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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Minneapolis Update

I am finally sitting down to write a much overdue update about our life in Minneapolis! I guess the absence of an update means we have been busy but that isn't a really good excuse. I can't really use the weather either since it just now getting consistently gorgeous outside. Today it is currently 80 with lots of bright sunshine!

It is hard to know where to begin to try and cover about 5 months of time. This week Christy will switch from a day/night rotation to a full night shift. This was her choice and is almost like a promotion. It is weird to think that being awake every night is a move in an upward direction, but the ability to have a consistent schedule and not be switching back and forth each week will be a great change. She is enjoying work very much. It is a nice change from one of the
toughest ICU's in the country to a pretty sedate Post-Partum unit. On average she takes care of 3 mom's and their babies each night.

Things are starting to settle down for me at work as well. We currently have 8 days of school left, so there is a lot to finish up with students and many of the volunteers have already left for summer vacation (the problem with college student volunteers!). We had some large events over the past few weeks that have taken a lot of energy and work. Last week we had a Somali Family Night and Sanford on Display - which showcased work from all our students. I am starting
to feel connected and part of the staff now, just as we part for the summer. My summer should be interesting, since VISTA's sign on for a year of service we have to "work" over the summer even though our fellow staff members don't necessarily have to. I was blessed to meet a guy at a recent VISTA conference who works with a non-profit housing organization that is providing youth enrichment programs over the summer (with a mostly Somali population). I will be spending my afternoons working with them while doing some work with the Sanford Job Corps during summer school in the morning. The Sanford Job Corps is an interesting program that has become my biggest project. It is a fund-raising program that allows students to perform service in the community, through which businesses and homeowners donate money to the school. That money is saved in an account and is then given to the student to use for school-related activities. I have gotten to know some of those kids pretty well. I've also been working with the Student Council helping with their service projects and such around the school.

It hasn't been all work and no play. We have tried to fully embrace the Minnesota weather and all its extremes. We gritted through one of the worst winters in a long time which included -34 wind chills and a few feet of snow. Through it all though we had 0 snow days off from school! We tried to spend a lot of time outdoors and found ourselves taking hikes, walking across frozen lakes, snow shoeing, and even driving the car out on a lake! We have also gone camping two different times. The first was bitter cold at night and we actually got an inch or so of snow on the second night which turned a great camping trip into a great adventure as dawn broke with brutally cold winds which later dropped 5 inches of snow in the area we camped but 18 inches a
little farther north! As spring has taken its sweet time in settling in we have continued to enjoy the outdoors, but with less clothing on! In fact yesterday we enjoyed the mid-70's and took a 23 mile bike ride which included 5 of the Minneapolis lakes, a waterfall, and cruising along the Mississippi River. I have also taken up bike commuting and joined the hundreds of bike commuters on the 80 miles of off-road bike trails (off-road meaning paved trails not on the streets). It has been fun but does provide its own unique challenges.

We think we have found a church home but are still looking at a few other options. There are a lot of churches in the area, most are Lutheran. So we have a lot of options it is just trying to make sure we have found one that fits our beliefs. We started working with a group called Somali Adult Literacy Training (SALT) that is a part of World Relief and provides literacy and citizenship training to... Somali adults (go figure!). We've done this for a couple of months and
have gotten to know some of the students but have also made friends with many of the fellow tutors and leaders who are also Christians and committed to engaging the community around us.

As the weather broke and we saw our grass for the first time in March we have also slowly gotten to meet our neighbors. In fact today while eating lunch, picnic style on the front porch with Kristofer and Amy, we had some kids ask if they could have some food. We ended up giving
them some of our cupcakes in an ice cream cone and chips. It was fun to meet some of the neighborhood kids. One of them drank some of the pickle juice at my suggestion - he didn't like it! Yesterday we met another kid while sitting on the chairs in our community garden. He
wanted a dollar - which we didn't have - and then proceeded to invite us to church, where he said you could take several boxes of granola bars and stuff them in your coat!!! He was quite funny and we enjoyed his company for awhile. Yes, there are adults and we have met many of
them. There was a neighborhood block party a few weeks ago where we met many of the neighbors. We have planted a little garden in our back yard and another plot in the community garden. We hope to enjoy cherry tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, herbs, and much more later in the

I almost forgot a quick running note. I joined the largest running club in the state and also a USATF team. We have been running in a USATF Championship Circuit around the cities. It has been a lot of fun although there is some stiff competition. I ran a half-marathon in April in 1:36 - not overly happy with it but will take it! I have also registered for the Twin Cities Marathon and look forward to completing it in October!

This has gotten quite long but I think I covered most of the highlights. Be sure to check out our website for more information. I'll put the full list of links below.

We'd love to hear how life is going for you so please write or call.

God Bless,
(link to the video of our house - when there was still snow on the

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