This summer was amazing. I got to spend three months in a little town smack dab in the middle of the Badlands of Southwestern North Dakota - Medora, ND to be precise.
I went there not knowing what to expect and not knowing anything about the town or the people with whom I would be spending a few months, and I left this morning.
I set out for Medora at the end of May and left with the idea that I would be going there to help lead worship services in town and in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which just so happened to be in the town's backyard.
The first few days were rough, because I didn't know anyone at all, and everyone seemed to know everyone else already. Somehow I got sucked into a group of people out there on summer project and then I got connected with everyone else simply by scanning meal cards at the pizza parlor I worked.
*side note - I bought a personal pan pizza from the Pizza Hut in Deadwood, and I definitely really, really miss the pizza parlor pizza right now. It's amazing pizza.
Then I made some even closer friends because a few of us were having "boy issues" and needed people to vent with, and God used those women - and some high quality men in my life to push me ever closer to Him when things didn't turn out the way everyone thought they would. "Things," however, actually turned out far better than I could have wished for. God is amazing.
Anyways, I was going to write a few observations about this summer, slash appreciations and mentions of random things that made my summer what it was.
First, the smell of sage and old wood permeates the senses on a hot day - in Medora, this was almost every day. Except for the few completely random downpours and hailstorms...
and the sun. is amazing. ly hot. and not muggy like Michigan; the locals know 90 degrees is nothing to sneeze at, and the winters are ridiculous... But I'm not writing about the winters because I haven't experienced a Dakota winter. All I know is that Everyone has an electrical plug hanging from the hood of their vehicles to plug their motor (engine?) in somewhere in the winter when it hits negative 40 or so...
and when you can walk 20 minutes and find yourself in the middle of a field on top of a butte surrounded by prickly pear, prairie rose, and tall grasses - and maybe some buffalo (which are also known as bison, for those of you who may be confused),... well. It's hard not to see why the west called to so many people in the middle of the 19th century.
and the small (small being less than a hundred official locals - maybe a few hundred with the seasonal workers) town atmosphere is definitely something every city slicker should experience. I'm so glad I got to, because I know now that I can definitely survive without a ginormous grocery store and malls only 10 minutes from home. And being able to wave at everyone because you know them (except for the tourists, but you still wave) is so great... it's like a bond of some sort that you can only understand if you've done it. Whee!
and getting to put in everyone's orders for pizza and subs taught me quite a bit as well - some people never change... ;) Double pepperoni with ranch. . . pepperoni with lite cheese, ...to go, never to stay because they eat it after the musical... and when they order something different, you wonder what's going on. :)
and once they ordered their pizza i would usually have a few minutes - or seconds - to chat about life with whoever, and i think those few moments are what I am going to miss the most about this summer. The time when the hungry people-who-will-soon-get-filled come in and chat. about life, about roomates, relationships, jobs, being real, travel, Jesus. The time when - if just for a few seconds, the people in the musical get to kick back and be themselves. (I hope). The past weeks by myself after the CRU people left I got to spend some time with people - not as much as I would have liked, because of work - but enough. Well, maybe not enough. I could stay there forever and ever, but everyone else would leave... and i actually probably couldn't.
I've learned that even though I started the past several paragraphs with "and," there were people this summer that left a huge impression on my life.
Firstly the men -
Dedy: from Indonesia. I worked with him; he didn't speak much English... I hate writing in past tense. he was real sweet, though.
Andy: ridiculously musical. Not fair. He let me sit and listen to him play, which was amazing. because some people don't like that... but he did. and he let me watch mice with him at midnight. And we had some good chats about life, and it's always great to have a manly perspective on things. :0)
Seth: he taught me a bit of what I already thought I knew (re: guys in leadership and what it really looks like), and I really, really, really appreciate his listening to the Spirit leading in preparing for the services with ACMNP; we had some good conversations, and even though things got confusing, he stayed true to what he knew to be true and helped keep me on the right path. thanks :)
Chris: even though he kinda pushed the whole guy issue on me, (i don't know if he realizes this or not) he grew a ton this summer from what I saw of him, and was a veritable rock to myself and several other people.
Alan: oh my goodness. It's like my little brother came to Medora with me. He listens to the same music, is about the same height, looks the same, and gives great hugs. And he has that look of someone who you just have to hug. haha.
Kristan: One of the harder-to-see-leaving-me people... meh. even though he's younger than me, I'm pretty sure I see him as an older-type-of-brother that I never got to have.. He is a wonderful listener, prayer, singer,... and I'm pretty sure he's wise beyond his years. :) And he got me to like Skillet.
Chad: he sings and plays the keys in the musical. and still talked to me at the pizza parlor. Last night when I was frustrated and couldn't figure out a driving route, he took a look at my atlas and helped straighten out my brain. And I'm sad that we were just beginning to be friends. meh. Guillaume: sure, he's from france and has an accent and amazingly blue eyes, but he and I had some good chatation. and I hope he stays in touch somehow...
I think I am going to maybe write about more people later, but for now...
I am in Lusk, Wyoming. And there is a king-sized bed, a refrigerator, microwave, and tv and wifi... more on this new adventure later, though.