Saturday is a day off for SOOPers, of course, and yesterday we took Bruno and Rha Friesen with us, determined to walk the 800 foot descent into the bowels of the earth at the Carlsbad Caverns. What an experience! Last time we were here, we took the elevator down and up. The walk takes about an hour and taxes muscles one doesn't use much, as well as being a strain on knees and hips, but we did it in fine style. Agnes and I took the King's Palace Tour thereafter, which is another 80' descent and rise, but the magnificence of this natural wonder made it worthwhile.
And heres the "learning patience" part. We went through a tunnel that was blasted about seventy years ago in order to provide person access to yet another room in this labyrinth. Water drips slowly from the roof of this man-made tunnel, and tiny stalagtites of calcium carbonate about the size of my little fingernail have formed there. Elsewhere in the cavern, these stalagtites soar to 70 to 80 feet and are massive. I thought of some of my friends who are of the conviction that the earth is 6000 + years old and wondered what they would make of this. It's obvious that dripping water would not have formed these stalagtites and stalagmites without millions of years of time to get the job done, based on the slowness at which new ones are forming. Time is of a different essence down there.
Carlsbad Mennonite - as I've mentioned before - loves potluck and games. This morning's service at 9:30 featured a men's chorus of 8 or so (SOOPers Rudy and Bruno Friesen and me included) sang 606 from the blue hymnal (Ich Weiss einen Strom) in English and German. At 11:00, adult Sunday School discussed the same lesson that Eigenheim discussed (unless they were stormed out). From John 5, it was a very difficult lesson in that it's deeply theological on the subject of Christ's sonship. Bruno said as we drove to church that he was glad not to be teaching that, a sentiment I could echo easily. Our teacher, Dick Rhodes, shared with us after his struggle to prepare for the lesson adequately. After Bible Class - as they call it here - we sat down to potluck, a tremendous variety of good foods and salads. My favourites were the stuffed mushrooms! We also got to know a new SOOP couple from Chilliwack - Henry and Evelyn Rempel whose nephew and niece are currently managing the motel in Rosthern.
A group had lunch together after church. The purpose of their gathering was to decide what actions to take regarding the "surge" of troops Bush has proposed for Iraq and the growing conviction here that it's a stepping stone into military action against Iran. People are pretty spooked at that possiblilty. Carlsbad Mennonite seems to be as much a peace church as any we've ever attended, and it was heartening to see how seriously they take their discipleship. One member asked the congregation for prayer and advice about a calling he felt to fly to Washington to attend a peace vigil there, and I think he got plenty of help and will likely go. The discussion around such topics is invigorating.
Tomorrow is Martin Luther King day and a national holiday. We hear that the thrift store will be open, however, so we'll go there and sort, tag and hang out clothes for another half day. On Wednesday, "the men" will spend the day building on a Habitat for Humanity house.
Our greetings to all our friends and family who read this, and to all our brothers and sisters at Eigenheim Mennonite especially.