time, we can foster creativity and find other more productive ways of entertaining ourselves. Until then, Pokemon Go remains a fad that I’m sure will slowly fade into the library of fads before it.

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Two young people trying to play Pokemon Go on the top of my car. This is getting quite out of hand… (Thanks to Ben and Rachel, my brother and sister, for posing for this pic.)

 

Making tasks fun

This morning I decided to clean up the apartment. Dirty dishes brimmed our sink and crumbs were scattered across our dining room table. Rather than quickly finishing these tasks, I decided to pop on some tunes and try to get a certain amount finished by the end of each song. This action passed the time quickly and before I knew it the chores were done. What tasks in your life can you change to make more fun?

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Yes, now there are more dishes filling up the sink again. I’ll have to get to those. 

Just for Fun

Here is a little snippet of a short story I started a little over a year ago.

Shrouded mountain blog postShrouded Mountain

Chapter 1: Vengeance

White. Not white as you would find on this page or the white of a cloud alone in a sea of blue, but an altogether different white. A blinding white that pierces the eye and sends shivers down the spine. This white cut like a ray of lightning through the small window of 33 year old Thomas Montrell. As his eyes slowly adjusted, he could barely make out a landscape of jagged mountains far below. Unlike rolling hills that rose and fell like the waves of a gentle ocean, this land seemed fierce and unwelcoming. The spectacle brought with it a sensation of fear and wonder that forced Thomas to sit back and close his eyes. Planes always seemed to play with his sanity. He thought of his quaint home nestled in a green meadow broken only up by the occasional maple tree. A portion of his conscience exposed the slightest feeling of regret. One split second decision and what was now near memory could become a reality again. He could go home if he desired. His eyebrows narrowed. No. he couldn’t give up after all this planning and preparation. This was it. There was no turning back now. The pain of the near past was too much. He needed vengeance. His thoughts were shattered as a hand with a glass bottle was thrust in front of his face.

“Another swig of scotch to calm the nerves?”

His excitement urged him to reach out and grab the bottle. He shouldn’t. This was a professional excursion of which he was the leader. He lifted his hand. “No, No thank you. We’re nearly there.” Thomas was right. The six seater plane shuddered as it cut through the freezing Himalayan air.

“Al right, fun’s over,” the pilot’s voice crackled over the intercom. “Let’s buckle our seatbelts and pray for a smooth landing. This runway hasn’t been used in years… Hope it’s still there.” Thomas made a lunge for the scotch.

Sure enough, ten minutes later found the bruised but still functioning plane parked at the end of a rutted runway. The cracks had increased over the past couple of years, most likely due to weathering from the snow. Thomas stiffly stepped out of the exit and stared around him. The peaks around him were high and numerous, resembling rugged claws of that now had him and his team tightly within its grip. He felt the familiar crunch of snow beneath his feet and looked down to see the edge of the runway.

Be Prepared

BlogPushYourselfA shot of the mountain on our way back as the sun was dimming. Photo credit to Kent Warlick. Our third companion was Alton Luder.

I squinted out from behind the thin cotton hood of my jacket was greeted with an utterly breathtaking scene. Scattered across the landscape were numberless windswept peaks, like ridges on the back of some enormous beast, each blanketed with white snow. We had reached the summit.

In early January, 2016, I had the privilege of embarking upon my first winter ascent of a 14,000-foot peak in the southern region of Colorado – Mount Yale. After waking up to a great continental breakfast at a nearby Best Western, we parked our car at the trailhead around 7am. What luck! The wide corridor of packed snow told me the trail was going to be nicely packed the whole way up. Why not just leave our heavy snowshoes in the car? We looked to the east to see a brilliant sun peaking out from the horizon – a perfect day to hit this peak. After strapping microspikes to our boots, we set off down the trail.

Thirteen hours later our small and now disheveled group trudged back to the car with snow filled boots. I was exhausted and out one glove (which decided to take the fast way down the mountain) with a pocket full of red tissues from an unfortunate nose-bleed during our descent. Nearly halfway up the mountain, the trail petered out and we were left to wade through shin- to waist-high snow until the sun sank below the ridge line. The one thing that could have helped in this circumstance would have been a nice sturdy pair of snowshoes.

What’s the lesson from this experience? Be prepared! Always bring extra gear just in case on excursions like this, even if you don’t think you’ll use it.

Passion

The dimming light was offset by cheers from over fifteen thousand young adults as Francis Chan walked up to the stage to preach. Around 30 minutes later he left the audience (including myself) deeply inspired and challenged to know Christ more. What caused his talk to be so moving? How did he teach truth in a way that made us yearn for more?

As I reflect back on this last week at Urbana 2015, I can only think of one reason: Christ driven passion. This man truly allowed Christ to speak through him and ignite an audience hungry for an answer. The words he spoke were words he truly believed. He wasn’t talking to an audience about his latest accomplishments in an attempt to gain respect. He wasn’t talking halfheartedly about a subject he had only dedicated limited time to. He genuinely revealed what God had put on his heart and that is what greatly impacted everyone who listened.

What about you? What are you passionate about? Spend some time thinking about what your passions are. Is there anything you want to be more passionate about?

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Francis Chan talking at Urbana, 2015