Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Getting Started: youth work, writing, and Greco-Roman wrestling from NYC

From August 2nd, 2005

Getting started: youth work, writing, and Greco-Roman wrestling from NYC

Well, with this entry, I have entered the world of blogging. Welcome to the internet age, Dan. (Sorry, I have this tendency to address myself. I tell myself it's not that unusual, so it doesn't bother me much.)

To bring up to speed anyone who happens by, the last month has been a crazy one. So crazy I actually had to lay off the timed writing challenges I'd been consistently doing to work on my writing. At the beginning of the month, we had an ensamble from Pensacola Christian College visit the church, and a few of the guys stayed at our place overnight. One I knew from seminary, and another I had known as a little kid from the church I grew up in. After a solid performance, and an icecream and Dutch Blitz filled night, we took the ensamble and some of the church girls on a whirlwind tour of lower Manhattan. I think Chinatown impressed them all the most.

Shortly after the PCC ensamble departed, Paul Funchess, evangelist extraordinaire, arrived. He helped me to promote and put on a program for both the children and the teens. Kids cram New York City, especially this part of Staten Island. But we've had a terrible time reaching them. During the week of programs, though, we had two children make professions of faith in Christ, and at least five teens do the same. This was really a terrific week for us, and although numbers aren't even close to everything in ministry, the numbers were encouraging. We hope to be able to continue to help these young people, and to reach out to their friends and families as well.

Last week, I took two days off to wrestle in the Empire State Games. These are a sort of olympics for New York State. I have to really give the state credit for the way they put them on. It really is a first-class production. I represented the New York City region in Greco-Roman wrestling in the open division. Since this was my first Greco tournament ever, and my first tourney of any kind in the last five years or so, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Turns out the competition there was pretty tough. I was fairly pleased to escape with a sixth place finish (out of the twelve qualifiers -- a full weight class; each of six regions can send its two best) and no serious injuries. The new rules for Greco played a big role in two of my losses -- nobody I practice with really uses the reverse lift, but literally half of the match is now spent in that position. I got thrown for five points in both of those matches. Ouch. Hurts my pride more than it hurt my body. My wrestling partner, Jason Bross, wound up taking silver in his weight division, one of the toughest weight classes there. After the medal match, he left his shoes on the mat, signifying his retirement. We'll miss him on the mat, but he promises to keep coaching. As one of the other wrestlers told him, Jay is the classiest wrestler he'd ever met. Another legend retired at the games -- Melvin Cooper. Melvin is sixty-one, but still had one of the most chiseled and impressive physiques at the games. His son, who placed second at nationals this year, was there to raise his arm in victory after Melvin left his shoes on the mat. Both Melvin and Jay walked off to standing ovations.

And that brings us almost to the present. This weekend, I finally got to participate in the Liberty Hall flash challenge again. I wrote about a character in a girl gang who ends up getting beaten to death. Talk about a challenge -- not my usual genre, setting, mood, outcome, or POV character. The comments are generally good, but with an almost universal complaint that character motivations aren't clear at all. Typical of my short stories and flash fiction. Got to work on that. I'm pleased, though, that no one has even thought to comment on the fact that the entire story never uses profanity. Not easy to write a story in that setting with the amount of dialogue I used in which people don't even notice the absence of profanity. So even if I don't win "best flash" for my group (I've got a couple of votes, but am not in the lead), I've satisfied my personal goals for this flash -- write from a different POV than a 15-45 year old male, and then write this grim urban story without any profanity, but do it in such a way that no one even notices its absence.

Well, I've got more church work to do yet, and I should spend some time with my family (for those of you who don't already know, that would be my wonderful wife of six years, anniversary two days ago, and our daughter of three years; the collie doesn't quite count to me as part of the family, although she certainly thinks she is). I'll add to this as I have time and opportunity.


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