Count Down Stories 2

The Count Down Stories began with Day 30 and on the previous page counted DOWN to day 20:

Previous Stories=> Count Down Stories 1

Now they continue counting down from day 19:

Day 19

When Levi woke up (late as usual… but feeling quite refreshed) he noticed a piece of paper next to his door. Another surprise he thought … as he jumped out of bed and dashed to see what it was:

Levi knew at once who had left him this note, both by the T swirl and by the message itself! And Levi knew all about visions, so he was excited for the conversation that was hanging on the horizon. But Levi also recognized that the note was written on the stationery that is provided to everyone at the desk off to the side in the Observatory Dome. And so he also knew where he was going to be tonight!

But first things first! The whole ship was waiting for him to bless them (again) on their interstellar journey and coming discoveries!

May God the Father and Jesus Christ grant you grace, mercy and peace in truth and love
=> Vanguard Blessing 12 (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

And now … let’s begin a series of articles thoughtfully grouped as NAVIGATING :)

We can look at NAVIGATING the star systems.

We can look at NAVIGATING within a star system.

We can look at NAVIGATING a lander for a planetary exploration mission.

We can even look at NAVIGATING our Away Team around on the planet!

But, first… let’s look at the brilliant way that Awaken Realms has designed the game regarding traveling between star systems!

In yesterday’s article I encouraged everyone to start thinking three-dimensionally! Now I will try to find a way to explain what I meant.

Now, some of you may already have set on their table that cool twirling globe of the earth with all the countries mapped out right on the globe.

Get this from the Smart Wallaby store

Yes, that is KIND OF three-dimensionally thinking. But we need to go further … beyond new horizons (as the Recon crew will tell us).

Instead, maybe I can compare it to traveling around in our own Solar System? At the mention of this, many fellow oldsters in our group may have immediately thought of those models of our solar system where we could turn the planets around the sun kind of imitating their orbits:

Get this from Educational Insights

This is a good start, because there are several planets all moving independently around the sun. However, it still is kind of two-dimensional in that it is a mostly “flat” representation of what’s in space!

Next, the Jinnto Store moved the planets a bit so that their orbits aren’t all on the same “plane”:

Get this from Jinnto Store

However, this still is not the comparison that I am looking for. Objects still are all moving around a set focal point, even though that focal point is now actually a “column” and not a “point”.

Maybe this would be better:

OK … now that I got your minds twirling and swirling and looking UP as well as left and right … let’s jump into the world of ISS Vanguard!

The game takes place in deep space and we travel from one star system to another, so navigating between star systems can be in any and all directions since “orbits” are not involved. We might want to travel UP … or LEFT … or OUT (or even BACK)!

And now that I got you in our ISS Vanguard world … let me break that bubble!

Yes, you can travel in all those “directions” but you canNOT just JUMP from one place to another. This is not Battlestar Galactica reboot! Our starship ISS Vanguard has to TRAVEL in a line towards the point where we want to end up. That will take time. But more importantly, that will take “fuel” for our rockets… in our case it will cost us “energy”. And we only have “so much” energy. It is just barely enough energy to get us to one of the closest star systems. Even if we KNOW ABOUT star systems further out (which we DON’T at the start of the campaign) we can’t just “move our ship” there instantly.

OK … NOW you are ready for this!

NAVIGATING between star systems via Starship ISS Vanguard is a process…

Full Article=> Navigating The Star Systems

Day 18

=> Navigating IN a Star System

Levi was excited … extremely excited! It wasn’t every day (or even every week) that Tayen wanted to have a deep discussion with him… and he was really looking forward to it after reading the note that Tayen had left him! But first, today was one of the days that he was to bless the entire starship crew and he knew that was equally (if not more) important, so he headed down to the Bridge and used the starship speaker system to bless the crew on this day … but since Tayen’s message had excited him, his blessing was a bit longer than usual (but the crew didn’t seem to mind):

  • May you achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. 
  • May your life continue to be a delight to God as you do every good work
  • May you have everything you need to hold on and joyfully endure any hardship with patience. 
    => Vanguard Blessing 13 (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Levi enjoyed conversations with Tayen because they both had similar “giftings”… gifts that many (most) people didn’t quite understand (or even “want” to understand). People’s reactions to him (as a chaplain) were of course much different than how they reacted to someone like Tayen who was “just” an ordinary crewmember!  When others witnessed (and verified) that Tayen could “see” the future, they were baffled and called it an “uncanny ability to predict danger”. When Levi had visions or words from God, people outside the church chalked it up to one of those “church things”. But even in his church (back on earth) the congregation all believed the visions and “words” he heard, but nearly half weren’t quite sure what was actually happening “in” him! They thought that was why he was a pastor (now chaplain) and they were NOT!

Thus, Tayen and Levi became good buddies because they both had the gift of sometimes seeing into the future, or what what some in the church would call receiving “words of knowledge”… knowing something that should be impossible for you to know! Tayen appreciated how Levi listened to her and acknowledged what she was “seeing”. Tayen was mostly “done with” telling others about her “visions” because they often just laughed at her. However, Levi SMILED as she told him about her visions … and that smile was so much better! [see my note at the end of this article on how the real world and the starship comes together]

Tayen hoped that Levi would figure out (from her short note) that he should come meet with her in the Observatory Dome tonight (which is why she wrote it on the “official” starship paper provided to everyone over at the desk in the corner). Tayen didn’t want to specifically mention the meeting place on her note in case someone else saw it (and she knew that Levi would just leave it laying on his chair or bed). She wanted some privacy when talking about her visions!

So she had a big smile when she saw Levi walk in!

Hiya T

Hola O’Connor :) She had heard his story about the instant translator Isabel had made him.

Sorry, T … don’t have my Izzy gadget in my ear today :) What was that you said? :)

She laughed!

As Levi sat down next to her over in the corner out of earshot of others, Tayen got serious.

Levi … I had a vision… a very very clear vision!

Tayen was glad that Levi settled down and was calmly, quietly listening to her now.

Levi … I saw fire! It wasn’t fire here on the starship, but far off in the distance. But then I saw some people jumping into it. They were jumping into the fire!

There was a lengthy pause as Tayen let Levi ponder on this, listening to see if he would “hear” anything or “see” anything (usually he “heard” words, while Tayen was the one who “saw” visions). Finally Levi took a deep breath.

Well T… we ARE on a journey to an unknown destination, which IS far in the distance since we aren’t even half way there yet. Maybe the fire you were seeing means that it might NOT be a peaceful uneventful destination like we are anticipating (and hoping for). I “hear” a song to combine with your vision. Maybe our destination will need Away Teams to climb mountains and swim seas and maybe even jump into the fire!

You can climb a mountain
You can swim the sea
You can jump into the fire
But you’ll never be free

I don’t know T. Let’s keep this in mind. We aren’t even half way to our destination yet, but perhaps things won’t be so smooth sailing when we get there.

And, now that Levi mentioned it, just HOW will we navigate once we are IN a star system (rather than simply just journeying there)… [article was here] …

Finally … the real world meets the starship chaplain! Good science fiction (Sci-Fi) is firmly based in reality and doesn’t just make things up on the fly (well, for the most part anyway). And they say that when writing stories, you should write about something you know (thus in these short Count Down stories I couldn’t talk much about VR (our starship chef) because I have no clue about how to cook). Awaken Realms did a wonderful job creating a short backstory for each of the 90 crewmembers (which will be expanded even further if you get the Personnel Files expansion). As I read through all the backstories, I was able to pick out various aspects of the crew that I tried to fit into a kind of running story as part of this Count Down. I thought it would make things a bit more interesting and show that Awaken Realms wanted there to be LIFE in this board game… not just some random colored meeples moving around a game board strategically.

However, I did notice that Awaken Realms had neglected to include a chaplain on the ship, which is NOT realistic. Most ships have a chaplain, often more than one. Just before starting this Count Down I included the story of the FOUR IMMORTAL CHAPLAINS honored by an official (ie, real) postage stamp! The real world ship that sunk had FOUR chaplains!

=> Background Story including the Immortal Chaplains

And I, myself, could identify with the backstory for Tayen. Awaken Realms did a good job in setting it up! Let me reprint her backstory here:

During preparations for the mission, Tayen distinguished herself with the uncanny ability to predict danger. Vanguard Initiative officers extensively studied her supposed supernatural powers, putting the young Navajo through many elaborate training scenarios. Eventually, they concluded that Tayen’s impossible guesses were just a statistical fluke. Regardless, the Captain offered her a place on the ship.

Perhaps you already know someone who has these “abilities”. Or perhaps you always wondered if the stories you heard were actually true or if people were just making it all up.

=======: Non-Game Related Personal Stories :=======

[you can skip these if you wish – they are not game related … they are just four IMPOSSIBLE stories of mine that you can hear directly from me that kind of match up with needing a chaplain on the starship]

No, I am not a pastor, a priest or a chaplain. However, I have written about 3,000 prayers and blessings, typically for a specific person. And I have a couple dozen books of prayers I’ve written (virtually all of them professionally bound but with only two copies, one for the person I wrote them for and one for me to remember what I had done). Most are “private” and not to be shared, though my prayers for Lindsey Stirling were public and I could share those! And I did mention her prayers at the end of a previous article:

=> Crew Dice Skills part 4

Now … about “knowing something that should be impossible to know”. This definitely IS real. Awaken Realms didn’t just make it up! If you have been following along with me on this journey through considering, then ordering and then WAITING for ISS Vanguard (this website now has over well over 450 articles) you kind of “know” me. You know that I can be a bit focused. You know that I don’t just do something “a little” or until it is “good enough”. Maybe that is why I like Awaken Realms! They too are not satisfied with simply “good enough” and want to go all out, to go way overboard (as people say that I do). The game ISS Vanguard is a testament to that… as is my website as well :)

So, maybe after nearly two years you are ready to hear four of my impossible stories … what I refer to as “jaw dropping” stories! Remember back in Count Down Day 21 I told you to remember the words “jaw dropping“?
=> Count Down Day 21

I made up the stories for Levi aboard the Starship ISS Vanguard (he IS fictional, after all) … However, I will give you a quick summary of four TRUE jaw dropping stories from my own personal life for you to ponder over, with links to my personal website where you can find the FULL story for three of them – one I never got around to writing up (yet):

  1. Look up the MEANING of her name (December 2007) – This is the story that I still need to write up properly, but you may as well hear my condensed version right here and now! Many churches are so large that it is hard to get to know others, so they have “home groups” or “small groups”, often with just a dozen people in the group. It seems that 12 is about the right number (more than that and it gets too big to know each other well). I was part of one of the home groups at my church – about 10 of us in the group. Then two new people came to join our group. And as usual, everyone introduced themselves with a couple sentences about who they were. One of the two new people introduced herself and as she was speaking (her couple sentences about herself) she mentioned that she didn’t like her name. I doubt anyone else hardly even noticed when she said that … but a bell went off in my mind (along with neon lights around “her name”). God asked me to look up what her name meant. So, I did. And I wrote up a nice “report” on her name (remember that I tend to go overboard when I do things). It seems that the base of her name (Dar) is from the Hebrew דַּר and means “Mother-of-Pearl”. And, what a coincidence that just a couple months earlier (July 2007) a detailed study IN MADISON (where I live) published an in depth report about Mother-of-Pearl!
    =>  Mother-of-Pearl: Classic Beauty and Remarkable Strength
    So, basically, my report about her name summed it all up … she had a MARVELOUS name that meant beautiful to the extreme ALONG with strength to the extreme. So, I printed my “report” about her name and at our next home meeting I handed it to her. I wasn’t even sure she knew who I was since we hadn’t talked to each other at the last meeting other than the “Hi, I’m Len” introduction (along with her “Hi, I’m Darci”). And what happened next is the “jaw dropping” part … she burst into tears. She told me that she had thought she’d go to her grave wondering why she had been given such a bad name. And an almost complete stranger (me) hands her a detailed report about her name … and her name is absolutely WONDERFUL! God had found a way to introduce me to the person who became my mentor and one of my best friends!
  2. Introduced to her daughter (February 2008) – I knew my new mentor and good friend had kids, but she didn’t talk much about them. So, God decided to introduce me to one of her daughters! I **DID** write up this story, and I highly hope you will read the whole story – it kind of brings real life into perspective (and almost brings tears to MY eyes just rereading it):
    => Jaw Dropping Experience #2
    I was volunteering at a local food pantry (it actually is the largest in Madison and Dane County). After stocking the shelves (along with other assorted tasks) all the volunteers would sit at tables for our own meal. I liked to just sit and eat and LISTEN to other people’s conversations. But there was one young lady who tended to come sit at my table and ASK ME QUESTIONS! And of course I had to reply, and usually my answers were just a few sentences, but it seemed that she heard twenty! Well … she told me that she worked at the front desk at Woodman’s (huge grocery store here). So, whenever I went grocery shopping I would peek at the front desk and say HI to her. Then one time she said that she soon would be moving to Milwaukee. So I wished her well. Then next time I saw her there, I also wished her well on her move to Milwaukee. But just a few steps later God was telling me (in my mind) to go back and bless her! A few more steps… Go Back and Bless Her! (I had to explain to God that this was a grocery store and I can’t go blessing people at the front desk). A few more steps … Go Back and Bless Her. FINE! On my way out! (please read the longer version of this, it is much much cooler). I go up to the front counter and ask her if it was OK for me to bless her. SURE. So I do. Then as I turn around to leave, she blurts out, “Are you going to see my Mom tonight?”“What??? Who is your Mom?” Ends up that her Mom was my new mentor and good friend! And God wanted me to meet her daughter before she moved away! Make sure to read the full story, especially the ending of it where I quote how my mentor referred to it!!!
  3. Silver Bowl of Golden Apples (April 2007) – I don’t think anyone can explain this one! This HAS to be categorized as “impossible”! Once again, I did write up this story and you really should read it so that you can hear a first hand (from me) impossible story!
    => Silver Bowl of Golden Apples
    The young lady who worked at the front desk where I worked was a single mom with two kids. Every Monday we used to walk a few blocks to a restaurant and I’d buy her lunch. She told me she really enjoyed this because it was a chance for her to talk with another adult (most of her life was at home with her kids or at the front desk saying “Can I help you?”). From our lunch time chats I knew that she was a Christian. After a few months, it seemed that God wanted me to give her a silver bowl of golden apples. And, yes, I had a conversation with God about this … it didn’t seem like the best of ideas to me! But God persisted. And so that weekend I went out and bought a silver bowl and some golden apples (but please read the longer version of this story!) and brought it to work with me early Monday morning and put it on the shelf above my desk. I was going to save it till the next day because she said that Tuesdays were bad days, so I might as well give her the “gift” on a Tuesday :) But, it was Monday so we walked to the restaurant and had our usual lunch. I did **NOT** mention that I would be giving her a “gift” the next day – it was going to be a unique surprise! Well … as we walked back to our office, out of the blue she says something unlike anything she had ever said before:  “my spirit man told me you were going to give me a bowl of fruit” … well, as soon as we got back to the office, I dashed to my desk, grabbed the silver bowl of golden apples and set them on the front counter! Doing what God asks of you can be exciting!
  4. Handing a specific Scripture to a friend (April 2008) – Finally, a statistically virtually impossible story! Anyone good with statistics can figure this one out for me! Once again, read the full story to really understand what had happened!
    => God is the Master Coordinator
    I don’t hand out Scriptures to people. I know that some people do that, but not me. I’d rather get to know you first, and not just give a random Scripture to some random person. But that’s just me… others are just fine doing it. Well, for about six months I had been meeting at Ancora Coffee Shop every week with a friend going through several books of the Bible. We’d read a couple chapters before hand and then talk about them at the coffee shop. And then, all of a sudden it seemed that God wanted me to make a photolog card placing one specific Scripture on it to give to him. So, I did. In the morning when I got to the coffee shop, he was already sitting at a table. So I handed him the photolog card I had made and turned to go get my “mocha” when he blurted out “This is confirmation!” Whoa! Let me get my mocha first! Back at the table he tells me that another friend had just given him a Scripture and told him that actually it was one of two Scriptures that said about the same thing. However, his other friend told him that she couldn’t find that “second” Scripture! Well … turns out that I had just handed it to him! There are over 31,000 verses in the Bible and I rarely make one into a photolog card (actually only a couple times). And my card that I handed him was the matching Scripture to the one his other friend had just given to him!

Now … about my “hearing” a song for someone… just like Levi heard a song for Tayen! That also happens for me. True! About a year ago one of my good friends was in a car accident… a VERY SERIOUS car accident. She had to be MedFlighted to Mayo Clinic and was in the Trauma Center for THREE weeks. When I heard about it I started writing one prayer a day for her. I had some “neon” colored envelopes. I had lots of OLD mint postage stamps. (OK, you can ask, “So, you had neon envelopes and old mint stamps just sitting in your closet?” Answer: “Yes”) After writing a prayer for her, I would print it and then mail it to her (she was in Arkansas at the time staying with her daughter – she is back in Madison now). After one month I compiled (and reformatted) all the prayers into a book … a glossy hard cover book (I made 6 more books for her after this):

=> Cover for Diane’s Prayers (PDF of front cover)

When she got out of the trauma center she told me that she had a hard time thinking. It was like there was a fog in her mind making thinking hard. So, I was praying that God would break through that fog for her! And then I “heard” a song for her … Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

Yes, DiAnne (aka Diane … long story about her name) is doing much much better. The last time we chatted (at Finca Coffee Shop – run by some fantastic people from El Salvador) I finally got a chance to tell her about the epic space exploration game that I soon would have! It was so fun to see her eyes light up (as she said MY eyes lit up while talking about ISS Vanguard). She said that she’d like to play the game when I got it and would even come over and play some of Prototype 2 to “get a feel” for the game before it arrives!

Now that Awaken Realms has included a crewmember who hears “words of knowledge” and also has the gift of “prophecy”, it would be great if they also wove that into the game in some way (hopefully better than how I am doing it for this unofficial story as we wait for the game to arrive at our doorsteps).

Day 17

=> Navigating DOWN to the Planet

Question: what happens when a rebel artist (Jia aka Jees) and a rebel visionary (Tayen aka T) get together (especially with Levi’s blessing)? Artists have their own way of looking at the world (or in their case, looking at the universe). Visionaries like Tayen do as well. So, it was almost like a volcano eruption when Tayen got together with Jia to tell her about her visions (she had another vision after talking with Levi). And Jia just RAN WITH IT. Next thing we know (but the Captain and Levi didn’t) was over a dozen of the crew organized by Jia held a secret paint-a-thon all night session and covered half of the side wall of the Mess Hall with an interesting (if not gorgeous) painting:

Our rebellious rebels were tuning out to be quite the charismatic leaders, evidenced by over a dozen crewmembers secretly joining them in the middle of the night to paint Tayen’s vision across half of the side wall in the Mess Hall.

The Rebels (Jees and T):

Technically, it was unknown WHO had painted that wall, but Captain Wayman called Jia and Tayen to his office for a “talk“. And, what do you know … they told him that they had no idea who would have done something like that! The captain just smiled and said … fine … but maybe those same people might paint something on the other half of the wall that is a bit more uplifting?

At that point both Jia and Tayen looked at each other as Tayen’s second vision came to their minds!

Meanwhile, Levi was over in the Engineering section as they wanted their blessing for the day!

May you be blessed when you stay aboard the starship and when you leave on an Away Team to go out to another world!
Blessing 14 (Engineering) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

And now for the task at hand … NAVIGATING DOWN to a planet! … [article was here]

At this point both my body and my brain need to rest. It’s been an tough week moving my Mom to a new place (but all went well so far … one more move day planned for Wednesday though). So let’s move on and see what’s happening aboard the starship now … never know what our Rebel Team may be up to!

Looks like things have calmed down aboard Starship ISS Vanguard and the crew is jam packing the Mess Hall for another Epic Piano Jam (that goes with the Epic Awaken Realms game). Let’s move the camera in to checkout the action!

Yes … Another Piano Jam in the Mess Hall … to keep everyone’s spirits up, just play some HAPPY music! These guys put a huge smile on my face every time I watch them (which is often).


While sitting listening (and smiling), Levi remembers reading a book that helped him understand an interesting phenomenon! He was thinking to himself, “We really really need artists and musicians during this long journey”. He remembered reading a great book about this (click=> Heart of the Artist)

Day 16

=> Navigating ON the Planet

Jeez and T took up Captain Wayman’s challenge to do a more uplifting mural across the other half of the Mess Hall’s side wall. But this time they invited everyone on the crew to join in painting it! [real world note: yes, having everyone join in making a huge mural is fun and can have great results… see the end of this article about what creating a community mural at The River Food Pantry was like]

This time Tayen (and Jeez) went to chat with Samarth about T‘s latest vision since he was able to see “hidden symbols” and patterns and “concealed meanings” … and that was all part of her latest vision.

You can see from Samarth’s backstory why Tayen wanted to chat with him:

Samarth has always seen a little deeper than most, often to his detriment. Sequences, patterns, reoccurring numbers, hidden symbols, concealed meanings – it all makes sense to Samarth, and he made quite a few enemies weaponizing his perceptive mind in gambling and gaming. Now, he uses those uncanny skills aboard Vanguard, deciphering alien runes and making sense of the nonsensical.

It was hard for Tayen to describe what was in her vision, but Samarth listened intently and asked some very pointed questions about the vision and in the end Tayen was happy that he seemed to understand what her vision looked like … and next he would try to understand what the vision MEANT! It looked like the two rebels had a kindred soul joining them. And as the next huge mural unfolded they became the Three Rebels or Tres Rebeldes or as Jia put it: 세 명의 반군

As they pieced together and sketched out an outline of Tayen’s second vision, Jia was seeing it explode into an artistic prophecy while Samarth was actually seeing a hidden meaning in it. The three were sure that it belonged on the other half of the Mess Hall wall and were determined to make that happen! Jumping into the fire was one thing … but was this foretelling walking through portals? Who knows? (yes … you now say “the shadow knows” and I add “Lindsey Stirling”)

First they had to get Tayen’s vision neatly outlined on Jia’s sketchpad, then transferred to Samarth’s computer and finally projected onto the wall. Once it was projected onto the wall, all the crew wanted to be part of this exciting experience and flooded into the Mess Hall to get a cup of paint and brush (much more exciting than a cup of “Joe” and a donut). The Captain was wary about how this was going to turn out… but it ended up a total beauty! Crewmembers actually wanted to have their photo in front of the mural that they helped create! [see the end of this article for the true story that this is based upon]

Captain Wayman wasn’t sure what to do with the energetic Three Rebels, but it was looking like they were heroes in the making! He just wished they had coined a better name for themselves than Three Rebels :) Yet, he smiled as he watched their energy and high spirits carry onto the rest of the crew! He was actually wondering what might happen if they ended up on the same Away Team.

Meanwhile just down the hall over in the Science Section area, Levi was chatting with all the geeks and nerds (he wished he could be one too… seems like Levi always wanted to be part of wherever he was). As he was ready to leave after a long chat, he paused to bless them all:

I bless you this day and pray that God’s grace and peace will be with you.
Blessing 15 (Science) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

After navigating to a star system, then to a planet and then down to the planet, next we will need to navigate ON that planet! … [article was here] …

And, of course, danger sometimes accompanies importance!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I am writing about what I “know” (sort of). Over a decade ago I was fortunate to coordinate a real community mural that was painted by over 70 of those who came to The River Food Pantry for food. They were given a cup of paint and a brush. “Do I have to stay inside the lines?” was a common question … answer: nope… no rules! And speaking of “lines” a young lady just out of high school (Kiersten) did the design for the mural. Her “outline” was then projected onto several large Masonite panels and us mere mortals (aka non-artists) painted black outlines onto the Masonite panels wherever we saw a black line being projected. Here you can see our progress … only a few places left for us to paint those black lines:

Yep, we employed various things to keep the huge panels from tipping forward :) Once the design outline was completed it looked like this:

Yep … that’s Kiersten who is quite happy with being able to present her vision to The River Food Pantry! Next, those Masonite panels were setup inside the food pantry itself and as people came in to use the food pantry (ie, get food for their families) they were offered a cup of paint and a brush… over 70 of them took us up on the offer. Here is a photo as we were nearly finished with the huge mural (the two girls painting on the left are actually standing on milk creates so they could reach higher):

After 70 non-artists had finished painting the mural, it looked like this:

Kiersten is looking quite happy sitting on the floor in front of the completed mural. Next, it was bolted up to one of the walls. And over the past decade hundreds of volunteers (probably thousands) have wanted a photo of their group in front of this mural:

The story of how this mural actually came to be is quite amazing (almost in the “impossible” range). The director of The River was wary about how it would turn out (just as Captain Wayman was), but you can see for yourself a work of art that was obviously painted by many different people… a work of art that shows a community coming together! You can read the jaw dropping story on this one page PDF (with three photos included):

Click to read the PDF story=> River Mural Story (PDF)

Find out more about The River Food Pantry here => The River website

When done, head on back to the main My ISS Vanguard home page

Day 15

=> Player Count (1, 2, 3, or 4)

Levi couldn’t find his other shoe. Granted that he was not the most formal guy and often wore tropical shirts, but he was not so sure that the crew would appreciate him dropping by to chat wearing just one shoe. Although, he did have both socks on, maybe it would be OK? Yeah. That should work!

As he hobbled (right word?) down the hall he wondered why everyone kept stopping to look back at him. Maybe it was because it was hard to walk with one foot longer then the other because of the thick soles of his ONE shoe. Or was it one leg longer than the other?

Enough of that… he just took off his “one” shoe, and walked “normally” down the hall in his socks to the crew that are always FIRST IN LINE! Yep … Security Section! And with one shoe in hand (and their eyes on his red socks) he prayed a blessing over them all:

Today I bless and remind you that the Lord will not abandon nor neglect you.
Blessing 16 (Security) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Then, to all their surprise, with a running start he SLID OUT OF THE ROOM (his socks were great for this)!

And back in the game, a question often comes up… what is the best number of players to play ISS Vanguard!? [article was here]

Day 14

=> Ship Facilities

You can’t go there Levi.

You are not authorized Levi.

You don’t have a command token Levi.

On the third day, Levi finally asked:

Yes … But, what’s a ship chaplain supposed to do when he can’t visit and chat with everyone on the ship?

You just need a command token, Levi. We aren’t being mean… we just need a command token before you can enter!

And Levi had a new mission! One by one, he’d get to the crew in those five off limit areas!

But first, he had scheduled a get together with Recon. First things first he thought as he walked over to the Recon Section where he blessed them all as promised:

May God make all grace overflow to you so that you will have enough of everything in every way.
Blessing 17 (Recon) (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Wait a minute! (Levi was thinking … and that can be dangerous)

What was it they said that I didn’t have? A command token? What’s a “command token”?

Ah ha! I need inside intelligence for this… someone who is an officially appointed leader! Someone who’d know this “command” stuff!

And Levi was off to chat with Ilse!

And, of course, Levi was right. After all, he’d seen Ilse’s Personnel File :)

Said to be a former intelligence operative, Ilse leverages her logistical skills now aboard Vanguard, overseeing dozens of lander missions. As a leader, she expects a lot of her team, but gives back tenfold to those who meet her halfway.

And Ilse had a long chat with Levi.. about the Barracks, about the Situation Room, about the Research Laboratory, about the Production Complex and about the Add-On Facility. And finally … about those “Command Tokens” (and she had a few in her pocket)

Notice that Awaken Realms includes SIX of them. Only SIX (so you can never have more than 6)! Plus, you cannot save them up from one Ship Phase to the next. When you are finished visiting the Facilities in one Ship Phase, all command tokens (and energy tokens) are discarded and you are back to zero of each. So… since you can’t save them, use them … but we will need to use them WISELY!

Since I don’t have the final game, I am not sure about these, but here’s what I think they actually are:

Headache tokens!

(my new name for them)

There are FIVE FACILITIES on ISS Vanguard that are extremely important, and you can’t enter any of them without a command token.

And (unlike Ilse) we don’t have a pocketful of them! I don’t have the final game, but from what I can see, we may start the campaign with just TWO Command Tokens! [article continues here]

At this point Levi was thinking that visiting all the facilities during the same Ship Phase was almost like beating a dead horse … but then he remembered Maeda talking about beating something else … DRUMS! Maybe watching the video of her daughter performing during that public festival would help his headache (or make it worse?) But he had no Command Tokens yet, so off he went to scout out Maeda:

Hiya Mae! Can we watch one of your videos of your daughter in that drum concert again? I need a little distraction from a dilemma that I am in :)

Oh, Levi … I’m so sorry to hear that you have a dilemma.  But, sure, I welcome the excuse to watch my daughter again … I miss her so very much. Family is so important in Japan you know. 

And a minute later they were watching this energetic taiko drum performance:

Maeda was smiling … REALLY smiling at the end of that video.

That’s my girl in the middle. Levi, we need to get some of her energy into our life here on this starship.

Yes, Mae, we do. We really do. We can combine that energy with the energy that fills the Mess Hall during our Piano Jam Sessions! We need Drum Jam Sessions too!

Maeda was so happy … 

Levi … one more video please. I can’t watch it all alone.

Levi just laid back against the wall (they were sitting on the floor).

Yes, Mae. One more Mae. One more!

After that … Mae went out walking the halls with Levi. Family was important. Levi was like family here on the starship. Just like family (as she wiped away the tears from her eyes).

Day 13

=> Tokens, Tokens, Who’s Got The Tokens



Who’s got The Tokens?

Wait a minute! Levi was thinking again (dangerous). He remembers The Tokens! He saw them in concert what seems like ages ago (before they even started building ISS Vanguard). So he decided that listening to them might help him with his tokens dilemma!

And then it hit him (Bam!) … why not have a virtual “Tokens” concert in the Mess Hall.  Maybe suggest a donation of ONE COMMAND TOKEN as an entry fee! This could be his answer! And Levi knew just the person who would be able to arrange all this since he performed and promoted music concerts back before ISS Vanguard’s lift off:

Mark Poulsen

Mark had worked with Thabisa to get the Piano Jam Sessions going! In case you forgot, it’s all logged in the Count Down article here:
=> Piano Jam Sessions

And the next thing you know Levi was planning a giant virtual concert with Mark, Thabisa and the resident Virtual Reality (VR) expert (Klara):

Levi knew all about her VR expertise without even looking at her Personnel File:

A citizen of the Flakkan – the first virtual nation to be recognized on Earth. In preparation for the voyage, Klara already completed countless simulations of the Vanguard mission against ever-increasing odds. She has no doubts that real life will find a way to test her further, and she eagerly awaits it.

And Levi was ready to let real life intersect with her VR worlds!

But first, Captain Wayman had asked him to pray a special blessing over all the crew as they were getting ever nearer to their destination! Levi cleared his throat, and spoke these words using the microphone hooked into the system wide speakers:

A friend of mine used to often pray something like this over those in his care, speaking of how God is there for each of us:
May the
promise of Your spirit working in us light up our lives.
May the love You revealed to us shape our giving.
May the truth in Your Word guide our journeys, and
May the joy of Your kingdom fill our “home” here on this starship.
=> Vanguard Blessing 18 
(full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)

Now the search was on … for those pesky Control Tokens, Energy Tokens, Success Tokens, Lead Tokens and the other tokens found over here and over there! [article continues here]

Now that The Tokens are taken care, Mark Poulsen continued preparations for the VR Concert with Levi chatting in the Mess Hall … along with Thabisa and the resident Virtual Reality (VR) expert (Klara).

Hey Levi, since we ARE on a Starship, maybe we should include the song that Lindsey Stirling did with Nicki Minaj called, ummm … Starship!

Sure Mark… put it in the concert line up and let’s use it as a preview for the Concert right now too! Set it up on repeat on the side wall. But, now that you mentioned it … let’s have Lindsey Stirlings Virtual Reality concert along with The Tokens rather than just one song. And let’s give everyone who comes a FREE copy of the eBook of 40 Prayers for A Musician!

Great idea Levi… you just get me the link to that concert before tomorrow! 

At that point Klara chimed in… I will see if I can restore the recording to it’s full VR glory just like it was back in the day when it was one of the VERY FIRST FULL VIRTUAL REALITY CONCERTS EVER! 

And let’s include the eBook here as well as at the concert! The eBook is formatted so nicely that it will be a great give away!

Yep … I spent some time formatting the pages of that eBook … I even put the date of the prayer inside a violin in the top corner of each day’s prayer!

=> 40 Prayers about Music for Musicians (Lindsey Stirling)(written in 2015 for Lindsey Stirling)

Stay tuned… who know what you may get next? (and you say “The Shadow Knows” and I reply, “Lindsey Stirling“)

More about Len => About

Day 12

=> To Scan or Not To Scan

Levi was wandering around the corridors.

Who took my tricorder? Where is my tricorder? Did anyone see my tricorder?

No, this isn’t Star Trek, but Levi had watched all 853 episodes across 43 seasons of the television show as well as the 13 feature films. He bought his own tricorder from Amazon which he then brought with him for his long journey aboard the ISS Vanguard. It was just a toy, but it looked cool and actually lit up and made noises! [click the image to get your own]

Don’t worry, Levi… you don’t need your tricorder to find the Virtual Reality Concert tonite. We painted arrows right on the floor of all the corridors so when the Concert Bell goes off, everyone can just follow the arrows to the concert!

Mark Poulsen sometimes had to calm Levi down even though supposedly it was Levi’s job to calm people down! And all was well… ten minutes later Levi’s voice came through the system wide speakers throughout ISS Vanguard!

Levi here… the voice from the sky! Well, the speaker system anyway! Let me bless all of you right now (and then let me pass along a message)
Grace and peace unto you this day as Jesus Christ has delivered and rescued you.

=> Vanguard Blessing 19 (full blessing – printable PDF with clickable links)
And the special message is… Virtual Reality Concert Tonight! Just follow the arrows before your feet on the corridors! Who knows what you might see there?
[And the webmaster (aka Len) breaks in with yet another message: it seems that I botched up the initial banter about “who knows” and the video link I put into that original article never appeared correctly. My apologies! I just fixed it and you can see the corrected version of that page (queued to the right spot) here => Who Knows? The Shadow Knows … and now that you have seen the corrected version of this back and forth banter … let’s try it again now]

Who knows what you might see at the concert tonight? And you say “The Shadow Knows” and I reply “Lindsey Stirling(and all you techy, spacey, geeks will enjoy the concert linked at the end of this article… I know I did when I watched it before ISS Vanguard launched)

Meanwhile … back to reality … er, back to the game!

ISS Vanguard doesn’t come with a tricorder, but it does come with a Planetary Scanner, though this model doesn’t light up and doesn’t make cool sounds. [article continues here]

Meanwhile, back on the ISS Vanguard, Levi was all smiles sitting in the back of the Mess Hall. Virtually everyone (pun intended) was here! All the crew came! But he wanted to stay in the background and enjoy the show… let Mark do the honors with Klara!

Thank you all for coming for the show tonight. And it is quite a show. It is a recording of a Virtual Reality Concert from way back on August 26, 2019. I did get to watch the concert live on my computer but was not in the fortunate few who watched it live with 3D goggles! However, the experience is still phenomenal as I think Klara will agree.

Well, Mark … kind of, but as a VR junkie, it just is not the same on a flat screen. However, that IS all that we have right now, so, yes, it is a very good representation of what was a true virtual reality concert that Lindsey did decades ago in the year 2019. I hope everyone got my email earlier today that included a short article published back then about Lindsey’s concert and how it was accomplished. Here is a key sentence from the article:

Equipped with a full body-tracking suit, The Wave VR syncs a musician’s movements in real-time with an avatar loaded into a digital concert venue. => Source

Yeah … Lindsey herself actually was in a small room performing in a full body suit. Everything that you will see on the screen tonight is actually her avatar. Once in a while they will show you the REAL Lindsey in her small room in a small window at the bottom right corner of the screen (picture in picture). As your resident VR junkie, I can confirm what Lindsey says during her conversations throughout the concert … it gets awfully HOT inside those full body suits! VERY!!!

OK, Klara… I think we are ready. Everyone sit back and enjoy the 2D version of the 3D show … and everyone in the real world … if you can, cast this onto your large screen TV for the full effect (click the Watch on YouTube button):

This is a 35 minute concert, but she performs the concert twice. The second time is not just repeating a recording of the first time, but a whole new performance (of the same material).

And your free bonus … You can view (or print) the full eBook (over 400 pages) of prayers for Lindsey if you wish:
=> Full Lindsey Stirling eBook

This page is a bit long … stories continue on the next Stories page:

=> Count Down Stories 3

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