we had a great time in ventura - it was an excited crowd and we saw our good friend CJ and his wife (wish i had gotten a picture!). we had a wonderful snack time and breakfast the next morning with Joel Hickenbottom's family. Mr. Hickenbottom gave us veggies straight from his garden which we made into a healthful and yummy pasta sauce that night. we got to take a break at the beach (brrr! but the water was warm) and sleep on the sand. it was all very californian. :)
we then headed through arizona to new mexico. this has, by far, been my favorite landscape of the whole trip. i don't think i have ever felt as hot as i did in arizona. all the windows were open in the bus but i was chewing through ice cubes like a crazy person. it was barren but it really was beautiful. i've always touted myself as being a lover of the desert but i found myself questioning this in arizona. near the border of new mexico, however, the weather dropped nearly 15 degrees and the landscape became more like the desert with which i find my affinity. cactus started appearing and small mountains of rocks. we slept in a parking lot right outside of the petrified forest and the next morning at 7am we went to see what all the fuss was about. wow. it's amazing what nature does. it's mysterious and miraculous. that's what i love about creation - i'm not saying i don't believe in supernatural miracles but we have all the miracles we need outside in the outdoors. i felt small and insignificant in the midst of rocks and trees (now rocks) that are millions and millions of years old. imagining dinosaurs roaming around really seemed possible there. beautiful.
but we were on a schedule so i made us rush through and get to Albuquerque. i have loved all of our stops for they each offered something unique and special but i have to say, this stop, this place, has bewitched me. the hot days and cool nights, the desert and flowers and people... it was hard to leave this morning. the planning team for our event was the most organized and on top of things of any of the events. we actually had time to sit around for a bit because everything was done! this event was our first bi-lingual one, being translated into spanish for folks. i loved it. we had a folky group called the alyssa yarber band and a hip hop artist called JC Represent play our intermission time. they were both fantastic and really excited about being a part of this project.
but the best part was the group of folks we stayed with! lynn and john, and john's dad Bob, from casa shalom were so hospitable and welcoming. they are doing really good work opening up their homes to strangers. they live in a cooperative housing complex surrounding a courtyard with old growth trees (hard to find anywhere, let along in the desert!). about 15 families live in this complex teaching each other english and spanish, sharing meals and carrying each other's joys and burdens. out of all the communities i know (many of which excite me quite a bit) casa shalom really seems to be embodying the love and subversive hope of christ. i hope they visit us and that we can visit them again.
i'm literally sitting in the bus near to tears because i've been so moved by these people and this place. it could also be that i slept a total of 5 1/2 hours last night and not much more the night before... and we're driving through the night tonight!
i'll leave you with some pictures of the desert and my traveling companions and of our stop in NM.
Here is Jay eating tiny cookies