Saturday, November 26, 2016

WCC 2016 Pt. 1

Every year around November, Elder Morton rents a big house, and invites Pentecostals from far and wide to come join him in a festival of preaching and fellowship.

Not everyone gets a room, you have to be quick and sometimes persevere to the point of calling the front desk of the Doubletree (The Radisson for you old timers) every day, but its always worth it.

From the farthest reaches of the Continent, the call goes out and the merry band begins to muster.

Our merry moments began with a car ride to the airport.

When we woke up Tuesday morning and started packing our bags into the car (PDX Airport is over an hour away from McMinnville), we soon found that 7 suitcases plus 3 people don't fit into one Scion xB.

So we packed the car to the brim and sent my mother to rendezvous at the airport, while me and Caleb hopped in my car and sped in pursuit.

During the car ride up, my mom called to make sure I wasn't falling asleep at the wheel, and I remember Caleb looking over at me and replying,

"Nope, I think he's laughing too hard to be asleep."

Caleb and I always have a time.

The flight to Sacramento was pretty uneventful.

Must have been cause I don't even remember it.

But I DO remember landing, riding the shuttle to the car rental, and walking out to be greeted by this beauty...

I like cars for several reasons, one of which is for their size, which is why I purchased a 4-door car.

And also why I love Expeditions.

This thing was niiice.

Black Beauty sucked up all our luggage and we headed off to enjoy lunch in Sacramento.

The Capital Building, home of the State Legislature since 1869.

After lunch and partly on our way to Fresno, we made a pit stop at Stockton.

My parents both went to Bible College in Stockton.

My Mom from '84 to '88, and my Dad from '85 to '88.

You know, during these days...

It all started out so non-committal.

But my Dad (who was called a "gorgeous hunk of male species" by a girl in his year book),
wasn't the only one who had plans for her....


They went from this,

to this,

and finally....


So, back to my story and my reason for bringing up Stockton.

My Mom took us on a drive through memory lane.

First we drove by one of my Dad's old apartments.

And then one of my Mom's.

Really ritzy neighborhood.

2 BMW's and a Mercedes.

I think Pedro is doing more than selling pencils.

We finished the lovely drive from Stockton to Fresno, and my heart leaped within my chest when I spied the Doubletree. So many memories, so many good times.

And they sure weren't over.

It seems that increasingly more people start showing up Tuesday night, which just makes the week seem ever longer and more packed with fun.

Savannah, Olivia, and Cherie

All our friends started trickling in, but there's always that ONE friend that says they're leaving at 8 am sharp.

Then they say they're leaving at 10.

Then noon.

Then 2 pm.

I won't mention her name to avoid any negative repercussions, but we were still waiting come late evening.

So when Cara texted and said she was in the parking lot of the hotel, we came up with a daring plan to completely ignore her when she came in.

Just like the good friends that we are.

Someone tipped her off, and she snuck in the side entrance and made a beeline for her room.

Caleb spied her getting into the elevator, and I jumped  up to try and pry the doors back open, but to no avail.

The whole group consequently charged up the stairs in an attempt to head her off at the pass, but we didn't make it in time.

She slipped through security like a terrorist, and barricaded herself behind her hotel room door.

So we being the good ignoring friends, decided to try a little child psychology on her, and planted ourselves outside her hotel room.

We were NOT going to be out-maneuvered.

Caleb, Cherie, Me, and Lindsey

I was practicing my fake smile.

It's not every day you get a welcoming party at your hotel room.

Bro. Wilkins was really happy to see us, he was just feigning exhausted disdain.

Cherie has something over her face HAHAHA

So Cara made us wait, and wait and wait and wait.


Finallyyy, she came out and we all were friends again.

Cherie is still the Masked Marauder.

We had it all.

Betrayal, fear, anger, joy, disgust, anticipation and surprise.

And WCC hadn't even started yet.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Labor Day Preaching Conference, McMinnville 2016

I'm hesitant to start out a blog on such a high note...

But this year's Labor Day Meeting was the finest yet to date!

I mean come on, how can you beat a city wide power outage, air conditioning unit failures, coupled with the best preaching I've ever heard??

It was an unbeatable conglomerate of events.

It all started Thursday night, with our ladies bringing in salads and desserts by the drove. 

Such items as featured here below, by our very own Sis. De Kar. 

I haven't the foggiest idea how you do something like that with the frosting...

It really did look too good to eat. 

Bro. Weeks started us off the first night with the unbelievable "When Nehemiah Got Serious."

Bro. Weeks led songs Friday morning,

(you can spy yours truly on the drums, behind to his yellow jacket donned mother)

and Bro. Pope followed with a powerful song.

Elder Morton doing what he does best.

And then, right before Elder Johnson got up to preach, he was strapping on his guitar to sing a song or two, when everything dropped.  

For just a second. 

And then the backup exit signs and lights came on and we knew what was happening. 

We were about to get as Old Time Camp Meeting as we could on that fine September morning. 

Immediately a herd of ushers and cadets made a beeline for the utility closet that housed the main electrical panels for the church. 

Pastor got there first and began, by the light of an iPhone camera flash, to run through all the breakers to see what had been flipped. 

A quick inspection told us that everything was on, there was just no juice coming from the street. 

Calls were made to Mac Water and Light, notices were received from home security systems about power losses, and candles were dispersed in the bathrooms and common areas. 

It was almost....

Romantically reminiscent of days before our time. 

Back in the sanctuary, Bro. Johnson, undaunted by the man-made power loss, began to preach without microphones, lights, or air conditioning. 

But it only took about 5 minutes and a different kind of power came on.

Prayer and Preaching.

The Holy Heat came on, a Spark from the Savior, Voltage from the True Vine, a Surge from the Shepherd, Current from the Comforter began to flow in that house. 

It didn't matter that Bro. Johnson couldn't really see his notes. 

It didn't matter that you could barely hear him when the congregation started shouting and clapping. 

We didn't even barely notice when the temperate shot upwards and kept climbing. 

The man preached with a passion and talked to every heart in the house that day, maybe even for the more effect, without all those conveniences.

I betray the truth not. The service had not been over for more than 5 minutes when the power came back on. 

We ran around flipping breakers, blowing out candles, and turning on lights. 

I believe Bro. Sissel said it best,

"There is no way that was a coincidence. 

God wanted us to have an old time service without electricity."

I really believe He did. 

Friday night, as Bro. Sissel led the worship service, we finally heard Bro. Johnson pull out all the stops on the guitar, when he soloed on "This Train Is Bound For Glory."

Elder Alvear took the pulpit that Friday night, and preached a God-sent masterpiece. 

The Foundation is still there. It hasn't been moved.

After the service, we all lined up in the hallway to get a quick family Christmas photo, 

and then split for the Community Center.

Tylor was making quite a hit with the ladies, so I had to go interrupt. 

I couldn't rely on my eyes so I documented Glenndenning's back flip it for posterity.

Friday night had been B&W night, and I tried to get everyone to do brown and blue Saturday morning, but alas only I remained true.

Pastor had some of his family testify and ended with Sis. Tool-Price.


Bro. Alvear again commenced to preaching.

We had the best preaching.

If you were in those services and didn't break through, I you're broke.

Such amazing preaching, such amazing singing and worship, such an amazing weekend.

Such amazing people we're blessed to be around.

This is going to be the album artwork for our new CD.

William Mello was getting a little excited Sunday night while in line for food so the good brothers of the church lured and trapped him behind the door. Problem is he start crawling out of the top.

I'd give anything for the footage from that camera.

I love this kid.

Benson and I bonded even more when we discovered that we wore the same shoe size.

Max was going around scaring people with a plastic rat he pulled out from somewhere.

He said he put it on Sis. Price's shoulder and when she saw it she said, "Ooooooooh!"

Poor woman.


You all know the story.

You just had to have been there.

Pictures tell a story, but not every story.

We'll see you all here next year and make some new stories.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Lizzy May Avendano - 2004-2016

God gave us Lizzy.

I don't mean to say that we didn't go pick her out. I remember doing that specifically.

But God gave her to us.

I remember we drove down the road and stopped at the house that was selling young Maltese Poodles. 
Climbing out of the car, we eyed the collection of dogs that lay huddled by the front steps.

There were several dogs to choose from, but I remember looking at a dark-colored, flea covered one and tugging on my Mother's sleeve and saying 
"The black one, Mom, the black one."

Little did I know that our choice of "the black one" would alter the course of our lives for forever.

From the moment she crossed over the threshold of our home, and even before she began answering to the the name of "Lizzy" (which was chosen after we had been listening to an Odyssey story that featured Liz Horton in it), she became the Princess of the house.

Blogger would not have enough room on their servers to hold all the memories that I could relate to you about Lizzy, and all that she experienced in her life. So, as I do in most similar instances, I shall choose the most important ones, and you can imagine the rest.

Lizzy was loved.

Yes, we did smuggle her into a no-pet allowing hotel and pray that she wouldn't bark, and get discovered. Yes, during that same trip she had one very tense elevator ride, hidden in the stomach of my dad's jacket, us momentarily alarmed when we discovered she was all hidden, except for her tail protruding out of the bottom of my dad's jacket, wagging for all to see.

Yes. She did do that.

But she was loved.

Yes, she did start in the dining room to catch the light of the eastward rising sun, and eventually working her way, following those warm rays she adored so much until she ended up at the end of the day, sprawled out in the living room as that cozy ball of fire settled in the western sunset.


But she was loved.

Yes, she did hate her leash. But she loved walks.

She hated other dogs, but she loved going over to Grandma's house.

She had neighbor dogs that would purposely walk on the other side of the street so they wouldn't have to walk past and see her in the window, barking and defending her territory for all she was worth.

She had a few takedowns to her credit, most of which started from a quick surface to air launch from our front porch to the street. The most notable that comes to mind was the takedown of a little girl on a scooter passing by.

When it was all over, the getaway vehicle had been discarded, the little girl sent running away fearing for her life and the little area in front of our house which Lizzy thought was the whole world, was safe and peaceful again.

She was loved.

She had this thing for soft pillows and blankets.

Many a time we would be looking around the house for Lizzy and would finally find her snuggled up in someones fuzzy jacket, bathrobe, or blanket they had laid out.

She loved to "preview" warm blankets when they came out of the dryer.

You know. Just to make sure they passed the snuggle test.

She was loved.

She was a Pentecostal.

She loved to hear the sounds of revival coming out of the in-ceiling speakers.

From Elder Alvear and Verbal Bean, to Pastor and Bishop Davies, she heard the Word preached day in and day out.

She told me one time that she always wanted to come to church and run the aisles just once.

She had a special and unique relationship with everyone in the family.

Dad would give her the baths so she would bite him harder, then she would fall asleep on his chest and they'd spend the whole night snoring together.

In the last few days of her life, Dad told her that whatever course the doctors and our family chose to take with her declining health, he promised her that he would never have her put down.

He made good on that promise.

Lizzy was loved.

Mom was probably the closest person to Lizzy. 

She spend all day, most everyday, keeping house as Lizzy followed her from room to room. 

Mom would hold Lizzy in a blanket, carrying her wherever she went when Lizzy was feeling sick, cold, or just lonely. 

Mom was her nurse, her companion, her dietitian, her consort, her caregiver, and she provided the Mother's love that Lizzy craved. 

She was loved.

Lizzy in turn had a mother relationship with me and my brothers. 

She never had puppies, and so adopted us as her sons.

We'd take her for car rides, scratch her ears that never seemed to stop itching, and play with her out in the yard. 

We never patented it, but the game Give Me My Grass was her favorite. 

You'd start with a clump of grass that you would pull up from the freshly mowed yard, and extend it out to her. She would cautiously creep up just far enough to snap some green shoots with her mouth and then the chase would began. The phrase "Give me my grass!", would be shouted and we'd run around the yard until she stopped and the action would be repeated. 

She loved it. 

We treated her like a Princess. 

You could not count the kisses given in a day's time, nor the belly rubs, nor the hugs or love shared. 

There is nothing like coming home to an ecstatic dog, jumping, rolling and spinning around, all because you came home just to see her. 

She was loved, and she loved us.

She had this thing for taking selfies. 

She was pretty good at it.

She loved two kinds of toys. 

The first were cat balls with little bells inside. These were some of the first balls she ever had as a puppy and she stuck with them her entire life.

She loved getting called to the laundry room for a new ball, and even if we didn't have any new ones, we could wash some old ones with water, stick them in the cupboard, and she thought they were the greatest things ever. 

She was loved.

The second were stuffed animals that she either swiped from our rooms, or received as gifts from us. 

She had friends in her toy basket ranging from bears, to giraffes, to little dogs named Frank.

Kitty was her sleeping companion. She slept with her every night. 

Kitty understood her, and was always ready for a nap, didn't matter the time of day.

She was loved.

A couple months ago, I sat down with Lizzy, and thinking of such things that might happen someday, I wanted to make sure that she would be able to tell everything that she wanted to say. 

We talked for a bit, and I took notes. 

You see, Lizzy gave us much joy. 

God gave her many years to give to her family, and her family gave her all they had. 

Lizzy enjoyed 100 lifetimes in the years she brightened our home. 

But with everything that God gives, He reserves the right to take it away. 

Lizzy knew about all this.

She said that when it came time for God to take her, she wanted us to remember, though it be painful sometimes, to be thankful for all the times that we shared together, because there are no regrets when you love someone with all your heart. 

She said to make sure and tell everyone that she loved them. All her friends from McMinnville, from California to Mexico.

She said we should be thankful for the people that we have in our lives today,

because you never know who is going to be missing from the dinner table tomorrow.

I saw Lizzy for the last time, in my Mother's arms, sitting in the living room of my house. 

She had been suffering from countless seizures, and was being watched over 24/7 by my Mom and Dad. 

She stirred slightly as I walked over, but remained asleep. 

I gave her one last goodbye, and kissed her on the head. 

"You're a good girl," I told her.

- Lizzy -

Is your face like an angel's, my fair child?

Sole daughter of the Avendano home and of my heart?

When last I saw your young brown eyes, they smiled.

And then we parted.


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