The unseasonable weather continued this week at Lakeshore, and you can tell that nature is taking notice. Each evening when I’ve been outside, I’ve heard the faint sound of frogs in the distance. They are waking up in the bottoms. Their homes are getting marshy just as it does in March and April. The weather is warm like March and April. Mosquitos are waking up from sleep. On some nights, you even find bugs searching out the porch lights, left on so you don’t have to fumble with your keys to get in the door. As you get the right key for the right door, you might find a tickle in your ear that you aren’t used to in the first week of February. The frogs have noticed it too. Well, if the bugs are getting out, we might as well make a meal out of it. So, you hear that drone that could lull you into sleep on those summer nights. Normally in February there is silence. You might hear a solitary owl in the distance. You might hear a few coyotes trying to stir something up. This is not a time of year for a mass chorus of noise. You just can’t get that many things out at once during this time of the year. Only the slightly crazy ones are out right now.
We are preparing at Lakeshore for the masses who will be here soon. Gary did an inventory of the Conference Center this week, figuring out where we needed recycling bins, what we needed more of, and what we needed less of. Over the year, some of our recycling bins have been relocated, some lost, and some are just a little outdated. Right now, there’s no place to put used paper or cardboard and there’s only one aluminum container, while there are four regular garbage cans. We generate much more aluminum than wrappers and things that fill up the regular trash cans, and when you have this kind of situation, you will find that things don’t end up where you hope they will.
It’s interesting how an idea that starts out so simple can become so complicated. We decided years ago that we should recycle, and, really, recycling is as simple as putting your trash in different containers and taking them to two different places. But once you have those containers, you have to make sure the right stuff gets in the right containers. That means labeling them. But then, if they aren’t in the right place, guests who are not used to the extra steps may not take the time to learn the new system. Then you must make sure and tell all your guests about them every time they visit. Then you realize that some guests just don’t want to take the extra steps, so you must strategically place each container is just the right place where it will get used. Then, even after all those steps, you will have guests who have not paid attention, come in late, or are just too distracted, and trash still ends up in the wrong container. So, you put larger signs on each container in hopes people will notice then. By then, your room is a gaudy mess with 12 different trash cans and giant signs at each one with ridiculous, condesending directions. How did we get here? We just wanted to recycle our stuff?
Vickie spent part of the week taking pictures of our lodging to go on the brand new website. We launched the new site about a month ago, but it is not complete. The next step is to get pictures on all our pages, and we will begin with lodging pictures, so potential new guests will know what our buildings and rooms look like. So, Vickie went on a photo adventure through all of our lodging. But, as you do work to make one thing new, you find yourself wanting to make everything new to match it. Vickie was taking pictures in one of our private rooms and realized that she didn’t like the decor of the room. Though the blankets were clean and in completely satisfactory shape, they were a bit out of style. Vickie described the bedspreads as looking as if they “… had come from a 90s motel room.” These bedspreads would hardly do in a picture for the new website. So, she and Gary got together, found some newer bedspreads and blankets, and made the bedroom look much more up to date. And, it all started because we wanted to change the website.
This weekend, we’re doing our first Confirmation Retreat of the year. I group of about 55-60 pre-teens will be with us learning about what it means to be the Methodist Church (from the best we can tell). It isn’t unusual during retreats like this for groups to be short a few adults. So, we put out a message to our former staff to see if they might help us out. It didn’t look like anyone would be able to, but on Wednesday we heard from Emma Tinius and Megan Montgomery, both students at UT Chatanooga, who made the long drive to spend the weekend with a group of confirmands. As luck would have it, Megan’s home church, Union City First UMC, was here, so Megan got to connect with some of the younger kids of her home church as they begin this journey in their faith. Emma worked with a Brownsville First UMC. Dannon is a youth in that group, who came to help, and she was also one of Emma’s campers 2 summers ago during a week of backpacking. This time around, they get to work together, giving counsel.
We haven’t seen those two since they left at the end of summer last year. The temperature dropped along with the leaves, and the shore became a quieter place for a time. We knew they would return, but we were not sure when. Sometimes things come a little earlier than you expect. You don’t expect to pull those shorts out of the closet until at least mid-March, but in the dead of winter you spend a week in the 60s. The frogs come out and you hear that familiar sound that should be accompanied by sunburns and long days. An old friend shows up to help you when you weren’t sure if anyone would be able to. You just don’t know, when you get into something, all the complications that heap on it. Ah, but the complications bring blessings. Blessings you couldn’t imagine before.
Be in prayer for our confirmands and all their mentors and leaders. These are among the most important lessons they may learn.