We leave for New Orleans, for the ELCA National Youth Gathering, in exactly one week. We are taking a charter bus, along with youth from three other congregations, and driving straight through from up north here in Minnesota to down south there in New Orleans (sorry Becky, not stopping in St Louie).
I am excited as all get out for this. It should be a lot of fun. It's an opportunity to jam 37,000 youth and adults into one place and we can all let our church nerd flags fly. For example, the travel slogan for Virginia is "Virginia is for lovers." Well, in 2006 at the San Antonio gathering, all of the people from Virginia were sporting "Virginia is for Lutherans" shirts. They were pretty awesome and ever since then I've made it my goal to get one of those shirts for myself. I have had no luck at all. I was so close, though, because that year I was volunteering for the Hotel/Community Life team, and one of the women in charge of the team was from Virginia and she said she'd help me get one. But they didn't have any extras with them there. I've even communicated with some of the Virginia synod staff members and they weren't able to help me out. Drat.
But that is an example of the stuff that goes on at the Gathering. We makes jokes about Lutherans, there are lots of jokes about Minnesota (because of our high concentration of Lutherans), we wear our Lutheranism with pride and excitement and enthusiasm. There is even a song, written by the group Lost and Found, about the ELCA to the tune of YMCA. At San Antonio they had people in big letter costumes get up and dance. Our Presiding Bishop even got in on the fun and with a few other "ELCA celebrities" got up on stage and danced to the song. There were five of them dancing, each with a letter of the ELCA on their shirt. Bishop Hansen was the exclamation point.
It is bound to be a great time with a lot of fun people. The only problem is - I'm not a great detail person. Little things that I should think about or take care of slip by me because I'm too busy thinking about the big picture. So right now I'm trying to be calm and relaxed about the whole situation, but I'm starting to get a wee bit panicky about things. I don't want to get down there and realize I missed something with the hotel, and so we don't have rooms, or that I didn't send in a form and so we're not fully registered. All these little scenarios play out in my head about how I could possibly ruin everything. It's not a lot of fun.
Once we get there and dive in, it will be great fun. But right now, for the next week, I might lose even more of my already thinning hair...