Saturday, October 13, 2012

Living my life in constant 4 part harmony...

Things have been going pretty dandy out here in the Midwest. It's definitely a change of pace from home (literally I leave the house to go to work, come back, cook dinner, and go to bed....what have I become..), but I really like it. I didn't realize how much I would over extend myself at school and at home, and it's definitely good for me to learn that I don't always have to be doing and seeing things in order to live a fulfilled life.

There are times when I really miss when I went to Pittsburgh to be in one of my best friend's wedding and not being exactly sure when I was going to see everyone again. Or when I'm craving Thai food or falafel....or Chipotle or Chick Fil A.  Or when I wish I could just throw a frozen dinner from Trader Joe's in the oven instead of cooking, because I know it would have tasted better than anything I could throw together myself.

And then I remind myself that I have committed to a year of simple living. I don't need all those things in my life right this second. I can contact my friends via Skype, Facebook, gmail chat, or Facetime (thank God for the Internet!). I have really enjoyed cooking new recipes, instead of going out to eat all the time. I'm pretty much exhausted when I come back from work anyways, so there really isn't much time for other things. I also share a car with my house mate, so sometimes I'm literally stuck in my house unless I want to bike in the frigid weather (I usually decide to stay home.....haha)
Some of the food I've attempted to cook, and have taken a picture of:
Spinach Quiche
Zucchini Potato pancakes ( tasted one failure)

Tomato Basil Soup

My boss and I attempted to create a Thai meal

Speaking of, it's COLD here. I mean I knew it was going to be cold eventually, but fall lasted for 2.5 seconds. I was all like "oh look at all the pretty leaves!" and the cold and wind were like "muahahaha"....and the next day all of the leaves were on the ground, and there was frost and a wind chill of 25.  I think I wore my fall coat once. Fortunately, my mom expressed shipped out my winter coat that I was just going to wait and get over Christmas.

Most of my "out of work" activities have been centered around either one of my two churches.

Sermon on the Mount Mennonite Church is the church that sponsors my house. There are 30 members, on a good day, and they are all people that I swear you would find in a sitcom, which I absolutely love. They are some of the most amazing, quirky, warm hearted people I have ever met. They always take me out to dinner after church, or give me all their leftovers, or invite us over from random game nights. I was even invited to the Central Plains Mennonite Women's Fall Retreat. I was literally the only person under 55, but it was awesome. All of these women were so devoted to peace and reconciliation in the world around them, and I couldn't soak in their knowledge and wisdom enough.
Beautiful lake where the retreat was held

My retreat mates :)

Mennonites have their own traditions, foods, songs, and ways of worshipping. I did not realize how much of the culture behind being Mennonite I didn't know. Every single song is sung in 4 part harmony in church. There is no worship leader, just a piano that everyone follows along with. Its like being in a choir all the time. Mennonites have their own hymns that they use, mostly old hymns from when they were in Germany or Russia, but some newer ones as well. They hymns are mostly focused on peace, loving your neighbor, and reconciliation, which is most of the theology of Mennonites! Fancy that. The service is super informal, with the pastor giving a meditation, and leaving a response time at the end for people to comment on the sermon. This is where many of the members go on their tangents... for instance the sermon could have been about resolving conflict in the church, and then at the end the whole church is discussing the proper way to prepare pork. 

I have also learned a lot about the history of Mennonites as well.. about how they fled to Germany and Russia to escape persecution in various parts of Europe, and everything was fine and dandy there until they started getting persecuted again, so in the early 1900s they fled to the United States...most ending up in Pennsylvania and the Midwest. Because they do not believe in any sort of violence and focus on pacifism  many Mennonites fled to Canada during the Vietnam war to escape the draft.  There is still so much history I need to learn, but I find it fascinating. 

My other church I attend is a non-denominational-esque church called The Ransom, with modern worship and services. It fills the spiritual holes that the Mennonite church leaves, and vice versa, so I'm really getting the best of both worlds. I'm involved in college aged (a bit of a stretch for me but I don't care.. haha) bible study, where I've met a bunch of lovely people and really enjoy going to it every Tuesday night. 

So that is me, and how I've been trying to dip my feet into my world around me. I always have trouble jumping head first into things, I'm more of an observer than a leaper... so I'm really glad that I've been slowly creeping my way into people's lives. Things are good, my friends. I'm so blessed. And thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. 

The other day it was actually nice outside, so I took a photo tour of Sioux Falls to post here! I'm still working on editing it, and it should be up by the end of the week.