Sunday, August 31, 2008

The amazing folks at Christian Challenge

Yesterday was quite a day!

A few brave volunteers from my small group showed up bright and early to help me move the first load to my new house. They were awesome!! They made it look easy! I can't even begin to tell you how much it meant to have these guys give up their Saturday morning for me... especially since I just met one of them for the first time through this new small group! Christian Challenge is AWESOME!

After they left, I was doing some minor things around the house (without Internet access or TV) when my cell phone rang. It was my landlord. He had just gotten word that a family was evacuating from south Louisiana and needed a place to stay. He had another empty house, but it REALLY needed to be cleaned. It had been rented to some college kids who had a dog (and heaven only knows what else!) in that house. It was filthy. I went over to check things out... but I knew I'd need some major help. One couple had already told me that they were going to help, but they were running late... so I called another couple from the church, and they came pretty much immediately!!

By the time my landlord arrived to check on us, we had five adults and a handful of children working on it. I wish I had taken pictures... but there just wasn't time! We threw a ton of junk away, swept up loads of dirt, cleaned windows, scrubbed a kitchen and bathroom, and even cleaned up the dirty window air conditioners. In around three fast-paced hours we had the whole thing done. Just as we were getting done mopping our way out of the house, the landlord came back. The family from south Louisiana was just a few minutes away on the highway! We couldn't have timed it better.

Cleaning out that house was hard work... but it felt really good! I was grateful for the opportunity to do something for the Gustav evacuees... but I was also very much impressed with the folks at my church who came together on very little notice to tackle a huge project. It made me proud to be a part of Christian Challenge, and it was fun to work alongside others with a true heart for serving others.

But in all the excitement and Internet / TV deprivation, I missed the news about Gustav's development. I knew that Alexandria / Pineville would be hosting many folks from the coastal areas... but as the day went on yesterday it became clear that we would also be getting hit. As my pastor put it this morning, we're in the impact zone. That's a scary thought... I hope that the "worst case scenario" does not materialize, but everyone here is planning as if it will.

I've been planning and preparing as well. I have plenty of water and food. They're not expecting a lot of structural damage, but limbs / trees down could make travel difficult and there's the potential that we'll be without electricity for an extended time. That's the part that makes me most nervous. So, just to be safe, I'll be spending tomorrow evening with my pastor's family... if I'm going to be stuck somewhere in the dark, at least I won't be stuck alone!

I'll post more tomorrow...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another moving experience

I went to my first Christian Challenge Small Group meeting Wednesday night. I think we all had some butterflies, but in the end everyone had a great time!

During our orientation sessions, we watched a funny video about how *NOT* to have a small group. One of the humorous situations involved a group member asking if anyone could help him move that weekend. One of the other group members kinda gave him the brush-off and told him "Just Google movers." We've made quite a few jokes about that line...

I knew that my latest move would probably happen around the same time as the beginning of small groups... and I knew that I'd need help moving a few big things that I just can't handle on my own... so I had kinda been looking forward to prefacing my request with "Now, don't anyone say 'Google'..."

But I was also a little nervous about asking, because I joined a group with some folks that I don't know really well yet. It's a little weird asking for help the very first time you get together as a group! I wasn't sure what kind of response I'd get. Of course, my small group came through! I shouldn't have expected any less. Christian Challenge is a whole church full of "extra mile" folks!

On a somewhat related note, if you'd like to see pics of my new place, check this out:

(I've never posted a Facebook photo gallery before, I usually do that kind of thing on my own servers, but I decided to play with that yesterday!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I've been neglecting my blog, so I thought I'd post a few quick updates before I get going today!

The "right hand of fellowship" was a little intimidating / uncomfortable, but overall it was a positive experience. I'm probably just not "southernized" enough yet to truly appreciate it!

Small groups start this week. My small group will be meeting on Wednesday nights. I'm a little nervous about that too... we've had a couple of weeks of "orientation" and a kickoff party, but tonight will be the first real meeting. I was spoiled in Florida -- CATB had the best small groups!! So my expectations may be a little high...

The Disciple's Heart class starts in a couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to that. Bro. Buddy will be teaching the class that I am in. He's the one who developed the class, even though he hasn't taught it in a while... so it will be a real treat to get to hear him teach it. I'm sure it will be a bit of a "stretching" time for me, but excited about that.

I've picked up some freelance jobs, including a part time position taking baby pictures at one of the hospitals. I spent Thursday, Friday, and Monday in various training and orientation meetings. It sounds like it could be a lot of fun... but after the hospital orientation session, I am a little concerned. A couple of the administrative-types at the hospital told me that they seem to have new photographers every two months or so... and that makes me wonder if there are issues with the company that I'll be working with. It takes a week for folks to get trained, then they are required to give two weeks notice... so that would mean that folks are burning out after about a month. That can't be good. Only time will tell I guess... but fortunately, I've only committed to two days per week at this point. We'll have to see how it goes!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Making it official

I "officially" become a member of Christian Challenge tomorrow!

Membership here is a little different than what I've seen at other churches. There's no paperwork to sign, you don't get a membership card or certificate... but what you do get is a handshake (well, MANY handshakes!). They call it "the right hand of fellowship." At the end of the service tomorrow, they'll call a bunch of us down to the front and introduce us to the church. Then the rest of the church can come up and meet the new members and shake their hands.

It's going to be interesting... I've only seen it done one time, and that was my very first week here. Not sure whether I should be nervous or not!