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Bobbie Jo Morrell is a mountain woman, poet, writer, leather crafter, rustic furniture builder, cat owner, technical writer, website designer. She says, “Colorado’s Front Range, with the smell of pine trees in the cool air of morning, is my home.” Her blog address: http://soulscompass.blogspot.com/.

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Deeper Warrior Chapter 18: F.R.E.D.

I rather surprised myself, introvert that I was (and am), deciding to spend four weeks of my summer break living in a sorority house at Drake University with about 50 Navigators from around the state at the Summer Training Program. Women at one end of the building, men at the other. Five people per bunk room.

We were to work each weekday; I had my real summer job with the corn breeders, and left the sorority house every morning after oatmeal for the 45 minute drive to the Agronomy Farm. I’d walk up and down corn fields that were more like rice paddies that wet year, then drive another 45 minutes back to Drake. I was very thankful for my solitary (or nearly solitary) work and driving time to counteract the crowded conditions of the training program.

Being a misfit in the Navs, I was fortunate to end up on a team of misfits—to varying degrees. Renee, our team leader, was a journalism student with definite artistic tendencies and sensibilities. One of our first team projects was to take a big sheet of butcher paper and many crayons and make a mural.

Teams had to accomplish certain tasks, in addition to attending the group teachings and events.

  1. Come up with a Team Name that had a meaning relevant to the theme of the program (“Run to Win” based on 1 Corinthians 9:26-27).
  2. Create and perform a skit to present the team name to everyone else—usually during dinner.
  3. Travel as a team on the next to last weekend for two days of “evangelism” in the real world.

We quickly and easily decided on a team name: FRED. The hard part was determining how the team name was relevant to the program theme. Surely it must stand for something…but what? After much discussion we decided that it meant “Freely Running & Enduring Disciples.” But we just said “Fred.”

As a run up to our skit, we started writing notes to our fellow Navs, including encouraging words and mysterious questions, all signed, “Fred” and put them in the little mailbox cubby holes. Whenever we safely could, we tried to be present when the recipient read the note. “Who’s Fred?” they asked aloud. We kept quiet and moved on.

Then on the big day I hovered outside the dining hall with a hairbrush for a microphone. At the right time I jumped into the room, shocking everyone by launching into a loud talk-show-host patter, asking, “Will the real Fred please stand up?”

“Is it Fred Astaire?” Renee and Angie came tangoing out of the kitchen and did a twirl in the middle of the room.

“Is it Fred Flintstone?” Elaine burst into the room shouting “Yabba Dabba Dooo!”

Finally we all lined up together for our FRED cheer, lame, but suitable to us. I can’t remember if we got much applause.

For the evangelism weekend we went to Renee’s mom’s house, near the University of Iowa. Mom was an artist, and her house was small and white with a studio on the north side. She made us pancakes with cottage cheese for breakfast.

Mostly we painted her fence and served her around the house. But we had to do something evangelizy, so we all went to the University, scattered in different directions and tried to pretend to start conversations with strangers. I had taken my tenor recorder with me, stopped to play now and then (I should have had a hat with me, perhaps) and got into a five minute conversation with an older woman about the different sizes of recorders. My duty done, I went down to the river to meditate in solitude under a weeping willow.

story by bobbie jo morrell, all rights reserved

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