Suzanne and Daniel had to work at camp the weekend of July 4th, but John and I went out to CT for the weekend.
It actually warmed up a bit for the weekend, so we had nice weather all weekend. On the way there John and I stopped at McDonald's for lunch. They had some outside tables, so we took our lunch outside and ate in the sunshine. Most restaurants and stores are overly air-conditioned for our thick Niger blood!
On the 4th, we went to a picnic at the beautiful home of people that go to Trinity Covenant Church, our home church. It was nice to get to know some people we had never met before. That evening we went to the home of a couple who are going to take an early retirement and want to become missionaries in Africa. How cool is that??? Right now they are confused by all the options and possibilities so I hope we were able to help them sort things out. It would be tempting to try to push them towards SIM Niger, but we refrained from the hard sell at this point in time!
On Sunday afternoon, the 5th, we went to Tim and Laurie's to celebrate Jacob's high school graduation and his winning States in the decathlon, Caleb's birthday, and a farewell to Caleb and Keri, the newlyweds who will be moving to VA for Caleb's graduate work. (Tim is John's brother in case you are wondering!)
They have a house and yard that have been ideal for raising four boys. The house itself is very nice, but not huge. But it is the yard that is so wonderful! Out front they have a basketball hoop and there is room for hockey nets there, too. The backyard is on a slope, but there are like five sections to the yard. First is the deck. Just below that is a flat area where Tim built a half-pipe (you can see the railing of the half-pipe right behind Dad DeValve's head). There is also a trampoline there. Then you go down some steps and there is another sort of flat area where they have a fireplace, room for games (they had some kind of new game....two balls tied on either end of a rope that you throw and try to wrap around a rack....I have no idea what it is called), and a trebuchet. Then there is the woods and the tree house and that slopes down to the creek where they build dams and catch fish.
So are you wondering what a trebuchet is? It is a siege warfare weapon from medieval days used to break down the walls of castles. It can take heavy rocks and projectiles, and fling them far, with great accuracy. It works by dropping a great weight attached to the short end of a long lever-arm. The long end of the lever is thereby raised with considerable velocity, pulling a sling that contains the projectile. The sling increases the effective length of the lever arm, adding even more speed to the final projectile before the sling releases it. See here and here for more information on trebuchets.
Tim is an engineer and he figured out how to build this thing. See the box? Well, they lower that down to the platform and fill it with weights. I think they had around 300 lbs in there. Then they put a bowling ball in the sling. They then used a system of lines and pulleys to ratchet the box of weights up.
Once it is up, the line is released, the box drops, the long arm to which the bowling ball is attached flies up and at the top of the arch the ball flies out, sails over the trees, and lands in the woods beyond. This particular ball broke on impact! It's a good thing they have the woods behind their house!
We came back on Monday and the kids came for their day off just a few hours after we got back. The work at the camp where they are is not easy, but I think they are doing well there.