Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Christmas at the Mission

Celebrating the Season with our Friends
(and family) at the DTRM

This Christmas was probably the best we've ever had, and a large part of that is because of the friends we've developed at the rescue mission. What started as a service opportunity has quickly become a second home to us, complete with a whole bunch of folks we have come to consider to be a part of our family.

Karen was inspired with a whole bunch of ideas for connecting our church, and us, with the Mission for the Christmas season, but without a doubt, our favorite event was the night we had the workers from the mission over to our house! These folks have grown to be so dear to us over the last year!

The next event to be planned was a dinner for the ladies who live at the mission, or whom we helped move out over the last year. The dinner would be patterned after the annual Christmas dinner the ladies of our church put on each year, and the goal was to make it just as special!
With everything else going on during Christmas, Karen was a little apprehensive about getting enough volunteers to help pull the dinner off. Everyone is already so busy at Christmas! But, she decided to put a little ad in our church newsletter, just to see what would happen. Well, the results were phenomenal! Without Karen calling to recruit a single person, we ended up with over 60 volunteers!

So, the plans were laid. In addition to the dinner for the ladies, there would dinner and activities for their kids, a gospel-oriented magic show, stockings filled with goodies and toys for each person, and a few surprises.

Before the ladies' dinner, however, we found out that the Rescue Mission does a Christmas party for all the little kids who live around the mission. Talk about giving your holidays some perspective,...the folks at the homeless shelter putting on a party for the poor kids in their neighborhood. Wow....

So, Karen put out the word among the Sunday school classes at our church, and, once again, the response was beyond our wildest dreams! The gifts completely filled one of the classrooms at our church, wall to wall!

On the day of the party, folks were lined up out the door of the rescue mission, and everyone left with a little something.

Finally, the night of the Christmas dinner arrived. Everything went according to plan,...well, almost everything :-), and it was a wonderful way to cap an already awesome Christmas season!
More pictures,...

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Second Annual Football Road Trip!

Seattle vs. Atlanta at the Georgia Dome

After our trip to see the Packers play the Titans last year, Karen decided she liked the idea of getting a whole Sunday to herself once a year. So, when the tickets went on sale last summer, we looked at our options and decided (well, DAVE decided) that since Seattle was to be visiting in Atlanta, it was time to see the Seahawks again!

After a couple of weeks, we got our tickets and started making plans for Dec 15th.

Since Atlanta's MARTA system has a station out on the Alabama side of the city and drops off right at the Georgia Dome, we decided we'd give that a shot and hope to avoid the game traffic. It ended up working out great!

We checked out our seats beforehand on the Georgia Dome web site. It has a great utility that creates a picture of what you'll see from any seat in the stadium, and it turned out to be right on! Compare the result at right with the picture we took from our seats above. Pretty cool!

We arrived about 1 1/2 hours before game time and were able to see several of our favorites players warming up. That's Michael Vick below.

Of course, the best part of the game was,...well, the GAME! And in this particular case it was better than we could have dreamed,...lots of exciting plays, down to the wire drama, and the Seahawks actually won it in overtime! The final score was 30 -24. You can check out the NFL films highlights at, but for all our enthusiasm and sign waving, we don't appear in the clips. Oh well, maybe next time :-)

We're already saving our nickels for next year,...maybe it'll be the Raider's turn this time,...

Friday, November 15, 2002

Hiking in the Smokies
Our planned three-day hike into the Great Smoky Mountains turns out to be an altogether different adventure than we expected!

When the prospect of a hiking trip into the Smokies was raised, most of the Freshman guys at our church were all for it. When it was revealed that the trip would take place in November, visions of icicles hanging off various extremities culled the group down quite a bit. By the time we actually hit the trail, there were only three teens and three dads left,...and those that remained ended up having quite a time!

Day 1- Our feet our fresh, our equipment is dry, and the scenery is beautiful!

We had done a lot of checking on the weather before leaving, and all accounts said that Saturday was going to be gorgeous. Well, it was! The temperature started out in the low 40s but climbed all day, reaching up into the 70s by the time it was over. The skies were clear, and the leaves were at their autumn peak,...the hiking was awesome!

The forecast said we might start seeing some clouds by late Sunday, but at that point, everything seemed perfect!

We kicked off the trip by driving to Townsend, TN (southest of Knoxville) and spending the night in a hotel. Bright and early the next day (after a hot breakfast) we struck out on the trail. The plan was to hike about 6 miles up and in on the first day, do another 5 miles or so the second day, then finish it off on Monday by completing the remaining 6 or so miles on the loop.

Still, we all had our ears tuned for sounds in the night, and about 1:30 a.m. a distinct rustle could be heard over the sound of the river and the wind in the trees. Before long it became clear that the rustle wasn't from animals but from rain. By the time the night was over, the rain we weren't expecting had managed to get lots of our stuff pretty wet. Still, it was unseasonably warm, so we set about making our plans for the day and cooking up a delicious hot breakfast.

When we got close to our camp site we were greeted with a big yellow sign that put a whole different twist on things. But, we dutifully hung our packs up off the ground and observed all the other rules that were supposed to make the bears indifferent to our presence.

We took our time breaking camp, then headed out on what we thought was our trail. It became clear fairly soon, though, that we weren't on the trail at all

After examining the map, we figured out we'd overshot our mark, so we backtracked and finally found the trail crossing. The weather was on our minds, and though the rain hadn't been too bad, we were carrying a lot of extra "wet weight". Then, the amount of daylight left started becoming a factor. With up to 12 miles to hike (depending on whether we stopped at the second campsite or just hiked all the way out), it was starting to look doubtful that we'd have enough daylight to get us there. Finally we decided to hike back out the way we came in.

Well, it turns out to be a good thing we did! Unbeknownst to us, there was a string of dangerous thunderstorms spawning tornados all across the southeast, especially in Tennessee. As we drove home we noticed that there was lightning flashing on nearly every side of us, but we didn't get rained on much, so we thought little of it. By the time we got home, though, the storm was breaking news on every channel. But, by then we were home and safe.

Who would have thought that the biggest hazard we'd encounter wouldn't be bears, or November cold, but summer-like thunderstorms and tornadoes!

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

See you at the Pole

When the local TV news came to film a spot about Grissom's "See You At The Pole" event, Gerrit was one of the few who were interviewed. We recorded the news that night in hopes that we'd catch the moment for posterity, and we did! The resulting clip forever captures Gerrit at "that awkward stage" and has been the subject of much teasing through the years.

Monday, April 22, 2002

The "Burke-Street Boys"

The publications department at Lockheed has a tradition of doing fun things for the kids on "Bring Your Child to Work Day". In 2002, they had scanned magazine covers and were putting folks pictures into them. This one was just too perfect, especially when we hit upon the idea of changing the "Backstreet Boys" to "Burkestreet".

Monday, April 1, 2002

Downtown Rescue Mission

Our Place to Plug-In

Like lots of other folks, we've often wondered where we could plug in and do some kind of service. Over the years, we've dabbled in a number of short-term projects, but none of them seemed to satisfy our need to feel like we were really making a difference. Then, after our trip to Venezuela in 2001, it really hit us again how enormously blessed we are, and how important it was for us to just get out there and do SOMEthing. We wanted to find something that would involve the whole family, so our boys would grow up knowing that the life they lead is not the only existence possible, and to establish service as a part of our lives instead of being just a string of "projects". That's when we found the Downtown Rescue Mission!

We started by just showing up to help serve supper one Wednesday night back in April. It was a little scary and a lot weird that first night, but suddenly it's several months later and not only has Wednesday supper at the mission become a normal part of our routine, we've now formed some wonderful friendships, the guys all call Philip by name when they need their drink refilled, Tuck and Gerrit have both developed a talent for finding whatever needs to be done and doing it, Karen has found her calling in thinking up ways to help out the ladies and kids at the shelter, and our whole church has gotten involved in a big way!

The whole thing has taken on a life of it's own, and it's been so EASY! After all those years of wringing our hands about what we could do, all it took was going out and getting started, and the rest just fell into our laps!

When one of the ladies got back on her feet and moved out of the shelter with her kids, several Sunday School classes from our church scrounged through their attics and garages until we had enough furniture, sheets and towels to get her started. Others collected money and stocked up her pantry.

When it came time for summer Vacation Bible School, the church van provided transportation for several of the kids from the mission to attend. And while they were there some of the ladies from our church provided a place for their moms to be involved, complete with craft projects, Bible study and wonderful desserts.

As the summer wound down, and school loomed on the horizon, it became evident that lots of the mission kids didn't have the means to get the required school supplies or any new clothes to start the year off right. So, once again the church was mobilized. Each of the kids was "adopted" by individuals, groups, or Sunday school classes (so quickly and enthusiastically that we ran out of kids long before we ran out of volunteers!) Armed with the kids' sizes and lists from their schools, the volunteers collected money and shopped until each child had two new outfits, a new pair of shoes, a jacket or sweater, all their required school supplies, and a new backpack complete with a beautiful nametag.

The whole thing came together during a pizza party held at the shelter just a week before school started. The kids all stuffed themselves with pizza, mugged for the camera, dug into their new things, strutted around with their new backpacks, lined up for balloon animals made by the clown, and just had a great time! But I think it was we who got the biggest blessing!

Of course, it doesn't end there. The church's Fall Festival is just a few months away, and then there's Christmas to plan for, and another lady is moving out on her own soon....

....and of course we've got to be there to serve supper on Wednesday night!