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Life has been busy at the Thompson household the last few weeks. We went on the Vision:Barren youth retreat at Windermere at the lake of the Ozarks, and got to see our dear friends Jr. and Manda Forasteros. The retreat went really well, and it was a bitter-sweet experience for both of us knowing that it may very well be our last one that we get to go to (we’ve been to every one so far). We thought the message of the weekend was really powerful, because it was all about God using dry spells and times of suffering in our lives to eventually make us stronger. We came back from the retreat last Sunday and ran the 9 mile run in our training program for our half marathon. It was so exhausting, but it felt great to run farther than either of us had ever run before.

Pic together on the last day of Barren

For anyone who has been wondering, Allan’s brown recluse bite has almost completely healed. It started a few weeks ago and turned into a gigantic boil with a scab. After a couple visits to the student health center and some strong antibiotics, it finally drained itself and started to heal. (Pictures provided for your enjoyment :).

Pretty awesome, huh? It’ll be a great battle scar at least. The peeling skin is due to necrosis (death of flesh), which is caused by spider venom.

On a less nauseating note, Allan got a call last week to shoot a video for TIME magazine’s website. The story was about a new kind of vegetarian, imitation chicken that Mizzou’s school of agriculture has been working on. It was really exciting to get the chance to do freelance work for such a well known magazine. He also found out that he has been chosen as a finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists “mark of excellence” award for a story he did last year for KOMU. Both of these things have been really exciting for us.

Patty has been working on trying to graduate, as well as working a lot of hours at the Olive Garden 🙂 The last semester of senior year can be draining on a person’s motivation. For fun, she has been hanging out with our dog, Gus, planting flowers, and taking pictures to slow down and enjoy Creation.

Gus chilling.

Morning fog in our backyard

We are both EXTREMELY excited for spring break next week. It’ll be great to have a break from school and work, as well as spend time with Allan’s parents down in Texas. We hope you have enjoyed catching up with our lives! Have a wonderful day!

The Thompsons

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Allan, Mama Vicki, and Patty taking a break from shooting in Vietnam.

Tonight, Patty and I got the pleasure of going out to a spontaneous hibachi dinner with some of our great friends we have made through the Olive Garden.  We had a great experience thanks to our masterfully extroverted chef as well as to the great friends we had around us.  After we got home from our grocery-shopping trip to Hy-Vee we turned on the Oscars to try to catch the end of the awards.

We lucked out as not five-minutes after we turned on the show the category Best Documentary Feature came up.  For those of you who don’t know, we are very interested in starting our own production company someday that specializes in humanitarian documentaries that tell compelling stories that inspire people to action.  As the presenter listed off the nominees we couldn’t help but feel a sense of encouragement and excitement.  Every film nominated had a significant message for the world to hear.  Burma VJ was a nominee about conflicts with journalists in Myanmar during political unrest in 2007. The Cove (which eventually won) was about a hidden cove where dolphins were trapped and killed illegally and Food Inc. is a telling tale of where our food comes from in America.  This was exciting to watch as films that are about significant and serious issues and were getting recognized on an international level.

While it is not Best Picture or Best Actress (nor should it be necessarily) these documentaries were about serious issues and people are watching.  Whether or not these films will inspire change remains to be seen but the fact that films dealing with significant issues are watched and recognized is encouraging.  We are a long ways away from an encounter at the Oscars, and that isn’t even our primary goal, but the fact that it is possible to get these messages of hope and need out to the world is beyond inspiring and almost confirming of our goal as a family, as filmmakers, and as storytellers.

Shooting a Short Film

Tonight was a fun night.  After the weekly festivities at the BSU ended, a group of us went downtown Columbia to shoot part of a short film.  We will enter this film into a Lifeway short film contest with a $5000 grand-prize.  If we win, the money will go to the Mizzou BSU for general funds.  The goal of the film is to answer the question, “How do you know God is good?”  I don’t want to give too much away because we are still in production but I will let you know it’s going to be good!  Patty was our star playing a flustered business worker who is having a terrible day.  Stormie and Allan worked on wrangling our extras and getting the thing shot.  We managed to get everything shot in about 45-minutes which is nice when it is below freezing.  Thanks to everyone who helped out tonight and keep an eye out, we will post it once we get it edited.

So after the Revelation Study tonight (which was great) my new friend Jared Foldy and I were standing around talking as usual.  I told him I was going to Olive Garden to get desert and say “hi” to Patty who was closing for the third night in a row and I asked if he would like to join.  After a couple of minutes he agreed and we were off.

While at the OG, Jared mentioned he needed a job and so Patty went to get our manager to try and hook him up with a hosting job.  Things went well, we chatted and gave Patty a hard time before paying and leaving to take Jared back to his car.  This is where the story gets interesting.

On the way back to campus we saw a car with its flashers on. I thought it was abandoned but Jared noticed a man pushing the car, which was still half a mile or so from a gas station on West Boulevard in Columbia.  We decided to turn around and help him push considering it was 15-degrees outside.  When we got to the car and began to push, we noticed there were an infant and a toddler in the back seat of the busted-up Buick. After an agonizing half-mile we got the car into the gas station with exhausted legs and burning lungs. We decided to buy them some gas and 17-gallons later (who knew a Buick could hold 17-gallons) they were good to go.

We got them some coffee and hot chocolate, they took us back to the truck where we said our goodbyes and everyone was back on their way.  I think we both wish we could have done more as they told us how bad they have suffered with the economic downturn.  I guess the best we can do at this point is to pray for them.  Many know I have struggled with my faith recently but all of a sudden it all felt real again.  I know we didn’t do anything for their long term needs but maybe we helped enough to get through today.

Earlier today, a friend of ours posted a link on my facebook wall from an article for the Riverfront Times in St. Louis about how apparently Columbia is the 17th most romantic city in the country, and the picture they used to show how romantic it truly is… is one of our wedding pictures!!! I guess they found it on our wedding photographer’s blog, but we thought it was really neat.

As many of you know, Patty and I both work at the Olive Garden here in Columbia, MO.  It is challenging to remember to love the people we are serving as they boss us around and it is definitely an exercise in patience.

That being said, Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year for us.  For whatever reason, people in love, love the OG.  This was my third Valentine’s Day and this one sticks out.  I had one table in particular that resonates in my mind.  This table had six people, no big deal.  As I walked up to the table, wine bottle in hand, I quickly realized this table was going to be different.

I noticed one woman at the table signing to another man at the table. I thought that was really interesting.  I got to the table and launched into my typical introduction and welcome but I noticed all six people waving their hands at me. At first this seemed rude, until it clicked that they were all deaf and/or mute.  This is something I have never experienced.  I was completely at a loss for how to handle the situation, as neither my co-workers nor myself knew sign language.  After a while we managed to communicate through over-exaggerated hand signals and pointing but I felt rude and uncomfortable, as I had to point to things and sign in order to get everything they wanted.

Because of the unique situation I was in as their server, I truly got to understand life for people at my table.  The six of them could communicate, albeit quietly, and I was the one that was fumbling around trying to find any way to communicate effectively.  It was really cool to watch the group talk with each other with no sounds.  I had picked up on the hand sign for thank and when I dropped their check I did it and mouthed thank. They all lit up as for just one second we could communicate on the same ground.  It was a humbling experience and one I will truly remember forever.

Valentines Day Weekend

This weekend was pretty awesome for us because we didn’t have to work Saturday, so we were able to spend the whole day together. We went on our long training run for the week (we’re training for a half marathon in April). We are both very excited for spring to come and make running outside more bearable. Also, we finally got to go see Avatar in 3D. We had heard great things about the movie and we were really impressed. However, we were surprised at how little controversy it has sparked. We would have thought that the tree hugging, anti-violence undertones would have upset some people, but we haven’t really heard any criticisms. Needless to say, it’s definitely one of those movies that sticks with you for a while after you finish watching it. It is amazing to think that the filmmakers created that entire other world in such minute detail. I guess that goes to show that if people have that much creative “juice,” I can’t even imagine what God is capable of. Saturday night we got to go to our friend Nick’s birthday party and eat pizza and play battle of the sexes until 1:30 am. We both feel blessed to have friends at work because it makes the stressful restaurant atmosphere more fun. So there you have it… a synopsis of our weekend. Have a great day!