Life Ramblings (and pictures of the wonderful people I get to work with!)

The last six (going on seven) weeks have been a blur of cooking over a fire, gardening, office work, feeding kittens, herding children, sleeping under the stars, more office work, fixing a kitten cage, leading hikes, lifeguarding on a river, hauling who knows what, and reading Writing Grant Proposals for Dummies. In between those things, I’m jumping through hoops to get my North Dakota teaching license and find an apartment. It’s been two years since I moved to London, a year since I moved back to Minnesota to work at my church and substitute teach, and now I’m halfway done with another summer of ministry at Good Earth Village. Where did this time go?!

Look! I learned how to garden! Told you I was busy.

Look! I learned how to garden! Told you I was busy.

My emotions are rather scattered right now, but the best feeling I can use to describe them is homesick. I miss Peckham and all of the generous people who offered me hospitality and friendship across the United Kingdom. I miss Concordia College and my friends who are now scattered across North America and beyond. I miss my previous summers at Good Earth Village and friends who have moved on to other vocations. I’m missing some loved ones I’ve lost in the last few years. A lot of my “free” time must be spent on logistics for my upcoming move to North Dakota in about a month…so I’m feeling a bit homesick for the present moment as well. Sheesh! Emotions make life complicated. 😀

As I contemplate my next steps, I’m struggling with the contradictions of the people and experiences I’ve come to call home. I love the green, the trees, the creek, the starry night sky of Good Earth, the torrential rain peppered with booming thunder as I write this post, and yet I miss the crowded, concrete cacophony and variety of London. I loved the perks that came with moving back to the affluent Saint Paul, like our gorgeous library, terrific schools, clean and spacious parks, while also feeling frustration and shame coming from a family that lived on the poorer end of things for so long in this context. I’m reminded that being white, Lutheran, English speaker with a Minnesota heritage help me “fit in” at a predominantly white, Lutheran summer camp in rural Minnesota…and yet these were the very traits that set me apart in an inner-city London neighborhood filled with mostly Caribbean and West African people, in addition to migrants from nearly continent. I love belonging, but I miss the diversity and constant privilege-checking that London offered. Is having everything and everyone I want in my life too much to ask of the universe? (just kidding…kind of.)

We have the coolest. Mostly because we're really weird.

We have the coolest staff. Mostly because we’re really weird…

Why NOT dance in a conga line?!

…see?!

I’m struggling with how to live with Christ-like simplicity in the First World, America especially, where it’s necessary to own a car and more stuff than I need as an individual, because I don’t always know who will be there to provide for me in the adult world when I can’t provide for myself (although camp offers one way to live in a strong community in the First World, which is a reason I love it so much.) I’m struggling with how our outdoor ministry staff may or may not be able to talk with our campers about the recent racially driven acts of violence in Charleston and elsewhere, as well as the Supreme Court ruling to lift the bans on same-gender marriage in all fifty states, when we don’t know the political and cultural flavors that permeate the other spheres of these kids’ lives. The way my own family acknowledges how race, class, religion, sexuality, and political leanings play a role in our daily lives can cause enough negative feelings from all parties involved that we revert to the age-old Minnesota method of only talking about weather, since even sports can turn sour depending on how the Vikings are doing or if a cousin started dating a Packer fan. 😉

We also visited Luther Seminary and used a selfie stick to prove it to the rest of you.

We also visited Luther Seminary and used a selfie stick to prove it to the rest of you. Ha!

Now I’ve got a new adventure awaiting me – teaching Fourth Grade to young members of the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota. I’m excited. Nervous, too. Fort Totten will be the opposite of London in a lot of ways, but I think remarkably similar in some others. This context is going to check my privilege a lot like Peckham did. Facing up to the oppressive systems that benefit me is always hard, but I’m missing the face-to-face relationships that put more context into what I don’t understand. I might be biased as a schoolteacher, but “Learning is good for you!”

In the meantime, I love it here at Good Earth Village, and as hard as what I’ve been calling “grownup world logistics” are, I am truly grateful for the here and now when I’m working. We have an amazing staff who challenge me to grow every day, and I have the honor of seeing them grow as well. I can be ridiculous and responsible at the same time, and I am so so SO blessed “do” and “be” and “give” and “receive” ministry (all nuances included) in this beautiful and unique context of “home.”

...and the informal.

…and the informal.

The formal...

The formal…

Peace to you, my friends, on whatever road you’re travelling.

Much love,

Emily

May the Fourth (Be With You)

In honor of May the Fourth (be with you), I would like to share a Star Wars dream I had a few months ago. Nothing deep, reflective, or Earth shattering. It simply started off as a Facebook post among friends, and then got too long.

Here we go! Ahem.

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So I’m in my mom’s basement, and there is a portal to the Star Wars universe in the laundry room (’cause that’s not weird.) I’m in the middle of doing laundry, when out of the portal stumbles Luke Skywalker…but he looks pixelated, as if he had to be converted into digital information, travel through some kind of computer system, and then be magically spit back out via the mystical laundry room portal. (In real life, I’d been watching A LOT of Digimon while working out at the gym if that explains anything…)

Well, ok. Fine then. I will take time from my laundry to help Luke Skywalker, whose image is becoming sharper now, although he’s still in a daze and stumbling around. Just as he’s leaning on me so I can guide him to the family room, Qui-Gon comes through next. Wait…how are you two alive at the same time? But before I can get an answer out of either of the pixelated men, DARTH MAUL COMES THROUGH THE PORTAL.

Luke and Qui-Gon are still no help within their pixelated confusion, so I leave them to stumble to the living room. I realize I have Princess Leia’s blaster in my hand (where did this…?) NOPE. No time for questions, so I shoot Darth Maul with the blaster. It doesn’t work, but Darth Maul, it turns out, is just as confused as Luke and Qui-Gon. I can work with this! Maybe if I shove him back through the portal…

Just kidding, here come Han Solo, cursing as he’s tripping over laundry baskets, waving his gun and yelling for Chewie, whom I can hear bellowing from somewhere inside the portal. The Han and Chewie chaos pushes Darth Maul and I aside…and Darth Maul ends up pushed inside the washing machine. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?! I slam the lid down, set the machine to spin cycle and wait to see what happens, while yelling at Han and the Walking Carpet to get out of my way and into the family room, so I can deal with the Sith in the peace.

After a couple minutes, I open the washing machine door, Darth Maul falls out, even more pixelated and unformed than before, and I blast him. And he’s gone! I think he was vaporized? No time to think through this one though, because out of the portal comes Obi Wan, Lando, …and John Smith from Disney’s Pocahontas? That’s a bit weird (because the rest of these laundry interruptions aren’t.)

I lead all three men out to my family room, where Luke, Qui-Gon, and Han are lounging on the couches, and Chewie is attempting to use the elliptical machine. Obi Wan and Lando sit on the couches with their fellow Star Wars men, but John Smith commences to wander around the room and say things like, “Ah! So THIS is what America looks like” as he plays with the Scotch tape on the computer desk.

I run back into the laundry room when I hear a crash and find none other than the Emperor. Seriously, DARTH SIDIOUS IS IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM!!! I thought Vader had killed him, but no! He’s here with his eyes, and his cloak, and his lightning and I absolutely cannot let him just leave to wander down my street (I know I’ve complained about the suburbs feeling boring, but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.)

Fortunately, Darth Sidious is still confused and tripping over a pile of towels at the moment. So I drop my blaster, grab him with both hands, and with all my strength throw him into the washing machine. He tries to struggle out, but I slam the lid, set it on spin cycle, wait a few moments, open the door and blast him. Darth Sidious pretty much exploded with a flash of lightning that shook the entire house. Emily Kimball has vanquished the Emperor!! I run out to the family room to celebrate, where I am congratulated by much sharper images of characters who are feeling less woozy now. Chewie is still on the elliptical machine, and John Smith has now moved on to conversing with Wes’ elementary school painting of a mallard duck, and saying things like, “What is it like to be wildlife here in America?” And then I woke up.
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My conclusions:
1. It’s not that women can’t have light sabers, it’s that we don’t need them. (Did the male Jedi invent them to keep up with us?)

2. I’m not the biggest fan of the Star Wars prequels, so I’m a bit nervous about Episode VII coming out. But if the next movie is anything like my dream, I’m sure it can’t be that bad.