23 October, 2006

Eastern Treats

We went for a walk yesterday and took our usual shortcut to the park via this road behind the hospital. We passed a cop car on the road. It was empty. Then when we got to the park, it was deserted except for this younger guy with a camera, and four cop cars. We got out of there fast (without arousing suspicion, of course). A couple blocks away from the park, we almost got run over by three different cop cars rushing to the park. We have no idea what was going on there.

ANYWAY, part of the purpose of our walk was to go down to the convenience store to find a slurpee. No luck. When we got there though, we found pop in bottles that was only 79 cents! Except really it turned out to be $1.29. Argh! Bait & Switch! On the way home, the urge hit. Out here on the East Coast, you apparently haven't lived until you've tried a whoopie pie. A whoopie pie is essentially a chocolate and cream 'hamburger' - two cakey chocolate rounds with vanilla custard or buttercream icing sandwiched between. You can get small ones, or giant ones (as in the picture below). Luke had a craving for a whoopie pie. So off we went to IGA. We also got some Fox Family Farms Chips so we could make it a truly Eastern Experience while we watched our movie.*

So for your enjoyment, I'm including some pictures of our tasty treats. The whoopie pie turned out to be more than we could handle. We felt awful and also decided we probably could make a better one ourselves. Luke liked the chips, I thought they were boring.

Just wanted to share.

*Tonight's movie choice was Ushpizin. We'd highly recommend it (particulary to TP and DKB). It's in Hebrew with subtitles and tells the story of a couple celebrating Succoth. Funny. Plus, you get to hear Jewish rap.

22 October, 2006

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part 4: The Great Escape!

Sigh. Sigh. Really long drawn out sigh….

We have since determined that indeed we should’ve taken the sticky door as a sign. Or well, no. Rather, we should’ve listened to that prompting that it turns out we both felt, not to go through those doors.

“Hi! I’m Sister Sarah.” (Not in the nun sense.) The first warning bell goes off.

There weren’t very many people there, so we sat down in the back row (on the right side this time) trying to take in our surroundings. There were some very weird posters on the wall. (Wait, was that warning bell number two?).

We weren’t sitting there for very long when I started thinking about my friend BB and how her mom once told me about a morning before church when she was rushing around trying to figure out what to wear to church. The eventual conclusion (which I’m sure plagues thousands of women every Sunday morning): I have nothing to wear! (I'm sure some of you are surprised that I ever have this dilemma - CE...Luckily for BB, this was a dilemma shortened by a haul of great new back to school clothes the next week!)

I had such a dilemma this morning. Unfortunately, the khaki pants and black sweater I settled on was the WRONG choice. Fortunately, I can take comfort in the fact that the RIGHT choice doesn’t actually exist in my closet so even had I known, it would’ve been impossible! That’s right, Friends, this week’s MIA item: A Skirt; an ankle-length skirt to be exact. (*Hangs head in shame*) That was one of the first things I noticed when we sat down: I was the only female wearing pants. Uh oh. I could feel the icy stares penetrating to the core of my khakis. Gulp.

At any rate, we sat down and everybody was milling about greeting people and telling us how glad, “how really, truly glad” they were that we were there. (It should be noted that this is the second time Luke’s been confused with some local obviously rather elusive drummer – perhaps why they were all so excited to see us – they thought we’d returned!) The pastor greeted us too. He said hello and asked us if we were musical. “Are you singers?” I said ‘yes,’ Luke said ‘a little.’ Then, he turned to me and said, “Would you like to come up and sing this morning?” Answered by nervous laughter and ‘no, thanks.’

Really. Um. What the??? No. Of course not! What am I? Crazy? Or just a lunatic?

And then it started. The music. Loud, crazy, gospel revival music (why aren’t these churches merging already!??!). We were stuck on the same song for I don’t even know how long. There were three verses plus a chorus and I’m sure we were on the third or fourth time through and finally, that was it. We’d had enough. One bad church-hunting experience too many. And folks, we did it. We got up and – GASP - left. That’s right, we left. I smiled at one lady as we were leaving, gave her a ‘mea culpa’ look and pointed to my ears. Seriously, we’ve been to concerts that weren’t that loud!!! Good grief!

And flipping through the hymnbook was an experience unto itself. Old Fashioned Meeting. No kidding, it’s a real song. We might as well be Tevya singing Tradition. It was all about longing for the old gospel tent meeting of old. <- And those might’ve actually been some of the lyrics too.

As it turned out, my watch said 10:45. We raced to the car and were just in time to catch the last verse of the first hymn at the Baptist church (from two weeks ago). Ahhh…It was like stepping into an air-conditioned building on a 115 degree Washington day. Everybody was standing in the right spot. No bouncing, no dancing, no random children scattered about playing guitars or tambourines - and no weird posters on the wall about The Will of Man and the Five Senses. Oi. We sang hymns, had a responsive reading, prayer time, offering, and a really good sermon by a guest preacher. He preached from 1 Corinthians 6 (end of the chapter) about how our bodies are not our own. In fact, nothing we have is really our own. Not our car, not our house, not our money. Everything belongs to God. Anything we have has just been given to us for our use while we’re on Earth. And all of it is at God’s disposal at any time He chooses. In fact, the man preaching even used the word CARNAL!!! (More than once, EF! More than once!!!)

So what began as a horrid Sunday experience in Skirts-Only-Where-Are-the-Snakes? Land, ended up a really great Sunday experience in Let’s-Serve-Them-Some-Meat-and-See-What-God-Does Land. Brilliant!

(And I’m not even sorry we didn’t get a pen!)

19 October, 2006

Pedro's Permanent

So what we're really hoping for here is that somebody from Brewster will give us an update on Pedro's Permanent. It's probably not really called that, that's just the name we decided to give the new 'permanent' Taco Wagon Pedro is building on the corner of Bridge Street and Main. The title seemed highly apropos considering that this version of a taco wagon will be permanent and of course, as a nod to Pedro's lovely coif.
So if anybody knows anything about the status of this new eatery (or better yet, has a picture to share), we'd appreciate it.

Also, something along a similar vein. Driving through NB last Saturday, we drove through a reservation. There was this poster up that said, "Dave for Chief: Power to the People." We laughed for a long time about that one. Mostly because it reminded us of the infamous Vote for Pedro posters plastered around town (oh! and the super cool tshirts!).

17 October, 2006

New Brunswick, Land of the Useless Door

As a bonus, I’m posting a synopsis of our ‘first’ trip to Canada last Saturday.

For whatever reason, it took us forever to get going and we finally made it to the Port by about 2pm. This port was NOTHING like the one in Oroville/Osoyoos. Wow! Talk about Podunk! It almost looks like it might be the last shack on the frontier before no-man’s-land. (It should be noted that it DOES look like the Canadian side is in the process of making a new building, but the present buildings looked like an ’82 Honda Civic could run into them and they’d come crashing down.) I digress. Going through the Canadian side was pretty easy. Not a lot of questions, but the Customs guy stands on the passenger side. That was weird. And they actually come out of the building. We had pulled up to the stop sign and weren’t really sure what to do. There were no instructions. Do we get out? Stay in? Is there a secret code we’re supposed to use a mirror to flash them?

Anyway, on to New Brunswick. The first town was small but had lots of neat white churches lined up along the river – quite scenic. We ended up taking the scenic route (read: Crappy Highway On the Wrong Side of the River) and got rather lost. We finally got back on the right road and drove up to Grand Falls.

Two important observations must be noted here:
1)New Brunswick truly is the Land of the Useless Door. In actual fact, Luke remembers being told about this at Prov by one of our Eastern friends. People build houses that have maybe one door connecting the garage to the house. They have another door on the front of the house, but it’s on the main level of the house, which might be 8 feet off the ground, and they don’t build any staircase to it. It’s USELESS!! (My profuse apologies for not taking a picture – again.) I mean, what is it? The Bad Boyfriend Door? Is it like walking the plank for a misbehaving child. “That’s it Barney! Go stand by the FRONT door. I’m going to get the blindfold!”
2) Grand Falls isn’t very ‘grand’ at all. At least not in Fall. Evidently, in Spring, there is so much water pouring over this dam that it really does warrant billing as the biggest waterfall East of Niagara Falls. But after the Spring Thaw, all the water is diverted to the hydro facility and the falls becomes somewhat of a trickle. Bummer.

However, after driving around the city for a while trying to find a certain street (really much better attempted with a map, wouldn’t you say?), we found the restaurant we were looking for. Part of the restaurant is built out over the hill so you can see out over the top of the ‘Grand’ Falls. The view was still nice since all the leaves are still turning and it was overlooking the river. I had soupy Caesar salad – with enough croutons to almost be ridiculous. Luke had this local (?) dish called Crouquille de Jean Baptiste, which should really have been called ‘Dejeuner de Jacques Cousteau.’ (CL: are you impressed with my French or what?!?!) It was a mashed potato moat filled with various and sundry seafoods in a white sauce, covered in cheese and baked. Every child’s mashed potato/gravy volcano fun GONE WRONG!! But Luke loved it. We also had some of the best (and may I add, authentically French) poutine we’ve ever had! It was SO GOOD!!!

After lunch we drove to the Falls visitor’s centre, which was closed, so we drove home. Not too much trouble at the border here either. Same deal where the officer is on the passenger side (so from now on, I’m driving), and the US side one-upped the Canadians by offering a stop sign with a red/green traffic light! WOW!! This customs officer must’ve been at least a little bored because he decided to give us the third degree about how long we’d been in Canada. ‘Since two o’clock? You must’ve done something besides just drive to Grand Falls for lunch. You’ve been gone a while.’ But how do you explain (without embarrassing the DRIVER) how yes, you had lunch, but you took the… ‘Scenic Route’ and really actually got lost?

At any rate, we made it home. It was a fun, rather uneventful trip. Next stop, Quebec?!?!

Other interesting facts about Grand Falls:

- The town is one of the only ones in New Brunswick to actually have an official French Name.
- Tim Horton’s is Toujours Frais!

- Main Street is the widest street in Canada East of Winnipeg!
- If you pick up a New Brunswick travel guide in a bi-lingual province, make sure you choose the ENGLISH version.
- Even if you only pretended to read/listen in high school French class, and even if you had to constantly rely on your friend Erin for translation assistance, you’d be surprised how much information you can still glean from a French travel guide. Vive la Nouveau Brunswick!

Oh! One closing note: Congratulations to our friends E & J who just had a baby boy last Friday. Welcome & hugs to little Milo!

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part Three: MIA: Snake Handlers*

*Disclaimer: So here I go again, I’m probably offending somebody in writing this. But that truly is not my intention. I merely publicly exposing my own biases about what’s appropriate in a church service and what isn’t. Growing up in a relatively conservative church doesn’t always prepare one for the ‘bizarre’ things that might be witnessed in future church experiences. I’m not trying to be a relativist, but sometimes, what makes church comfortable is just what you’re used to and what is normal for some is insane to others. On the other hand, I was deeply disturbed by some of the things we heard during this particular service. Things that I know are fundamentally wrong. The obligation to speak in tongues, for example, is a falsehood that I believe can be devastating (not to mention theologically distracting), particularly for a new or younger Christian.

Moving along, here’s the post:
Well, don’t worry. I won’t let the title try to speak for itself this week, but settle in for a longer read.

Now you’d think that it would only take one time for us to learn our lesson. One brush with an ‘exuberant’ church service to make us at least a little more diligent to check BEFOREHAND what we’re getting ourselves in to. Alas, we must be more than a little naïve and we ended up in a slightly stranger repeat of Church-Hunting Week Number One.

This past Sunday was our first (and need I say, ONLY) trip to the Family Christian Center – “An Oasis of Love.” We pulled up in the parking lot at the same time as a guy Luke knows from work, and his fiancée. I had never met them, but they both seemed nice enough. We went inside and everything seemed okay. A nice open, well-lit foyer, lots of brochures around, a nice little library, and a coffee table for the youth group to raise money for activities and missions trips. All very normal.

The sanctuary was one of those large rooms that can double as an ‘all purpose’ room or gym, with a giant stage up front and a high ceiling that looks like the roof of The Ark. It was here that we made our first mistake. So a word for the novice church hunter: If you come upon a sanctuary and there is only one major entrance to it, DO NOT make a beeline for the far side of the seating just because according to your personal tradition, you always sit on the left side. Just don’t do it. It can only lead to disaster, and it does not for an expeditious exit make.

Then the music started. That part was actually not so bad, although the majority of the songs were unfamiliar to us, and the majority were 7/11 songs as my Grampa used to call them. They had a drummer, a flutist (I really don’t know how to spell that), bass guitar, regular acoustic guitar, a saxaphone player who doubled as the resident harmonicist (one who plays a harmonica – if it’s not a real word, I’m sorry). They also had a pianist and an organ player who looked like he really meant to show up at the Episcopal service downtown. Oops. The only real downside to the music was the leader guy who kept singing his own thing and not really following the lyrics. So, is the next phrase ‘hallelujah? Or amen? Or what??’ He also reminded me more than a little of one of those televangelists. Oh and I guess I should mention the mosh pit, or lack thereof. It was the funniest thing to see grown men in Sunday suits jumping up and down as if they were 15 and at an MXPX concert (yes, MXPX. I am old.) And women dancing. And the amen-ing and hallelujah-ing. Man, did I grow up in a conservative church or what?!?

After singing, this other guy got up. We think he was supposed to do announcements, but instead he started rambling and he ended up deciding there should be a prayer time instead. So there was praying. All very normal. But then it started. The prophecy. Now, I do believe that prophecy is a gift that God still gives for use in churches today, but I really didn’t expect it to look like this. Weird people who looked like they were in some sort of prayer-like trance speaking words that sounded all well and good, but weren’t necessarily direct quotes from scripture, which is somehow what I’ve always expected modern prophecy to look like – bringing appropriate (and ACTUAL) scripture to light for the edification of the body. Luckily, this ‘prophecy’ didn’t last long.

Then the greeting. Over came the burgundy folder. This time with a multicoloured card, which we did not fill out OR leave behind in any offering plate. This handy little welcome folder (again, complete with PEN – KB! CLC has really got to get on the bandwagon here!), contained the document we most wanted to see: the Statement of Faith. My ‘favourite’ point was the one that equated the gift of the Holy Spirit with tongues and insinuated that if you don’t speak in tongues, you have not really been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Say what? We were quite ready to get up and leave at this point, but again, be sure to note your proximity to the nearest major exit BEFORE you sit down…it was too late. [In actual fact, I didn’t even notice until now that we had stopped reading at that point and completely missed the statement about divine healing – John 5:14 was referenced. Umm….)

Then came the sermon. Major bonus point in his favour, is the fact that the pastor is from South Africa, so he’s got a dang cool accent. He was preaching from 1 Samuel 17 about David & Goliath. His sermon was titled ‘How to Be a Giant Killer.’ I walked away thoroughly confused about this guy’s theology. For one, he made it sound like trials and tribulations in our lives just ‘happen.’ We just wake up one morning, open the door, and there’s our ‘Goliath.’ So, you’re saying it has nothing to do with our personal sin? We never bring these problems on ourselves through our sinful, rebellious acts? Hmmm. He also insinuated other things I completely disagreed with (call it picky semantics on my part, but still): 1) “God has created us with a purpose….That’s what makes us happy.” 2) “God’s not using angels today to do His work, He’s using Jesses.” (as in Jesse, King David’s father.) 3) “The problem is not how big the giant is, it’s how small he makes us feel.” <-emphasis mine.
So, a Charismatic church pastor doesn’t believe God uses angels?? What?? I’m confused. At the same time though, he did work to hammer home the point that we are saved entirely by grace. (See Ephesians 2, it is only by God’s Grace that we are saved.)

I feel like the way I’m describing this church service is really not doing it justice. I felt a little like I might be watching one of those crazy services that EF often watches, (pardon me, ‘flips through’) on TBN. Yet, in retrospect, it still truly feels like all they were missing were the snake handlers. (Unfortunately, handling a Garter Snake would hardly be convincing and there are no poisonous snakes in Maine.)

11 October, 2006

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part Two: The IVORY Card

Well, it's already Wednesday and I owe you all a post about our church hunt on Sunday. The problem is, church was so normal there really isn't much to tell you. There just wasn't enough fodder for a super-funny blog entry, so this is what you get:

There weren't many people there because a bunch were away at some youth retreat in Augusta. The Pastor was with them, so we didn't get to hear him preach in the morning. The guy that spoke was a lay minister and his sermon was okay - more 'milk' than 'meat' though. Solid hymn singing, but it was nice cause they were all songs we knew.

At any rate, we had barely sat down when over comes, Curtis maybe (?) with The Packet. One of those really nice burgundy folders with all the church info in it and the ominous Ivory Card. BUT, good news! We filled out this one and there was no conspicuous 'Passing of the Card' to the pastor, and no making us stand up for introductions - we just had to raise our hands this time, but there was another new guy there too so we didn't feel too weird. Nice welcome folders though. Pricey, I know, but this one even came with a Doctrinal Statement! We could hardly believe it! Imagine! A church telling newcomers what they believe - and on the first Sunday!! *gasp*

Let it not be said, however, that people in PI aren't friendly! The guy sitting in front of us, a really nice Grampa-type, even told us where he lived and that we should stop by any time! By the end of church, we also knew that his oldest son had been conceived in Washington but born in PI! (We're not sure a visit to his house is warranted anymore - we might know all there is to know already.)

We met a few more people that work at the hospital though. Good grief! Everybody knows somebody...'my mother's cousin's uncle's dog's groomer's brother works in the [fill in the blank] department!' I'm beginning to feel a little left out.

Back to church. They invited us back for an evening service, 'geared more for the younger generation.' So we went back. There weren't many people there again, but there never are at evening services, so it seems. We sang some songs, prayed, the pastor preached. It was good. A lot more Reformed than we were expecting, so that was nice. [Sidebar: We sang some song that had actions and the pastor's younger daughter got up to demonstrate. It was really sweet. She looked embarrassed, but knew what she was doing. She also looked just like B - about the same height, same hair, and I had a moment of homesickness because I miss my office visits from B&B, but I'm okay now.] After the service we were invited to stay for refreshments. Hot chocolate and cookies. It was nice. The people we met, mostly a lady whose name I can't remember, were really pretty welcoming.

Not sure if we'll go back right away. We've got a few more to check out first, but this place shows promise! Anyway, off to meet with the mortgage guy!

07 October, 2006

Argh! The Camera....

A guy we know has this blog. He often reminds his readers how important it is to always travel with a camera in the car, and oh, how true it often proves. Like tonight for example.

Today we decided to go to Canada after we had met with the realtor to go over a contract for a house purchase. After our meeting, we came home and searched high and low but couldn't find Luke's passport anywhere. So we headed out to do errands instead. We got good bargains on all our purchases, got one item for half price (and less than a dollar!), AND FINALLY found a store that carries bulk products and a large assortment of organic and natural foods. Hooray!

BUT, the icing on the cake was our trip to Mars Hill. (DB: Mars Hill is the first spot the sun hits America every morning. Not Katahdin. So we were all wrong.) The drive to M.H. was nice because the sun was setting and the leaves were beautiful. But that's not even the best part!

We were coming over this little hill and I was just saying how Luke needed to remind his friends at work that we still hadn't seen a moose - the elusive, I was beginning to believe, non-existent, moose. And then, THERE IT WAS!!! A MOOSE! A MOOSE! I think I yelled so loud it heard me! It was munching on some supper in a field. It was a female.
Then, not even two miles later, I had started singing a song about seeing moose in a field. Then we were passing some farmers harvesting potatoes and I said, "Do you think that the moose eat the broccoli and potatoes?"

Now, this next part is truly amazing, because not only had I just been singing my new moose song, but I had also just asked about the moose diet and what do you think we saw?!?!? FOUR, yes, that's FOUR moose in the BROCCOLI field EATING BROCCOLI!!!!

Anyway, just wanted to share my excitement and apologize profusely that I don't have any pictures to show for it. There was a young man in the field taking a picture of the moose family. They ran away. Lucky for him, they didn't charge - for the picture of course. :)

Confirmed Moose Sightings to Date: 5
Wanna Eat Like a Moose?: broccoli is in.

05 October, 2006

A Couple of Pictures for You

The quintessential New England home in fall. Can you smell pumpkin pie??
Our new chipmunk friend. He lives under the front step and the cats have taken quite a 'liking' to him. He's the first chipmunk they've ever seen.

04 October, 2006

Cheap Housing...and Other Untruths About P.I.

Okay, well the good news first: Luke's job is secure, we're not going anywhere...or at least back home. The department head and manager both decided that they would put him to work wherever they could until his license comes through and he's 'legal' here.

The bad news: This house-hunting business is bunk! We looked at two more houses yesterday. The first one had a bit more potentital than we're prepared to deal with, though it did have ample RV parking (we'd probably have to charge rent though) and a large unbelievably clean garage with storage. The main bedroom upstairs had this absolutely bizarre floor. Tiles, tiles everywhere! No specific pattern, just maybe 8 different colours of tiles all random-like - and no guarantee they're not asbestos.

The second house was, I can't quite think of one word to describe it other than DISASTER. There was no rhyme or reason to this house at all! Fake brick paneling throughout, that damp, dank smell that makes you think you've just crawled down a sewer, and the most ridiculous staircases we've seen yet! (Luke apologizes profusely for not taking pictures!) The staircases were made to just meet code. They have no landings at the bottom. They have no railing either on one side, which is handy as it allows you to actually step up to the second stair in the first place. This house was deceptively cheap. It had a decent yard and newer siding, but who can tell what the sellers were thinking!? TEAR IT DOWN! I say 'were thinking' because they can't still be. Any seller who is still thinking about selling this house would know that tearing it down and selling the lot would be more successful.

So, as a matter of prayer, please remember us in our house hunting. We've decided we might start looking in a couple of other towns close to here which wouldn't be nearly as convenient, but would be still suitable. One town is about 14 miles north of here, but isn't too tiny, and still comes nicely equipped with a Family Dollar and Tim Horton's (service = A-).

Moose Sitings to Date: still ZERO!
Amazing sunsets to Date: at least four. See below for example.

01 October, 2006

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part One: The Yellow Card

This Sunday morning started off much like any other Sunday morning. Various alarms were set for various times and after the fifth or sixth alarm went off, we finally rolled, bleary eyed, out of bed.
Everything was on schedule until of course it came time to put the cats away in their cat room before we left for church. The situation was quickly rectified and we left for church.
We had decided last night to try out the church that's right next door to the house we may hopefully end up buying, so here it is, your synopsis for the Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part One.**

Full Gospel Assembly - The Yellow Card:
Oi. Vey.
I could summarize it all in that phrase and let you draw your own conclusions, but where would the fun be in that? Let me start by saying that being at this church made us miss our home church even more than we already do.

Beginning with music. Music at CLC has seen some transitions in recent weeks, from a 'full-service' worship team, to the dedicated sincerity of a few individuals God has called to remain faithful to providing worship leadership. Worship has been simplified, fruitful, and appreciated.

Music this morning at FGA reminded me of a band one might find on the D Stage at a small country fair in the backwoods of West Virginia (and we can almost say we know, now that we've been to the backwoods of West VA). I may be exaggerating (but only slightly) when I say that all that was missing was the washboard and the possum hats. One woman on piano, one man on bass, one man on guitar (country TWANG geee-tarrr). The pastor started out the singing (chorus books, hymn books, and overhead machine in sight but not in use). Then he suddenly walked away and a lady took over. Now I'm not necessarily doubting the sincerity of this lady, but some people were just meant to be solo singers. Or perhaps not singers at all. It was awful! I couldn't even look at Luke! I was trying to concentrate on figuring out the lyrics to the Old Time Revival Favourites, but it just wasn't working. And it went on forever, and ever, and ever! But I digress; I needed to make an important point about this lady's singing. Seriously, she should be commanding an army overseas! Because I'm sure they could hear her from where she was standing this morning! It was 'singing' only because it followed some sort of 'tune.' To the uninitiated, it could've easily been interpreted as yelling.

Between every song there was an equally exuberant chorus of hallelujahs and amens and thank you Jesuses, all said in a manner to rival the 'ohm mani padme ohms' of any Buddhist church. We decided we had accidentally stumbled on the Full Gospel (and Did We Forget to Mention Pentecostal) Assembly. It was a bit crazy.

Well, the music finally ended (I was sitting there wishing I could take pictures to send back home) and then it was time for the special number. I don't remember the name of the guy who was going to sing, but he was also the geeee-tarrrrr player and had this crazy beard. (Are there such people as Pentecostal Hippies?) Anyway, he got up to sing, but something happened with the tape ("technical difficulties") and it never panned out. I think we were saved from some early 80s revival-style tune.

Prayer time was a concert of prayer (which I've participated in before, but never during a Sunday morning service). And guess who we could hear praying the loudest? (And she STILL sounded like she was singing).

After that, the preaching. The sermon started out okay. Beginning of Jeremiah 18 - the Potter and the clay. It was only about halfway through the sermon that we realized when he had earlier asked us to open our Bibles, he had actually forgotten his on his chair and was just now going to get it. It was then that the sermon took a sort of, how shall I say it? Downward spiral, of sorts. He concluded by implying that as Christians we have a choice about whether or not we want to be clay on God's potter's wheel. We can get off any time we choose (although doing so won't allow God to form you into what He wants you to be). Hm.

Oh, and about the yellow card. We had hardly come in and sat down before the pastor came over and handed me an envelope. He introduced himself and told us there was yellow card in the envelope and could we fill it out and put it in the offering plate. No problem. And hey, free pen! Did you read that, KB?? Free pen! Just like the ones we always used to get in the mail, only it actually had the name of the church and address instead of the name of the pen and 'your organization's name here' written on it! AND, the envelope was pre-printed with service times on it, AND we got two free blue ribbon bookmarks - complete with, you guessed it - the FGA info all over it! No sign of a doctrinal statement, but hey, let's not scare people away...

The yellow card was completed. In the offering plate it went. The ushers handed it directly to the pastor up front who pocketed it just before starting his sermon. He also proceeded to introduce us just before the whole prayer time started (we were standing up already of course). At the end, not very inconspicuously, he pulled the card out of his pocket to double check our names before he went to greet everybody at the back. Note to self: don't be so hasty with the yellow card filling.

I'm not sure I'm missing much in my synopsis here. We decided that these people were either white people born the wrong colour in the wrong state, or else they had all gone on a missions trip to Mississippi 'some years back' and were now trying to emulate what they'd heard in their own services. I wonder if at Pentecostal seminaries, when pastors take homiletics classes, if they're taught that instead of saying, 'um' or 'er' when you don't know what to say, you should say AMEN!! or HALLELUJAH! or I CAN'T HEAR YOU BROTHER LOWELL!

Now again, they were sweet people. We felt like as visitors and young people we were sort of an anomaly there. There were three junior high-ish kids there and us. There's a very good chance that nobody else was under 60.

Probably next week, we'll try some place else.

**Now, we went to this church this morning fully aware that we probably wouldn't find the perfect church right off. And we realize that perhaps there are those for whom these events occur every Sunday. But for us it was quickly obvious, that this is NOT the right church for us. The worship may have been completely sincere in its own right, but we were more than just a little out of our element. Like wild boars in a palace maybe.

Stay tuned for more Sunday Reports.