The holiday weekend

I hope my American readers all enjoyed a nice holiday weekend. On the Fourth, I kept hearing people say that they were glad to have Saturday off as well to catch up after exhausting themselves cooking, hosting parties, and all the playing we do on the holiday itself. I know I needed it myself, because I was pretty tired on Friday.

This year was a unique holiday for me. My mother's parents have always hosted our entire family at their pool and screened-in patio for an all-day cookout and pool party. We eat, talk, play games, sometimes pick crabs, and generally catch up on each other's lives, since we only gather like that twice a year. This summer, however, my grandmother's house is in limbo; my brother is trying to sell his home and buy hers. My father's health this year has been a stress on the whole family, and we decided that none of us had the energy or resources it would take to host an event like that. Instead we were invited to Marilyn and Dave Stevens' home--my brother's in-laws--who are wonderful hosts with a real gift of hospitality, and we had a great time there, in spite of being called "scum" on more than one occasion! (Just kidding--they have a card game they play where one person is the "scum" in the game).

But before the party, I got a chance to do something different, as well. Since we were breaking from tradition anyway, I signed up to do community outreach with my brother's church in the morning. Severn River Church is trying to have contact with the local community by building connections with people. We set up a booth at a local parade and fair, and we did 10-question surveys about community needs. In order to draw crowds, we did two drawings for $50 gas cards. Our results were surprising: many people were totally unimpressed by the idea of gas cards. I thought, "Do these people have so much extra money or are they finding gas a lot cheaper than I am?" I did the surveys for a while, but I preferred to be a "crier"--mingling in the crowds, saying "Anybody interested in a free gas card? Enter to win at the blue gazebo!" over and over.

Saturday's highlight--I was able to pick up the box spring I'd ordered for my new mattress. A few weeks ago, I decided I couldn't stand the single bed I've had forever here at my parent's house. I wanted to get a full (only thing that will fit up the attic stairs), so I bought a barely-used mattress off www.craigslist.com. I still needed the box spring; however, so I've been sleeping on the floor for weeks. I'm not that old yet, but sleeping on the floor was getting tiresome! Being able to get the box spring and set the bed up right made a huge difference in a night's sleep.

I had double services yesterday morning on Maryland's Eastern Shore (probably one of my favorite spots in the world). The folks in Chestertown were wonderful, and I am thrilled at the idea of partnering with them in the future. I always enjoying spending time with Josh and Amy Rendulic, the pastor there, since we are of similar age and background. They have done a great job with that church, and I'm always impressed when I visit them.
Ariel Rainey