Thursday, June 9, 2011

Return to Normal Life

Every Wednesday morning, I have a short staff meeting at my church. Yet another thing I love about Guam is, whereas most people hear the word "staff meeting" and cringe, I actually love going to ours. It's just an hour long, a tableless round table by the 5 or 6 staff members who, like me, benefit from knowing what the rest of the church is up to. We start out with a short devotional, prayer, and a "getting to know you" question, which I realize has led to me getting to know my coworkers much more quickly than at past workplaces. And then each person briefly reports on what is going on with their ministry and what is going on with them personally.

So yesterday, I gave my youth report about the upcoming mission trip, which I have hit the ground running with planning since I returned two weeks ago. And as I looked to the next person for their report, my pastor jumped in, "And how are things going on with you? You're not sick? No one has died? No one is injured? Are we out of the woods?" I had to laugh. It has just been that kind of a run for us and people we care about recently. I guess I have had a disproportionate number of serious prayer requests the last few months and weeks in particular. Yet another reason that I am so appreciating that I am back in my awesome normal life on this paradise island. And if I sound like I'm bragging, it's because normal is something I have been craving for six weeks.

Nick picked me up on a Friday night and after a normal home-cooked meal in our kitchen, I got a good night sleep in my own bed... the best kind. Saturday I woke up and spent the day unpacking and getting caught up on life, while Nick went out and played golf. Sunday, we went to church for my first Sunday since Easter! We played golf that afternoon at the Air Force course and had dinner with friends. It was nice catching up with people I hadn't seen in a month. As much as I miss my USA friends, when I'm in the States, I definitely miss my Guam friends too. I'm lucky to have found so many good ones on such a small island!

Monday of our three-day weekend, Nick and I went out exploring. Being Memorial Day, we decided it was only appropriate to stop off at the Asan Beach WWII Memorial Park. This is one of the two sites where U.S. Marines landed to storm Orote Peninsula and take back the island from the Japanese on what would become known as Guam's Liberation Day. It is one of the most beautiful places on the island that is visible from the main road, and we are fortunate enough to get to drive by it almost every time we leave base. That said, this was actually our first time in these ten months to pull in here. Luckily, I had done a bit of hiking around on one of my recent kayak trips so I knew where to find the trail that goes up to this beautiful vista. The specks in the grass are U.S. and Guam flags celebrating the day.

We left Asan Beach and headed to Pagat Caves. This was the very first hike I did with my Thursday hiking group back in October, and it had been on my list to take Nick to for some time. It took us a few tries to find the trailhead since I hadn't been there in so long. I thought I found a winner, but when we got out and started trekking it, nothing felt familiar. So we turned back toward the car, which is when Nick found this bowling ball. Yes, folks, a bowling ball. In the jungle. OOG! I think by the end of this, I will be able to do a whole post on random crap you find in the jungle here. So we had a few minutes of fun bowling in the jungle and then continued on our way.

Luckily our next stop was at the Pagat Caves trailhead, which turns out, is conveniently marked with a sign that we had missed on our first pass.  The hike down toward the ocean is covered in jungle and takes about 20 minutes. Because we were on a cliffside surrounded by trees, the midday heat was absolutely stifling. As in, you are sweating so much it feels like you would be drier if you jumped in the ocean. Absolutely drenching. Luckily the sweating is followed by entrance down into the cool, dark cave. You have to wade through a cave hallway until you get to this big underground room. The water is nice and cool and completely clear.
Pagat Caves Sweat Shop
Nick swam over to the wall, where it gets so deep you can't touch anymore. Apparently there is an opening in the cave wall where you can swim through into another cave room. But we didn't bring a mask or dive light, so we'll have to save that little adventure for next time. Which gives me time to mentally prepare for swimming through tunnels in a dark, scary cave - yikes!

After the much slower trek back up the trail (pneumonia lungs = out of breath and out of shape!), we loaded up and went to... the golf course, of course! We played my favorite course, Windward Hills to round off an absolutely fantastically normal first weekend back on Guam.

The rest of the week was packed with normalcy... writing thank you notes, getting ready for the mission trip, and fighting jet lag to stay awake past 8 p.m. I made some of our favorite dinners every night (prosciutto goat cheese pizza, anyone?), which back in April I had started getting tired of. They were extra tasty this go around. We had our last Bible study before we break for the summer, and it was so great to see all the people who have helped me make sense of all that has happened the last few months. Nick managed to go surfing twice during his work week. The only thing that wasn't normal was how much harder my trips to the gym were after being so sick and taking a month off. Gonna have to work back up to that.

Perhaps my favorite part of the week was right at the core of my job... going to youth group, where we played sock tag and toilet tag and shared highs and lows, just like always. It was so sweet how excited the youth were to see me back. No question I missed them too. And no question it's good to be back on Guam. Normal life here is pretty darn good. And I'm appreciating every normal minute that goes by.

1 comment:

  1. Aww I miss Guam! I miss all the fabulous adventures that island is so uniquely known for. Finding a bowling ball in the jungle is just so Guam! I'm pretty sure in a few more hikes you'll have more than a few pics for a good jungle post!

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