Saturday, September 16, 2017

Labor Day Conference 2017 Pt. 1

Anyone who goes to a church that hosts a conference will identify with me when I say that the conference doesn't start the night the first speaker is scheduled to preach. 

The conference starts days, even weeks before with preparation, setup, and execution of plans. 

There are chairs to set up,

songs to practice,

cars to wash, 

and many behind the scenes items. 

Preparing food and cleaning the grounds doesn't even start the list. 

But it's ok. 

The work is almost enjoyable. 

Cause it's our work. 

Our church, and our conference. 


I showed early Thursday night to help with the arriving ministers and guests. 

The top was about ready to get blown off this place.

The previous Wednesday night, after witnessing to a guy we found playing the guitar outside of Excell Fitness, Tylor and I made our way to Bridgeport mall. 

Our mission? To find Tylor some new church shoes and maybe a suit if the price was right.

The price was right, and Tylor walked into prayer that first night looking sharp in his new suit. 

We started off with Psalm 150, and had a great worship service. 

Bro. Looper Preaching

The banquet in the chapel the first night is always a vision of Canaan land. 

Overflowing with milk, honey, and Elder Morton.

I made a quick dash to Mikey's Pizza to hang out with everyone, before going home to change and get back to the church to help with the cleanup crew.

I am most fortunate to be a part of the Thursday night clean up crew. 

Not only do I get to rub shoulders with the most entertaining people at midnight, we get to enjoy the leftovers of the before described feast. 

I only eat dessert on special occasions. 

And I deemed Labor Day weekend to be special enough. 

I mean, how can you resist stuff like that?

I ate so much that I stumbled into the commons and had to lay down in the corner, so I could quietly moan and hold my enlarged stomach. 

View from the floor. 

 Max always keeps it interesting. 

What is one of the few things that can get me out of bed at 6am in the morning, after an extremely late night?

Next post, Miller Woods.

Monday, September 4, 2017

PCC 2017 Pt. 3: It Happens Daily

By the time Caleb and I got to our Airbnb house that first night, everyone was in bed. 

But my mother hadn't retired before she finished round 1 of stocking up the place with food. 

We slept just like people who had spent the entire previous day flying, driving and eating Chipotle and MOD pizza. 

 In the morning, Maggy was up first thing and started breaking in the board games.

I went for a run on the beach before the AM service but didn't think to take any pictures until I was all through.

Elder Morton preached the morning service. 

And Bro. Saylor got a new pocket knife.

 Because Elder Morton asked to see his and when he saw it, he proclaimed that it was a woman's knife and gave Bro. Saylor his knife. 

And I was happy. 

Because you can't help but be happy when Elder Morton is preaching and handing out pocket knives.

Bernie's team received an award for cleanliness in the dorms. Hence the trophy.

We built messy creations at lunch, 

and watched a little basketball.

My scintillating Scrubs.

The guy's basketball game was pretty cool.....

And it was very entertaining listening to Sis. Huemenes yell at the guys whenever she thought they fouled her grandson during the game.

But when the GIRLS got out to play...

That was SOME playing. 

I'd never seen anything like it. 

Those girls gave it their all and what they lacked in skill they made up for it in pure determination. 

I seem to remember at a certain point in the game they let Slamdunk Sofia on the court and she took the ball away and as the Gospel of Mark would say, went straightway to the hoop. 

The facts elude me as to whether she made a backward hook shot from the 3-point line or an upside-down anti-vertical full body dunk, but whatever she did it went clean in. 

I was quite impressed. 

In the afternoon, we went to visit my Grandma and Auntie. 

We showed up to church early that night and had an amazing time with the saints of God. 

I don't remember many specific details about that night, but I do remember visiting the Marchbanks' trailer with Caleb after church was over.

It's a little unnerving when the people that are staying in the trailer aren't around, and neither are any immediate family......and someone knocks on the door. 


Just a weak whispered prayer. 

When the girls showed up, we talked for awhile, then Stephanie and Sofia commenced to show us the right way to dip someone, should a waltz start to play at an inopportune moment and we were forced to be required to have such knowledge and technique already in our muscle memory.

They, of course, pulled it off with style. 

So I had to try it. 

My partner took hold of me and, with my body limp, I allowed myself to be hurled back, with the promise of being likewise hurled upright again. 

It never happened. 

Caleb and I, our backs slammed to the floor and the vacuum fell on my face.

It was less than a graceful moment.

We need more practice, ladies.

Just a little bit.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

PCC 2017 Pt. 2: Just Like I Remembered You.

The black Nova sped down the street and pulling into the parking lot, stopped its engine.

The dark-haired 17-year-old opened the car door and started walking towards the restaurant entrance.

He wore boots, Levi 501's, and an apron over his shirt so the splatter of crab entrails wouldn't permanently stain his clothes.

As he walked, the sun that bore into his eyes was just the kind that people stuck in high-rises dream of seeing someday.

The salted air was crisp but would, without much resistance, give way to a high of 75.

Across the street, the sand caught the few waves that the surfers missed.

The young man shoved open the doors and headed to the back of the restaurant.

It was 1975.

Business as usual at Neptunes Net, Malibu California.

And my dad was just starting his shift.

Dad Avendano:

"I was working at Dolly's coffee shop when Paul and Dolly bought Neptunes Net. They asked me if I would swap over to the new restaurant. I said yes. I didn't realize this meant a 17-mile trip every work day. But I took the job, even though I didn't know what kind restaurant it was either. 
The first time I walked in, I was amazed by the live crab and lobster tanks. 

The rest is history as they say. I worked there for 3 years. 

Work consisted mostly of taking orders and selling shrimp, clams, and crabs. We dropped the unsuspecting crabs into boiling water. After they were done being cooked, we would take the legs and claws off, crack them and serve them on a plate. 

These are some pictures I had from my work at the restaurant. 

These are local California Rock Crabs.

We called these Spider-Crabs.

These are buckets of clams and shrimp.

Me holding a Rock Crab.

I mostly worked afternoons, so I spent most summer mornings surfing off the coast of Malibu with my buddies, which was just across the street. 

Sometimes I surfed at Ventura beach, where I could look right across the beach and see the fairgrounds, and the building where PCC is currently held. 

40 years later, I have a different perspective. 

I'm on the inside now, looking out at the beach. 

I wouldn't trade this view for anything."

As we drove past Neptunes Net, it was a similar narrative to this that played through my head.

Some things stay the same with time. 

Others join that chosen lot of items that continue to improve each year they're alive. 

Kinda like this NSX that we saw.

Which has recently been introduced in the new 2017 version, just like this one I saw parked in the Dairy Queen parking lot in McMinnville (yes, we gets a sports car every once in a while too).

Mike, if you're reading my blog, I would love to take a ride in your car.

I won't scratch it or anything. I'll take my shoes off and wear gloves.


While Caleb and I finished the drive to Ventura, our parents were getting to our Airbnb in Oxnard.

It was a lovely little place, just across the way from the beach.

At first glance, there were two things I immediately noticed.

The sweet green cabinets and the real wood floor.

My parent's room.

Caleb and I shared a room. But thank the Lord, we had separate beds.

We only share a bed at WCC. 

It's more special that way. And less hazardous to our survival. 

Because of all the airport craziness I talked about in my 1st PCC post, we didn't make it to the fairgrounds in time to catch the preaching but made it for the middle of the altar call. 

Bro. Ham had just finished preaching and it was beautiful to see all the young people praying up in the front.

I was reminded of something I wrote down in my journal, almost 10 years ago.

It explicitly and completely described my feelings as the service came to a close, and I started to see numerous friend's faces emerge from the crowd.

It went something like this:

"As I sit here pondering the great mysteries of the Incas, I recall a feeling... more like a hope, that resides within the boundaries of my head. 

The feeling... or hope, that one's friends whom one has known in times past,

have not changed."

And I was happy to see that they hadn't.

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