12/21/2019 6 Comments
Denver in December
Surprising Friends + Snowy Fun in CO
Whether you’ve read my previous posts or have heard me ramble on + on about it, you could rightly assume that the time I spent in Denver left a huge impact on my life. I established myriad relationships that were beyond surface level interactions + pined for continual cultivation. My mind seems to always be wandering + my heart yearning for this place + people again, so I decided to follow through + booked a return flight to Denver over my winter break — a little early Christmas surprise for my Colorado comrades.
The plan for a return was mentioned basically since our last week there in the summer, so Mary Claire + I were tracking flights + pondering plans while in the midst of school, stress, side activities. but it wasn’t as quickly fully set in motion. There was a point where the idea was completely falling flat as airline tickets were soaring + other priorities were demanding. But one afternoon following a night of disappointment + despair over the fantasized excursion, God opened a door along with a whisper: “why are you downcast? don’t you know I always provide? why are you trying to take matters into your own hands? don’t you know to trust Me?” The flight had dropped fractions of the previous expense + was structured around the perfect time frame. Mary Claire + I quickly bought tickets while they were so low, then eagerly expected + partially planned our approaching adventure.
Day 1: The Surprise
The three of us (myself, MC + her sister Harper) flew out on a Sunday afternoon, arriving in Denver late afternoon. we had reservations for a rental car which was confirmed at a set all-inclusive price knowing our age, insurance, etc. However, these kinds of things never go so smoothly, do they? When we got to the desk, we had issues paying with Harper’s card, we had to pay extra insurance (in addition to the extra cost for our age), had to pay for it under one name while the driver was underneath another; needless to say it would have been an unnecessary hassle + additional financial strain to follow through so we decided to forgo the rental car + figure out transportation along the way. So, we caught an Uber out of the airport to Josh + Sarah Cook’s house.
To jog your memory, Josh Cook is the pastor of Dwell Church which Mary Claire + I served with for the summer. We had previously contacted Sarah about our trip so she skillfully assisted us in our planning, particularly in order to surprise Josh + Josh. The original plan was for us to show up to the (legendary) Little Man ice cream shop in the neighborhood, but the rental car chaos delayed our arrival so the Joshs had already made plans to go see a movie at that time. Backup tactic was for us to surprise them after the movie, so we went to grab dinner while they were gone + settled in our things at their house while we waited. We anxiously anticipated their arrival (it was the first time either of us have pulled a surprise like this for anyone!). Then around 9:30pm that evening, we casually sat + chatted on their couch as Josh + Josh walked through the door with jaws dropped + an utter confusion followed by “what are you doing in my home??” Their reaction was eerily, accurately, precisely predicted by Mary Claire + Sarah — haha! It was super sweet catching up + reconnecting as the night came to a close.
Day 2: Roaming CO
With the rental car plan out of the way, we reverted back to our days of public transportation, which honestly was a highlight for us. We made our way downtown to explore some of the Christmas decorations + peek through the Denver Art Museum which we had gotten many recommendations for this past summer. For lunch we met up with one of our friends in Golden for Nepalese food + updates on the family, then she took us back to downtown Denver to explore the Brown Palace Hotel which was elegantly decorated with Christmas decorations + fancy finger foods delicately nibbled by posh persons in ostentatious outfits + headwear. Afterward, we wandered over to the Christkindl Market where we sampled European pastries + hot cider + met a new friend, reminding us of the connections we had made previously with the people that drew us back to return again. With our sweet tooth accounted for, we quickly hopped over to Broadway for a thrift store visit before heading back to the Cook’s home for Monday night group gathering for Dwell Church. The night was full of cooking + consuming dinner, sharing highs + lows, chatting about old memories + creating new ones too.
Day 3: Hiking + Running Club
This morning we woke up early to head out to the train station to take us up to Boulder. When we arrived, we met two professional runners from the area that Mary Claire knew (fangirled over) since she currently runs in college. They took us up on a snowy hike to Realization Point that offered phenomenal views of the surrounding city, the Rockies, + miles upon miles of Colorado in the distance. The descent down slick slopes brought a few slips, as well as some eager mule deer passing by. Following, we strolled through shops on Pearl St. + settled in a cozy spot for lunch before riding back to Denver. Tuesday evenings in Denver for us always meant running club, so that’s where we headed once again. We got to surprise some of our friends we met through the club, catch up with them, then hang out playing games afterward. The evening was not exactly what we had expected it to be, but the pros + cons were weighed with the conclusion that God appointed us to arrive in our friends lives at those particular times for a purposeful reason + resuming these kinds of relationships takes time + patience + understanding as we drift through various seasons in life, hoping to cling to Him more than we do ourselves, others, or outside sources.
Day 4: Breckenridge
Since we surprised Josh + Josh with our arrival, they understandably had plans during those days (could we put capitalism on hold?). Well, it turns out, maybe we could just a bit. Josh Cook shuffled + scrambled some meetings around in order to spend the day with us! He took us up to Breckenridge, known for its skiing. We stopped along the way for some pancakes to fuel us through winter wonderland drives, mountain town shops, and of course some snowball fights + tiptoes along frozen rivers. When we returned back to Denver that afternoon, we stopped by the post office to deliver some packages from Dwell Church. As we were standing in the queue of others sending + shipping, we encountered the sweetest elderly couple who were quick to spark conversation regarding our many tiny boxes, their celery juice cleanse, + random tidbits in between. On her way out, the lady popped open her purse + fanned out flavors of Blow Pops for us to choose from, as well as the mail clerk assisting us. The Edgewater Public Market was a new addition since our last visit, so we perused their numerous nourishment options ranging from Venezeulen arepas to lobster rolls, snacks + sliders to Ethiopian cuisine. That evening, Josh Frase had some special surprises of his own for us since he could not join us for the earlier activities. He took us downtown to go ice skating under the clock tower + twinkling tree lights until they closed, then over to taste some tacos where another one of our connections from the summer met up with us. We made our way back to the Cook’s house that evening to watch Star Wars + eventually pack up our bags to return home early the next day.
It’s strange + unusual for me to experience life in this way – to go from wanting to live life alone + never return to the same places or situations I had previously traveled or encountered, to coming back to Colorado again (and again – hello 2020) to revisit the same people + places. It takes a lot of growth + trust to see God working in a place to defy my own thoughts + desires in order to follow where I see Him leading + pushing me to delve into. It’s even difficult for me to come to terms with these changes because I have known + expressed myself to be one way for so long, but man am I excited to take on a new role for the sake of laying my own name down + lifting His up. Thank you Denver for teaching me these things + continuing to draw me back to your neighborhood + His heart.
12/22/2019 09:27:24 am
"It’s strange + unusual for me to experience life in this way – to go from wanting to live life alone + never return to the same places or situations I had previously traveled or encountered"
12/22/2019 07:21:34 pm
I err toward variety. There is so much to see + experience in the world, so I’ve always wanted to keep going + seeing new things rather than revisiting the same for a second time. As I’m growing + maturing in the places where God has placed me (physically or situationally), I’m learning that while my own heart longs to keep exploring, His heart may be for me to establish roots in a single place where seeds have been planted.
12/24/2019 07:18:30 am
We are very grateful to read these updates from your mission minded quests and see how you are growing in your maturity, self confidence and complete reliance upon our Father God. As you have inferred, you don't mind laying down your life (Luke 17:33) for His will to be accomplished in you because the rewards for you far exceed with greater faith and many unexpected blessings! Just as He lay down His life for His sheep (John 10;15, the blessing was His loving, faithful care of them. We especially enjoy the details of your adventures with locations, places ( Realization Point),"nourishment options" and gastronomical delights, and many varied experiences (train rides, public transportation, skiing, running, ice skating) and further glimpses into the limitless opportunities of discovering more about these wonderful creations of God - earth and man. The delight is also finding out more about Him and His character. Since we have traveled (train) and visited some of these places (Boulder, Breckenridge, Brown Palace Hotel), we are especially glad that you now have been able to experience those in your travels. More than anything, your time shared with the Cooks and others at Dwell Church and with unexpected encounters (elderly couple) brought the light and love of the Lord into their lives as well as yours. We look forward to more of your exciting wanderlust narratives in the future. Hopefully, one day with your writing talent you will compile your travel accounts, adventures into a book. We love you and rejoice with you in your happiness and many achievements.
12/24/2019 08:29:21 am
I'm so glad that it worked out for you to go on this trip! For a little while, it looked like it may not happen for a variety of reasons, but as you wrote about and we acknowledge, God opened up the doors and made all this possible. The reaction of the surprise at the Cook home was great - y'all totally got them. They were in shock that y'all were really in their home. That was very nice of all of them to open up their home to you and rearrange their schedules (especially at this busy time of year) to spend some quality time with you. You were obviously so happy for all this to work out to spend time with some people that you had become friends with last summer on your mission trip to Denver (I know you enjoyed meeting MC's friends too and getting to do some things with them). All the outdoor activities (especially hiking) looked like a lot of fun. It's so pretty up there! That museum looked like the perfect place for you to take some pictures...very interesting and appealing to the eye. This small investment in time and money has rewarded you with more special memories that will be with you forever.
12/25/2019 10:41:29 pm
I’m so happy that God blessed you with the opportunity to go back to Denver with your friends. It looks like you had an amazing trip. It’s good to see you so happy, and enjoying your time with everyone. I love you!
5/6/2020 11:46:12 am
It is a strange – but amazing – providence how God transforms places that were, in our eyes, valleys of dry bones and miraculously breathes new life into them as time passes. Romans 8:28…SDG!
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