A slight Respite

It has been a while since I have blogged, I am sorry for that. In all honesty these days are kind of relaxed an their isn’t much to blog about. I have moved over to “OP’s” which is just a fancy way of saying maintenance man. I love it, it is right down my alley, and for those who know Dave McPhee he is the man I am working for now, and he is ever so full of grace and incredibly chill, a really great person to know and work for.

We recently re-painted the dorm rooms and re-did one of the outside walls, a little painting a little construction. Not bad. I hate painting though, oh how I hate cutting in and painting, got it done though and it looks worlds better almost new!

I went on a killer amazing hunting trip with two bro’s Shad Stufflebeam and Bryar Zimmerman, filmed the whole hunt (mule deer in eastern Oregon). Going to put together a kind of promo for Shad to send out to sponsors in hopes of them supporting his hunting addiction. Spent a whole week in a big tent made of sail cloth (you don’t have to treat sail cloth you know), and spent most of the time either arguing with each other, being incredibly sarcastic most of the time, making fun of each other, scaring each other, and then delving into deep philosophical theological conversations! Then we would go hunting and while we were trying to be quiet Bryar would turn around and say a Micheal Scott quote from The Office and I would try to cackle and scare all the deer away. Anyway, will take a couple months for me to finish the video but really looking forward to it! Thanks guys for paying my gas out there it was a much needed get away and so much fun.

I am also getting into photography, I didn’t realize how much I loved it until I go to play with a pretty decent DSLR Canon Rebel EOS T3i. Not even top of the line, pretty mid-range but still amazing! So, my goal is to sell some prints on this website. They are kind of spendy ( I didn’t make the prices, they do for all the canvas and stuff). I am praying and hoping that I get a job on the USFS fighting wildland fire as well, that way I can save up some cash and go mission abroad, most likely Mexico but I may do a road trip to Florida and back, serving a long the way in soup kitchens, or any capacity I can find. I don’t want much in life, but traveling and a good DSLR would make me so happy. I try not to be materialistic but man did I fall in love with that Canon Rebel hahahah. I will get one some day I know it.

So that is all that is up with me, see everyone in Tiller in a couple weeks! Can’t wait to come do some visiting and hobnobbing. And more Tiller country stuff. God bless!

A Night Out and Amazing Music

Lastnight I got the chance to drive for two hours to a place called Whitefish, Montana and see a band that is through and through amazing. They bring Christian music to a level of pure honesty and a sound they all agree is their own, and it shows. This is Flannelgraph’s Facebook page if you would like to find out more about them and listen to some of their songs : https://www.facebook.com/flannelgraph

I also had the chance to hang back and talk to the two guitarists who promptly insisted on me having to meet the lead singer Shayla, and the lead guitarist Leon. They may come to Bighorn to play a set, and might let me play with them! She asked if I had any originals as well, so we will see where it goes. Either way some genuinely awesome people, through the music and personalities from what I gather. Please check out their music either on Facebook or on Spotify.

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This is an Ode to my Rock Climbing Adventure

I don’t like heights, in fact they terrify me. But my need to climb a sheer rock face continues to trump that fear, my want to tackle mental obstacles that sometimes reach farther in width and depth than the stone I am climbing is still there. I strap in, get my special shoes on, tie my figure 8, check belay and look up ready to find my first hold. At first it is easy going, I scamper up the rock somewhat easily. Then it happens, I realize I have gone so quickly that I am now around 30 feet high and my heart starts thumping, my palms start sweating and my breathing gets funny. I am scared, and I think to myself “why did I do this?”, I have good friends that continue to encourage me on, so I take a deep breath and focus on merely what I need to do to get to the top. And I make it, my arms feel like they are going to explode, I am completely out of breathe and the exhilaration that befalls me is one of a kind. I touch the carabiners at top signifying my triumph over both mental and physical. Watching is equally as fun, and the comradery that is built last for a lifetime, the laughs that are shared continue on beyond the mere two days we camped at Stone Hill, outside of Eureka only seven miles from the Canadian border. And the beautiful Kookanusa river as our backdrop every day admist the rolling clouds and perfect temperature days, only warming up during the 4 o’clock hour just as we were tired and sore ready for a swim in the crystal waters below. Amazing weekend showing me God’s wonder and awesome power, the vastness of the landscape and the brooding mountains scraping every bit of sky we found.

Unfortunately I couldn’t add captions as it would mess up the formatting and make the pictures go all wonky. But here they are! Timo, Corrine, Garret, Garrets brother Drew, Josh and I! Oh and a cool old mining town that we found that people still use, along with a mine shaft we weren’t supposed to go into.

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A Thank You

I just wanted to do a blog post simply thanking those who support me, my church and those praying for me, any of my friends who may read this blog, any random stranger that may stumble upon it. a strange thing it is serving, and having to live off the support of others and sometimes a struggle as well. However it causes you to view life in a different perspective acknowledging the infinitude and faithfulness of Christ. It forces you to put yourself away and put others and God before you. Their is some security in money, money runs out. Security in Christ never will. So thank you again to those who give, and to those that won’t, and those that want to but can’t, and most of all those who pray.

Where It All Comes Together

A little background on kitchen duties first, a typical day if you will. Day begins at 6:45 when you wake up and stumble out of bed to get to Devotionals by 7:00 am. Immediately after you go to the kitchen where you begin breakfast as fast you as you can because you only have the next hour to feed around 100 people, after breakfast rush is over, their are so many dishes that many times you must stay in the kitchen to keep up with them. Many times you don’t get to eat breakfast because it is all gone, or you eat a very late breakfast say around 10:00am when you finally finish the last of the dishes. By then it is usually time to mop or sweep floors until around 10:30 and it is back in the kitchen at 11am to start lunch prep. Once on lunch prep you are usually doing a mix of chopping veggies, or slicing meat or dishes, always the dishes. So. Many. Dishes.

Lunch is served at around 1:15, again the same routine you stay in the kitchen to keep up with the hoard of dishes coming at you, because if you don’t you can say goodbye to any break you might have had. Again, the food all gets eaten, or you eat really late. Dishes and cleaning is done around 3:00pm, this is the longest break, about an hour depending on what we are making. Oft times we must come back earlier for different meals. This was a normal routine in the kitchen, you hardly saw the light of day, well you did but it was through the windows or when you rang the bell. Again the same thing for dinner, cook, don’t eat, clean, off at around 8:00pm. So what we have is a 13hr day with very little break. On the first week of summer, it was this routine however added to it was a snack that needed to be made and ready by 3:45pm for the kid campers. This meant more prep, which meant a barely 30 minute break in a 13-14 hour day.

One particular week I was in charge of the kitchen, I had some amazing help from staff that had been there for a while, but it was me in charge and making sure things ran somewhat smooth. This was the first time I had ever been put in charge of any kind of operation, or team. This was the first time I ever headed anything up like this, after being put into the kitchen a couple months prior having absolutely zero experience in this field whatsoever. I did my best, I did not do perfect of course I failed at certain aspects of it. This is expected. However on Wednesday of that week we had the first inspection in one year, a surprise inspection in fact. We found out that the sanitizer that is used for cleaning the dishes was completely out, this is something that could easily be used to shut the kitchen down entirely. However after seeing all the left overs labeled and dated, the inspector decided to be lenient and let us fix this mistake. So, this day we had to take every dish, pot, utensil, cup and pan in the kitchen and soak them for 30 seconds in bleach water. We had to completely clean out the Dry Room, and the walk in fridge, all on top of fixing both lunch and dinner. I lined out the team and they got to work, they did an amazing job, all while cooking. We started the process at around 12:00pm and A couple of us were in the kitchen until 9:30pm. It was pretty successful day, but proved to be a day that wore all of us out, we continued to clean into the week making sure everything was up to standard.

It is a very hard place to work, some people are cut out for it and have a heart for it. It taught me a ton, it showed me what being a servant is and putting yourself away. However it begin to wear on me, and it started to change my attitude, not from lack of trying for everyday I would say “I do this for God, I do this because I love God”. The more it wore on me however, the less I said this unfortunately. Finally I found myself grumpy, cynical and just overall kind of depressed. I didn’t like people, and I didn’t want to be around them and I certainly did not want to be in the kitchen. I pressed on but finally I was faced with a situation that normally I would handle with patience and kindness, but handled with anger. I walked out and sat in the field for around 20 minutes spending precious and valuable time with Christ. In a way asking Him to relieve this what had become a burden of the kitchen from me, but most of all the anger that was welling up inside me. I don’t often get angry, it isn’t me anymore. This was what scared me. I told God, “if I could simply leave kitchen and be on ops (maintenance) than I feel like the change of pace, the getting outside and all would do me good” I wanted anywhere but the kitchen, not for the sake of getting what I please, but for the fact that my attitude was becoming something that did not reflect God’s nature or character.

So I head back into the kitchen and I have a talk with those I became angry at, and became angry at me as well. I apologized and from their repented of my anger. I felt so sorry and taken aback at how I had acted that it was as if a new me was viewing the old me and became almost in tears. It was mentioned that if the kitchen isn’t a place that I can be that I should talk to Luke and see if I could move to Ops. He happened to be in his office at that moment so with no time spared I had a really good conversation with him, and he agreed to allow me to switch positions. This was the turning point, a new chapter that seemed to blossom into joy and peace and best and most importantly of all, me turning my face wholly back to Christ.

The very first day, though plagued with idea of being a failure, and having a certain person tell me they were disappointed in me, I still felt a freedom, and a happiness. Not just a freedom to do what I want, but a freedom from anger and darkness that was pent up. That night I had an amazing conversation with a really cool summer staffer about feeling like a failure and such, it made me realize that though I may have not made an entire summer in the kitchen, I am still here at camp, where God wants me. I am still living out His will for me, and I believe in an even higher capacity. The following week instead of waking up early, being in the kitchen then going to bed at 10pm curfew, I worked hard in the hot sun, I was able to build relationships with some of the teens, and I got off at 4:45 to go swimming. All was well, I realized God didn’t put me in an “easier” position, he simply opened a door of ministry that not only did I not know existed, but never thought I would be a part of. Just in the last week of being on Ops I was able to minister to several teens, two in particular and one who became very close to me. He would hug me and tell me he loves me, gave me a huge hug when he left. He lives around 4 and a half hours away in Gresham, OR and I have plans to visit. These teens have real issues, drugs, depression, sex. However they feel that many of the permanent staff (not as a slight to them) are not trustworthy, or too judgmental to open up to in this way. I can be pretty immature sometimes, but it is in this ability to relate that comes their ability to open up to me, and not be afraid to tell me all these things. It was because my face was now turned toward Christ that I was able to open up, to love, and be honest about my past and who I am that these teens could come to me.

I sat for two or so hours with the 14 year old from Gresham, OR. By a little stream, in the shade on a hot day. He told me how much more he valued his family, he opened up about certain things he was running away from at home, and I was able to instead of just saying “oh thats bad, you shouldn’t do that”. Say “I have done that too, and I won’t lie it feels good. However you find yourself stuck in an altered reality where when you are normal, nothing seems that great. And look at how amazing things are right now with the sun and trees and shade, could anything make this better? And if so, would you want it to for you could never enjoy it fully without it.” I found myself truly connecting, and ministering to these kids, and its amazing and made any failure I may have had worth it, makes every insane rule that Bighorn has worth it.

This is still a difficult job, but like one of my good friends and teens said as some of the other summer staffers were kind of being reintroduced to some of us after being on Achieve Camp where they are paired up 24/7 with special needs children so they don’t really interact with other summer staff for that week. As he said “Yah dude, Brad is like, running around hugging everybody and stuff”. Yeah, pretty much. I still keep in touch over FB Messenger with these kids, and hope they really do change for the positive and decide to follow God.

I even got to raft with the teen from Oregon’s family, and had a really good day and an awesome talk with his dad who was a really neat guy, and actually did teen ministry for years. So all is well, and God is working in amazing ways. It is quite a job this, some people work at Home Depot, some have offices as a CEO for a big corporation, some are mechanics, and they all make the world go around. This is a job where self needs to be put away every single day, and when it is amazing things happen in the lives of others. A job where through Christ I have seen personally the change in these kids for the better.

I think the biggest difference of this job is that we don’t get paid. This is purely volunteer work, in fact in order to become permanent staff here we must pay 150.00$ a month in order to live. Which means in essence that I must raise support, I have had a really hard time with this because I don’t like asking people to spend their hard earned money. Maybe because I felt like I wasn’t worth it, partly because I didn’t have faith that God would provide. Now I realize the money isn’t for me, yes I might get a pair of headphones, or a pair of shoes. Mostly it will go toward simply allowing me to serve God where He puts me. The money is simply a tool that is used to reach people, to serve people. I feel more and more each day a strong pull toward Mexico, and I will be corresponding with Timo’s father who is a missionary in Mexico and has been for 30 some odd years. I will be telling him where my heart is and what I would like to do. I simply want to help people, God has put a yearning in me to go to places where they have next to nothing, and are still so happy with life, and family. To go to a place where people value people, where hearts are open to God’s word. But a place where a simple building could mean the world to them, or another hand to help at an orphanage. This right now I believe is what God is calling me to do with my life, it is the first time where I am no longer running away from, but running full force towards. And though it may seem like a cop out in today’s society to not have a “job”, or earn a “living” I have found it to be one of the most difficult things I have done in my life, to let go of self, and to serve.

So I ask my readers not just for money, but for something even more important and powerful than that. But prayer, that means more than a million dollars, than 4,000 lbs of gold any day. It is more precious than diamonds or silver. If you would like to support me monetarily than email me at brad.rappa@gmail.com and I can tell you how you can do that. I will also be setting up a donate button that you can press and it will go strait to my paypal account. Again, if you can’t support with money I don’t care, but I think anyone can support with prayer. God bless and I am sorry for the long wait for the update, it has been a crazy last couple weeks, and finally the stars aligned just proper for me to finally write!

Wow, what a week

One of the hardest weeks I have had so far. Pulling 14 hour shifts with maybe a 40 minute break all day, we were putting out two different lunches one at 12:30 for around 70 people and another one at 1:15 for another 20 or so people. Tack on to that all the dishes that needed done, and a little snack that needed to be put together for about 60 little kids, we hardly got a break. By Thursday I was so completely worn down that I woke up in a daze feeling detached from reality, as if I didn’t even belong on earth. I was very depressed and begin to even question “who is this God I am serving” And “Am I really happy serving something I can’t understand, or see. Or would I be happier going my own way and doing music or the like?”. Among many other questions that were weighing heavily on my soul, this culminated in just a very strange distant feeling from God and everything. Finally I went to Josh with it and he had some great things to say about the struggles I am going through and that I should be going back to basics and not trying to rush into being a mature Christian. That I am still a toddler who is just starting to walk and thinks he can do things on his own, but then quickly falls and busts his head and immediately is screaming and crying and doesn’t understand.

I also gained some wise advice from a friend Corrine, who gave me amazing verses to put my soul somewhat at ease, but also told me to ask the question to God “What do you want to do here at Bighorn and how can I take part in that?” I have been led to and understanding from the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that I am simply to learn, to rest, and to grow.

God is there of course in those times of falling, because it truly is the only time He can work, when we are weak. I begin to read a book consisting of letters and conversations from a monk named Brother Lawrence born some 300 years ago. He worked in a kitchen his entire life, faithfully serving God, doing all things for the love of God. Even going so far as to say “I wouldn’t even think of picking up a straw from the ground without first doing it for the love of God, or the will of God”. An interesting theme throughout his letters and conversations was this “To practice the presence of God”, he lived his whole life by this one thing. He sums it up like this “The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His diving company, speaking humbly and lovingly with Him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way. This is especially important in times of temptation, sorrow, separation from God, even in times of unfaithfulness and sin.” Throughout my questions of “why God did this, and why God did that”, I simply could not understand and my faith was wavering, however any time I wanted an answer I found myself saying “why did you do this LORD?”.

I soon realized that no matter what I couldn’t understand about how God works, I simply could not deny his presence. So I begin to take Brother Lawrence’s advice and simply go to Christ when I am feeling annoyed, down, lonely or just sick of doing dishes and say “LORD, thank for this or that”. He delights in our acknowledgment of Him even if it is for but a brief moment. Thursday was the hardest day, and by the end I was feeling better but not whole. I woke up Friday however with an interesting exuberance and thankfully on one of the hardest days of the week, we would get no break and have to start the 4th of July dinner at around 11:30 and cook and prepare clear till 4:30 with no breaks at all. Yet through it all somehow the simple presence of God lifted my spirits, and though I still may have got angry at little things, or felt sick of doing dishes and even being in the kitchen, that presence of God was sufficient. And the more I practiced it, the more I simply acknowledged who He is, what He has done, in humble reverence (as humbly as I could muster in times of frustration) that presence was able to quicken me to the task at hand and give me what I needed to complete it, willingly and lovingly.

I do all things because I love God. That is my only purpose, I have no other. I don’t know really know who or what this God is, God isn’t really even a “who” or “what”, but as A.W.  Tozer puts it, I only know Him in creature-words and creature-thoughts. The words and thoughts that He created, but who He really is I can never really understand or know. I mustn’t bring Him down to my level, however we can base our understanding of Him in a way with one word “love”, this is not what God does, or what God even made, but it is what God is. He is love, love was not created, love existed forever and will continue into eternity as a presence and being. And yet love is still yet a creature-word for something that we will never truly understand. We may only experience it through the Holy Spirit and be reminded of the truth and reality of God, so though He may not be understood, He may be experienced. Though He may not be seen, His presence is more precious and tangible than anything our eyes could ever behold. It is this very presence that moves us, that shaped us, that is His image in us. We love not because we practice love, we love because God is love and God is in us. Through all the mysteries of this universe, this is the one truth that I have found in the last few days to hold steadfast in my soul, the one answer to any question I could ever have, that His presence is real, and I cannot deny it.

First week of Summer

It has been a crazy first week, the summer staff showed up (ages 13 to 24) some of them new, some of them interns who have been here for a couple summers. I have been very busy in the kitchen mostly training some of the newbies on the where’s and whats. They are good kids mostly and work hard, and they seem excited to be here and serve God and work hard.

The first week was very rainy so I just sort of sat inside and played piano on what down time I had. Yesterday we got a big soccer game going in the field behind the kitchen! Played and ran really hard and had an awesome time. Soon going to be learning to kayak and rock climb when time permits! Very excited about that.

Today I got to go see some Montana country and went for a hike up some random country, wound up about 10′ from a Bighorn Sheep! My first sheep I have seen since here it was so big, especially that close.

God is teaching me that I can be a role model, but still identify with a younger crowd which is pretty cool. I am able to tow the line between being friends with the kids, but also demanding enough respect that they still listen to me and don’t treat me like I am nothing. Lots of guitar playing, piano playing and singing and fellowship. So far so good! Very very tired, lots of hours but lots of exercise. Will be getting a camera as soon as I get the chance to open up a bank account so that I can share some of the amazing country side and people here with everybody. God Bless! And I hope to see everybody for a few days in August!

Here is a YouTube link to the video I took traveling from Oregon to Montana. The first bit is after I spent the night near Maiden Lake, The second bit is a horse I met while in The Painted Hills, The third part is somewhere on the road in Oregon on my way to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and the fourth part is the Eagle Caps! Finally the end is on my way down a massive canyon that winds all the way down to Washington, and then you wind all they way back up into Washington/Idaho. Pretty Amazing. Enjoy!

*YouTube is stupid, I can’t figure out how to allow full screen so you will have to click into YouTube in order to view like that.

Video of Travels

My Trip To Montana

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Diamond Lake Oregon

My first stop along the way, Diamond Lake. Fished it for a few minutes but there were too many people so I left. I wound up at a place called Maiden Lake where I night hiked 2 miles until I was in nothing but snow. Could not find where the trail went so reluctantly I turned back and hiked 2 more miles back. I started the trail at around 8:30pm and ended up back at my car at midnight after building a little fire to warm up as it begin to snow on me. I found out later that I had hiked from around 5,000 ft to about 7,500 ft in two miles, the air was thin and I could definitely feel it.

The night hike :

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Creepy Night Hike

My little fire after I made it back to a small stream running underneath the trail :

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Warming Fire

I tried to sleep in my car and finally woke up at 5:30am and took off on the road again! I made it to the Oregon Badlands but was so tired I just found an ancient Juniper to sleep under and napped for about 4 hours.

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After my nap I continued on, stopping along the way to take pictures of whatever I could. I remembered Larry Ellis telling me of the Painted Hills so I found my way their and had a really nice hike off the trail up a mountain to get the best view :

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I continued on the road to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the largest wilderness in Oregon, and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been :

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I spent some time here and fished a while, until I broke my fishing pole :/. Played guitar and sang for a bit, then decided it was time to move on and get to Bighorn. I drove straight through using byways as my main mode of travel and experience some of the most amazing country side I have seen. Here are a few sample pictures :

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I will be providing a link to all the photos I took, and eventually a montage of video if you would like to view. For now that is all, I have been working in the kitchen the last few days getting back into the swing of things and loving it! Have a week or so off until summer hits and everybody gets here, so I am going to relax some, probably take a trip to Missoula and then some golf on Thursday with Josh, Dave and Luke. Really looking forward to that!