Hello, hello, hello. DonB! reporting in. Here is my latest journal/newsletter entry:
I flew to Arkansas to work at Camp Quality, a place where kids and family members with cancer can have a special week all to themselves. I was invited by Chris Allison (one of my roommates at Ringling Brothers Clown College way back in 1984) of Cirque du Jour to work that week. It was an awesome week of teaching circus skills to kids aged 5-17. I taught various things, with my own focus on juggling in all aspects.
One of the 15 year old students, "Marie", started the week off very introverted, separating herself from others, taking an "I don't FEEL like doing that" attitude toward all of the circus stuff. Two of us circus staff befriended her, encouraging her to persist and not give up. We wouldn't let her have the bad attitude, but instead kept encouraging her to smile, to show her "good side" to others, and especially to show herself that her own image of herself could be better, but only with her own hard work.
Anyhow, at the end of the week, the campers put on a circus show for parents and other family members. Marie went out and did her part in 4 acts, and SHINED. She held her head high, she felt good about what she had accomplished, and I was proud of her.
When she signed my staff book at the end of the week, she actually wrote, "Thanks for not giving up on me, and pushing me to explore my own limits and abilities. I appreciate it." Wow. Comments like that really made the week worthwhile. Not to mention that I was able to celebrate my birthday (6/12) by flying on the outdoor flying trapeze and going across to the catcher for a successful plange. Happy 43rd Birthday to me, happy birthday to me...
I drove down to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to perform for Oakland Church of the Nazarene's Upward Soccer Awards Night. According to the folks at the church, the whole soccer program was a huge success. We even saw at least 3 first-time decisions made that night. The church will continue to follow up with all of the folks that participated in the event.
After the show that night, and due to the extreme flooding that Cedar Rapids had been hit with, I made a trip over to one of the temporary shelters to perform for some of the folks that had been there almost 9 days by that time. They really seemed to appreciate some entertainment amidst that dreary time of patience and waiting.
For the first time in almost 6 years I was able to attend the Minnesota gathering of magicians and illusionists at a conference called Close-Up and in the Parlour. I had the privilege of seeing some of the best magicians in the country perform and lecture, including a friend that that I hadn't talked with for a few years, Gregory Wilson. Greg is a great Christian, and he shares his faith openly and often in his work around the world.
I headed up to Trout Lake Camp near Emily, Minnesota, to perform for family camp that week. Program Director James Rock gave me a great tour of all the new offerings that Trout Lake has, including an indoor climbing wall, a downhill scooter run, a huge outdoor paintball area, a full skateboard park, a double 17 second long zip line ride, many new cabins built on the side of camp's sloping hills, a new chapel, and much much more that attracts families, and especially kids, to camp. The neat thing about Trout is that they bring in really strong Christian speakers and teachers for every camp session they run. Lives are being changed there almost every day of the year. Amazing!
Our family drove down to Robbinsdale, Minnesota, to ride our unicycles in the Robbinsdale Whiz Bang Days parade. We rode them, representing House of Hope Lutheran Church, my parent's church. The parade seemed longer than when I was a kid and rode in it with the Twin Cities Unicycle Club, but we had a blast.
I had lunch with a Christian performer friend, Toby Travis, and learned of his life-changing plans. He recently has moved to Quito, Ecuador, to begin his preparation as a teacher of choral music, drama and performance ministry at a high school there. School starts in September, and it will be the first time he has used his formal education since receiving his doctorate a few years back. Please continue praying for Toby, as life has dealt him some other major blows in the last year. He can use prayer more than ever during this next year.
I returned back to Sonshine Music Fest in Willmar, Minnesota, for my second time. Children's pastor, and long time friend of mine, Randy Christensen, invited me back this year after a great time we had last year. I presented my DonB! Variety Show complete with a fun message for the families in attendance. It was great, in that I started with only about 60 people at the start of my show, but finished with the entire tent filled to standing room only. I would guess that there were about 300-400 people when I finished.
On my trip to Sonshine, my daughter, Deanna, and her friend, Libby, accompanied me. After my show was done, we walked around and found quite a few friends from the Mora area attending. We ended up spending the rest of the evening with Mike & Connie Hart (former Mora folk), listening to Pillar, FlyLeaf and our favorite, The Newsboys. What a great way to round out the day, praising God with the music of the Newsboys. It was great.
The day started by my returning from Sonshine at 2:30 AM, and having to get up by 8 AM. We went to church, and then headed over to the community swimming pool for one of the highlights of the last year: our daughter, Deanna, was baptized in the swimming pool by her wonderful youth pastor, Tim Reynolds. Amazing and awesome to see her publicly state her desire to follow after Christ for the rest of her life. Praise God for his wonderful and unlimited blessings.
I then headed down to Elk River to do an outreach program for the kick-off of Vacation Bible School at River of Life Church. It was great to perform and speak before such a responsive crowd. I don't know the exact stats, but I believe there were at least 6 first time decisions made at my show that night. God is good, all the time.
I drove to Hackensack, Minnesota, to do my first of 2 services/shows for Camp Patmos, a camp owned and run by Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls. I had the privilege of doing a show on Monday evening and also on Tuesday. I stayed right at the camp on Monday night, and had the day to run around with the campers and staff, playing games, swimming and trying the outdoor challenge course. This is a beautiful camp facility, and one to look into if you are looking for a simple, but relaxing place for you and your church to hold a retreat or getaway weekend.
I drove down to New Hope and picked up one of my long-time juggling buddies, Craig Carlson. We then drove to Chanhassen, Minnesota, to do 4 hours of entertainment for Stratasys, Inc., the company that my uncle Del has worked for for many years. The neat thing for me about this event was the groups of people that just kept asking for more and more magic throughout the evening. In one case, I actually stood in one place and performed for over an hour for the 20 member group standing there. They kept challenging me to do something else, and thankfully my memory kept serving up more and more ideas to entertain with.
Well, that about wraps up my travel adventures for the last 2 months. I have a lot to say on other topics, but they'll have to wait until I have a little more time.
Blessings to you all,