Friday, September 18 2020

HNGR on the moon, papers on the ceiling, and prayer requests



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Dear Journal,

Yesterday, my good friend Jordan reminded me about something funny we did in college. There was a joke campus newspaper called "Off the Record" that accepted submissions from students with the goal of gently poking fun at anything going on in the student body. My freshman year, I signed up for the intro class to the HNGR program, in which students would prepare for an intense semester long internship in a remote part of the world. After only a week of attending the class, I decided it wasn't for me, but I would finish out the class anyway simply for the credits. The course, along with some silly late night riffing with my roommate Jordan sparked an inside joke where we imagined asking the college if Jordan could join the intensive HNGR internship program with the goal of going to the moon his senior year.

"Think about it," I said, building up a point. "Name a geographic area that is more impoverished than the moon. GDP. Literacy. Lack of access to clean water. It's a dying world - a dying outer world."

With Jordan's permission, I crafted our shared joke into an article and submitted it to off the record.

"Do you still have that paper anywhere?" asked Jordan over text yesterday.

I don't have the paper. Shortly after graduating, while testing a homemade program to backup my files, I accidentally deleted the paper along with everything else I wrote in college. Everything I wrote in four years just vanished in an instant behind a blinking cursor in a terminal. Tragic, but also kind of cool.

I sent the college an email yesterday, hoping that the newspaper is still around and that by chance they have the article somewhere. And while you're here, if any readers out there are still plugged into the Wheaton College student body, I'd appreciate some help in tracking it down. The article was likely published in 2010, titled "HNGR on the Moon".

Sip. Good morning, everyone. Congratulations on making it to Friday. It's good to be here. This morning, the coffee is ample. We had to endure an awkward two day shortage in our coffee supply while waiting for our big five pound bag to arrive in the mail. Yesterday I picked up a small bag from Moka across the street to tide us over. Well, the five pound bag of beans would arrive in the mail only a few hours later, and now we have six pounds of coffee. The name of the game today is to brew as much coffee as possible so nothing goes to waste.

It's been a long week. At work, we're getting ready to roll over into another quarter, and our team has a lot of new requirements to gather and projects to kick off. Lots of reading. Lots of thinking. Lots of staring blankly into my notes, shaking myself back into alertness when I start to day dream.

I'm happy for Friday. I'm grateful for the weekend. I have lofty plans to thoroughly clean Rodney's outside playground. The spiders have just gotten a little too confident, and if anything I need to re establish my dominance on behalf of my species and set them in their place.

We had a wonderful day yesterday. As I was busy upstairs hacking away on some docs, Rodney tapped me on the shoulder and present several pieces of paper rolled up like strolls. Slipping my headphones off and turning in my chair, I gave him my undivided attention.

"I have a prize for you," he said. He unfurled the first paper, which had a lowercase "b" and a "d", each sporting their own arms, legs, and silly smiling faces.

"Dude - these are awesome. Can I hang this up on the wall?" I asked. Rodney nodded, fetching the scotch tape out of a drawer. I stood up on my chair and added his papers to the wall.

"I'm running out of room on this wall, dude," I laughed.

"Yeah!" laughed Rodney. "Dada... put them on the CEILING!"

"On the ceiling?" I laughed. "Oh dude, could you imagine?"

Rodney returned a few minutes later with several more pieces of paper. I had the feeling that he was trying to force the issue. I taped one of the pieces of paper to the ceiling, as requested.

We ate lunch outside together. I heated up the leftover potato romanoff from the night before, and tried to get some more browning action under the broiler while waiting for the hamburger helper to finish. Very gourmet stuff, as you can see.

After finishing out the work day, we went for a long walk around the block. I was hesitant at first, having worked a little to far into my cooking time, but Marissa convinced me. "What are we making tonight? We can help you when we get back," she offered.

We took a long stroll around the block. Rodney rode his bike, and for a novice biker he fared pretty well. He managed to stay on the sidewalk, turn correctly, and keep up with the pack, and all I had to do was keep a few fingers on his handlebars to give him confidence.

I removed my fingers to scratch my face. Rodney sharply corrected me. "Dada," he said. "Put... put your hands on my bike."

"Yes sir," I replied meekly. "Sorry, sir."

"Don't be sorry!" he replied. "It was just an accident."

I smiled at Marissa. "Where did that phrase come from?" I laughed.

"It's a new one," said Marissa. "He says that a lot now."

While putting Rodney to bed, I asked him if he had any special prayer requests. In our bedtime liturgy, we reserve the space just before the final "amen" for any concerns that are top of mind. Rodney stared up at the ceiling while he searched his memories.

"Momma's frame," he said sheepishly.

"Momma's frame?" I repeated.

"Momma's frame was broken," said Rodney clarifying.

Retelling it to Marissa, her eyes misted with tears. "I ordered a really big frame in the mail, and Rodney was there when I opened it. It was damaged from shipping - there was a big crack in it."

"He was really concerned about it," I said. "Make sure you keep him updated. I mean, it's in his prayers now."

Rodney will be pleased to learn that Momma is sending the frame back in exchange for a new one. Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful day, everyone.