Well, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot today. I’ve created, designed, and managed two successful theme parks, which had over 1,000 visitors each. Not too bad for one day’s work. Of course, neither of them were real, but still – I like to think that playing Rollercoaster Tycoon counts as working hard. That game is awesome. It’s pretty much the only game that can consistently hold my interest, other than perhaps Age of Empires 2. I mean, any game can hold my interest for at least a few hours, or perhaps even up to a week, but then the novelty wears off, and it sits on my shelf, getting dusty. I can’t say that I play Rollercoaster Tycoon every day, but every once in a while, I pick it up, and then I’ll be playing it for a good solid week or two, whenever I get the chance. And knowing how much free time I’ve had this summer, I’d say that there have been quite a few opportunities to play it.
I can’t say that anything else has really been happening in my life. On Saturday, my dad and I went up to Waterloo for “Student Life 101” – a day to really get some of the loose ends tied in regard to moving into the University of Waterloo and getting settled. Obviously, I can’t actually move in yet, but Saturday was a day to get ready for that. One of the first things on the agenda was to pick up my Watcard. This is UW’s student card, basically used for absolutely everything – it functions as a debit card, so the money you’ve transferred to the Watcard account can be used in a variety of places, including the bookstore, the cafeterias, and various restaurants in and around the campus. As well, it’s photo ID, and it must be used to get into the residences after hours also. It’s pretty much the most important thing you need. So, I picked it up on Saturday. They had a couple tables set up in the Student Life Centre for this purpose, and there were two lineups – one was for those who had already sent in their picture ahead of time (either by email or mail), and the other was for those who had to get their picture taken there. We saw that second line – it was a trail of people leading out from the room, down the hallway, and almost to the door. We then looked around for the other lineup. As it turns out, we had to wait for a whole ten seconds while the person in front of us picked up their card. Then it was as easy as giving them my name, and them handing me my card. Man. Sending in my picture early certainly saved about an hour of my life waiting in line for my picture to be taken.
The next thing to do was to buy some books. Both the used and new bookstores were open that day, specifically so that people could buy the books they needed early, before classes even started. I had checked up on the internet and found out specifically the books I needed for each of my classes, and had printed out a list of them. It’s a good thing I did. The line for the computers to check up that information was about twenty or thirty feet long. We just walked right into the bookstore. My dad and I looked in the used bookstore first, to hopefully find some of my books cheaper than what they would be new. Of course, they needed to be in good condition, but that didn’t turn out to be much of a problem. Most of the books there had about ten or fifteen twins with them – the shelves were full of books, most in excellent condition. I figure, either the people at UW don’t actually use their textbooks, or else they’re really careful with them. I ended up being able to find four out of five of the books I needed there, plus they were all in good condition – a couple had some bits highlighted, but who cares? Oh no, they’ve already highlighted the main points for me! That’s terrible! The only reason I couldn’t buy the fifth textbook used was because it came with a workbook as well – it was a French book, so most likely people used the workbooks and wrote all in them. So I had to buy that new. Big whoop. I still saved about $100 by buying most of my books used.
After stopping off at the car to unload the books in the trunk, we then headed to the computer store. We needed to pick up a copy of Microsoft Office, and the store can get a student discount from Microsoft for people with their Watcards. I had already picked that up, so it was just a matter of walking into the store, asking an employee about it, signing some stuff, and then paying for the CDs. Normally Microsoft Office 2003 Professional sells for anywhere from $500 to $600. We got it for $93. Yeah, that’s right, $93. It’s a pretty sweet deal. Of course, you don’t get the box with it, but I’m sure they don’t sell the thin piece of cardboard for $407. That’s a pretty expensive box if they do.
The only thing left to do for the day was to take one last tour of St. Jerome’s. Since that’s the residence I’m in, it only makes sense. My mom had asked us to check and see how much space there was under the bed. I’ll probably get some cinder blocks or something to raise it up, but she wanted to know so that she could appropriately sized storage containers. So we took a short tour of the place. The girl that was guiding us around seemed pretty nice, if not kind of strange. She showed us one of the guys’ rooms, and I realized how claustrophobic I just might get with two people in a room that size. I mean, they’re pretty much a standard-sized dorm room, but standard-sized dorm rooms have never been very big. Fit in two desks, two beds, plus shelving and a mini-fridge that comes with the room, and there’s not much space left. Then you actually have to put all your junk somewhere, which leaves less room. I’m really wondering just where exactly I’m going to put my guitar – space is certainly going to be limited. However, my guitar is a must-have item for me. I’m simply not going without it. But anyways, after looking at a room, we sort of wandered around the building while talking with the girl, looking at the cafeteria and the laundry room as well. She seemed pretty excited and energetic, which is, I suppose, why she was a tour guide. But after looking around the residence, we had pretty much done all we had to do there. So we left. We had arrived there at about 10:15 AM, and we left by about 1:00 PM. Not too bad for having bought all my books and all that jazz. I was pretty pleased with all we had accomplished.
So that was Saturday. Sunday was entirely different, since, well I didn’t go up to Waterloo, for one thing. Right before prayer on Sunday morning, Skipp was telling me about how he was thinking about just cancelling the youth service tonight. I immediately told him not to, saying that we needed to have one. I had been looking forward to it for about two weeks – not for any particular reason, but just because it was something to do. When you’ve had a completely boring summer, anything other than sitting around at home or working is a pleasant occurrence. As it turns out, he didn’t have anything planned for what to speak on. He explained about how God had sort of been giving him little pieces of it all throughout the week, but how it didn’t all come together until about an hour before he came to the church that night. I guess that’s kind of cutting it close, but hey – at least it was something straight from God, rather than just another one of those mass-produced, cliche “you’re a sinner, but God loves you” sermons. I mean, those are important and certainly have their place, but I’ve found that a lot of times, every sermon ends up turning into some form of that, using different verses and a different focus, but always the same message. I mean, it’s a true statement, for sure, but there’s so much more to Christianity than just “you’re a screw-up, but don’t worry!” Somehow, I thought we would have moved onto to deeper things by now. But oh well. Last night wasn’t one of those messages.
Basically, the message was this: “Get off the cruise ship, and onto the battleship.” It was truly a short and sweet message, although Skipp certainly talked about plenty of stuff that went alongside of it. Pretty much, the message was just that we can’t live as Christians with our feet propped up, relaxing our way through life. Christianity is a battleship, and we all have roles to play, stations to attend to. God is our captain, and we are the faithful sailors that keep His vessel operating and functioning. After Skipp spoke about that, we split up into small groups and prayed for each other and ourselves, basically that we’d apply what he said to our lives. After that, we all got together into a big circle, held hands, and prayed together as a group. It sounds a little cheesy, but there’s nothing that bonds a group together more than praying together. I just hope that we keep doing that. I must say, I was impressed with the level of leadership that Skipp showed last night. Up until now, I confess I’ve had some misgivings. I mean, since he’s come to the church as our youth pastor, he’s definitely been a friend and fun guy to hang out with – but I didn’t see much more than that. I suppose as he’s gotten to know us a little more, he’s slowly becoming more of a leader – still keeping that friendliness, but now more as a mentor rather than a buddy-buddy guy. I hope that continues. Our church has definitely been thrown around quite a bit in the leadership department in the past few years. Pastors have come and gone, and it’s been quite a rough ride. I’m glad that, for the moment anyway, things seem to be settling down a bit.
I suppose a part of me was kind of hesitant about last night’s service. I talked a while back on this blog about the “uprooting process” that God seems to be taking me through. Here I am, having lived my whole life in the same house, only two churches (New Life being an offshoot of Evangel anyway, so it wasn’t much of a change), plus nice, sheltered Christian schools. I’m not saying that any of that is bad. But now God is preparing to transfer me from the secluded greenhouse I’ve been in, into the outside world. And the plant that I am, having grown up in the shelter, needs time to get used to the new environment. The past two things Skipp has spoken about have had some sort of message about inviting friends out to youth and impacting our friends. And both those times, I’ve sat there and tried to think of even one non-Christian person that I know well enough to invite to church or youth. And honestly, I can’t really think of one. There are a few people at work that I know pretty well, but most of them are either too old for youth to be able to really enjoy it, and most are pretty anti-Christian – not meaning that they hate Christians, but more that they just think the whole religion thing is ridiculous. I’ve heard people talking about it. I’ve heard what they’ve said. And that sort of eliminates them from my mind. I don’t know. Maybe I’m making excuses. But for right now, my prayers have mostly been, “God, please help me to remember to allow Your love to show through me as I get to know people at university.” Right now, this stage in my life seems to be about preparation. And soon, I’ll be outside, and soon the winds will blow and the rain will come. But we’ll see how I weather up to the storm when it gets here. For right now, I prepare for it.