Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Entry for July 17, 2007


It's what they call an "Only Andy Polley" moment.

I don't really understand those, being as how by definition that is all I experience...but that is what Josh said last night...and what Rachel said today.

So it's 8:30 P.M.  VBS is over.  And I'm lookin' for a lil' somethin' to do...well, it so turns out that I had remembered seeing a motorcycle on craigslist a couple of days ago.  So I pull it up at church, call the guy, find out it's still available, and then tell him I'm comin' down to get it.

"I'll be there by 10:00 P.M."

Problem.  I have to run to someone's house, pick up something, run home, grab my cell phone and some cold hard cash, pick up Josh from camp, then hit the road.

So I do just that.  Hit the road.  I see a deer on the way out of Loami...but nothin' comes of it.  Three miles down the road...another deer.  This one looks like a "bat out of hell."  Seriously, not like any deer I have seen.  It is running along the cornfield in the ditch.  About 42 mph (I clock it).  I'm waitin' for it to cross the road at any point, but it won't.  So I make a risky move and gun it!  I pass the deer with no problems.

Ok, pick up the stuff, blaze back home, call the guy, say I can't make it before 10:30, he says OK, grab some cash, get some gas, meet Josh, and we're off!

Did I mention I could use some food?

Anyway, 90 miles later, we get lost in Alton, Illinois...at one point we were so scared that we locked our doors.  Josh was waitin' for some man to come out of the woods and grab him.  (I was thinkin' more like "kill" but still...).

Well, we finally find our guy.  Nice work garage with four motorcycles.  A sign on both of his vehicles...."Wanted Motorcyles Running or Not."  Sweet action!

The bike is a beauty.  1979 Honda CBX500.  10,000 miles.  Great shape!  So I take it.  Knocked him down 50 bones.

We load it up, then head for a recommended restaurant.  Fast Eddy's, as it's called.  I've heard of it before but couldn't remember where.  I thought it was some biker hang-out???

Well, we roll up only to find that Fast Eddy's is lit up with pink neon lights.  Kinda scary.  99-cent burgers, 29-cent shrimp...lookin' good!  Until we go to the door.  MUST BE 21.  Not a problem.  I'm 24!  Josh...well, not so much.  Well, I think we can still swing it, so I walk in.  The guy behind the bar cards me as I'm walkin' towards the tables.

"Didn't you have a friend with you?"

I turn around.  Josh is nowhere to be found.  Kind of awkward...

"Um, yes, I thought I did."

So I turn around, walk out and find Josh outside.  He says he's not up for tryin'.


So we head for the gas station next door to ask for a restaurant.  The "Riverbend" is recommended.  After some bogus directions, we do circles through town.  Then we stop a police officer.  He, too, tells us bogus directions.

After driving out of town, I find a Piasa bird emblazened upon a bluff.  Indians must've been here.  Boy, if only Discovery Channel knew about this!  I get out, take a picture, and head back into town!  I need some food!

I take a side street when Josh screams out, "There it is!"  He sees the restaurant a few blocks over.

We roll in to be greeted by one of the kindest (yet most talkative) girls in the industry.  I order a burger and fries...end up with a free root beer...and listen to her tell how she hitch-hiked from Alton, IL, to Florida...and Texas...and California.

How I should've known friends from Springfield that she partied with.  Jimmy Sizzler from Wisconsin.  The best name given to a guy ever, she says.  How she has an Axel Rose tattoo on her...."butt"...different word used, but hey.  How she used it to get places on her trip.  How she lived in a "squatter house" on the 8th floor of an abandoned building in LA because Verizon put a cell-phone tower on top, and it was the only floor that had electricity.  How it was hard to walk 8 floors without a light, and how you could fall down several floors without a light because the guardrails were long gone.  How she's leaving to do it all again in September.  How I thought she was actually going to show us her tattoo...

Anyway, 4 1/2 hours.  $850 motorcycle.  One absolutely delicious hamburger and fries at "The Riverbend."  And one girl that is following her dreams...

I thought it was a normal night.  Other people don't.  I don't get it.

2007-07-17 18:29:00 GMT

Entry for July 14, 2007

Inside the airplane!So I'm pretty sure I love to fly.  Like seriously.

I've been flyin' for 4 years now (hard to believe!), and this weekend I had to go for another bi-annual review (every two years, pilots essentially must "re-certify" themselves to be in good standing as pilots!).  So this weekend I took the 100-minute drive over to Coles County Memorial Airport in Mattoon, IL for what they call a Wings Weekend...pilots and instructors bombard the airport to get their ratings checked!

More or less, the day went like this...about 10:30 A.M. I realized that the Wings Weekend started that day...yikes!  So I hurried up and figured out where the airport was, drove home, dropped off my truck for my dad to use the boat, picked up a car, grabbed my pilot gear, and then started drivin' to Mattoon...

I had called the airport to ask if an airplane was available for use, and they told me that they had a "light-sport aircraft..."  Not knowing what that meant, I asked if it would be good for my training.  Absolutely, she said.

How much?


ha!  A little bit more than what I was used to, but I needed my bi-annual, and I needed it this weekend!  I would be leaving in a month, and I needed to check this task off of the list...

(Plus...a good rule of thumb is that if a plane is more expensive to rent, then it means that it is a much sweeter airplane...so that excited me!).

Well, I arrived at the airport...went to a somewhat boring class on how to take care of your own aircraft, then went to meet my instructor...and the new airplane!

And new it was!  The airport had had the plane for only two weeks now...and she was a beauty.  Actually, the plane was pretty tiny, much like the 152 that I am used to, but she was sharp.  A brand-new 2007, low-wing, two-seater airplane...with a GLASS COCKPIT!!!

I was goin' to fly in a glass cockpit!  For those non-pilots out there, that means nothing to you!  For pilots, this is pretty much the cream of the crop.  Rather than have the normal "six-pack" of instruments, you now look at a computer screen with all of the information.  It's top-of-the-line, to say the least.

The pricetag on the airplane?  Over $100,000.  And I was going to fly it!

Well, I went through the pre-flight, then hopped in the aircraft, and started 'er up.  Just like a car.  No primin' or anything.  Just a turn of the key!  I loved it!  Not at all like what I'm used to with the one I fly back home!

Well, I spent 1.5 hours doin' some maneuvers in the sky.  Sharp turns (30 degrees, then 45 degrees)...absolutely awesome in this plane!  The "bubble" allows you to see all around you!  Then did some stalls...power on, then power off.  The aircraft simply wanted to fly.  Very easy to control, very easy to fly.

Then we did some landings.  Not hard at all, either.  We did touch-'n-go's, and the airplane was "squirrely" on the runway.  After I landed, I had a harder time controlling it on the ground than in the sky!  But I managed to keep it between the grass!

I had originally been signed up to fly 3 hours, but my instructor wanted to break that up into two days.  I wasn't ready to stay in Mattoon, but I had to honor his decision.  So we flew back to Mattoon, landed the plane, and I stayed around for supper.

Then I thought about headin' home.  It would cost me $20 to go back home, the hotel was $55, I would have to return in the morning if I drove home...so I called my sis.

"Do you know of anyone that lives in Mattoon?"

"Um, someone's dad does, but I haven't talked to her in four years."

Hmm...not exactly what I'm lookin' for...so I hung up, and started headin' through town.  Then it clicked...I called my sis again!

"I need you to find me a couch."  Couch-surfing would surely save my day.  I had just used this form of sleeping a couple of weeks earlier in Kansas City, and it worked out wonderfully.

But my sister found a problem.  4 couches in Mattoon, but no contact info outside of e-mail.  That would just take too long. 

So I started to head home.  But I was incredibly tired.  As in overly tired.  So I pulled off onto a dead-end road and laid back for a bit.

After some laying down and some hard thinking, I decided..."I'm not goin' home..."

So I turned the car back around and headed back into Mattoon.  I pulled into a hotel parking lot, dropped down the backseat, crawled into the trunk, and tried to sleep.

I used a t-shirt as a pillow.  I woke up what I thought was 4:00 A.M., only to find out it was 10:11 P.M.  I had slept just over an hour. 

Well, I decided the lights were too bright at the hotel parking lot, so I drove around a bit and ended up at Wal-Mart's parking lot.  I repeated the same procedure...ending up tucked away in the tiny Hyundai Elantra's trunk.  All to save some cold hard cash.  After all, I would be spending nearly $400 this weekend already...I needed to save all that I could!

I had a very hard time falling asleep at Wal-Mart.  I think I slept maybe an hour.  And I woke up incredibly thirsty.  Almost panic-thirsty.  So I made a bee-line path straight for a gas station.  I downed some Gatorade quickly.  But I was still tired.

"This is ridiculous...."

So I moved on.  This time out towards the country, back towards the airport.  An airport was across the way, so I went over and parked there.  Much darker.  I ended up sleepin' here until about 7:30 A.M.  I woke up and felt like I had just slept in a car.

And I needed to go fly an airplane!

Well, after some nice biscuits and gravy, and another class, I found myself sittin' in the hangar watchin' planes take off.

"I could sure get used to this..."

It's really kind of crazy.  I've been toyin' with the idea as of late.  Now that I'm closin' off a "season" of my life, I'm wonderin' where I'll be in a few months.  And all of a sudden, flying airplanes is sounding more and more like an option.

But I am taken back to four years ago when I first started flying.  I had wanted to be a pilot even before college, but I knew that I would not be content just flying.  I needed to be sharing the Gospel, too, or I just couldn't live with myself!  So after much prayer, I felt confident in going to Lincoln Christian College.

It just so turned out that I found myself with the opportunity to fly my sophomore year, and after much prayer and advice from my accountability group, I decided it would be a go!  And I have no regrets about any of it!  But I remember four years ago making myself a promise...wisely, I knew that the temptation would arise in the future, and maybe it's here!  But I had said that I would not let flying interfere with ministry.  That was as a 20-year-old student.  Whatever would happen down the road, I did not want to become so consumed with flying that I put ministry on the back-burner.

Well, that thought has stuck with me.  And it's as fresh as ever now.  I will admit that my view of ministry has changed quite a bit.  I always thought I would be in the church somehow someway...minister, youth minister, or missionary.  But after nearly six years of "church ministry," I am second-guessing that decision.

I still want to serve God, obey God, and teach about God, but "church ministry" just wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

So anyway, here is where I am currently at:  I love to fly, and I want to serve God.

And that's about it!  Of course, the logical conclusion is that I should be a missionary pilot.  Well, I'm not so convinced.  I'm more and more convinced that I want to be a "normal Joe" who loves God.  Whether working on motorcycles or flying airplanes, I just want to be in the mainstream again.

I'm eager to see what conclusions I draw from that when I travel, but that is just where I stand.  I finally reached the point where I would cringe when people would tell others that I was a youth minister.  All of a sudden, I had no influence (it seems).

Just last week when I was getting a haircut, I saw a girl behind the counter who knew me.  Of course, we greeted, blah blah blah.  Well, after a 10-minute wait, I walk back to the shearin' place, only to be greeted by a very loud and fun-loving girl....

"Hey, Preacher Man!"

I didn't know what to think!  I had never seen this girl in my life!  And, of course, as happens in a situation like this, all eyes instantly turned to me!

I guess word had got back in the 10 minutes I was there (hair salons really are notorious for rumor-spreadin'!) that I was a youth minister!  And all of  a sudden, I was the outsider.  About 20 minutes later, some girls are talking next to me...one using some nasty language...some crude comments...and her friend pipes up...

"Hey, don't be sayin' that!  He's a minister!"

Again, all eyes on me.  Of course, I do what I always do in that situation...

"Hey, it's not like I haven't heard it before" (or said it before)...."Just be yourselves."  Of course, that always falls on deaf ears.  Now that the "secret" is out, they will forever play the role of "cleaning up the act around the youth minister."  It's really one of the most popular dramas out there...a Broadway hit even.

Well, all that to say, I don't know what I'll be doin' in the future!  A preacher?!  Maybe not as people currently understand that word!  A pilot?!  I sure hope so!  For a major airline?  I don't know!  A youth minister?  I don't see it.  A missionary?  Aren't we all?!

I just know that I want to fly.  And I want to love God (I'm workin' on that one again....finally).

So anyway..."I sure could get used to this..."  I don't know what that is going to mean in the future, but I still uphold my promise from four years ago.  Granted, if you would ask me then and ask me now, the answers would differ.  I would view ministry in two different ways.  As a 20-year-old student, I knew ministry was broad, but I would probably see myself in a church setting somewhere.  Now, however, at 24-years-old, I still want to do ministry.  And do it well.  But I really don't know if that is going to be in the church setting.  Actually, I doubt that it will be.  I don't see myself hired by a church.

Maybe I'll be the tent maker that preaches throughout...or the pilot that teaches throughout...

I'd be very OK with that.  Very, very, OK with that.

Just my thoughts...

Well, I finished up the 3 hours on Saturday.  It was windy on Saturday, and the little plane was being bumped all around, but it made for some exciting landings!  Not too difficult as the wind was mainly down the runway (well, except for the cross-wind on the last one!), but I passed with flying colors.

I was a bit nervous going into the weekend, but I was confident now.  My confidence increased tenfold in just two days.  As a pilot, you really just need to fly the airplane.  Why worry about so much?!

I grabbed a burger for supper, then headed home.

And was invited to a sweet party at Buffalo Wild Wings.  25 people.  Mostly from camp.  Fellow brothers and sisters.  I had the time of my life.  I wondered why we didn't do that every week.  I absolutely loved it.

Times like these have been increasing over the past two months, and it's actually making leaving a bit more difficult.  (Ok, honestly, don't get too far ahead of me.  It's not difficult at all...just a bit more!  So...not at all + a bit = just a little tiny bit.  So it's just a little tiny bit difficult to leave.  But I'm still goin'!)  But this is what life should be like.  Friends gettin' together, livin' life with each other.

None of that sittin'-at-home-wantin'-someone-to-call junk.  That's hell.

And as I write, I just realized that this is the church, too!  No, it's not within the confines of a "church wall," but this is the church as I know it...maybe as God knows it.  Which makes me all the more passionate about not having to be in the "church" to do ministry!  If I could live life with brothers and sisters at Buffalo Wild Wings, then count me in!  That's the ministry I want to do (not for BWW's, but for the people!).  Give me a boat or a living room, for all I care!

Hmm...yes, that is me.  A pilot who wants to serve God.  Or maybe a servant of God who wants to fly.  Either way, I won't break my promise.  "For I am compelled to preach..."

2007-07-17 18:06:46 GMT

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Entry for July 10, 2007

So most people ask me if I'm nervous 'bout goin' on this trip.  I actually just received the question again tonight!  And the answer?  Honestly...not at all!  Actually, I am at the point that I can't not go on this trip.

I could not stand wonderin' what might have been...I could not be 30 years old and wish that I had visited these countries...I could not stand to look at pictures in magazines anymore knowin' that I myself could be there...I would not ever be content livin' with regrets.

So maybe I don't know what I'm gettin' into...so maybe I don't know where I'm stayin' once I step foot into Dublin...so maybe I don't know if I'm even goin' to like it (though I don't think this one is goin' to be much of a problem)...so maybe I know absolutely NO ONE where I'm goin'...so maybe I'm ok with all of the above!

I just know one thing...I'm leavin' in 35 days!  And I am crazy stoked!

Of course, there is a TON of stuff to do before I leave...VBS, trip to Mexico, learn how to run again, renew pilot's license, sell my truck, give all kinds of things away, say good-byes!  Not to mention gain another $2000...

But that will all fall into place.  I can't wait for this trip!!!

In other news, I'm buyin' two motorcycles tomorrow...

And I had a GREAT time with a good friend tonight.  One of my closest (as of late), yet we only talk once in a random while.  It's crazy...as the trip gets closer, I do a lot of thinking about what I'm goin' to miss...or who I'm goin' to miss...

And oddly enough, the list isn't long.  Now, now, don't be too upset...I will miss people.  It's just that (and this is probably the BIGGEST reason for goin' on this trip)...I rarely talk to the same person throughout the week.  I might talk to someone tonight...and then that samer person in three or four weeks.  Actually, just tonight, I received the getting-ever-so-routine-and-overly-annoying-and-frustrating phone call..."Hey, Andy, we haven't hung out in a couple of months...we should eat out tomorrow..."  Yes, yes, we should.  Then what?  See ya in a couple more?

I've just relegated that all to whatever.  It's frustrating, but it's my life.  Granted, the past month has been much better, and people have been more frequent in my life, and I am forever grateful.  It's a living hell goin' through life alone.

It's just that I'm sick and tired of the month-to-month "friendships."  It's not my cup o' tea.  I'm sick and tired of people apologizing to me for not bein' around.  And they do!  Especially when they ask me how I'm doin', and I tell them!  I think it surprises them, and I'm not lookin' for pity, really.  I just can't not be honest...but they they apologize for not hangin' out or for not callin' or for gettin' too caught up in their wife or for thinkin' that I looked like I had a ton of friends...

haha...I kind of chuckle now.  Two months ago I would probably be very angry.  Now I just accept it.  And look very forward to what the future brings.

I hope it's a friend!

(Ok, all that to say that that stinkin' girl that I hung out with tonight doesn't make it any easier to leave, either!  This was supposed to be a clean break-away...leavin' it all behind me!  Grr.  No worries.  I'm still goin'.  And not holdin' back.  I guess I'm just experiencin' (finally!) what I wished I had.  Someone that knows me!  And it does make ya want to stay.

But like I said...it's too late.  It's a done deal.  I can't not go.  35 days!

(Oh, and my ankle kills me.  Like seriously.  Every step hurts.  But again, I can't do anything.  So I just walk.  And take it.  Stupid ankle.)

2007-07-11 06:17:23 GMT