Thursday, June 30, 2011

Timbers Game/ Kathy's B-Day Weekend

VIDEO0112 a video by gkhamilton on Flickr.
Click on the “play” arrow above for a video clip of the Timbers fans (yep, that’s us) going wild after Portland scores their second goal, within two minutes of getting on the board with their first, against the New York Red Bulls.

Kathy has learned to expect the unexpected whenever a birthday, wedding anniversary, or random date night comes around. Her birthday this past weekend was no exception, although I have toned it down a bit over the years.

I always try my best to pepper Kathy’s birthday week with little gifts, surprises, and unexpected diversions.
IMAG0801.jpg The only thing that my wife actually requested this year was a birthday dinner at La Hacienda Real. I made sure to work that one in among my usual birthday “schemes.” Many, but not all, of my surprise ideas worked out as planned, and I was able to pull off the big finale: mid-field seats to the sold out soccer match-up between the Portland Timbers and the New York Red Bulls!

Kathy assumed that I was done with her birthday surprises/gifts on Saturday, her actual birthday. After church on Sunday, we drove down to her parents’ house in Salem for what appeared to be a relaxed lunch and gift opening party. She may have found it a little strange that I was rushing to get back on the road afterwards (I had made previous arrangements with her parents, who were in on the whole thing).

I tried to play it cool once we got to downtown Portland. We ducked into a crowded coffee shop, listened to a jazz band that was jamming on stage at Pioneer Courthouse Square, and finally grabbed dinner at a Mexican diner en route to Jeld-Wen Stadium. Kathy grew suspicious as the green war painted faces of the Timbers Army fans began to surround us as we walked towards the stadium.
IMAG0828.jpg I finally came clean when I realized that the gig was up.

Despite the Timbers 3-2 lead near the end of regulation, we ultimately got saddled with a 3-3 tie when an inexplicable Portland handball led to a game-ending penalty kick by New York during stoppage time. It was a great matchup, though, keeping the Timbers Army on their feet and inspiring deafening cheers right until the very end.

I’m hoping that this was yet another birthday weekend to remember.

E.P.I.C. Student Ministry Update- June 2011

From earlier this month...

Our E.P.I.C. student ministry is gearing up for a strong finish to the school year!
IMG_8156_edited-1.JPG Wrapping up Garth’s teaching series on Christ’s self revelatory “I Am” statements has laid the foundation for our upcoming “Made to Make a Difference” sessions, which will emphasize changing the world through Christian acts of service.

IMG_8037.JPG IMG_8017_edited-1.JPG IMG_8042.JPG From making memories during wild crowd-breakers like Steal the Bacon...

IMG_8081.JPG IMG_8090.JPG ...Easter Egg Roulette...

IMAG0584.jpg ...and Sardines...

IMAG0599.jpgIMG_8016.JPG putting on our most successful rummage sale ever...

...This has been a very memorable month!

IMAG0196.jpg IMG_8070.JPG April’s student “flow person”-led Sunday morning services continued through Easter Sunday and the rest of last month. (Kezin serving as M.C. on Palm Sunday and our church’s Easter morning breakfast are pictured).

IMG_8069.JPG Students also had opportunities to serve our community and our church family such as volunteering at our pancake breakfast

IMAG0583.jpg and helping relocate the church library to make room for the Food Cupboard outreach ministry.

IMG_8144.JPG A personal highlight of this past month was celebrating Alex Bates’ graduation with a Bachelor of Arts from Warner Pacific College. Back in September 2001, when we first accepted the position as youth pastors (referred to as interim youth pastors, at the time) here at Aloha Church of God, Alex was just entering the 7th grade. It was so inspirational to watch her receive her diploma,
5704370452_d4b4c66083_b.jpg and it was an honor for Garth to speak to the Class of 2011 at the WPC commencement ceremony. Way to go, Alex!!

In Christ,
Youth Pastors Garth and Kathy Hamilton

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Top 5 Recent Trips- #5: Banks Lake, WA

Monday, June 20: Sorry, readers- I'm heading out right now to the set of a TV show that is filming all night in downtown Portland, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to unlock and post the rest of my previously uploaded pictures here. Update: Photos added!

P8200614.JPG IMG_0050.JPG

All but two of the recent vacations to be featured each month in my new Top 5 Blogspot countdown series were international trips to overseas destinations. So what makes Banks Lake, and the adjacent Coulee City, so special? Family tradition!

IMG_0052.JPG Yes, I know. This is a positively awful picture of us. But hopefully you already know how we look when we're NOT tent camping :)
DSCN2591_edited-1.JPG Back when my sister Summer and I were little kids, Banks Lake replaced Oregon’s Lake Owyhee as our family’s annual summer boating getaway of choice.

IMG_0035.JPGIMG_0020.JPG IMG_0014_edited-1.JPG Banks Lake has sunshine, hiking trails, and miles of wide open water to speed our boat across for wakeboarding, skiing, knee boarding, tubing, and jet skiing. Avoiding other boats’ wakes in the pursuit of glassy smooth water is never a problem.

And then, there’s always the family fave Steamboat Rock climb:
IMG_0039.JPGIMG_0038.JPGIMG_0036.JPGIMG_0043.JPG The immense size of the lake sometimes requires us to alternately cruise our boat or drive a car to climb hot, dusty Steamboat Rock ...or visit the massive Grand Coulee Dam for a laser light show at dusk (photo to be added, possibly Grand Coulee Dam from Crown Point State Park?).

We typically stay in a campground in remote, tiny Coulee City. P7310473.JPG Aside from the year that I brought a carload of joyously rowdy students by on the drive home from CreationFest in the Gorge Amphitheater, the campground is typically a peaceful, quiet area with a boat launch and a couple of desert county stores nearby.

IMG_5909.JPGIMG_5916.JPG The streets of Coulee City, a small grain and livestock community, are marked by grain silos and pavement that gives way to dusty dirt roads. IMG_0029.JPG There is a friendly, cozy Presbyterian church that we visit whenever we are in Coulee City on a Sunday morning. We kids have also been known to wander into town to catch a show from a regional rock band, or sneak over to Big Wally’s to snag some truck stop stomach-stuffers.

Our family often caravans to Banks Lake or rides over together in my parents’ RV, but our busy schedules (especially now that Mike and Summer have tied the knot!) usually dictate that we take whatever means necessary to get home.
DSCN2627.JPG The Hamiltons say goodbye at Coulee City's newly modernized coffee shop with Summer’s then-fiance, Mike Sorensen, as Bo and I prepare to hop on his BMW motorcycle to head for the Greyhound bus stop in Moses Lake.

Over the years, I’ve driven my own car home, carpooled...DSCN2632.JPG ...rode with Bo on his motorcycle, taken the intercity bus... IMG_5933.JPG ...and/or caught the Amtrack train for all or a portion of the ride home from Banks Lake (the photo above shows a tearful Kathy picking up a happy Garth from the Portland train station last year).

IMG_7275.jpg Most memorably, one year's return Greyhound bus ride had me sitting next to an engagingly sincere ex-convict who was catching a ride home after being released from the Walla Walla State Penitentiary. She shared at length some heavy life experiences with me, and then enthusiastically allowed me to share some passages of Scripture that I believed would speak to her heart.

To sum it up, Banks Lake is a refreshing oasis in the middle of a vast, dry, desert-like landscape. Every year, our family looks forward to spending time together during our weeklong Banks boating trip. I’m especially thankful that my parents are scheduled to return next month from their cross-U.S.A. motor home roadtrip, just in time for this year's week at Banks Lake. This is one family tradition worth keeping!

Coming next month on Blogspot… Top 5 Recent Trips- #4!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coming Next Weekend on Blogspot...

Update-- On Monday night, I’ll be adding photos [Photos Added!] to my May E.P.I.C. ministry roundup (it should eventually show up at the very end of last month’s posts). I apologize being such a slacker! In the meantime, here is a look ahead:

Since concluding my London Blogspot posts last month, it occurred to me how little I mention my travels on this page. My globetrotting has taken me to 36 (or is it 37?) different countries so far, and I often have friends and family by my side. We've made plenty of memories, but I rarely take the time to post those travel memories to this Blogspot page.

Readers may remember this photo from a few years back of Kathy and I sharing a bus to Colonia, Uruguay.

Starting now through October (and yes, the baby is coming in September!) and running until I find time to list all five trips, I'll make an effort to start out each month with a new Blogspot post that counts down my top five recent travels. Let's call it, hmmm, let me think... My Top 5 Recent Trips Countdown! Clever, no? The focus will be less on the destination and more on the experience. In other words, if you're looking for a list of my most exotic, out of the way overseas trips... that will be another list entirely.

Coming next weekend: Top 5 Recent Trips- #5!!