Tuesday, March 01, 2005

All Aboot My Trip, Eh?

This past weekend I traveled to Canada for a Bible retreat. More specifically, I flew in a jet from Seattle to Newark, then to Buffalo, from whence I rode in a car thence past Niagra to Cambridge, and then later somewhere near Perry Sound to a place affectionately called the Lau's cottage0. We stopped at Tim Hortons on the way up, and I bought some hot chocolate and Timbits, which were excellent. Caleb went too; I expect you should watch1 this space for his story.

It all started with Erica, who concieved of the idea to hold a retreat specifically to address the questions that college-aged christians might have. I don't think this is the first year that they've held it, but it was the first year I'd heard about it, and it sounded like a great premise, plus, I would get to see my old friends and meet new ones, and see my parents (my dad was one of the speakers), so I took Friday and Monday off and I went.

First off, Erica's parents, Rob and Marg, are an awesome couple. They were missionaries in Hong Kong for a few decades. Rob is the most tender-hearted person I know, and Marg is so searvant-hearted. She cooked and washed dishes, etc. for the forty-five-or-so of us all weekend.

When we arrived at the cottage Friday evening, we couldn't drive down the steep driveway, because it was covered with snow and ice, and if we had there would be no way to get the van back out when we wanted to leave, so we parked the van so that it was blocking the driveway and carried all the food and luggage down the (long, steep) driveway and into the foyer. I'm not used to snow at all, so this whole thing was rather amusing to me. There was also this concept of boots and coats (and gloves and scarves and hats) that you leave by the door so you won't dirty up the house, roast inside, or freeze outside. For all the trouble it was, the snow was beautiful. It made everything so peaceful and quiet and white. Also, the lake was frozen over, except for where they had bubblers near the lake house to keep the ice from damaging the structure.

As more people began arriving, some got stuck on a steep part of the road, so all the guys went out to help them get unstuck. The Smith's van wouildn't make it up a hill, and while we were pushing it, it started sliding backwards. We all got out of the way and lifted it out of the snowbank that caught it. Then Tim backed it down the hill and around the corner to build up some speed and made it on the second try. We all got to bed a little after two O'clock, at least, those of us who had arrived by then. Gordie and I saved Tim and Caleb a room with queen-sized bunk beds. I had brought a sleeping bag, so I just crashed on the basement floor.

In the morning, my dad had a talk about Wisdom. He started in Proverbs 9 and read the first 9.5 verses, focusing on 7-9, and the idea that a wise person is someone who is teachable; open to correction or instruction: someone who will genuinely consider criticism of something he believes, no matter who he learned it from, or how much he thinks it's right. Then he spoke about Adam, and how he (and we, as his descendents) was given "double PR's." Priviledges that went with Responsibilities (which I've heard from him about a billion times by now--but it's still true and very apropos) and how he was created with a number of Purposes, which each came with a Relationship (which I had not heard put this way before, and which I think is an awesome perspective). We then broke off into discussion groups. I was in a group with Amy Jo, Marita, Jessica, Juanita, and (Jillian's) Jonathan.

After lunch, a bunch of us went out to play "football." Their rendition of football is... unique. First of all, we played it on a frozen lake. It was the only flat area, and it wasn't too slippery, since the ice had about six inches fifteen centimeters of snow on top of it. The ice was pretty thick, but when you would walk or run in certain areas, there was a cracking sound that made me think I was about to unwillingly join the polar bear club. This was due to the collapse of air pockets from layers of snow within the ice. The only places where there was no ice was near the lake house. It kind of freaked me out to walk on ice that a few dozen yards away was not there, but the bubbles only effect a radius of about 20 feet, and the rest of the ice was solid enough to drive a car on.

Second of all, everyone had to be told how to play. They had to be told what a "down" was, that there were four of them, and what the line of scrimmage means in relation to being off-sides and passing the ball foreward. Apparently in Canada (I'm really hoping it was just the guy who explained it to everyone who had it wrong, not the whole country), you hike the ball on a "hut", not a "hike", the progression from 1st to 4th down goes 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4 (although I'm sure this is due to the fact that no one was paying any attention) and when you score a touch-down, in stead of switching sides, your team has to go all the way back down the field to kick off to the other team. Initially, we were playing tackle, but then it was decided that only girls should tackle girls, so the guys tackled the guys, but two-hand touched the girls. Apparently this made it too difficult for the girls, so it was determined that no guy could tackle a girl, only girls. This of course led to a clever little trick, whereby the ball was given to a girl, while all the guys screened for her (not very difficult when all you have to screen are the girls). At one point I tripped and fell directly on my knee on the hard ice. It still hurts. Anyway, for all its chaotic faults, it was an enjoyable game.

Afterwards, we played hook tag, and then a game known as BK Football (a close relative of BK Frisbee, so named because it was invented outside of a Burger King). The rules are thus: You stand in a circle and toss a football around. If the ball touches the ground, the person who (1) threw an uncatchable ball or (2) failed to catch the ball gets tackled. The catch is, everyone in the game serves as judge, jury, and executioner. It's quite fun, although best played on the beach.

That night was "talent" night. I tried to come up with a song or something, but I had very little material to go on, and not much time either, so I ended up showing off my juggling talents with Tim Johnston, which were humorously pathetic: a success. Among the highlights of the evening: Gordie doing a traditional Jewish wedding song and dance, Caleb singing "I've got friends in high places" and this girl playing the piano.

Before the talent show, we had a Q&A panel, where some questions were asked and discussed. It was a good discussion, I thought, and the questions were well addressed. I wish there was more time for the questions, or better yet, more Q&A sessions, that way there would have been time for everyone to digest what was discussed and talk amongst themselves (this inevitably produces more and better questions). Come to think of it, the retreat was far too short. I wish it had been a whole week long, but then I might not have been able to come. Incidentally, I just got my Shallowbrook letter in the mail today. I can't wait.

It was good to see the Smiths there, and the Hannas, the Johnstons, the Pilkingtons, Jillian, as well as meet too many new people for me to remember all the names from just one weekend. I wish I had had more time to talk to people one-on-one, which I didn't get to do very much at all, and I regret that.

Sunday we had an awesome Breaking of Bread and then after lunch the guys went downstairs and the girls stayed upstairs for separate guy/girl talks. Both Rob and my dad spoke, my dad talked about the Rechabites, and how God honored their integrity and blessed them for it, and how he had experienced the blessings of God in his life. Rob spoke about godly leadership, and the Lord's mercies in his various high and low points. He asked us to meditate on 1Timothy 4:12 and Micha 6:8.

Then came the packing and leaving. We were the last to leave, because I was staying with the Pilkingtons. We lugged all the baggage and boxes of left-over food back up to the vans, and then drove off to their house. From there, the four Pilkington girls, Jessica, Caleb and I went out to a Chinese restaurant. If you ever get the chance to go to a Chinese restaurant with the Pilkingtons, go. Imagine the reaction of the waiters and watresses when four blonde girls start ordering and discussing the menu options with them in perfectly fluent Chinese. Now, to be fair, this wasn't their first time at that restaurant, and so it wasn't a total shocker, but the waitress told me it still weirded her out.

Back at the house, we popped in Napoleon Dynamite, which I had had the foresight to bring along, and then slept for six hours, and drove across the border back to Buffalo. From there Caleb and I had the same flights (by design) to Newark, and then Seattle. We sat together on the latter flight.

On the way home I slept a little, listened to some music on my laptop while showing Caleb some of the pictures that I have accumulated2, then I read more of that book about Calvinism that Larry lent me, What Is This Love? Calvinism's Misrepresentation of God. The initial chapters of the book were tedious, repetitive, and boring, but now that I got to the part where he discusses the five points, I find it to be a very good, very clear (although at times still a bit repeititve), very to-the-point book, and I recommend it, especially this portion, to anyone who is interested in the topic. I haven't finished it; I'm not even halfway throught the book, so we'll see what the rest is like. I'm sure you'll all be elated when I post a complete exposé in my blog. Oh, the comments I won't get! Speaking of which, this post is rather long.

0 Apparently 'cottage' is Canadian for 'three-story mansion with a lake house.'
1 Update: I wrote this part on Monday night, but as I had gotten up at 6:00 EST that morning, I decided with my last fragment of good sense to postpone finishing the post until later, during which time Caleb blogged on the subject. I have therefore changed the link from his home page to the relevant post (or at least the first post on this topic). I have not, however, altered this sentence. 2 He is now scared to let me have access to any of his data because he fears my pack rat-like archives of information.


  1. The Pilkingtons took us out to eat in Chinatown in San Francisco one year after Lassen. It was a BLAST. And hilarious. =)

  2. The girl playing piano is Julie. BTW there is more pics on my site

  3. This is a very good synopsis of the weekend. I was encouraged by the yp I met and got to know. Do you know how to contact Tim Smith to get him connected to the S. Calif yp?


  4. On Thursday, in Bible Talk, we talked about how a person who has faith is someone who is teachable. So similar to your topic of a wise person! Nick noticed that in Luke 4, Jesus mentions the widow in Zarephath where Elijah went during the famine and also Naaman the Syrian leper, who was told how to be healed by Elisha as examples of prophets finding no honor in their own hometown/among their own people, but rather among foreigners. We looked at those passages though, the widow and Naaman and neither one started out with faith, they ended up with faith though, so the conclusion is that they were teachable. And that's why the prophets Elijah and Elisha could do miracles for them. The implication is pretty heavy, that there was not faith among those in Nazareth that Jesus was talking with - they were not even teachable! I hadn't thought of it that way before.

    (By the way, I like your new profile picture.)