Crew 52

  • While waiting and stuck in the Bullseye Lodge line, “Hey ‘Crew 52’, can you get us free Doritos?”
  • “Don’t trust someone who wears sunglasses indoors.” “Sunglasses are the best for people watching,” says fellow Zone 8A volunteer.
  • Those who are really paying attention to Crew 52 uniform. “Where can we buy Bold North mittens?” “The color matches your skin.” “I like your hat!” “So, do you really get to keep it all?”
  • “We were here last night. We live on 12th and LaSelle. We had to come back cause we didn’t see it all,” a couple shared.
  • “Where are the restrooms?” Having to answer with the closest porta potty location.
  • Waiting 30 minutes for the Kitten Bowl, “Can I get a beer while in line?”

Interview Day. Inside Volunteer Headquarters, I was greeted by happier than normal, brighter than usual smiles. I sat across a blonde lady who asked questions about what I enjoyed in Minnesota to times I provided hospitality. She said none of us hopeful volunteers would be inside the stadium on game day. I didn’t know Volunteer Headquarters would become an important place.

Orientation. A flock of purple and gold inside the Xcel Energy Center. My demographics fell within the youngest age group of volunteers. First time seeing Chad Greenway in person. The fashion show of our provided uniform was a sweet surprise. Counterterrorism, human trafficking and homelessness training to come? This was getting real.

Role Specific Training. Tailgates up early morning downtown on the day of Vikings’ soon “Minnesota Miracle” win against the Saints. Informed of possible duties. Picked up our uniform box sized best to carry inside a large Ikea shopping bag. Light flurries.

Super Bowl Live. A free 10-day festival filled with pre-Super Bowl fun. I was pumped to the point where I made a public video announcement to Facebook friends to invite and encourage them to come. What cold? What crowd? Layer up and enjoy! The most time I’ve spent with memories made along Nicollet Mall.

I was in my mother’s womb the first and last time the Super Bowl was held in Minnesota. I had to actively be a part of it this time around. A historical, once in a lifetime, moment. I initially wanted to be a Halftime Field Team Member. Crew 52 was a special way to represent Minnesota. There’s a warm, missing everything that happened, glow inside.

P.S. I’m glad Minnesota showed itself off on Super Bowl Sunday with the negative wind chills. Gotta be bold to endure the Bold North!

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Ms. Esperance

Guest teachers have interesting career journeys.

“Where have you taught before?,” I asked Ms. Esperance.
“I taught in Rwanda. I moved to the US and worked in business administration…”

Rwanda. My heart dropped. I tried really hard to pay attention as Ms. Esperance continued sharing her work history. Ruranga, my dear sponsored child, lives in Rwanda. I shockingly found out Spring of 2017 I could no longer sponsor Ruranga because she moved to an area without a sponsorship program. 5 years with no official farewell.

I shared with Ms. Esperance my connection to Rwanda. Ms. Esperance named “Compassion,” the sponsorship program, even before I explained. My heart sank again. She expressed how Compassion really helps poor families. She asked about how sponsorship worked out. She thanked me for being a sponsor. She even read a part of a letter (I showed her one as I explained the sponsorship process) and pronounced Ruranga’s full name to me in Kinyarwanda. My heart became full.

I will take this as a sign Ruranga is doing well. When I shared with my sister, she said, “This is the closure you needed.” I cried a whole lot when I opened the letter saying the sponsorship had ended. It was a real heartbreak.

I had plans of going to visit Ruranga. Going to Rwanda was a trip I had to make in my life. All of that had to disappear.

Sometimes, I still wish it wouldn’t have to end the way it did.

I will remind myself of my own words, “Because our sponsor-relationship suddenly broke, I hold Ruranga even dearer within. I could let her go missing. I choose to build on what we had. Of all things, I pray most Ruranga holds onto her salvation and faith in Jesus Christ. If we do not get the chance to meet on Earth, I am extremely excited to meet her when it is our time in Eternity. To cope and slowly move forward, I will press onto the Peace which surpasses all understanding.”

Thank you God for Ms. Esperance.

School year is here.

The reason why I have disappeared.

“‘Mahogany,’ I like that word.” I miss my high schoolers.

“Ms. Lee, your shoes look like Michael Jackson shoes,” the best compliment ever in my life from a kindergartener.

Getting back into the swing of things. Lots of learning and adjusting to a new environment. Taking it day by day. Staying positive is key!

 

Responding In Crisis

A year ago.

3 p.m. Stopped at a T-intersection with oncoming traffic. Waiting to turn. Clear. Left. Right. Le…..

An immense, darkening, quick amount of pressure hit. I lifted my head in confusion to notice my car had been pushed into the middle of the T-intersection. Thankfully, no oncoming cars were present. I looked in my rear view mirror saying a quick, “Please don’t drive away,” prayer. I walked out seeing my hanging bumper touch the ground. Avoiding stepping on white plastic and glass, I made my way to approach the other driver.

After making a call to authority, I sobbed and grunted in frustration at the scene. “Why now? Why of all times, now? In exactly 12 hours, I am meeting my team at the airport, a team I’m supposed to lead, we are going to be in the deserted desert of Arizona. God, this really, really, really, sucks, please don’t let me get any excruciating pain!”

3 a.m. I arrive at the airport with an ice pack in hand for my neck. Everything and everyone passes security except for my ice pack as it was “50% solid and 50% liquid.”

I applied lots of Icy Hot balm on the plane rides and every night in Arizona. My teammates easily smelled my presence.

I could have blamed God, telling Him how awful He is for letting such a horrible thing happen, for making things difficult in such a time. After expressing to God how much the situation sucked, I chose to trust Him. Trusting God to allow me to be fully present as a team leader, to bring physical healing and let there be opportunity to take care of insurance logistics (We were out in the desert uncertain of service. There were cell towers right by the church!)

When crisis hits at the worse timing, choose to respond by fully leaning on God. Spill your beans to God. Pray honestly sharing with Him the hurt you feel, uncertainty you have, loneliness you are experiencing, distance you feel from Him. Hold fast in believing He is good in the moment of your pain.

“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” -James 1:6

Go Outside

banning

Standing and sitting on the edge were two different worlds.

Standing. Distant. My soles against the earth. Watching the winding, calm-rushing Kettle River. Making note of the shoreline. Treetops dancing, following their lead partner. The vast spectrum of green, blue and brown. Browsing.

Sitting. Touch. The smooth-rough sandstone. Sensing the swift pressure of movement beneath my freeing, dangling feet. The river’s airflow against my skin upon each lean to look over the water. Hearing the passing rapids. Pausing.

I really could have sat there forever.

It’s instances such as these where the simplicity of going outside is the best thing we are missing. Senses become alive. Refreshed and connected. Spending more time outdoors is one of the best decisions I’ve loved making. Let’s go!

People We Meet Once In Our Life

Tous Les Jours.
Manhattan location.

I waited by the glass entrance for my sister and brother-in-law to make their scrumptious selections. A handicapped mother and her daughter tried to inch their way in. I went to hold the tall door open.

With the coming and going, regulars who went directly to their favorite, indecisive roamers trying to make up their mind, the mother knew her electric wheelchair would cause great distress in the body-filled aisles. She parked to my left as we waited together at the glass entrance.

“We come all the way from Brooklyn just for this,” the mother introduces herself.
“Do you?! It’s our first time here,” I reply with my excited tourist voice.
“It’s worth it,” she says. I assume it’s quite a trip.
“What do you usually get when you come?” I ask to get her favorites.
“The Fruit Pastry.” She motions the daughter to bring over her wooden tray to show me. I take a good look to make sure to get a Fruit Pastry next time (which I do–it. is. yum.) My sister and brother-in-law are ready with their bag of goodies. I say thanks and farewell to the mother.

We didn’t exchange names. Our interaction lasted less than five minutes. I think of her today.

Art in Bloom 2017

As long as I am living in Minnesota, an annual welcoming of Spring is attending MIA’s (Minneapolis Institute of Arts) Art in Bloom. What made this year standout was the chance to interact with florists. Maybe that opportunity was due to my first time attending the show on its first night, I’m not sure.

IMG_6575I had a nice, quick chat with florist Lisa Flynn who was a first year participant. I asked about her inspiration behind choosing Henri Matisse’s Boy with Butterfly Net. Flynn’s answer went along the lines of, “MIA gives us around 200 art pieces to choose from. The net grabbed my attention. I thought to myself, ‘What kind of flowers would the boy catch?’ I researched butterflies. I spent a lot of time at Home Depot. The net was my inspiration.” Absolutely adored her arrangement!

Another moving art is granny-fashionistas. This was my third time attending Art in Bloom. I was reminded how each time I’ve gone, it is the one time where I see a multitude of the fanciest, old people, ever. One was covered in bright hot pink from head to toe. A walking flower of her own.

“Composition Notebook”

Written by Jacqueline Woodson, Author of Brown Girl Dreaming

And somehow, one day, it’s just there

speckled black-and-white,  the paper
inside smelling like something I could fall right into,
live there–inside those clean white pages.

I don’t know how my first composition notebook
ended up in my hands, long before I could really write
someone must have known that this
was all I needed.

Hard not to smile as I held it, felt the breeze
as I fanned the pages.
My sister thought my standing there
smiling was crazy
didn’t understand how the smell and feel and sight
of bright white paper
could bring me so much joy.

And why does she need a notebook? She can’t even write!

For days and days, I could only sniff the pages,
hold the notebook close
listen to the sound the papers made.

Nothing in the world is like this–
a bright white page with
pale blue lines. The smell of a newly sharpened pencil
the soft hush of it
moving finally
one day
into letters.

And even though she’s smarter than anything,
this is something
my sister can’t even begin
to understand.