It’s a Love Story: Part I

It was a hot June Saturday when 17 students from all over made their way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They all arrived at different times, so there were games and such in the chapel of the brick building. The first floor houses the chapel and a ton of offices; the second floor also houses offices. The third and fourth floor have been turned into dormatories with a common bathroom. The girls lived on the 3rd floor; the guys on the 4th. No girls were allowed on the guys’ floor, no guys allowed on the girls’ floor. But there was a common room besides the chapel that would be open to both everyone part of the project, all the time. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

It had been a long car ride from Austin, Minnesota, with my new friend Ashley and her family, who brought us to the building called “City on a Hill.” My mother had gotten me from my home in Cottonwood, MN to Austin the night before, when I met Ashley and her family for the first time. Anyway, her family, as well as the Project Staff, helped us bring our things to our perspective rooms. When we felt we were somewhat settled (to unpack then or not? How about….not really), we were invited to go downstairs (or elevator) to the chapel and join the game of Nertz. I, being my timid and shy self, was nervous about meeting new people. But over a game? That was alright. This is when Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I first met. As I sat down, names were shared around the table. And actually, I didn’t give Dr. Coyote much thought. The Summer Missions Project, hosted by Cru, lasted from the middle of June to the beginning of Here are some of our most memorable moments together:

  1. In conversation with each other at an outdoor picnic at somebody’s house:

Dr. Coyote: Sometimes I don’t know what to think about, so I just think about nothing.

Anna: Nothing? Like, the concept of nothing?

Dr. Coyote: No, nothing.

Anna: I didn’t even know that was possible.

Dr. Coyote: Yeah, I do that a lot.

  1. At the beach:

Anna: Will somebody help me put sunscreen on my back?

Dr. Coyote: Sure.

Anna: Thanks.

  1. After Project, when I was texting a bunch of my Summer Project Family because I missed them, Dr. Coyote and I were talking about being motivated to get into the Word:

Anna: Well, do you have an accountability partner for that? To make sure you are getting in the Word?

Dr. Coyote: No

Anna: You should find one.

Dr. Coyote: Would you be my accountability partner?

And we did talk about the Bible a lot….still do, actually.


There were a few other moments that happened on Project with no words, that I thought was pretty cool:

  1. We played a lot of Rummy 500 in smaller groups—about 6 was the max that played. I taught everyone, and I won a lot. I liked that. But sometimes other people would win. The Rummy 500 groups got smaller and smaller. I even remember playing Rummy 500 with just Dr. Wile E. because I wanted to play it with someone and he liked cards. I beat him. Most of the time.
  2. There were a lot of throwing water on each other and pranking each other. Once, we went to a Brewer’s game, and Dr. Coyote was sitting in front of me. I had just gotten a cold water bottle. So I did the only other logical thing and pressed it to his neck. He gave me no reaction. When he was walking to a seat a few rows above me, I looked at him, and he just smiled. To this day he still doesn’t give me reactions.
  3. I wrote a bunch of letters in codes, and most of my friends were like, “Cool, but I don’t have time to translate that.” But DR. COYOTE WROTE ME BACK, IN CODE! This is while we were still on project. The trend continued.

Here are some pictures from summer Project:


I think this was the first picture that we were both in together.  Wow, we're even sitting next to each other!  Nope, don't remember that.
I think this was the first picture that we were both in together. Wow, we’re even sitting next to each other! Nope, don’t remember that.
I only slightly remember this, and I DON'T remember the guy on the right-hand side of this picture being there...
I only slightly remember this, and I DON’T remember the guy on the right-hand side of this picture being there…
I remember this.  By this time I thought this Doug person was cute, but I was too shy to ask for a picture with just him.....
I remember this. By this time I thought this Doug person was cute, but I was too shy to ask for a picture with just him…..
I don't remember this, but we were geniuses together even then, apparently.
I don’t remember this, but we were geniuses together even then, apparently.
Aww, our first photobomb together!
Aww, our first photobomb together!

And all these pics were taken before we reached the Project half-way point!  But you see the trend. By the end of Project, I had this little crush on this “Doug”-person. I even talked about him a little to my family, I guess. Anyway, I started writing hand-written letters to everyone on Project. Only one person continually wrote back. I get a reply, I write back. And so Dr. Coyote and I kept in touch, mostly through snail mail, for three-ish years. Texting a little, too. Especially to talk about the Word at first. But then there was this one texting conversation June 2013, where this little story took a little turn.


Stay tuned! 😉


Tik Tok Parody for SITC Milwaukee Project 2012

Picture taken using Dave's camera

So, I rewrote these lyrics sometime in June for the staff transition banquet.  And, because I wanted to reference these lyrics in another post of mine, I thought it would make more sense if I just shared it here.  In such a secular and not-quite-appropriate song for all those chillins out there who do indeed listen to this music, I Jesus-fied it and gave it a meaning.  A lot of it also relates to our Summer Project, so this is for those students.  Enjoy =)

Wake up in the morning prayin to my Lord
Grab my Bible, I’m out the door, I’m gonna spread the word
Before I leave, meet my team by the chapel to chat
‘Cause when we leave for the day there won’t be time for that

I’m talking action group on the Mon-days
Interludin as we share grace
God always on our minds, minds,
Practical training of all kinds, kinds,
Socials of all fun-ness,
Trying to reach out all God’s awesomemess

Here’s Life, got the knife
Of the word take slice
City, it will be
A place that’s living free
Tick tock on the clock
But the work of God don’t stop, no

Project, will affect,
How we will reflect
Renown, of the crown,
Of the king that’s all around
Tick tock on the clock
But the work of God don’t stop, no

Ain’t got a care about world, but got Spirit in me
Ain’t got worry how things go, ‘cuz God’s way will be
And now, the peeps are lining up cause they hear we are different
And we share the love of God and lend them a reference.

I’m talking about ‘speriencing God’s grace, grace
God showing us his face, face
Gonna lean on him through the race, race

Now, now, we go until Jesus comes back, back
Or the city is transformed, formed
Ci-Ci-City is saved
Mil-wau-kee is

Don’t stop, let’s talk,
Lord, I will not give up
Right now, gonna bow
To the king that’s like wow
Tick tock on the clock
But the work of God don’t stop, no

Project, will affect,
How we will reflect
Renown, of the crown,
Of the king that’s all around
Tick tock on the clock
But the work of God don’t stop, no

Lord, you build me up
You break me down
My heart, it pounds
Yeah, you got me

With my hands up
I praise you now
We sing that sound
Yeah, you got me

Lord, you build me up
You break me down
My heart, it pounds
Yeah, you got me

With my hands up
Put your hands up
Put your hands up

Now, the party don’t start til God shows up

Don’t stop, make it pop
Lord, blow my doubts up,
Today, gonna play,
When we hear what God say
Tick tock on the clock
But the work of God don’t stop, no

Project, will affect,
How we will reflect
Renown, of the crown,
Of the king that’s all around
Tick tock on the clock
But the work of God don’t stop, no

Almost-the-End of Project Poem

So, the Transition Banquet is tomorrow, and staff is gone on Sunday.  It’s been a great summer, staffing the Summer Project I was on last year!  I’ve learned to embrace just who God made me and I’ve been realizing God’s heart for the nations.  It’s been great!  So.  In reflection with the Lord, I wrote this poem and this prayer.. =)


I know why you called me here, two summers in a row.

It helped in your plan to teach me and help me grow.

I may not like “the city” but I love the people here.

Though I’m just a small town girl, you’ve got my listening ear.

You’ve chosen me to represent you.

You live through me so you can move.

You show me my brokenness to remind me only you can.

But you delight in the daughter of yours I am.

I’m learning every day, and I pray I do forever.

I pray you continually use me to make lives better.

Only you can save and rescue your people.

You who built the church before it had a steeple.

Keep directing us all to the cross,

Keep reminding us that without you, we’re lost.

I pray for the brokenness of this earth,

This place that was broken way before Jesus’ birth.

I pray that many relationships are found with you,

I want everyone to experience you way more than I do!

I pray for the nations that seem so far away.

I pray that they’ll be rescued and listen to what you’ve got to say.

I praise you for your heart and who you’ve always been,

I rejoice that with you in the driver’s seat, we too can win!

Lord, you are awesome and I will never forget,

All the good you’ve done and that you paid my debt!

This poem is getting longish but I could go on and on.

I could write of you forever, and sing of you in every song!

Be with all who read this as they go through their day.

In Jesus’ name I conclude and I pray.


Written by Anna Olson, 6-29-12.

Staff Hunt 2012

I am currently disguised and hiding.

I didn’t do anything wrong.

Nobody accused me.

But THEY are looking for me.

“Do you have the time?” they’ll ask.

But I left my watch with my old identity.

It is forgotten.


I hope they don’t find me.

I hope they keep searching.

Because then time will be up.

And they will have failed.

Success will be mine.

Two hours I’ll sit here,

Pretending to be somebody else.

And then I will emerge.

I will be me once more.


Note: Written during the staff hunt, obviously.  I wrote more but it’s boring, so this is what you get.  I was told being in a coffee shop?  Predictable.  Three out of the four groups ended up finding me, but it was great fun!  =)


The Poverty Simulation, 2012

A year ago, I wrote this post about the poverty simulation I went on as a student on Milwaukee Summer Project 2011.  This year, I did the pov sim again.  As staff.  I was the one who got to obnoxiously knock on a door and wake up the occupants of those who were sleeping, telling them to get dressed and get downstairs.  I got to inspect students to make sure they had THREE items only (example, a ponytail was an item, a sweatshirt over a t-shirt counted as an item).

The whole simulation was so different!  What they did (that staff had them do) was different than what they had us do last year.  Here, it’s been different every year.  The pov sim the students did this year was 24 hours.  They slept in a warehouse for part of the night, then we evacuated them because of rat-infestation.  We brought them back, but an hour later gave them beds for the remaining 6-7 hours of the night.  Yes, the conditions were harsher, but staff was nicer.  We’d mislead them and take away items, but I thought the general attitude of the students was a lot more positive.  They recovered quickly, as well.  Because there are only two guys, we broke them up into groups of five (a guy in each).  As the students were telling us about their day during debrief the next morning, I saw Christ through their encounters and through their revelation.  Tom, a homeless person one group talked to, offered them his food.  He also told them where they could sleep that night and where soup kitchens were located in the city; he was concerned about the girls.  The students bonded together super well; they became a family by day three of project.  They prayed together and encouraged one another.  What Christ did in them and through them amazes me.  I don’t feel like I got as much out of pov sim last year as these students got, but I am learning tons this year, even though I didn’t experience the pov sim first-hand.

God called me back to the city this summer with purpose.  I have gotten to meet many new people I would never have met otherwise.  I have the opportunity to disciple two of the girls.  And, I have been learning (or, re-learning) many things, including God’s heart for the poor.  I finished Jeremiah a few weeks ago, and I started going through Isaiah when I got here.  I read “Generous Justice” by Tim Keller before getting here, and I am just learning tons about what God asks us to do for the poor.  It’s pretty amazing.  I have grown so much in the last year as I look back on it, but I am continuing to grow.  Being here is like adding fuel to the fire.  Jesus is so great and he’s continuing to teach me every single day!

Goooooo Jesus!  Wooooo! =)

Smiling always, Anna =)^2

Excited(!) About Jesus!

If someone who I have never watched a movie with before, watches a movie with me, they may notice a few things.  I squeal, and scream a little inside sometimes, which makes noise, too.  I have a tendency to make comments throughout movies.  Also, I laugh at instances that may not seem all that funny to the other viewer of said movie.  Some people have said that I’m funny, but I think that inside, some people eventually find it annoying (cuz this happens a lot).  Only my sister has bothered to tell me so, but I still try to contain my…excitement?  Adrenaline?  Whatever it is.  This gets worse when I’m watching a movie I’ve never seen before, but even with a movie I have…I get real anticipatory of a scene coming up and might start laughing at it before it’s even on the screen.  I also get this way when I’m reading; however, nobody knows what’s going on, so I guess it’s a little weird.

I get that excited about non-fiction, real life stuff, too.  It just doesn’t happen as often.  Sometimes I’ll be on the 4-Wheeler chasing or being chased by the ranger in the yard, sometimes it’s when I’m on the jet ski or even when I’m simply planning an adventure.  I don’t always get that excited about fiction when I’m writing it, but when the idea comes to my head, yes, I’m laughing out loud.  (If you’ve been getting the sense from reading this so far that I’m a little bit different, I probably am.)  But, another thing that can get me this excited is JESUS.  And on Sunday, when we went to an African American church in Milwaukee, I found people who I could relate to in this over-excited, showing it in a that’s-different kind of way.  They didn’t even try to sustain their squeals of excitement—they let those squeals become shouts.  Nobody cared when comments were made throughout the service (they all were doing so)!  Have you ever seen the movie “Rack, Shack, and Benny”?  It’s a Veggietales movie.  Well, at the very end, they’re all singin a song and praising Jesus called “Stand Up.”  (Unfortunately, there weren’t any good quality versions of that song on YouTube, or you’d be watching it now.)  A scene is shown of the outside of the building, jamming out to the music.  Well, that’s how this church would look if it were shown from the outside in an animated movie.  There was dancin and there was shouting; there was clapping and there was stompin.  It was great.  And nobody was getting annoyed at the dancers and the shouters, the clappers and the stompers, because it’s NORMALCY.  I could feel the floors shaking, for there were people stomping their feet in front of me and behind me.  All this to the of the four-part gospel voices as they led the room in singing, “I give you ALL THE GLORY!”  God is so awesome!

*A side note from a music nerd: I love gospel harmonies.   The worship was AWESOME.  They keyboardist was in charge, directing cues to the singers even as he was playing.  He was  just awesome, playing the “twinklies” during the times that the pastor and other people went to the front to speak, etc.  There was a drumset playing at the same time as a percussion setup across the room consisting of bongos and congas, wind chimes, and a cymbal.  There was also a trumpet playing, and the instruments alone were quite epic.  Then you add ten very strong voices, and WHOA!  It was great!  I loved it!  I loved listening to it and singing along with the third line of the thick, thick chords.  The voices by themselves were epic.  Have you ever heard one of them sing by themselves?  What voices!  Alright.  And now, back to the blog you clicked on to read.*

I absolutely loved the enthusiasm.  It was getting me excited about Jesus, too!  I truly want to get that excited about Jesus all the time!  And why should we not all be this excited about Jesus all the time?

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

Jesus is all and does all good.  He is God, who loves and has compassion for every person.  He grants us mercy and gives us the gift of grace.  And, on top of all of this, he longs to have a personal and intimate relationship with each and every one of us.  If, on a scale from 1-10, you were to rate how much God desires a personal relationship with you?  It’d be a 10!  What would you rate your desire to know this being in a personal way?  Do you know him already?  Then let’s get excited!

Smiling with extra excitement,Anna =)^2

Depending and Trusting

So this weekend, I began to worry WAY TOO MUCH.  The Lord knows all things, like what I’ll have for lunch.  He knows all my troubles, and he’s already helping; he knows that when I lose my mind, that in my head, I’m yelping. Don’t worry, he assures me, because he already knows.  He sees where I’m going and that I’ll try to write prose. Just trust me, he tells me, because sometimes I don’t want to hear.  If I trust someone else, I become full of fear!  Anna, he says my name with comforting compassion.  God knows all of me; for it was me he hand-fashioned.

So I’ll trust my Father God, for he knows what’s best.  He’ll lead me and guide me and remind me how much I’m blessed.  It’s really silly that I try, for on my own I’d die.  I’m depending on Jesus with everything, for I know he can do anything.  I’m trusting that I’ll have a safe summer, that God will protect me, a drummer, who likes to rhyme.  (And you’ve seen it work out smoothly, some of the time.)  I trust that I, the one who likes to find smiles, will have a nice drive over hours and miles.  Though my MS feels worse than the past, I trust that God will give me strength to last.

I leave for 2012 Milwaukee Summer Project on Wednesday.  I am trusting and depending like never before, all the way!  You’re invited to be part of my prayer team, which would mean: pray that I might have a safe drive on Wednesday; pray that in the week of staff training we’ll hear God’s say.  Pray that as the Project begins, all involved will find in Christ kins.  =)  Pray that as staff, we’ll let Jesus speak through us, that all of the students will gain what Jesus has to offer and teach; plus, pray all the students will learn and grow like crazy, that the Lord will use them and call them for surely.

I am so excited for what this summer will bring.  Jesus Christ reigns, which is reason in itself to sing!  I smile for all the work God is doing; in the inner-city and down the street, he is actively pursuing!

Smiling always and filled with trust and praise, Anna =)^2

An Update and a Prologue to my Summer

For first, I am done with college for the year (and I’m going to be a SENIOR when I get back in the fall!  Whaaa?).  I came home from the stress and such of the last few weeks of classes to join my family in preparation because my youngest sister is graduating from high school TODAY!  Woo!  Her open house is tonight.  More family will be here today (excited).  And yes, Laura will be in the same town as her other two sisters next year (although a different school)!

For second, this summer, I am going to Milwaukee Summer Project 2012 as STAFF—yes, the same project I went to last year, but the other side of things.  Summer Project is such a good thing, and I have seen and experienced what God can do in such a spiritual greenhouse.  Staff only stays for half the summer, so I’ll be home July 1, but I’m super excited for the opportunity and to pour into a few of the girls that will be there!  I am kind of nervous, as my MS isn’t really behaving itself too well, and heat affects it in a bad way.  But I am totally trusting the Lord here and doing what I know I can do to help (exercise, treat my body right).  He called me to be staff this summer, and anything and everything is possible for God.

You are all invited to join my prayer team for the summer!  At the moment, prayer requests include:

–          For the staff, as final plans are made for the summer

–          That God will use the staff and what they have planned to fulfill what HE has planned for the summer

–          And for me, that the MS I have won’t interfere with what this summer has in store!

Smiling in excitement!

Anna =)^2

Milwaukee Summer Project 2011

So I keep feeling like I need one last final blurb about Summer Project (‘cuz I can’t just leave you all hangin’ there!).  So here we go:

Sum up of the Summer

Oh!  Where to start!  This summer was AWESOME!  You may be asking, “What was the best part of your summer, Anna?”  You know, ‘cuz that’s what people ask.  My answer?  God.  He really revealed himself to me.  And, as he was revealing himself to me, he revealed parts of me that I needed to surrender to him, that we could have that much closer of a relationship.  He totally rocked my summer!

An overview of what we all did: Week One = Training.  Weeks Two-Seven = Ministry Sites (my team went to Liberty & Truth, New Beginnings, Tabernacle, and Hopewell).  Week Eight = Cleaning/Wrap-Up/End-of-Project Retreat.  Every weekend, we did an outreach, a social, and went church-hopping.  A typical week looked like this: Monday = Action Group; Tuesday = Weekly Meeting (where we could invite the public); Wednesday = Date Night with Jesus (what a few of the guys called “Man Time with Jesus”); Thursday = Training Night; Friday = Social or Outreach (the other is on the Saturday).  And during the day, we were either at jobs or ministry sites.  There were two ministry site teams, and mine went to: Liberty & Truth, New Beginnings, Tabernacle, and Hopewell.  I forget where all the other group went to, but I believe they went to: God’s Kidz in the Hood, Citybrook, New Beginnings, Liberty & Truth, Jesus Camp(?), Genesis.  Pretty sure.  We worked with a lot of kids and a lot of people in general.  It was exhausting, but fun!

We had a ton of spiritual conversations, did a ton of gospel presentations, had a ton of people ask Christ into their heart!  I don’t have exact numbers on everything, but I think there were 36 decisions all summer (in the 8 weeks we were there) to ask Christ into their heart!  Now that is what I call exciting.  (Doin’ a little kingdom welcoming dance!)

I made a ton of close friends, and have been staying in touch with many since the end (which was almost a week ago)!  Oh man, that is a scary thought.  A week ago?  The challenging part for pretty much all of us (everybody I’ve been talking to, anyway) is integrating back into the “real world.”  And then school starts, and we should be applying everything we’ve learned this summer on our campuses!  So that would be a big part of the prayer requests I send out to you today: for all of us who were on project, that we can apply and fit back in to society like we should be.  Other prayer requests include the seeds that were planted this summer, no matter what kind of soil they landed on (but let us hope that the seeds actually took root in good soil!).

Soooooooo.  I am really sad that the summer is over.  But at least we have a ton of pictures and even some videos to jog my not-so-great memory!  And God keeps doing his work, no matter where we are.  I know I have continued learning so much even after I left project!  And God is just awesome.  I am so thankful that I could go to Milwaukee for 8 weeks this summer and learn and grow and be used by God for his work!  It was SUCH an experience!  If you come and find me sometime, and ask me about it, you should tell me right away how much time you have.  ‘Cuz I could just keep talking and talking.  It’s okay if you just stop me sometime.  But please, wait until I finish the current sentence.  =)

I love all of you so much for supporting me throughout my summer!  I give thanks for YOU!  You are all incredibly awesome!

Ever smiling, Anna =)^2 (smiles squared)

Attrace is taking this picture, but it pretty much explains our group.=)

Manny the Monkey: A Sentance-at-a-Time Story

Once there was a monkey.  He was 12 years old, yet still relatively agile, regardless of his elevated number of years. One day he decided that he wanted to go on adventure. So he go.  He venture far and wide in search of world-renown large banana.  He found that it was located deep in the jungle of the Congo.  “Me find now!” he said gruffly.  Girding his loins and selecting his sharpest mini-machete, Manny the Monkey dove into the chlorophyll abyse.  As he go deeper into jungle he run into the giant anacondas of legend.  “Bring it,” the enemy hissed and Manny prepared for a battle scene (cue).  – – Editor’s Note – – This story has been altered to make it acceptable for G-rated audiences, and therefore the following battle scene has been adjusted to decrease the overall violence rating.  Ha just kidding who cares about ratings!  The monkeys gathered a huge army and charged the anacondas with spears.  Sum up: the anacondas were pulverized, diced up, and guts were everywhere.  The monkeys took hostages, sold them through the Black Market to snake charmers around the world, and returned to the Congo to continue their hunt a little—I mean much—richer.  When they found the giant banana trees they found that a battalion of gorillas was there ready to defend them (battle was imminent).  So basically…the gorillas were all like, “Son!  I’m so glad you returned!  You were lost and now you are found!  You died and are alive again!”  And Manny’s like “W-T-” and then everyone cheered so you couldn’t hear the rest.  The gorillas served their “family” a giant feast, yet Manny remained on the defensive, not trusting the gorillas hospitality…his guardedness was wise, because during the second course, the gorillas jumped on the monkeys, forcing their little faces into the soup and drowning them in the pre-entrée dish.  Little did the gorillas know that the monkeys were really faking it and drew their swords to slit the throats of the gorillas behind them. Blood oozed out as their jujubes continued pumping blood, and their throats gasped for breath.  The monkeys grabbed some of the bloody large bananas from the trees, and, though tired, started eating (finally).

They say that when you eat the blood of your own kind, you never go back…this is, of course, because the bacteria A.auregeaes begins to thrive in your mouth because of the blood ingestion, causing a systemic infection that goes straight to the brain and rapidly takes over the Central Nervous System.  So in layman terms the bacteria turned the monkeys into ravenous blood-thirsty zombies.  After finishing the rest of the gorilla blood (yes, licking every leaf and blade of grass), they went on the hunt for more.  Manny, knowing that they would soon turn on themselves, called Miss Pepper Potts, his right-hand-gal, to come and pick him up by helicopter so that he could return home with the Large Banana seeds and plant his own banana garden.  In a very anticlimactic turn of events Miss Pepper Potts was able to get all the monkeys back safely with the bananas and gave them zombie medication.  And as Christ raised us all from the dead, Miss Pepper Potts delivered the grace needed to save these monkeys who had died to the world.  They were treated with a cephalosporin derivative and returned to their homeland safe and sound…yet miles away, Manny sat on his crazily tech-enhanced basement, speculating where his next adventure would take him. 

By: Anna, Jill, and Bryan

-written in the car on the way to Kalahari, the end-of-project retreat-