I just got back from a road trip to Generation Unleashed in Portland yesterday. We took most of our high school, which is about 30 students large, to the youth conference at Portland Bible Church. It was a spectacular trip that I could go on-and-on about…but since it’s late at night, I’ll keep it short. Yes, you’re welcome. I’m sure that I will be sharing more thoughts on this adventure at some point, but for now a few observations will have to suffice.

1) Christian subculture is quite fascinating. I enjoy the sport of people-watching, and there are few greater arenas – WallyWorld being the Superdome – than at a Christian youth gathering. And to boot, we were in Portlandia – where the “Dream of the 90’s” is truly alive and well! (I just couldn’t help myself.) As one of the speakers, Pancho Lowder put it “nerd is cool.” This really makes me feel both better and worse at the same time. But the broad brushstrokes of a diverse group of people coming together for a common cause is my favorite part of the experience. Not content to only hit the 99% mark, we go all the way diverse. Love it!

2) Don’t stop for bathroom breaks and/or food when you’ve got a van full of teenagers. Driving makes them sleepy, which is PERFECT! Oh, the peace of mind that comes from three rows of fully sedated teens. It truly is the point where Heaven meets earth. Sadly, stopping makes them wake up. But if you just keep on going, then they’ll sleep for hours. The only problem is that every once in while the driver has to stop to use the facilities. Is a bladder infection worth a peaceful drive? You know, it sure feels like it sometimes.

3) Cold showers, an over-crowded van, and a concrete mattress enhance the experience. I know this one’s out there, but I think trifles like these actually make for a funner trip. Nothing brings people together like difficult times. As C.S. Lewis says, we learn so much from pain that it’s surprising that we don’t have more in the world. Now, I’m not looking for things to necessarily become altogether more difficult in my life. I’m content with my current amount of pain and suffering – just enough to complain about, but not enough to get tired of my own complaining. There’s just something about being thrown into a time of difficulty with comrades. Yes, it gives us something to complain about – and thus a conversation piece for days and even weeks to come. But it gives us a common cause to unite against and enjoy. And who needs a straight back? Overrated.

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