Our trip to Colorado was so fun, I can't fit it all in one blog post. So I'm starting a mini-series. You can pretend you're rolling yourself in a ball and stuffing yourself into our suitcase!! Now doesn't that sound FUN?
This first post isn't all THAT exciting, but every exciting adventure has to start somewhere. So we flew out of Chicago on Frontier Airlines. I know you don't give a rip about what airline we flew, but it was my first time flying Frontier, and man, I LOVED it! There's a little TV on the back of every seat with Direct TV!! I could watch HGTV, TLC, and National Geographic (sidebar: what's with the "Nat Geo" that they're calling it now?? Seriously???? It's like Washington Mutual becoming WaMu and Beverages and More becoming BevMo. BEVMO? Are we THAT lazy of a culture that we have to shorten multiple-syllable words????? There, Katie B. - that was a rant for you)! Of course, 25 minutes into the flight they cut you off unless you pony up 6 bucks, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.
We stayed in Littleton (southwest suburb of Denver) before heading off to Pagosa Springs the next day. If you didn't know this, we used to live in Littleton. It was totally surreal to stay there. Matt and I just kept saying, "We can't believe we LIVED here!" Our time in Denver was just...weird. We were newly married and moved all of our earthlies to Denver barely before the ink on our marriage license dried. We didn't really know anyone (Matt had made a couple of friends there during the summer), and I was the new wifey moving into what had become his home (ish)...it just opened up some weird dynamics, plunged us into the challenges of married life with not much of a support system...All in all, our life in Denver never really "gelled." We never felt like we were thriving there, totally connected, all those things that you like to feel when you're starting out in a new area. BUT - we got Molly there, and are convinced that that may have been the one reason we lived there. :)
I did have Matt do a slow drive-by and snapped a picture of our old condo. Our first home together!!! We lived in the upper unit. As you can see, there are lots of windows and very high ceilings, yet a lot of wasted space. Pretty, though.
Anyway, we shot off from Littleton the next morning and enjoyed the amazing drive away from the Front Range, and through the farms, funny little towns, and past beautiful mountains.
Pagosa Springs is a little mountain town in the southwest portion of Colorado, about an hour and a half east of Durango. You pull off the main drag and drive a ways down a county road to camp.
This summer was Sonlight's 30th year...Winston and Mary Marugg, the couple that God called to start this camp, have built this camp grass-roots style, using whatever God has provided, built the buildings barn-raising style...there is nothing fancy or luxurious about the place. The nurse (that's me!!!) gets the fanciest digs among the summer staff: a 1980-something Prowler trailer, complete with running water and a toilet. But like I said in an article I wrote for a camp nurse publication, who would have thought that the height of my career would be spent living in the middle of nowhere in a trailer??
(Once Jennymark, always Jennymark! And yes, that's a "No Swine" symbol.)
The Prowler is even MORE special now with a deck, a shelter, flowers, AND Adirondack chairs!! It's downright L.L. Bean!
We unloaded all our junkus and met up with Mary
and headed into town to meet up with Winston (who had just dropped off backpackers and their trailhead) and Mike, a friend from Albuquerque who spends much of his vacation time as a counselor at Sonlight. We ate at this awesome Mexican restaurant in town. (Mike's all the way to the left, Winston's on the right.)
And so we enjoyed our evening and anticipated a week of 5th and 6th grade goodness.
I just have to say that I spent a whole week tending to random kid needs (cuts, scrapes, fifth-grade drama), in addition to doing load after load of camp laundry, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, emptying trash, vacuuming, and whatever else needs to be done on a daily basis to keep such a thing running smoothly. Matt fixed their network problems, I sifted through mounds of old health forms, we ate great food, danced silly dances at the campfire, and wore ridiculous outfits to make the kids laugh.
During that whole week I had to fight back tears, because I was so humbled and honored to do even one of those things. I'm not trying to say that in a braggy yet self-depricating way, but truly...to be at Sonlight is an honor. This place has some crazy high-90% return rate. Kids start coming when they're 8 years old, and every January are nearly crawling all over each other to reserve their spot. And when they're too old to come to camp, they want to do whatever they can to be on staff. And like I said earlier, there's nothing remotely fancy out this place. It's in a meadow in the middle of the mountains. There's no pool. Instead of horses there are stick horses, and even the high schoolers want to climb on the "horses" and gallop thru the meadow pretending they're cowboys. Nothing glitzy, nothing glam, just camp. Camp!! They play Capture el Rubber Pollo (Capture the Rubber Chicken, for those less informed in espanol - like me), super-sized Twister, and laugh like crazy.
But they meet God here too. Some of them wait 51 weeks every year for that one week that reminds them that there is a God who loves them, pursues them, and longs for a relationship with them. And He speaks for Himself easily enough. He doesn't need glitz, He doesn't need glam, He really doesn't need us to help Him declare his majesty. And when people are able to come into that amazing presence and the trappings of the world fall away....Wow. Sign me up. I want to be there.
Sonlight's mission is simple: Be with kids and show them God. Be with them, laugh with them, learn their name, wash their dishes, play with them, sing with them, model Christ's love for them. And then, continue in what you have learned. Take Sonlight back out into your world.
I can't wait to tell you about our week!!!