Friday, October 23, 2015

Belgium, Pt. 1- Australian surfboard upset

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

A second round of Australian surfing just wasn't meant to be.  And to make it worse, Australian Surfboard Upset sounds more like a crowdbreaker game I'd devise for my church youth group than a respectable blog post title.  It can be hard for a youth pastor's brain to switch modes.  

Just prior to this month's Hamilton family European vacation, I had sent my parents to Australia for a few weeks.  My plan was to meet them in Sydney for a couple days, fly home to the U.S., and then bring Kathy and the kids to Europe the very next day.

In Sydney, I would do the tourist thing with my folks, visit some Aussie friends while I'm in town, and finally hit Bondi Beach for some surfing.  Australia boasts the BEST surfing I've had in my life, hands down.

Long story short, I screwed up my visa.  Everything got fixed... But after all that hassle, the flight from L.A. to Sydney was oversold anyway.  Ironically, a solid year of scoring a ton of Business Elite seats for my Delta buddy pass riders had lead to me getting stuck in L.A.

Thankfully, one of my favorite buddies Joseph saved me from an overnight stay in LAX airport by letting me crash in one of his rental houses in Hollywood. After a post-midnight nosh at In-N-Out Burger, Joseph set me up in a room so I could write my most recent blog post (see link to that previous "Salt Lake City- Delta Velvet 360" post) and get some sleep.

I'd make one last attempt to fly out to Australia the next evening.

Open air breakfast of paleo coconut pancakes and coffee in Hollywood, courtesy of Candace

None of my photos with Joseph are really worth sharing here, but my Instagram followers may remember this photo collage of my most recent Hollywood visit:

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

The next evening's L.A. flight to Sydney was also oversold, so I flew home to start our family European vacation a few days early.  Sadly, little Lena was ill when I got back.

Rather than flying to Europe early, we spent those extra few days waiting for Lena to get better.  I even stayed home on Sunday to take care of Lena, so Mommy could watch Levi in the church nursery.

Other than getting out to climb or seeing the occasional friend, most of my remaining week of Delta vacation was spent at home.

Climbing intro lesson for my friend Gwen, just to get her belay certified at Stoneworks Climbing Gym

A few days later, Mommy finally gave Lena a clean bill of health.  We scooped up Lena and Levi, hurried to PDX Airport, and loaded those little Ls on the very next departing plane.

Economy Comfort seats for all of us: That's airlinese for Fancy Coach

Coming next, after leading a NW Wilderness climb to the summit of the South Sister volcano and our thrilling scramble/ rappel down the Mystery Trail...

Belgium, Pt. 2- The story finally begins!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Just Read: I Saw the Church

Written during this week's overseas family vacation in Ghent, Belgium, this book review will also be featured on my Goodreads page soon.

Disclosure:  This book is on my required reading list for the ordination process in the Church of God.  I submitted a more in depth book report to my Credentials Advisory Committee.

Several books have been written about the history of the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) reformation movement.  “I Saw the Church,” however, is the first book to organize our church’s history with an emphasis on development of theology and practice, rather than merely document a timeline of events and church leaders.  In other words, it’s not a chronological history.  The non-chronological layout was disorienting at times (flashing back and forward to various decades/centuries, church leaders dying or bowing out of the scene and then reappearing in the narrative later, etc.), but upon my second reading it made sense why author Merle Strege made this stylistic choice.

Regarding the content itself, I was impressed at how candid and thorough Strege was with researching this book.  Church history is placed within the context of then-current developments of the universal Christian church and society as a whole.  Before reaching the more love-oriented modern era depicted at the end of the book, I learned much about the earlier eras of my own church movement.

Many parts were inspiring, though I occasionally found myself scribbling exclamation points in the margins at some of the primitive ideas that somehow went unchallenged for so long.  I would’ve counted myself among the dissenters who revolted against the original tendencies towards legalism, exclusivism, and anti-intellectualism.  Strege offers an unflinching look at how the Church of God has wrestled through issues of doctrine (though we don’t officially have a creed other than the Bible), theology, practice, organization, and social issues.

Throughout my life, I’ve found myself taking pride in our church movement’s relatively liberal stance towards women in ministry, racial equality, government, and other issues.  This book helped me to understand that our movement’s earlier leaders had some rather eccentric views,  mistakes were made along the way, major disagreements occurred (as well as silly minor disputes), and that it’s unrealistic to expect a completely smooth evolution of thought and practice from a church that is comprised of imperfect people.  Regardless of the peripheral troubling spots in our church’s earlier history, it was inspiring to read an account of the men and women who have followed the call to pursue the vision of holiness and Christian unity.

“I Saw the Church” is written for anyone interested in a balanced, thoughtfully laid out examination of how the Church of God’s grass roots beginnings evolved into to our present era.  The non-chronological structure takes some getting used to, but in retrospect, it was well worth the effort.  This book is a wealth of information and insight into the heritage of our holiness movement.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Salt Lake City- Delta's Velvet 360

Posted from Hollywood, en route to hooking up with the fam in Australia…

After leading hikes and other outdoor adventures for NW Wilderness all summer, I would’ve normally already flown overseas a couple times this fall.  Being a Delta Airlines employee, quick international trips are a regular thing for our family.  In fact, I’m currently attempting 1 of 2 back-to-back overseas family trips, on three different continents.

The steep Devil’s Peak hike I led Saturday before I flew out was scaled back from my original 15 mile routing, but the roster was ANYTHING but scaled back.  I relaxed my usual limit of 10-12 hikers to allow a whopping 18 people attend my hike.  And over 30 people RSVP’d!

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

But the big event of last week was Delta’s Velvet 360 event in Salt Lake City.  I was very fortunate to be selected to represent our PDX station (see the two links to my posts about running in the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon in 2014, and also my latest from 2015).

After I worked late into the wee hours of Tuesday morning (we were short-staffed), Delta flew me to SLC on Tuesday and put me up in the AAA Five Diamond luxury hotel Grand America.  The swag bags were gone by the time I arrived, but I landed just in time to catch the opening night festivities.

Enthusiastic "Velveteers" greet us at the SLC airport with our motor coach

Grand America courtyard:  Before getting dressed up for the main event(s)

The courtyard was the setting for Tuesday night’s party:  Prizes, exquisitely prepared food and appetizers, drinks, music, and dancing.  D.J. Nunzio was on hand later that evening to get the dance floor hopping.

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

Day 2

After a very late night with some new friends, Wednesday morning breakfast arrived rather early
(7 a.m.!).

But Velvet 360 was just getting started.

An all-star lineup of Delta’s executive leadership team (including President Ed Bastian) took the stage throughout Wednesday to share with employees the Big Picture, a 360 degree view of Delta’s business.

Gil West, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, was one of many featured speakers from our Delta executive leadership team

At times, Velvet 360 was refreshingly less like a conference and more like an energetic, entertainingly-produced U2 concert.  Prize giveaways, cinematic short films, comedy skits, and the enthusiastic “Veveteers” kept the energy levels up during the transitions between speakers.

The jubilant Velveteer prize patrol whisks away yet another winner up to the stage

Lights, camera, action:  A 180 degree view of Velvet 360

Amidst the flashy production values, the message was clear:  Delta is actively involved in investing in the successful future of our customers, shareholders, and employees.

Props to Delta Airlines for a job well done at Velvet 360.  And thanks for sending me!

Bonus Vine video:

Hit the unmute button to hear audio of us getting our groove on to Bobby Brown the night before.