Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rain, Rain, Rain

The view from my window today as I blog

Telpochcalli visit

Yesterday, it was special for me to spend part of the day at the school where I used to teach on the south side of Chicago.  All of my former students are now in high school, so I didn't get to see any of them.  However, it was wonderful to chat a little bit with my former co-workers and to again walk the halls of a place that continues to be very special to me.  The unfortunate part is that I never thought to take my camera out of my purse.  Anyway, with or without pictures, it was a lovely day.  Glad for all the good memories of my teaching years there and for friendships that have lasted.


We realized as we were putting the game away that we had forgotten to take any pictures.  Here's the portion of the "board" that's still on the table along with our favorite spectator, Fleece.

A lovely surprise

Beautiful flowers from special friends

Cleaning Day at 2901 Falling Waters Ln.

On Saturday, Karmen and I were feeling very ambitious and decided to tackle a bit of deep fall cleaning.  We completed the living room, entryway and most of the dining room before we ran out of steam.  All in all, a very productive day.

Living room couch cushions displaced to the den

Fleece makes a good supervisor from her comfortable perch.

Washing windows


It must get worse before it gets better!

A fabulous way to dust!


Have these EVER been cleaned?!


On the outside looking in

Exhausted after an afternoon's work, Fleece and Karmen have both found comfortable places to lounge.

Car Swap

Karmen and I met up with Sharon Rostad and Valerie Grover on Friday in Kankakee, IL.  They had kindly agreed to take the car I was using to my friend, Janet, in Indiana since she was without a vehicle.  We grabbed hot drinks at an interesting little coffee shop that we happened across and enjoyed chatting and sipping at a little table in front of the train depot.  Due to some questionable company and later the arrival of police and ambulance, we decided to spend the rest of our time together inside the car!

Valerie, Grover, Karmen & Sharon

Valerie enjoying her sandwich from Jimmy John's as Grover looks on admiringly.  "How does she fit all that in her mouth?" he wonders.  :-)  

An evening at home

A lively game of "Settlers of Catan" in Mom and Dad's cozy basement

Thoughts from Rogers Convention 2011

  • Pride causes us to resist correction.
  • There would be nothing powerful enough to make us clean if it wasn't for the blood of Jesus.
  • In our search for wisdom, what we're searching for is Jesus.
  • Repentance brings us back to what God intended for us in the first place.
  • When we come to the end of life, the only thing that's going to matter is what God thinks of us.
  • Greater joy comes from greater involvement.
  • Inspiration soon fades if it's not turned into love.
  • Professing isn't a religious experience, a ceremony or a habit.  It's giving ourselves to a new life within.
  • There are things beyond our mind that are not beyond our faith.
  • Love controlled Jesus whether He was alone or thronged by the multitudes.
  • We don't have to be in an ideal situation to be fruitful or useful.
  • Daniel didn't come out of the lion's den talking about his nerve-racking experience.  He came out talking about the power of God.

Friends & Family at Rogers, AR

It was a wonderful privilege to be at Rogers, Arkansas convention for the first time after our Illinois conventions were over.  It was nice to see some old friends and make some new ones.  Here are just a few pictures.

Clowning around before a family picture

Parker talking to his little friend, Trevor

The LiaBraatens at Rogers

My good friend, Rebecca Carroll, and me

Workers and their parents at Mt. Sterling convention

From left to right (more or less): Joel Riggs & parents, Greg Swenson & father, Shelley Lord & mother, Kamela LiaBraaten & parents, Nathan Pedigo & parents, Scott Hanks & parents, Becca Shaw & parents, Don Bixby & parents

Visiting Mr. & Mrs. Besterwitch

This is a bit out of order because I just now found the rest of my pictures.  Anyway, during our second week of preps at Mt. Sterling, I had the opportunity to spend a little time with some good friends of mine, Garrick and Elissa.  I went to their house after a Saturday work day and spent the evening chatting, eating and walking.  The next morning we had a lovely breakfast out on the deck before heading to Sunday morning meeting.  A lovely weekend overall!

I didn't take too many pictures, but here are a couple of our outdoor breakfast.

Mt. Sterling Convention 2011

After several weeks of preps and two other conventions, the time for Mt. Sterling convention finally arrived on August 31.  Our visiting workers came from Venezuela, Ontario, New York/New England, Washington state and Ohio.  We had wonderful days together.  Here are a few thoughts from Mt. Sterling Convention 2011.

  • Rest isn't inactivity.  It's knowing God's will and doing it.
  • The easy road never brings the results we want.
  • Sometimes life gets messy, but through it all, God is working a masterpiece.
  • It would be a tragedy to waste our one life on earth.  God means for us to profit.  This world came from nothing and is going back to nothing.  So if we gain the whole world, what do we really have?  Nothing.
  • When God works in us, we will be different.
  • Privileges are not blessings until we profit from them.
  • We don't want to be beggars sitting on a gold mine.
  • It's not enough to be a spectator or even an admirer.  We must be a participant.
  • The devil doesn't want us to see the end of our choices.
  • God wants to direct us personally by our conscience.
  • Because this is eternal, we're satisfied now.
  • The Holy Spirit is gentle without compromising truth.
  • Submission is the deepest expression of our faith.

Brownstown Convention 2011

Brownstown convention is a very special place for me.  It was five years ago this year that I offered for the Work after the Saturday night meeting at Brownstown.  I'm so glad for the deep desire that I have to continue with the help of God.  Here are a few thoughts that were shared at Brownstown Convention 2011.

  • It's one thing to say we're thankful; it's another thing to prove we're thankful.  Thanks from our lips is good.  Thanks from our heart is better.  Thanks from our life is best.
  • If things weren't too big for us, we'd become independent.
  • Experiences come, but experiences also go.
  • There's a treasure in every experience we face.  Sometimes it's hidden for awhile.  Suffering can enrich us.
  • God respects reverent hearts.
  • Sometimes we have doubts, but they don't need to linger.
  • We're going to feed ourselves on what we're hungry for.  If we're spiritually alive, we'll be hungry for spiritual things.
  • If we see and love the finished product, it helps to love and appreciate the process.
  • Faith takes us out of our comfort zone.
  • Victory is just beyond being willing for the cost.
  • Read the Bible to find God.
  • The majority of a soldier's time is spent waiting for the battle.  When we're faithful in doing that, God will stand by us in the unexpected experiences.
  • We can't affect where or how far our influence goes.  We can only affect what it is.
  • Repentance is a wonderful privilege, a wonderful opportunity to go in the right direction toward the expected end.

LiaBraatens galore

There were many LiaBraatens at Seneca convention this year.  The entire Eldon LiaBraaten family was present, and it was a special treat to have all the Elliott LiaBraatens there as well.  We managed to get a few pictures taken on Sunday before the Missouri LiaBraatens headed back home.

The Elliott LiaBraaten family
Lacie, Elliott, Cate, Parker & Becki

Not such a flattering picture perhaps, but a close-up of my special hair-do compliments of my future sister-in-law, Kalynn Keith

A host of LiaBraatens (and one future LiaBraaten)
Row 1 - Kalynn Keith, Brenda, Lacie, Cate, Kamela, Karmen
Row 2 - Kyle, Eldon, Elliott, Becki, Parker

Seneca Convention 2011

The Mt. Sterling prep crew arrived at the Seneca convention grounds on Monday evening, August 8.  Wednesday night was upon us before we knew it, and convention was here!  Glad for all who labored to have bread to share with us.  Here are a few thoughts that were shared during our days together at Seneca Convention 2011.

  • The gate is narrow, and the way is narrow.  So the things that helped us begin will help us continue.
  • There are things that don't belong to little children.
  • We don't have to announce to the world that we're a Christian if His presence is in us.
  • When we get in the car, we don't just jam on the accelerator; we point the car in the right direction first.  God's not going to give us power to go in the wrong direction.
  • God can give us exactly what we need so we can give Him exactly what He wants.
  • We may not be able to afford everything we want in life, but God has put within the reach of everyone what we need.
  • God can give us courage to take a step we've never taken before but know we should.
  • We never want to consider defeat an option.  So much depends on getting the victory.

Mattress Covers

Last year it was decided, for a number of reasons, that new mattress covers were necessary for the dorms at Mt. Sterling.  Throughout the year, various ladies assisted with this massive project, and the result was incredible.  I've never seen so many people anxious to help cover mattresses during preps.  There was talk of color coordinating corners of the dorm and ensuring that the brighter colors were spread throughout rooms so that it wouldn't be boring.  I also have to add, that for me personally, just walking into the dorms and seeing all the color made me very happy!  Thanks to all who had a part in Mattress Covers 2011!

Looks like there's a little color coordinating going on

Dorm on the hill

Senior Ladies' Dorm


Men's Dorm

Ladies' Basement Dorm

And the story is not complete without the tale of the rejected mattress covers of the past.  Some were sent to another convention grounds to be used there.  Some were used as drop cloths for our painting project. Some were selected to be made into tea towels.  And alas, some were good for nothing but to be burned!  Joel, Kim and Pina worked together to create a nice little urn for the ashes of my "beloved" mattress covers of conventions past.  I certainly appreciated the gesture.  :-)  

Prep Crew

The majority of our prep crew for the first week of preps.  On this particular day, some were dressed for work and some were dressed for a funeral.  Thanks to all involved (pictured and not pictured) for your help!

Monday, September 26, 2011

More than we bargained for!!!

One of our main preparation foes at Mt. Sterling is MOLD!  There was plenty of it again this year.  The basement of the sister workers' quarters was especially full of the nasty stuff.  SO, Kim, Pina and I decided to tackle it the first day as a team.  We would scrub ceiling and walls to try and eliminate the fuzzies as well as the odor (which was enough to make me gag when I walked down there).  We began scrubbing after we were properly attired (pictures to come).  Pina and I began working on the ceiling, and Kim started on the walls.  One "slight" problem, however, is that the ceiling was textured.  After a while, we decided that perhaps scraping would work better than scrubbing.  At one point, I made the comment, "Maybe we should just scrape the whole ceiling."  This was because as we scrubbed / scraped, the ceiling was becoming quite unevenly textured.  The goal to remove the mold was being achieved, but the result was visually less than pleasing.  We kind of laughed it off as a preposterous idea, since our scrapers were small and the ceiling was large.  To make a long story a little shorter - that is what we ended up doing.  We found a friend with a large water sprayer and some larger scrapers and went to work "de-texturing" the ceiling.  It was quite fun, actually, but as you may imagine, made quite a mess.  There was plaster EVERYWHERE!  So, after the fun part came the clean up part which was decidedly less fun and more frustrating since the plaster stuff did NOT want to go away.  The next week, we primed and painted the entire basement.  The end result was very nice, and the three of us (Kim, Pina and me) slept very nicely in that space during convention.  Now for the pictures...

Pina - expert ceiling scraper

Kim - sprayer extraordinaire

Kamela - How did I get stuck doing the corner with all the pipes?

Water wars!

Go team!

We may look ridiculous, but we do good work.  (And let me assure you, all the garb ended up being very necessary!)

The process

Kind of hard to see all the plaster dust, but everything is coated with a nice layer.

Now you can see it a little better.

 I'll try and find a finished picture for a later post.  ( I hope I have one!)  Anyway, take my word for it, it looked better after we were done.  :-)  

Seneca Preps

Our days of preparations at Seneca were very nice (and so long ago that I can't think of any more accurate adjectives)!  We stayed busy and got dirty cleaning out barns for sleeping as well as the cooking and dining areas.  I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures, but I sent a young friend around the grounds with my camera to document some of the process.  Here's what she came back with.

Pounding holes in the driveway?

Looks serious!

Glad I missed out on this part, I think!

Yours truly cleaning the underneath parts of a sink (perhaps the one used for washing bowls)

Hanging stuff
(I believe in the meeting shed)

Scrubbing walls

A quick coffee break