Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quote for 7/30/09

"Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue."
Plato

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Family festivities

Yesterday we celebrated Bob's graduation by throwing him a little party.
Now, his mother had a party for him while I was away at Creation, but she had that party closer to her home. So I decided to have one for him closer my home, so all of his friends from around here could show up. And they did.
Below you'll see several of them. From left to right we have Judah, Matt, Corey, Andrea and finally Bob.



Perhaps you'll remember Judah and Andrea from my earlier post about visiting them and their preemie baby, Jack, in the hospital on the 4th?
This is the group that is usually hanging out together at the house. Or, if they're not at the house, all I need do is call one of them and I'll be able to talk to Bob.

The party went well. Exceptionally well! And I say that because it wasn't the most well planned out activity that I've engaged in lately. I just kinda threw it together with a little help from my Ex's family.
You see, despite the fact that I'm no longer part of the family in the "classic" sense - the divorce meaning I'm no longer married into the family - they still view me as a part of the family because of the kids. And truth be told, I would still always be invited to family events with them if it weren't for the fact that the Ex doesn't like it. I make her baby's daddy nervous and uneasy.
Anyways, I owe a great deal of thanks to my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law for their help, and not just for bringing food. My mother-in-law because the party was held in the recreation room at her apartment building. I wouldn't have been able to get it otherwise. My sister-in-law for helping to organize all of it so quickly. And lest I forget my own mother for the wonderful deserts she brought. All I had to take care of was the chicken, the pop (soda to some of you) and the munchies.
Ya know, now that I think of it, with the exception of my brother-in-law, who currently lives in Texas, the only memeber of the Ex's family who wasn't there was the Ex...
I had a few family friends show up. Of course, JT would never miss something like this. And there were a few people from church who made it, too. So all was well in the world.
I probably don't have to mention that Aliesha and CJ were there. But I do have to mention that I offered to babysit CJ over night for the first time. So, when the party was over and the clean-up was done, he came home with me and Bob and 3 of his friends - yeah, it was fun squeezing everyone into my little Hyundai Elantra with the car-seat and the rest of the stuff from the party...

So here we are, me and CJ, enjoying the weather outside.

He is such a good baby!

And you had to know I'd have some video to go with it...

video

He just loved my Punisher T-shirt. Couldn't stop looking at it.
We spent a lot of time outside where it was a bit cooler since the house had been closed up all day. And CJ just looked around at everything, taking it all in, absorbing all of the sights and sounds.
Eventually, after it became dark, CJ began to fuss. He actually cried for the first time that I've seen, because of how tired he was. So I rolled out his blanket, laid him down on it, gave him his pacifier and out he went. I slept on the couch.
He woud've slept through the night, but Bob rolled in somewhere around 3:30 AM - he's now working at Miracle Lanes and they have the Cosmic Bowling thing going on from midnight to 3:00, so that's his shift - and the noise woke CJ up. So we stayed up for about an hour and a half before falling back to sleep.
I've come to realize that the "parental conditioning" never goes away. All through the night I would wake up if CJ would make a the slightest noise. It was weird, but it was so cool. At one point I woke up to look down at him only to see his sleepy little eys looking back up at me. I rub his head for a few seconds and he went right back to sleep.
In the morning I woke up to him giggling. We went outside for a breath of fresh air before I made him his bottle. After I fed him, Craig came to pick him up so I could get ready for church. And that's how the festivities ended.

All family activities should be so enjoyable!

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Quote for 7/26/09

"The family is the most basic unit of government. As the first community to which a person is attached and the first authority under which a person learns to live, the family establishes society's most basic values."
Charles Caleb Colton

Watch for a post later on today, complete with pics from Bob's Graduation Party yesterday and more video of CJ - who spent the night at his grampa last night...

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Mythunderstandings

Is it just me, or has this been a fairly mild summer by comparison to previous years?

I've noticed that I've been sleeping under the covers lately. Something I don't normally have to do during the summer. If anything, I'm usually sleeping without covers - and with a fan on.
I also haven't had to turn my AC on yet this summer. This will probably turn out to be a good thing since my electric bill is actually kinda low these days. But this is also very unusual for me. Typically, I have the AC on by late June. But I also base that decision on the inside temperature of my house. Once it hits 80 degrees, and the fans aren't helping to cool things down, the AC goes on. But my house has been staying consistently below 80 - closer to 75-78.
Makes me wonder...

And all I have to say is this; Global Warming my @$$ !!!

If you still think that man-made Global Warming is real, or that it is anything other than a scam to consolidate government power and control, then you must not want to believe otherwise.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quote for 7/19/09

"A man can do only what a man can do. But if he does that each day he can sleep at night and do it again the next day."
Albert Schweitzer

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

I'm not liking this

So, my street has become the detour in and out of Garden City from Old Wm Penn Highway. And while I expected it to create a bit more traffic, I wasn't prepared for what has followed.
You see, recently, PennDOT closed Garden City Drive where it overpasses the Parkway from Old Wm Penn Highway. They've been doing construction on the Parkway for several months and as the project moves further along the road they close whichever bridges or overpasses are in the construction area to do additional work on them as well. And since my street is the first intersection on the other side of the closed bridge, we're getting all of the drivers who would normally just go across the bridge and on their merry way into the rest of Garden City.
Like I said, I expected an increase in traffic, but what I'm seeing is ridiculous.
Backing out of my driveway has become a chore. I never paid attention to the fact that my driveway is in a somewhat precarious position on my street until all of this traffic forced me to have to watch more carefully for oncoming vehicles. And they seem to be oncoming more often that I thought they would.
And then there's the problem of dropping Bob off at his friends a few blocks away - deeper into the heart of Garden City. Now I have to sit in traffic to get onto Garden City Drive and then again to get back onto my own street.
And whenever I wish to leave my own little section of Garden City, I find myself in a line of traffic waiting to leave, and another one entering from the end of my street. So now I have to adapt all of my travel times to include the extra waiting.

I guess it could be worse. But then again, I may get a little target practice with all of the maniacs who come barrelling down the hill with no regard for those of us who live here. That, or I could have some fun if I buy a "spike strip"...

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Quote for 7/18/09

"They talk of a man betraying his country, his friends, his sweetheart. There must be a moral bond first. All a man can betray is his conscience."
Joseph Conrad

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Quote for 7/13/09

"Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further."
Soren Kierkegaard

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

I think you'll enjoy this

I had a blast with CJ yesterday. And it lasted long into the evening.
Our original plan for the day was to get CJ, go to a Baby Shower for Bob's friend, and then go to church where my daughter Aliesha would pick CJ up while Bob and I would do our normal Lock-In stuff afterwards.
The shower went well. Since showers are usually filled with women who love babies, CJ got a lot of attention. Here's one pic of him while we were there.



I have to say, I'm not really happy about the pacifier that he has. Aliesha's friend loved the idea of the little guy having a "grill". And me, I hate the very idea of "grills". But CJ likes it, and he seems to get a kick out of how it feels to his fingers, so I won't complain.
After this we picked up JT and stopped to get some wings for the festivities. Then we headed to our Lock-In.
CJ had fun there too. At first it was just me Bob and JT. But eventually others started showing up, and everybody wanted to see CJ. So he was getting a lot of attention there too. But as the evening went on, we began to wonder about where Aliesha was. So, Bob called his aunt Lori, where Aliesha was. Lori's husband, Mike, is a mechanic and he was working on Aliesha's brakes, when he found a few other problems that needed fixed. So Aliesha was going to be stuck there til today.
As a result, Bob and I ended up having to take CJ home to daddy. Craig was happy to see his little boy, and we were glad we had some extra time to spend with the little guy.
When we returned to church for the remainder of the Lock-In I joined P.Dave and Julian for practice. Evetually, we'll really be a band in more than just name, and maybe even start playing some shows.
Meanwhile Bob and some of the others were playing House of the Dead 2 in the other room. Bob was actually pretty good at the game. But then again, none of the other players has ever been to a shooting range to use a real gun...
We wrapped things up by putting Wallace and Grommet & the Curse of the Were Rabbit into the DVD player. The kids ignored it and the grown ups (yeah, right...) all laughed our butts off.
When the movie was over we began to wind down and one by one we started noding off. But there were a lot of jokes and laughter going on the whole time.
In the morning, we woke up and a few of us headed to McDonalds for some breakfast. We left the 18 year olds, still sleeping, in charge of the 14 year olds who were also still sleeping. And were back before anyone missed us. We talked some more and then it was time to clean up for church.
Church was good and then everyone went home. And now, I need a nap.

I think you'll enjoy this too...

video

He makes a few little "popping" sounds, but other than that, he's just being his contented self. And that's good enough for me.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quote for 7/11/09

"A child is a beam of sunlight from the Infinite and Eternal, with possibilities of virtue and vice- but as yet unstained."
Lyman Abbott

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This ought to be good

I get to babysit with CJ today!
I'm so geeked! Especially since we will probably get to go out in public to visit a few people as well.
One thing I know we have to do this afternoon is visit with Bob's friend Andrea, and her family. It's a kinda belated Baby Shower, but we'll be going to the "after-party".
Then we have a Lock-In at church tonight. And in the event that Aliesha doesn't get back from getting her car worked on she'll just pick CJ up from there.
Today looks like it's going to be a lot of fun!

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Quote for 7/10/09

"Work banishes those three great evils: boredom, vice and poverty."
Voltaire

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It's been fun!

Most people would never say that they have fun at work. But I'm not most people...

A co-worker of mine has been on Short Term Disability for the last 7 weeks, but she came back this week. Yay!
Now, something that everyone needs to understand about us (those of us who work in my area), we live for sarcasm, insults and self-depricating humor. We make being at work as much fun as we possibly can. And everyone around us knows it!
That being said, we wasted no time jumping into the quick wit. As a result, we've been hurling sarcasm, jokes and insults at one another almost non-stop all week. Not to mention, there have been quite a few significant changes that have taken place in our work-area since she's been off. So every once in awhile she'll stop what she's doing and look around to find something that's been moved, always with a confused look on her face. And you know I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to make a snide remark.
So, yeah, work has been a lot of fun this week. Can any of you say the same thing?

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Quote for 7/5/09

"How dysfunctional is this family that all of our favorite references are from either A Christmas Story or The Godfather?"
Chris Cross

This won't mean anything to any of you unless you read the next post.

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A celebration

So, yesterday was the 4th of July. I hope everybody had a pleasant celebration. And I hope we all expressed some gratitude to God for this nation which allows us to live in liberty (for the most part). And I hope we all remembered all those who purchased that liberty for us with their lives.
As for me, Bob and I went to my brother's to celebrate. Aliesha was supposed to come, but she never made it. And she still hasn't called to explain why. But it's OK, we'll talk soon enough.
Anyways, it was an enjoyable day.
This is my grand-nephew, Conner.



You can see he's being kinda shy around me. And I know I've talked about other holidays at my brother's house where Conner will avoid me at all costs. So yesterday began somewhat the same. He tried to hide behind my niece Jen, but she wasn't standing still for him for very long.
Eventually he found something to occupy him. It used to be his "walker". So he decided to climb in and have some fun.



We were a little concerned that he might be too big for it and possible get himself stuck, but he was OK. It was shortly after this that I decided I was going to press my luck with Conner. I approached him to ask him if he wanted to wrestle with me. He ran at first, but I chased him and tickled him. Once I did he started to laugh. So I chased him some more, and he laughed some more and after that we were finally cool with each other. We played with his stuffed dragon and we played with his legos and now Conner finally knows that I am the COOL uncle!
Got a few pics of my brother's "Man Cave".



Ya gotta love the wall.
But he's got some really great autographed pics. Like this one from last years playoff game with the Chargers.



And this one of the Original Steel Curtain of the 70's Dynasty team.



And God Bless Roberto Clemente!



He truly was The Great One.
It was good to visit with everyone again. We don't get together as often as we probably should. But it's always good when we do.
Chris had a variety of things on the grill, burgers, hot dogs, sausages, keilbasi and chicken. Also had corn on the cob and a broccolli slaw salad that was absolutely incredible.
We joked around and talked about a lot of stuff going on. Watched Conner make a mess of his dinner while quoting A Christmas Story ("How do the piggies eat?"). My brother has decided that it's time for him to start writing down his "Life Rules". These are very simple, one sentence rules that ought to guide every man. At the moment, he just kinda shoots them off to his son, David, with random numbers attached to them. All except for the first 4. They are:
1) Never take sides against the family.
2) Never let anyone outside of the family know what you're thinking.
3) Any man who doesn't spend time with his family, can't be a real man.
4) Chicks dig the long ball.
So now you know why I chose the above Quote.

When we left, Bob and I headed down to Oakland to visit a friend of his, named Andrea, who had a baby on Friday night. We didn't find out until after midnight on Saturday morning. But we thought it would be a good thing to go visit mom, dad (Judah) and baby.
Say hello to Jack Beers...



Isn't that a cool name. It's almost like a character from a comic book or something.
He's a preemie.



But he's really strong for a preemie. He kicked his little foot out at me when I touched him.



And if you notice that thing he's wrapped up in. That is a Bendy Bumper. It's a product we make at Philips/Respironics. In my department, no less. It's used to cradle the preemie, as if he were still in the womb, until his bones and muscles have had time to strengthen themselves.
How cool is that?
We stayed for about an hour and a half. Neither Andrea nor Judah were expecting us, so they were pleasantly surprised when we showed up. Andrea was actually really excited since she was hoping some of their friends would show up. She was glad it was us, especially since we may be taking Judah in for awhile - until they can find a place of their own together.
After our visit I asked Bob if he was in the mood for ice cream. he was hesitant at first, but thought that Baskin-Robbins sounded good.
So this is what I had...



Yeah, it's kinda blurry. It's a double scoop of Rocky Road in a waffle cone...
Headed home and relaxed together. Sat on the front porch and kinda watched the fireworks from Monroeville Mall. What that means is we didn't see much of them, but we heard all of it, and saw glimpses of some of the higher ones and flashes from a lot of them. It was nice.
Called it a night shortly after that.
It was a good day. And I still have tomorrow off...

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Creation 09

My adventure began around 8:00 on Wednesday morning. Perhaps even earlier because I did make a couple of stops before I finally left for Creation, but 8:00 was when I actually left with the intention of going.
The drive itself was rather uneventful, however something interestng happened when I stopped to grab a quick bite and use the restroom. It was at the Sidling Hill service plaza that I decided to stop. But I was actually ready to stop at the Midway Plaza. But when I was getting ready to pull into the plaza lane, I felt like the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me to wait til I got to the Sidling Hill plaza. So I did. And I'm glad I listened.
When I got there I really had to go. After all, I had been holding it for about a half hour longer than I had to. But when I came out of the restroom, I saw the reason why God wanted me to wait. As I approached the eateries I saw three soldiers mulling around getting ready to order their lunch. So I approached them to thank them for their service, and because I saw this as a golden opportunity to do something that I've wanted to do for a long time. After I thanked them, I took $20 out of my pocket and offered to buy them lunch. They were somewhat surprised by this, but I told them it was the least I could do for them since they do so much for all of us. They were gracious enough to allow me to do this and thanked me for the offer. And I was honored to be able to. They were taking theirs to go, so they didn't join me, but they did thank me again as they left. And one of them asked me about my ink-n-fire. It was all very cool.
I arrived at the Agape Farm around 11:00. Actually, I arrived about a mile from the main gates at around 11:00. But I didn't get to my site until 12:22.
This was my site. Or, at least, this was the view from my site.



My home away from home for the next four nights and three days.



And, of course, the reason why I came.



I had a little trouble getting my tent up because it really isn't a one-man operation. Fortnately for me there were a few other Compassion advocates around who were willing to help.
It was kinda funny that the only one who recognized me from last year was Wanda - Randy's wife - until they saw my shoulder. Then they remembered me. I got to explain that I donated my hair to Locks Of Love and was going to try the bald look for awhile, but making that decision in the middle of winter was not so bright.
After I settled in I headed out to see what was going on. My first stop was the Fringe Stage to see Big Don. It was good to see him again and get caught up with each other. I also asked if he was going to need me to help with security this year. And while he said yes, he could always use my help, he also informed me that there would be no mosh pit this year. I was heartbroken. But we would get through it. After a few moments I headed over to the volunteer staffing tent to offer my services. They took my information, then they said to return later to get my T-shirt and badge.
It was close to 2:30 by this time and I wanted to check to see if my help was needed at any of the Compassion booths. It was.
I met up with Jason, our event facilitator for the whole Creation Festival. He asked if I would mind starting out early today. My original shift was scheduled for 5:30 - 9:30. But the Pavilion was going to open at 3:00 instead of 5:00. So he was hoping we had coverage for the entire time. And I don't mind helping out, so I said "Sure."
I may have had the first sponsorship of the entire event. A young man walked up to the table and he looked intent on what he was doing. I told him if he had any questions to feel free to ask me. But he knew what he was doing, and he found a child in just a few minutes. I was excited to see it all start this way.
The festival wasn't as big as it usually is. Only 60,000 people this year - from what I've heard. But it was still a good festival.
I have to say, this year my experience at Creation was different from last year's. With Bob not being here, I didn't have to concern myself with whether or not he was being entertained. So I spent a lot more time here as a volunteer than as a festival goer. Which means I didn't get to see all of the bands I wanted to, but I found a much deeper satisfaction in knowing that I helped this year's festival to run smoothly for others.
I did get this shot from just outside of the pavilion while the main speaker of the evening, Reggie Dabbs, was on stage.



The festival basically shuts down for the worship prior to and the main speaker of each night. So I stepped outside to get this pic.
I have no pics from Wednesday night's shows. I was in the vendor's pavilion until after Skillet finished. Thus, no pics. And I couldn't get close enough to the stage to take any decent pictures of Relient K. So you'll just have to take my word for it when I say they were both really good shows. And Skillet's was even better than when we saw them in Greensburg. More flash and fire - I guess because they were outside.
When the shows were finally over I wandered around for a little while before heading back to my campsite for the night. I got back just in time to see the beginnings of the Late Nite Cafe'. I didn't stay up though.
Thursday morning there was an interesting fog laying over the festival grounds. It kinda rolled around for a little while before it faded off.



I had gotten up around 5:00 and was feeling kinda lazy so I waited til 6:00 to head to the showers. Big mistake. Not only was it a chilly 62 degrees outside, there was a line to get a shower and the water in the showers was cold. It was terrible, but I toughed it out. Like I had a choice?
I had myself cleaned up pretty quick and found myself munching on my breakfast bars and drinking water. I wanted to make sure to keep myself hydrated for the day and this was the best place to start. Besides, my shift at the Fringe Stage didn't start til 8:30.
8:30 rolled around and I headed over to the Fringe Stage where I found Big Don right away. This year Don was supervising the security crew since last year's supervisor, Alan, had just recently started a new job and couldn't make it to the entire festival this year.
Don and I found ourselves strolling over to the Food Court so Don could grab a bite to eat. Then we continued to catch up with each other as we walked back to the stage. Once we got there I met the other Supervisor, Bob.



Bob was making breakfast for himself and anyone else who wanted to join him. So we did.
Eventually Don's wife Judy stopped over to see how things were going. This year she was working at the Main Stage. So we didn't get to see her as much as we did last year.



Don and Judy are like the substitute "parents" for most of the people working security on the Fringe. They're both so full of love for everyone, and they care so much about these kids. Both the ones who work the stage and the ones who come for the festival. You will never find more loving people than these two. I am honored to have them among my friends.
Shortly after getting the lay of the land I was given my assignment. And this was my post at the Fringe Stage.



I am the gate keeper!
Not a bad vantage point of the crowd, when there is one.



It's kinda wierd to work the early shift at the Fringe since nothing really happens until 10:45. But they do need people to make sure that no unauthorized individuals are lingering around the backstage area, getting in the way of the people who are doing the stage work.
The regular crew shows up around 11:30. Candyman was first. And why do they call him Candyman? Because every year he throws hundreds of dollars worth of candy out to the crowd troughout the festival. The crowd loves it, and he loves doing it.
Here Candyman is stashin' his goods til the time comes to excite the crowd.



He spent $450 on goodies this year, but he told me that he was going to cut himself off at $500.
Now for the regulars on Fringe Stage security.



Candyman in the back. The Marine center right. I forget the young lady's name on the left. And of course, Jess and Madison in front.
Then there's the Mad Hatter as I'm going to be calling him from now on.



Big Don had Madison braid his beard for him.



I think it's a good look.
The activities area. There's a lot of neat stuff over there



I didn't realize it at first, but this is a giant slide.





Then there's everybody having fun out there in the field.



Kid's riding their bikes and everything.
And the crowd started to grow before 10:00. They even started with the beach balls before any of the bands came on.



The first band up was The Proxy. No pics since I was on duty. I hate to admit this, but I don't even remember what they sounded like.
Next up was a band called Reilly. I liked them. They had a dueling violin thing going on. At times the music sounded celtic and other times it sounde kinda classical with a pop blend.
Then my shift ended before the next set. But before I left I did something that at least a few of the people in the crowd appreciated. I had brought a case of water to pass out to them. So I did.
I remembered last year, how hot and sweaty it was at the Fringe, and I wanted to do something good for as many people as I could while I was there. So, I bought three extra cases of water to bring with me to the festival, just so I could toss it out to the crowd when they needed it. It was a welcome surprise.
I would've liked to stay and hang out and watch the next band, Esterlyn, but I had some other people I had to go visit with before my shift with Compassion.
This is me posing with my favorite artist, Stephen Sawyer.



Perhaps you remember us posing together last year. Well I took copies of that pic with me. One for him, and one for me that I wanted him to sign. He was especially pleased with the way I have the painting that he titled Calvary in the background of our picture. And he wanted to make sure that picture was in this year's pose.
He even asked me to sign his copy of the picture. We had many great conversations through the festival, and I've decide that I'm going to put a banner or some kind of link to his site, Art 4 God, here, because his artwork is absolutely incredible. And he is one truly amazing man.

Shortly after leaving his booth I came upon the Raensem ladies.



JT and I had met them at Vertical Fest back in September. They had just created their own clothing line last summer, but were too late to get into Creation 08. But JT and I encouraged them to try for this year. So I was really glad to see them here. And they were glad to see me, too. They were also happy to hear that JT's podcast is doing well. But scolded him (through me) because they were hoping to see business cards that they could share with people.
As we talked they told me that they weren't really making any money on the clothes, but they see it as more of a hobby and a ministry than a business. It affords them the opportunity to be at the festivals where they can meet people and talk to them about their faith. And they love the chances they get to talk to young people because of the clothes. Pretty cool, huh?
I headed to the Compassion booth after this and arrived with plenty of time to settle in. Once I got there I got to know some of our "neighbors".
Across the aisle from us was Eastern University (just outside of Philly), and they had a lot of fun with us - and everyone else. But what was really cool was their interest in sponsoring children.
A young lady who was staffing their booth came over to talk to me and asked if I could find any kids who liked to play baseball. Then she explained why. It seems that their school's baseball coach had sponsored a child from the Dominican Republic earlier in the day, and he picked the kid because his packet said that he liked playing baseball. And now he wanted his team to sponsor a child, one for each of the Freshman through Seniors classes. And he liked the idea that the team and the kids they sponsored would have something in common.
Unfortuantely, I couldn't find any more children who had baseball listed as something they enjoyed doing. But this is not the end of this story. There's more to come later.
I was in the pavilion when the main speaker of the evening came on. It was Joyce Meyer. And she had a really good message for the crowd. She encouraged the crowd, especially the young people, to use their creativity to do God's work. She explained how she believes that the face of the church has to change because we're no longer being an effective force in our culture. But our young people have all the resources and creativity necessary to make that change.
When my shift ended there was nobody on the Main Stage yet. But Hawk Nelson was next up on the schedule. I walked around for awhile before heading to the Food Court to grab some dinner. I opted for a calzone tonight, then headed back to the campsite.
That's when I met Michelle.



She is a graduate of one of Compassion's projects in the Phillipines who's now going to school here in the states - Moody Bible College. She was meeting all of the advocates who were there and then was going to speak about Compassion from the Main Stage between Hawk Nelson and Chris Tomlin. There was a good response after her talk. I know this because I headed out to the booths to help with the rush.
When things were done and settled in we had a bonfire at the Compassion campsite. A lot of the advocates and facilitators were there to just hang out and get to know one another. My area coordinator, Mark, who is also our regional director asked me about JT's podcast since JT had requested how to find audio promo spots for his show. So Mark was interested in finding out how that was going. I told him that Compassion had sent JT a CD but he hasn't had time to sort through the ones he wants to use.
We all stayed up til around 1:00 AM or so, until it started to rain - which was followed by thunder and lightning. But it was cool because it passed over quickly. That was it for Thursay.
Friday morning was kinda chilly again, but this time I wasted no time getting my shower. I was so happy to have hot water this time. And no line! It certainly made for a good start to the day.
Something else that made for a good start to the day was the breakfast burrito I had. And not just the burrito, but the company I had while I ate it.
A young man by the name of Kyler sat down at the table with me and we had a conversation. At one point he confessed that he has a hard time starting a conversation with strangers, but once one gets started, he can keep it going. So I told him that this is the one place where he shouldn't have to worry about that. I explained that he was here with 60,000 strangers who don't know him and might never see him again, so if he takes a chance to talk to someone and they think he's weird, then he doesn't have to see them ever again. But if he takes the chance and they end up liking him and want to stay in touch, then it paid off.
I also recommended that if he is still too shy to try, then he could just get a T-shirt from the vendors who were selling the ones that said "Free Hugs" or "New Friends Wanted: apply here.". People all over the festival are happy to oblige.
I didn't have a shift at the Fringe Stage today because I was planning on pulling a double at the Compassion booths. So I decided that today would be the day I tried the long hike up to The Lookout.



Yes, that is the same hill you see in the very first picture of this post. And this is the beginning of the trail that leads to the top.



It was a long hard hike for a big fat guy like me. But I paced myself, took my time and made it in about 40 minutes.
When I got to the top I saw this lone security volunteer.



It was like stumbling upon The Lost Outpost. I joked with him that he must like his solitude, and he admitted that he does. So this must be a decent assignment for him. Of course, there are people coming and going here all day long. So it really isn't a lonely place except at certain times.
This is the Main Stage from the Lookout.



Now, imagine I'm just panning from the right to the left with each of the next few shots.











That's a lot of campers...
After I had finished my picture taking and decided I was rested enough to do the hike back down the trail, I left.
I wandered around the vendor pavilion and tent for awhile, checking things out, talking to the people. It was quite enjoyable. Then as I was heading to the tent at the Top of the Hill, to start my shift with Compassion, I ran into someone very important: Pastor Harry Thomas, the founder of the Creation Festival.



He is such a cool guy and so nice to everyone. He was just standing there taking everything in, enjoying the fact that everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves. So I walked up and thanked him for starting the festival, and for being obedient to God for trying something different because Creation has been such a blessing to me and so many other people through the years.
That's when he saw my Compassion tags and asked me if I was here with Compassion. When I told him that I was here as a volunteer with Compassion he thanked me for being there, because the festival could never happen with out us.
That's a humbling thought. But I've always emphasized the way that Creation is powered by volunteers, and here's the founder of the whole event telling me that same thing, and thanking me for my involvement. I was blown away.
I got to the tent at the booth called Top of the Hill and as I was doing my thing with the other advocates we began to talk about some of the cool stuff that was happening for us while we were here. Especially the things that are realted to Compassion. And that's when I mentioned that the young lady from Eastern University and the baseball coach were looking for kids who like baseball, but I couldn't find any at the pavilion. So one of the other advocates said "Let's start looking through ours."
Within five minutes we had four more kids. And since we weren't busy the other advocates suggested I run the packets into the pavilion to give them to the coach or the young lady. And that's just what I did. The coach was on a break, but the young lady was there and the look that came to her face when she saw me with the child packets was unforgetable.
She thanked me and told me she'd give them to the coach as soon as he returned. And I felt good about doing this.
After my shift ended I went back to the Compassion campsite for our advocates dinner. We had pizza. It was good. And we all got to hang out and get to know one another some more. We also got to meet another graduate from one of our projects in Nairobi, Kenya. Her name is Jennifer.



Jennifer was scheduled to speak from the Main Stage for our Friday night packet pass. But what she didn't know was that Compassion had brought her sponsors in for the event. And they were going to surprise her on stage. We all knew it was going to be great, but it was killing us not to say anything. Instead, we joked around with her, telling her to cry onstage if she could so people would be more moved to sponsor children. Little did she know what was in store for her. Cry, indeed...
After our dinner I went into my tent to rest for awhile. I suppose I should mention that I hadn't been sleeping well. It had been chilly at night and my air-mattress had a leak - so I couldn't use it. And I was just plain wiped out. I found myself napping in no time. That is, until the rain started. That's when I zipped up my tent and went back to sleep.
I didn't stay asleep for long. There's always so much to do, and I did have another shift to work at the pavilion. I would be working til the end of the night, but I didn't mind. I would still be able to see most of David Crowder and Third Day. I would also get to be in the busiest booth for after the packet pass - though I really didn't think it was that busy.
Meanwhile, the young lady from Eastern University was at their booth so I waved her over to ask about the other child packets I had found. She was saddened to tell me that they couldn't sponsor those kids at this time because there are no classes in session and the packets have expiration dates on them. So, instead, they're going to have Compassion come to their school in the fall. And their going to ask Compassion to bring children who have interests in sports like those of the various teams at the school. Then the coaches will encourage all of the teams to sponsor a child who shows an interest in whatever sport they're playing. Likewise, it may encourage individual students to sponsor kids for the same reason - the common bond of loving a particular sport. I thought it was a genius manuever!
Speaking of Compassion, when Jennifer came out she talked very passionately about Compassion and what they did for her. And when her sponsors came out to see her, she immediately started crying, and didn't stop for several minutes. You could tell people were being moved by this. And not just because we had a lot of sponsorships afterwards, but because people were talking about it for the rest of the festival.
When everything calmed down we got to watch some of Third Day's set. I'd never seen them before, but I like a lot of their music. So I was pretty excited about getting to see as much of their set as I did. And when it was all done we had the Candlelight service. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera. But you can take my word for it, it was an amazing thing to see.
We weren't having the bon-fire tonight so I decided to just wander around a bit more before returning to my tent. That's when I ran into Big Don. He was hoping to get a funnel cake before heading to bed. And we were both looking forward to talking some more. We even bumped into Pastor Harry again. He offered me one of his pierogies as we talked some more. It was such a great night.

Saturday came soon enough. Another early morning. Another hot shower. Another hot breakfast. This time I picked the breakfast sandwiches. Ham, egg and cheese on a bun. And when I saw Big Don coming my way to grab a cup of coffee, I picked one up for him too. We ate together as we headed to the Fringe Stage for the morning shift.
Another uneventful early morning at the gate. Then the bands got started and I had to stay alert. But this time I took pictures anyways. What were they gonna do? Fire me?
First band up was Doubledge.



They came out and the lead singer asked the crowd if they were ready for some hip-hop. There were a few cheers from a small section ofthe crowd. Then he said "That's too bad, cuz we rock!"
They were pretty good. A kinda hip-hop metal blend. Not just like P.O.D., but similar.





Between sets I met this guy. His name is Sam.



The stuffed animal was, he claimed, his love child with one of the young ladies who was working backstage. Sam and I had a great conversation while we waited for the next act to come on.
Sam had been struggling with some things and he was open to confess to me that for the longest time he was just going through the motions of being a Christian. But last night he had gone to the prayer tent to get himself right.
He prayed with Candyman. And Candyman told him straight up that they were going to get rid of the suicidal thoughts he'd been having. And Sam had never told anyone about that. And after praying, Sam decided to get baptized during the Saturday afternoon Baptism at the pond.
Sam was hoping that Candyman would be there, but we suspected that he wouldn't be able to get away from the stage. So I told him I'd be there for him. He was encouraged by that.
The next act was a guy named B.Reith. A white Christian rapper. He was pretty good. I took a couple of pictures of him, but he moved so much they all turned out kinda blurry.
And then my shift ended. And just in time. I tossed out another case of water, took off my vest and badge and made my way out into the crowd for Children 18:3.



These kids are easily one of my favorite bands right now.



Not only is their music awesome, they put on a show that I would say is second only to Skillet.



And I say that only because they don't have the foggers, smoke, flashpots and flames that Skillet does.



Otherwise, I might have to go with these kids.













That was amaaaaaazing!
Shortly after leaving the Fringe, I headed over to the pond to see the baptism.



If you look a little off center you'll see someone in a powder blue T-shirt. Just to the left of that person is Sam's head.



And here's Sam after his baptism.



I was glad that I could be there for him. And he was glad I came. We decided that we should head over to the Fringe so he could talk to Candyman about this. But Sam wanted to dry off first, so I told him I'd meet him over there.
I got there in time to catch the tail end of The Classic Crime. I liked these guys.







When it was done we found Candyman. After all, he was instrumental in Sam's baptism. So I wanted to get a picture of them together.



Even if it is a somewhat comical pose...
I have a lot of respect for Candyman. He really puts his heart into being here.



But, so do so many of us. Still I wanted a picture with him because I appreciate what he did for Sam.
After this, things wrapped up at the Fringe and I headed back to the Main Stage to prepare for my final shift with Compassion.
It was kinda weird that I found myself at the Stage Right booth when I did. I was talking to one of the other advocates there when a lady approached us being a bit distraught about her decision to sponsor a child.
Apparently, someone had been lying to her - and I don't say that lightly! Whoever it was that was talking to her was giving her flat out false information and lies about Compassion. Information that can be checked online at Compassion's website and verified by outside charity watchdog websites. But they were obviously trying to convince her that Compassion wasn't worth dealing with, and some other organization does things much better.
Well, the other advocate whom I was talking to, Steve, took charge of the situation as he gently, yet firmly explained to her what she wanted to know. He gave her his card, and began to give her facts and numbers that she could confirm for herself when she got home. She studiously wrote things down on the back of the card. He even asked her to go to the Charity Navigator and compare information on Compassion's rating to the other organization's information.
After a few moments she began to feel more at ease about her decision. And then she remembered that on a recent mission trip to India, the people that she dealt with, especially her interpreter, were all a part of, or connected in some way to a Compassion project in the area where she was. She had regained her confidence at this point and we were glad to have helped.
Still, I think it's sad that someone - and a Christian at that - would do something so mean-spirited just because of their involvement with another organization. Especially when both of our organizations are just trying to help children in poverty. Can't people see that we're all meeting a need? We're just doing it in different ways.
With this crisis averted, I headed to the Top of the Hill tent for my final shift of the festival. From there I could see the stage pretty well. But it wasn't good enough to get pictures.
Kutless put on a great show while we had a somewhat steady flow the entire evening. And we even had a few rushes between sets. Casting Crowns wrapped things up on the stage and we lingered at the tent for some time after.
I believe I also took the final sponsorship of the entire festival. We had everything packed up and were just about to put the last of the child packets into a box for shipping when a young man came up with his girlfriend and a couple of other friends.
He asked me about sponsoring a child and how much it cost. Then he asked me about what happens if he can't keep his commitment. He explained to me that he had a steady job now, but he would be going to school soon and wasn't sure how steady he'd be able to work. So he was concerned about what would happen to the child he sponsored if he couldn't continue. But rather than just asking what would happen, he was interested in knowing if he could just find someone else to sponsor the child if he couldn't.
I told him that Compassion would work with him if it came to that. And if he could find someone to take over for him they would gladly help that to happen. But I encouraged him to possbly find someone to help him to sponsor the child until he could afford it by himself again. Then, maybe, the other person would feel comfortable with sponsoring a child of there own, and he would know he had helped to get another child sponsored.
He liked that idea and signed up right then. When he finished filling out his form, the staffers from Compassion said it was time to pack it all up. And that was that for us.
I returned to the campsite and we had our last bon-fire of the festival. But first, I packed up all of my stuff and decided to sleep in my car for the last night. That way I could leave as soon as I woke up in the morning.
Several of us sat around the fire pit talking about how much we enjoyed the whole event. We also talked about some of the stories we heard from people who already sponsored children. And we discussed the way people seemed to be responding so well to Compassion this year. We were all impressed by the questions that people seemed to be asking. It was so much more than just "How much does it cost?". People wanted to know what their money was going towards. They wanted to know that they were really going to impact someone with their efforts. It was good to know that people, especially young people, weren't just doing this because they had their heartstrings tugged on, or out of guilt. They were sponsoring kids because they knew they should be doing it for the kingdom of God.

Even though I didn't get to see as many bands or take as many pictures as I did last year, I had a much more satisfying time this year. Everything seemed more focused on our interpersonal relationships and less on the "fun". I've met some people and bonded with them in a much deeper way than I had the opportunity to do last year. And I left Creation with a deeper sense of myself. I left knowing that I served my purpose there, and served God by being there. And I look forward to doing it again next year.

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