By Sufjan Stevens
willow creek, or the visit of MFP
Well, after a few directional errors, we made it to the conference, via the hotel first. on the way, we stoppped at mcdonalds. as i was eating my breakfast burrito, phil informed me of something he learned from the movie “super size me”…apparently a cheeseburger from there was dna tested, and there was dna from over 1,000 head of cattle in one hamburger. I’m lovin’ it.
in the car, we shared with each other the music that we had been listening to. good times.
we missed the very first Crowder song, and sat in some “ok” seats for the balance of the first set of worship time and the first speaker. the first speaker, gordon macdonald, was very encouraging. crowder came back out for some more worship, and then we had a 45 minute break. they (willow creek church) had an assortment of snacks (rice crispy treats, oreos, pears, apples, oranges, water, prime rib, t-bones, chicken tenders, veal cutlets, breaded pork loin, an assortment of carbonated beverages, french fries, cheese sticks, baked potatos) for us during the intermission. before we went back to the huge auditorium (willow creek is massive, the hall we were in holds around 7,000,000,000 people), I had to visit the boys room. completely fitting, when i came out, MFP was no where to be found, so, technology being what it is, I pulled out my trusty cell phone to ascertain his 20. He stated that he was up by the stage, where I soon joined him. as not everyone left their stuff in their seats, we found some choice seats approximately 5 rows back on the main floor, the perfect location from which to enjoy set 2 from Crowder, and enjoy we did. “You are My Joy” was absolutely fantastic.
the second speaker was dr jack groppel, a physiologist. he too had many good things to encourage us with. they key phrase was something about “glycerol” levels, how your liver, when you sleep, provies your body with the apporpriate levels to get you throught the night, but when you awaken, you must eat to provide your body with another source as the liver is depleted. if you fail to have another source, your body then turns to amino acids, which build muscle, and breaks them down into glycerol, a bad situation according to the good doctor. at this point in the trip and conference, the phrase “my glycerol levels are down” has been the statement to use whenever anything bad (a negative comment, general grumpiness, or anything, really) happens. when he was done, they ushered us out quickly to prepare the hall, as third day had to set up. when i say they rushed us out, i mean they rushed us out. i mused to phil that if we were “real” ministers, we would not have been rushed out so quickly. he just looked at me with a disgusted look.
as we left the church around 4:45, there was a mad dash for dinner by many people. as chili’s was the closest, they were a target. there were a few people from the conference who beat us there. upon entry, i informed the manager that 80 million people were soon to descend on his hapless restaraunt. he of course questioned my assertion of the quantity of people that were coming. MFP and i discovered that he was in no way, shape, or form familiar with the “seriously policy” formulated sometime in 2003. according to said policy, one may exaggerate all one wants, but once the word “seriously” has been used, all exaggeration must end, and the next thing stated must be much closer to the actual situation at hand. phil forgot this however, and upon returing from the bathroom stated that there were “50 million” people in line to use the facilities, whereupon i remarked that his number was more that half of the people who had yet to arrive at chili’s. we chuckled at our brilliance. i had the peppercorn cheeseburger with delicious iced-tea. phil had some sort of cheeseburger, but with water. also, we had a “combo-appetizer” of some sort. it consisted of 3 celery sticks, some boneless chicken wings, some wraps that consisted of spinach, beans, and assorted ingredients, and a fried something; it was either chicken or fish, perhaps a combination of the two.
after eating, we headed back to willow creek (henceforth, known as WC) to see third day. the show was suppposed to be genrral admission, first come, first served. that, of course, failed to stop people from saving seats for people, even entire rows in some cases. so, phil and i went to the upper deck. tey opened with “Creed”, a Rich Mullins song, and a favorite of ours. As we had a long day, we left about 3/4 of the way through the set. after a trip to “Domonic’s” for some chap stick and mountain dew, and being waited on by a sullen teen named “vito” we made it back to the hotel.
So far, the conference has gone as expected, and MFP and i are having a great time together. I am looking forward to tomorrow.