There is a term we throw around a lot: re-entry. If you've experienced it you know what we are talking about, but if not it's the period of adjustment you go through right after returning to a "normal" life after a not-so-normal experience. We call it re-entry because it is an awful lot like being an astronaut and coming back to Earth. We got knocked around by it after our first mission trip to Jamaica. We rode it out after our year traveling the US in 2013. We did it poorly after our recent trip to Kenya. Very poorly.
Had Kenya been an actual space mission, I would have burned up in the atmosphere.
As re-entry is something we will be doing every few months now, it would behoove us to get better at this. There is just so much good God stuff that you gain from a project trip, it would be a shame to waste it by not processing it well. To that end, we are working on a game plan. We are grateful to EMI for giving us resources in the form of a staff member who is well-versed in this stuff and who recently gave us a lunch seminar full of good advice. Stuff like:
Personally, I have a few pre-trip items on my agenda as well. They include studying some Uganda history. Some. There has been precious little written about African history, and the few who chose to tackle it felt compelled to make their books 800 pages long. I am also shutting myself out of all social media and avoiding looking at my phone very much for the next two weeks. I've noticed that scrolling a newsfeed and switching frequently between several apps seems to train my brain to have ADD -- I become highly distractible, forgetful, and really lose my ability to focus for more than 30 seconds. That causes me to miss the best moments happening right in front of me, NOT good for a photographer (or someone trying to read an 800-page book).
And of course, there is prayer. Plenty of that.
So, how about yourselves? Have you ever had to do a cultural re-entry of any kind, and what did you learn from it?
You all know how to complete that famous phrase… Friday was probably the most bittersweet of our time so far at EMI. Why, you ask? Because we just watched a most amazing group of 10 interns as they departed from us (and one another) to head out into their futures. Sure, we anticipate following them on Facebook and Instagram and maybe even seeing some of them in the days and years to come. BUT, we have grown to know them, to love them and to be blessed by the energy and joy that they have brought to the office here at EMI. Things will be so different in the office this week…
Not only that, but we feel like they have become a part of our family. This past few months they have participated in all kinds of things with the Keiters like:
· Shannon and Kaylee spent an epic day touring Rocky Mountain National Park
· All of them hiking the Crags Trail
· Hiking Mt Rosa and helping them set up camp nearby
· Bouldering in Garden of the Gods
· Camping and hiking down to the bottom of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
· Climbing Mt Democrat (one of our state’s 14,000+ foot tall mountains) with Rebecca
· Rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon
· Sharing taco dinner with all the interns and many of the staff at our house
In addition to all these things, I also got to help plan their epic trip to Zion National Park, although we were unable to join them for that excursion.
So these interns have left a huge mark on our lives this summer. They got to experience EMI and Colorado right alongside us. They served and produced amazing designs for our ministry partners. They led and contributed to our daily office devotions. They treated each other like brothers and sisters in the most beautiful way possible. Our whole family was blessed by them. They treated our kids like family and I can't think of better role models.
Jenni and I both shed tears this morning as we heard their testimony of how God has worked in them this summer and as we prayed for their future endeavors. It was a blessing to hear so many of them tell of how God exceeded their expectations by surrounding them with staff and families who poured so much into their lives both professionally and spiritually.
I LOVE EMI’s commitment to the intern experience. It is such a beautiful way to give these young people a glimpse into the integration of profession and mission to those in need. It gives them a chance to experience an office culture that is unlike most of the rest of our world. But of equal importance, it makes us better, as engineers and architects, as parents, as mentors and as families.
Thank you interns. We will never forget the blessing you were to us this summer…
Last weekend we went for a hike. Not just any hike, but a "14er." For those of you not yet hip to the lingo, a 14er is Colorado-speake for a mountain summit that tops 14,000 feet. We have 53 of them here and they are popular hikes. Lot of folks make it a thing to bag all of them. A few years ago we bagged Grays and Torreys in a day so we thought we were up to this by now, having been residents for 4 months.
For this adventure we chose the 7-mile trail that will net you 4 peaks in one day: Mt. Democrat, Mt. Cameron, Mt. Lincoln, and Mt. Bross. Boss! When we mentioned this to a friend she informed us that all the cool kids call that DeCaLiBro. Got it. We told a few other people, who all failed to mention just how many of those cool kids go hike this trail on any given Saturday in the summer.
And if I could back up a minute here, I should mention this was not actually OUR choice. It was selected by some peeps we've been hanging out with, none of whom live here, all of whom are leaving next weekend, and all but one of whom backed out on us. And I won't name any names either (but they rhyme with Spam, Hannon, Chet, Bailey, Laramie, Donner, Hester, Les, Wash, and Clarissa).
But seriously, the weather forecast was perfect, we had a few other friends along, we had energy bars and water and cameras and the promise of killer burgers in Alma when we finished. We were stoked. What could go wrong?
It was the best of hikes, it was the worst of hikes...
I'll keep it short and give you the bullet list.
So we did not all get to bag our four 14ers. Joel, Kevin, Emily, Rebecca, and Sarah all made it to the top of Democrat. Rex, Kristin, and I bailed and headed for Cameron, citing lack of trail, oxygen, and dog-and-cuss-free space. After Democrat, Kevin and Em headed back down to Kite Lake. The others came up Cameron to meet us, and despite us having a solid 45 minute lead (still with cussing but fewer dogs), they hit the summit about 30 seconds behind us. I'd blame the fact that Kristin was recovering from a chest cold, but really, it's because two of us are just old farts with sore knees.
At this point, it was late enough we decided not to try for Lincoln and Bross. The whole way back down I kept thinking this was easily the second worst hike I've ever had in my life (scroll to end for a photo of #1) and yet it was impossible to label this a "bad day." We were with friends and family, the scenery was breath-taking, and nothing really bad happened. No one needed to cuss. We all spent enough time feeling winded enough to put a damper on conversation, but just spending time together is good. Great even. It's the recurring lesson of our lives these past few years, that all the best times revolve around the people we dig, even if 9 of them bail out on you (it's okay -- we still love you). So no, it was not a bad day at all.
Still, in the future I might be tackling mostly 11ers. I'm gonna make it a thing.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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