Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vacation over, School starting!

For those of you just dying to hear about the rest of my vacation--mainly mom and dad, seeing as they were the first people eager to read the posts the next morning, here's a brief summary of the last couple of days. I did love the fact that they continued reading about the things we were doing together as we were doing them. They are wonderful parents and I had such a great time spending the week with them. I had a realization just the other day about it, actually. In the beginning of the summer I was able to spend a week, completely uninterrupted with Jesus during the silent retreat after NST. Last week I was able to spend a week, uninterrupted, with mom and dad! I couldn't ask for two better gifts. I absolutely crave quality time so let's just say that the entire week my "love tank" was constantly filling up and up and up (for those who are familiar with Dr. Chapman's Five Love Languages, if you aren't I highly suggest it). I came back to Fargo on a pretty quiet and uneventful bus from Sioux Falls and have truly hit the ground running since the night I arrived.

To finish filling you in on mom, dad and I's most exciting adventures let me tell you about just a few highlights of the last couple, jam-packed days:
Ready for the descent at Harney Peak
  • The Mammoth Site. When dad was talking about this I kind of thought, "Yeah, sure we can do that and I can act interested, but it will probably be super lame. It's okay though, I'm doing something daddy likes :)." It turned out to be really fascinating! There is a huge prehistoric sinkhole turned mammoth grave where paleontologists have been uncovering tons and tons of mammoth, along with short-faced bear and ancient llama bones since 1974. There are over 60 mammoths identified already and if they continue digging they could find literally hundreds more. This was definitely worth finding our way to Hot Springs to see!
  • Mt. Rushmore at Night. Going to Mt. Rushmore is something I've wanted to do ever since the third grade. We rolled in right around 8:00 pm and stuck around because we heard rumors that at 9 pm every night of the week there is a video presentation about the four presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln T. Roosevelt) and a ceremony with any veterans in the audience. All three of us loved it, and the slow, dramatic lighting of the mountain side was pretty neat as well. As a bonus, we met a group of three guys the same age as mom and dad from Illinois, and one of them asked me about FOCUS and what I do. He gave me some great encouragement! He said to me, "Don't let anyone tell you that what you're doing isn't important. Stay in this as long as you possibly can because after you leave it's hard to come back." Noted.
  • Climbing to Harney Peak. Harney Peak is the tallest point in all of South Dakota! It stretches 7,244 feet (might not be very high for those mountain-range folks, but for us, it's pretty high!) and is an amazing look-out point to see the rolling Black Hills and giant rock formations scattered throughout. Mmm! I loved it a lot. In fact, it reminded me quite a bit of Devil's Lake State Park, but a lot higher and a lot more difficult/longer of a hike. For non-hikers mom and dad did great, and I was still just excited to spend all the quality time with them. I love hiking and definitely don't do it enough so it was a great day. Unfortunately for dad and all his attempts to stir up some wildlife we never saw a bear, mountain lion or cougar (oh shoot!), but man he was trying as hard as he might!
  • So. Jealous.
  • Bear Country U.S.A! Now THIS was where we saw the wildlife! It sounds corny, but for those of you who have been there you definitely know what I'm talking about. I've always wanted to get close to a bear but never actually be close to a bear, if you know what I mean. (I have similar feelings about tornadoes, earthquakes...oh wait...hurricanes and tsunamis.) There really were a lot of bears, and of many ages and types! Along with them, yet in separate areas of the park roamed some elk, mountain lions, rocky mountain goats, arctic foxes, badgers, a lynx, and more bears. The baby bears were so cute and some people even got to go in their pen to feed and play with them! Annette and I were pretty jealous. Have you ever wondered what would happen if your teddy bear came to life? That happened in front of my eyes. Marshmallow was no longer that cute fluffy bear with the red ribbon around his neck, he was climbing trees and playing with the other bear cubs, oh it was so cute. Anyway, I really loved this and would definitely go again.
  • Because we can. In Deadwood, SD.
  • Sturgis Bike Rally. We actually did drive through Sturgis to see what all the hullabaloo was about after spending the morning in Deadwood on our last day in SD. Let's just say that I was very overwhelmed by all the people (there was an estimated 600,000 total!) but have never wanted to ride a motorcycle more than I did in that week. I most likely will never go back but it was pretty neat to see the whole other world of Harley Davidson and people who travel from all over the country to get together and ride their bikes in backwoods SD. Seems silly to me, but I suppose if that's what floats your boat...
And that's a pretty good summary of my favorite things from the last couple of days of the Kaufman family minus Kevin vacation! We missed him a lot but I'm so thankful that they took the time to spend with me.

As I said, I'm now back and running at NDSU. We had the evangelization workshop for the student missionaries on Friday, freshman move-in today and tomorrow we will be cooking pancakes for after the morning mass and grilling out after the 5 pm! And that's only the first day of the week! I can't wait to tell you all more the next time I have a few minutes to sit down and dump my thoughts on you.

Please pray for the missionaries and all the students, especially those who we hope to reach!! After moving in only a handful of them today I can see how thirsty they are for an amazing college experience, and I pray that we can help show them one way to kick it up a notch--with Jesus Christ.
Amazing chalk art Mary and Zoe did outside the Union!

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