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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chicago

From the thrill of New York City we headed west to Chicago.  We were so lucky to land just before the epic snowfall came.  By Tuesday we were fully snowed in at the Hyatt O'Hare and were very happy that we were safe, warm, surrounded by friends and colleagues and had no where we had to go!  The hotel staff was awesome in the midst of challenging circumstances.  With no one able to leave, all guests were trying to eat the hotel restaurants. And many staff could not go home and other staff could not get to work.  The staff of the hotel was excellent in every way.  A job well-done!
I've never seen anything like this blizzard!  Wind, thunder and even lightening!  It was kind of fun being snowed in together!  By Wednesday, one of my good friends who lives in a north west suburb of Chicago managed to dig out her car and drive to the hotel.  We discovered most of the restaurants closed in the area, likely because their lots looked like ski resorts and no employees were able to navigate the roads!  We finally stumbled on Gibson's which is a famous Chicago steakhouse and a Stockholm friend's favorite restaurant.  I had no idea they had one in the burbs!  It was packed with people but I enjoyed a fine rib eye sandwich and a great chat with my college friend.  At that point it was great to get outside a bit as I had not gone outside since Monday evening and it was Wednesday! 
We were in Chicago to attend the Midwinter Pastors' conference that our denomination sponsors each year.  This is one refreshing place to be.  Great speakers, thoughtful worship, enlightening seminars and the opportunity to interact with friends and colleagues in ministry.  We saw old friends and enjoyed numerous conversations about life and ministry.  A close friend of mine was part of some comedy that two women did each morning and it was delightful to see these women use their creative energy in a really clever and wonderful way.  It's good to poke fun at yourself once in awhile and comedy can really illuminate situations that can often be hard to discuss.
I feel very blessed to be a part of our denomination.  I feel we are growing in positive ways, paying attention to concerns for compassion and justice in our world and welcoming a diverse group of people into leadership and ministry.  And I love and appreciate the friendships formed and nurtured through the shared task of ministry.
The blizzard of 2011 had very little affect on us personally as we were cozied up in the hotel.  It was amazing to see the huge piles of snow around the streets once the plowing began.  We were very lucky to get to Minneapolis without delay on Friday afternoon.