I absolutely cannot believe we are in the month of April. Where has the time gone? I think this is a challenging time of the year for most of us Fellows as we learn what it means to continue to be present and engaged here as we plan for what's next. It's not a bad thing for us to think about our futures (in fact, in a lot of ways it's what we've been preparing for all year and is quite necessary and good), but it does mean that we will need to make intentional efforts to prevent our minds from living in the future.
Easter weekend was a highlight from the month of March that makes me feel so so thankful that the Lord brought me to the Raleigh Fellows Program this year and to be in community with these people (although I wish we had all been together!).
Mike, Andrew, Kate and I took a little road trip to Elkton, VA to spend Easter with the Scheel family. The music selection on the way up was prime - Kate and I randomly selected Disney songs and had Andrew and Mike compete to see who could correctly name the movies the songs came from. Although it was pitiful, Andrew won. We spent the rest of the drive listening to middle school angst music (think Avril Lavigne and My Chemical Romance). It was great.
We were able to get a taste of what life was like for Kate growing up - something I wish we could do with every fellow! We strolled past horse pastures and yards filled with lawn ornaments, and explored the remains of her childhood "fort" (it was literally a circle of rocks). Fun fact: people in Elton, VA love goats. Another fun fact: as Kate and I were getting ready for bed the first night, neighborhood hoodlums threw an egg at us when we were standing in the window. Nice.
Probably the biggest highlight of the trip for me was our canoe adventure. Kate and I occupied a sleek red canoe that gracefully glided atop the river with ease. Mr. Scheel and Amy (Kate's sister) journeyed in a slightly-less-sleek yellow thing that looked like a canoe/kayak hybrid. But here's where the real adventure sunk in (pun intended): Mike and Andrew rode in a green canoe that, after no more than 7 minutes on the water, began to sink. There was a hole in the bottom of their canoe that had been recently "patched" that, after going through the first set of rapids, un-patched and filled the boys' canoe with water. By the end of the trip, water was entering the canoe at such a rapid pace, Mr. Scheel had to scoop the water out about every 3-5 minutes. Kate and I offered to swap canoes with the boys or help scoop out water, but we were just mostly in the way and were quickly dismissed. So, we had adventures of our own! We pulled ashore to hang out with some baby goats until a protective alpha goat forced us to retreat; we canoed very close to a cow drinking water from the river; we tried to scoop up the bones of some animal we spotted at the bottom of the glassy water (it was less creepy than it sounds); and we sang lots of songs/found harmonies as we basked in the warmth of the sun. I had a blast! The boys, on the other hand, probably think back on this experience less fondly...
Although not as riveting as the canoe trip, the rest of our time together was wonderful. We played some games, explored downtown Harrisonburg, had a bonfire, ate Hot Cross Buns, celebrated Easter at Kate's home church, poorly decorated a bunny cake, and went to a luncheon with her family and childhood friends. I felt very thankful for the Scheels' hospitality. On the way back, even though it was slightly out of our way, everyone wanted to make a pit stop in Charlottesville. This was a really special moment for me because I got to share a place I love with people I have come to love over the past year. To share such an integral part of my life with these dear friends made me feel somehow more known, more understood. I don't quite have the words to describe it - All I know is that I feel thankful. Thankful for God's faithfulness and provision in the way that He has placed people in my life who love Him and love me. And thankful that we love to spend even our breaks together.