of Independence Day

I love 4th of July. It is by far my favorite holiday. I don't know what it is. I just can never get enough of the whole thing. Perhaps it's the fact that it hits right in summer, the picnics, parades, runs, patriotism of the town and people - the fact that maybe, just maybe, people are actually proud to support the red, white, and blue old glory. Maybe it's the heat, the sunshine, the freedom of the day to do whatever you want, the barbecues, the popsicles, pop and chips, or maybe it's just the fireworks. I don't really know how to tie it all together other than I just love the 4th of July.

I woke up at 7:38am to a ridiculous amount of humidity. I felt like I was in a swimming pool without being submerged at all. Then I heard the rain. Crud. I get up and close the windows on the south and western facing walls (the floors by the windows already wet), assuming that either Jim and Jan already got the ones downstairs last night, or that Jim is already up. Regardless, I just don't really care if they don't and go back to bed. Only to wake up a few hours later to go to church.

The plan was to go to to Shenandoah Assemblies of God at 10am for church. I struggled out of bed, not being any more tired or uncomfortable than I ever have been while I'm here (perhaps a bit more damp, but that was from the rain). Checked the online schedule of Shenandoah to double check for the schedules for the day. Found out that everything, aside from the indoor pancake breakfast, had been canceled and that the fireworks display would be postponed until Saturday. Seriously? It's not even raining at a significant rate or anything. I was bummed. So much for a traditional 4th of July out in the midwest for me. Bummer. Had I been in Oregon, I doubt anything would be canceled, but then, I suppose that's the difference between the constant rain that western Oregon usually gets, and the occasional downpour that the midwest gets.

After going downstairs to get breakfast, I noticed that nothing had been closed up for the rain, so I proceeded to shut both doors and some of the windows. Lexx was mega depressed because of the rain, and therefore nothing to do outside. Plus, both dogs are almost always ultra lethargic in the mornings. They are too adjusted to sleeping in until noon. Ate some frosted mini spooners and headed back upstairs to finish getting ready for church. It's not really an issue. I don't have much in the way of clothes here (today I chose jeans, gladiator sandals, teal tank and my fun super epically floral tank over that), and even less if you count that over half are almost always needing to be washed.

But, I managed to either take long enough, get distracted by my music (as always), and stall on the internet to realize that it wasn't until about 9:56 that I was ready to go. At this point, I debated not going at all and just going back to bed - but I'm already up, and I do not want to work on any of the farm stuff today. Or, I could go to another church with a later service. No, Hannah, just go to church already! You didn't go last week, you really gotta go! You sometimes showed up late to Calvary back in Corvallis, and no one minded. But it's someone else's church, and what if I'm the only one?!? But really? who cares...

So I went anyway, and I just want to say right now, that I don't know that I've made a better decision in a long time.

I walked into the building (after walking through pouring buckets to get to the door) and the foyer was empty, but really pretty, and then went on into the sanctuary. Worship was already underway and they were playing a song familiar from Real Life (the college youth group that I go to at OSU). I find a chair in an inconspicuous place, hopefully not taking any late comer's usual spot (knowing small churches and all...) and set my bag down.

I started singing along, but I kept finding myself tearing up. I couldn't hold it back. I didn't want to look like a freak, being a visitor to a new church and all, but this was real. Everyone here loved Jesus. They were passionate about him. Sure, it was a bunch of midwesterners, and I was from Oregon. Sure, I didn't go to church last week, and I've been really inconsistent about keeping up with my Bible reading and personal studies, but these people - they shared something with me. Something that I was passionate about. They were real people. And we were worshiping together. We shared something more than just a phone call, more than an instant message, more than distant relation. I'd never felt closer to a group of strangers in my life.

The decor of the church was fairly basic. Reminded me of a smaller version of Calvary Corvallis. There were huge windows directly behind the worship team with water flowing down in a constant stream with the words "Streams of water will flow from within him" on the wall above them. Flags were hung all around.

A few worship songs with beautiful harmony later and we sang Proud to be an American. I've never sung this in church, but I honestly can't tell you that I can think of a single reason why it shouldn't be sung in church on Independence Day. It was at that point that I gave up trying to be any sort of normal, and just cried. Between people actually standing up and celebrating God, but also praising the fact that we live in one of the most prosperous and free nations in the world, and that we could all be here together, having the freedom to worship God how we want, read the Bible, and have such a culture where people are able to believe and say what they want politically and otherwise. We can, because we're Americans. It just seems that people don't take our nation for granted out here. Maybe because they're actually accustomed to working the land, maybe it's because they're deeper in history and closer to Washington DC and the other original colonies. I'm not sure what it is. But these people openly love America than anyone back in Oregon.

Then we sat down, and kids from the youth group came up and shared their experiences from a church camp that they all just got back from. It made me realize - made me jealous that I never got to go to one. I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it is because they were never the right denomination? There just weren't any? Too expensive? Conflicted with YMA? Was I too obsessed with YMA to pursue something like that? Probably... did I want to just stay away from anything like that? not really, but considering life growing up at Gloria Dei, yeah, I kinda didn't want anything to do with a church camp, because they might not have the right doctrines (and that's all that matters when it's hammered into your brain day in and out with the catechism, right?). But then I started thinking: how would my life be different now, how much more in love with Jesus would I be right now, how much more passionate would I be? Would I want to go on missions? Would I have already been involved in any by now? Would I not have made the huge mistakes over the years, getting stuck in ruts with high school and college and emotions and actions and getting involved with the wrong kind of boys? I can only assume so... But maybe I was supposed to go through that because God wants me to use them to help others. I don't really know, and I can't really say. All I can say is that I was very envious of these students for having such experiences this last week, and wishing beyond anything that I could have been involved in a camp like that, or at least be a part of one now, and be a counselor at one.

Afterwards, they showed a video from the camp. It was awesome. Then Pastor Dan got up and gave a really good message about freedom and bringing in points from our Declaration of Independence, a few points of history, and some science-nerdy stuff about that oil spill out in the Gulf of Mexico.

The service ended with another familiar worship song with just piano and voices: no shame, I cried again. After the service, I didn't really know what to do with myself. A few weeks ago, at Cornerstone CMA they all just packed up and left directly afterwards. They had coffee, but for some reason I didn't really want coffee. So I started heading towards the door and Pastor Dan was shaking everyone's hand. Good, traditional church thing to do, I thought. He was saying hello to everyone as they passed and such. I shook his hand, and he said: "I don't know that I know you, but I know I've seen you around recently."
"Yeah, well, I mean, I haven't been here to ShenAG before, I went to Cornerstone CMA a few weeks ago and wasn't able to go anywhere last week, and I don't know if you noticed, but I just started breaking down throughout worship because I've just been away from fellowship for so long (at this point, I almost start crying again) and just people in general. But anyway, I've been in town for about 3 weeks now"
"Oh? What brings you to Shenandoah?"
"Helping relatives move to the house at the end of Airport road and helping them get a really big garden started"
"Oh, how nice, where are you from?"
"I'm from Oregon, actually"
"Really? I have a daughter out in Seattle. Yeah, she's in nursing school"
"Oh, awesome."
"Yeah, you guys would really get along, but she's staying out there"
"You should come by during the week sometime to talk to us here"
"When are you around?"
"Well, a lot of people are out of town - out of town, you know with the holiday and, I mean, we have a few guests, but there are a good bit of people missing, and you should come by and talk to us"

At this point, a blonde woman who has been standing at the outermost of the doors to the church leans over.
"I haven't really been catching much, but I'm Annette, Dan's wife, can you catch me up a bit?"
"Oh, yeah, I'm Hannah, I'm 21, just graduated from Oregon State University, but need to get more agriculture experience, so I came out here - do you know James and Jan Bowery? Dr Bowery? They're his relatives... anyway, I helped them move to the house out at the end of Airport Road last Saturday, and I've been helping them set up a really big garden/farm, I'll be here all summer."
"Oh, wow. Have you gotten to meet many people around Shenandoah?"
"I haven't. I really miss people. I mean, I've basically spent the last 2.5 weeks alone."
"Oh, wow, that's really hard. Well, we have, as I'm sure you heard, events in the church. We have Sunday school at 9am and church, as you know, at 10, and then we also have something Wednesday evenings at 7, we also have a youth group - I know you're kinda in between ages, but anyway, then we're also going to AdventureLand out in Des Moines this week and a Royals baseball game in Omaha next Sunday."
"Yeah, I'd like to see if I can go to those. I'd really like to get involved and meet people and do things"
"Hey! You know, we have a girl who works in the office here who is about your age. I bet you guys would hit it off well right away. Have you been over to the Sanctuary?"
"Mmmh, yeah, it's a really great restaurant. You two should get lunch!"
"That would be awesome"
"Have you been to the Garrison Coffee House out in Clarinda?"
"No, I really haven't been anywhere outside Shenandoah since I've been here."
"Really? Well, we should go on a coffee date."
"That would be so great, wow"
"Here, let me, give you my phone number and you can give me yours."
"Ok, awesome - wow, yeah."
"You know, when I saw you there talking with Dan, I thought you had to be from Oregon, and then you said you were! You just look like you're from out there, and you dress - have you read this magazine...? I can't really remember what it's called...umm..."
"heh... probably not"
"well, anyway, you're just dressed and look super cute, and you just look like you're from Oregon"
"So yes, our office is open Tuesday through Friday and you're more than welcome to come over anytime"
"Yeah, I will. Definitely. I really want to get involved and meet people and start really doing things with other people"

It was amazing... I walked through the rain back to the car in a completely different attitude than I'd walked into the church. But when I sat in the car, I just cried. I was happy, but sad, but really happy all at the same time. Just soaking everything in, mostly.

Then I drove over to HyVee and picked up a box of those amazingly fluffy and wonderfully frosted cookies (complete with 4th of July sprinkles), and a few Budget Gourmet frozen entrees before heading back to the farmhouse. When I got to the signal at Airport Road, I cant tell you enough how badly I did not want to have to turn right. I wanted to go somewhere - anywhere but back there. But I went back anyway.

Jim started talking to me about growing a "live mulch" of sorts with the tomatoes, such as the lettuce mix, or trying something else like plastic, and what I thought the expense of that would be (a lot). And then telling me all about control groups (yup, been there, done that with numerous experiments in all my science labs) and their importance (why, of course).

I kinda felt rude, but I just had to take the day off, so I took my food upstairs and watched Howl's Moving Castle (as per my long-standing desire to see it, my love for Spirited Away, and Jeni's recommendation). I loved it.

Not long after finishing it, Jan popped through my door and asked if I wanted to go to that new vampire movie. I was all for it. I mean, I'd kinda been wanting to see it (it's my fav of the books, and a few of my friends had already seen it and said it was good [at least the battle scenes anyway], and I know that the music is good because I already got the soundtrack).

It was good, but depressing (as per usual of the Twilight saga). Jim fell asleep part-way through and started snoring, so I asked Jan if she could elbow him or something because the girls behind me were getting slightly annoyed, lol. Apparently he didn't know it would be so much of a chick-flick. um.. anyway

Then we went over to Nancy and John's for our 4th of July BBQ (inside b/c of the rain). It was mormon family night again, so we got to hear about how some prophet did something and said something that got into some scriptures saying about how the US Constitution is actually a sacred document and that this idea or revelation or something has to be therefore true because it's in their book.... ummm yeah.... anyway...  For dinner we had pineapple kabobs, shrimp kabobs, rice, salad, steak, sauteed mushrooms, and strawberry shortcake. Needless to say, we had a lot of very good food. No fireworks, but still good food. After dinner, and after helping Nancy with kitchen stuff, I went around the house with Rachel, talking about assorted randomness. Then we went up to her room and she showed me her pets again and her room, and we went into the cubby hole under/behind her loft bed and then sat on her bed for awhile and she told me all about her favorite books and stories related to them, and all about her pets, and all about family stuff, and all about other stuff too. She reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age (only, she's a bit more outgoing than I was). Then we went back down to the basement and finished watching the first episode of Surface (you know, that show that was on like, five years ago and only went on for one season).

Then on the way home, I kinda mentioned how I'd like to have a real bed... after being on an air mattress for almost three weeks, it hasn't been the best sleep that I've gotten, all other things aside. So, perhaps that is something that might happen in the next two weeks.

I took a few pictures tonight, but I'm too tired to post them right now, will do so tomorrow, hopefully.

Rain here is weird. I expect it to always be cold. But it's not. It's still just as hot, were it not raining. So there is really no need to wear layers. And even were you to wear a rain jacket or anything, it wouldn't really matter, because your clothes dry within minutes anyway because it's already so warm out, so you aren't left wet and cold much at all. However, as a creature of habit, I did manage to wear sweats and my striped sweater when I was watching the movie this afternoon, also because I just wanted to be comfortable, and I liked the fresh air, so I kept my north-facing window open, but there was a bit of a breeze, so it wasn't completely hot in my room.

The Buick is an interesting character of a car. It has no parking break. The front left tire is low on air (and ignored). All the interior lights are on all the time (you know, breaks, air bags, check engine... etc), the dash is falling apart, no seat belts in the back (I'm the only one who uses them anyway, regardless of them being present or not). The exterior is missing a good amount of paint, so it's been kinda spray painted over in a few places, and part of the siding has been falling off, so it's kinda missing a few pieces. In order to start it you have to turn the ignition while the car stalls and idles into starting, which can be anywhere between 2 seconds and 2 minutes. It's not trustworthy to drive distances other than just into town, because apparently it just shuts down and stops working until you let it sit and rest for about 10 minutes and then try it again (not sure how far the distance for this has to be... 30 miles? 80 miles? no idea..). Otherwise though, it drives fairly well (lol).

After arriving back at the farmhouse, read the most wonderful email from Grandma Mary, then I talked on the phone with mom and dad for about an hour. I can't say enough how much I love talking with them, and hearing from or talking to people in general. It's great. I'm really, really looking forward to hopefully getting connected and involved with people at ShenAG this next week. I seriously can't say it enough. So. Excited.

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