The Bro Code

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Simple guidelines. Respect your bros. Never leave another bro hanging. Show masculinity; hide your femininity; stand out – but not too much. Be cool whenever threatened. Some simple rules to follow [they’re more like guidelines anyway], when out in public.

But what do those mean? Is there something that society is not telling us; unspoken guidelines which we must follow? Do those rules define what it means to be a guy? The answers can be found in the Scriptures, for and/or against each of the aforementioned ‘rules’; and if you need present-day examples of that, look no further than the Site 2 – South Africa group and hearken to them. We joined up with the guys from the South Africa site for the week for some solid man time. (the South African girls were kind enough leave us a free Candy Land Thrift Shop-like hoodie because it doesn’t have pockets and it zips up; thanks SAfers!)

Shapes are an amazing mathematical invention to represent things symbolically, especially when they are triangles. The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers talked a lot about finding your true self through God, and thus become vertical in our relational orientation – yet it started out by mentioning how our inner beings are drowned out by trying to fit into our society, making us horizontal, by focusing on the three majorly ambiguous words: glam, cool and sexy. In order to find our true inner self without faking our horizontal life, we focus on the Christian Guy Triangle that our Guys’ Week speaker, Lloyd, shared with us: Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical. To find your true self, this triangle has to be well balanced, much like The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

Unique to Outtatown [unless you have been somewhere I have not] is that during Guys Week the girls of Sites 1 and 2 had Girls Week simultaneously and we got to ask honest questions and answer the others’ questions honestly, through the form of anonymity, with our site leaders going to the other camp to answer the opposite sex’s questions. The bottom line is that girls like guys who are human (have and openly express their emotions, are sympathetic and empathetic, are dependable, respectful, trustworthy, and can be self-reliant through cooking, doing their own laundry, etc. – all resulting in a confident but modestly sincere man, who is not afraid of showing that he needs some assistance at times). So, to all of you shy, sincere men out there who aren’t getting much luck: stop spending too much time looking about online – just embody the characteristics mentioned above and you’ll be set to go.

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We also did an awesome hike up Ha Ling (a mountain near Canmore) together. Check out the panoramic view we had, and that was only on the one side! Every guy from our site made it, a task easier said than done. It was great climbing together, encouraging each other, hiding from the wind at the summit together, and sharing such an experience. We also discovered an affinity in our group towards horseback riding. I don’t want to make us out to be better than we are, but just imagine The Man from Snowy River meets The Black Stallion and you’ve got a good picture of what we’re capable of. Unfortunately we were constrained to trotting and loping (slightly quicker than a trot), so most of our skills remained hidden.

Sincerely though, solid Christians are a hot commodity, though they’re certainly far from perfect. And what about horizontal beings that do not know who they are and lack a sense of internal self? Well, that’s what we’re trying to move away from as we strive towards vertical orientation in our self-identity. Being a guy isn’t about fitting a stereotype, it’s about finding balance between the spiritual, emotional, and physical. Simple guidelines.

This message has been brought to you by none other than your favourite man and fascinator of the Holy Bible (the authorized King James Version, that is): Adam.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (well maybe…)

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After a long, stuffy (and what seemed like never ending) sixteen hour road trip from the flat lands of Winnipeg, Manitoba to the escalating mountains of Calgary, Alberta, we finally arrived for Girls Week. My name is Allison, and being a natural born Winnipeger where the biggest bump in the landscape is a snow pile, the big mountains were definitely a great, refreshing (not to mention beautiful) sight to see.

When we first arrived on Tuesday night, we met up with the South Africa site (site number two) and split between the girls and the boys. The boys were heading over to Camp Evergreen while the girls stayed at Pioneer Lodge for the week. We all packed into the lodge, looking for where we were split up into cabins (the South Africa girls on the first floor and the Guatemala girls on the second) and hurried to our rooms. This week was filled with tons of adventure and fun, and of course the bonding (can’t forget that). During the week, as far as activities go, it was filled with festivities.

The first day, Wednesday, we had a choice between some rock climbing, horseback riding on a trail, or just milling around and relaxing for a bit. I personally was a bit hesitant on the two options (seeing how I’m scared of heights and the great magnificent creature you call a horse is a little intimidating in stature to my size as a human – I enjoy them from a distance) but I conquered my fears and went for a trail ride anyways. Later that night we also had a sweaty session of Zumba, which certainly was a great way to let loose after a long day.

On Thursday we packed a quick-bagged lunch and enjoyed the scenic drive to Banff, a most beautiful town, to do a little hiking. We went over to Lake Louise and started our trek up the mountain. It was a hard three hour journey, as the elevation steadily increased as we went, not everyone made it to the top for varied reasons (including myself), but it was an adventure in itself anyways. After the hike, we all went out in our mentor groups for dinner to various spots (including some Thai food and Earls).

On Friday, we went over to Calgary and enjoyed an excitement-filled day of laser tag. Being my first time playing it, I’d say it was definitely worth it.

The Weekend was a time to relax a little bit and enjoy our time together (not that we haven’t already, it was a blast!) and conclude our time with Dana, our speaker, before the week was up.

During the week we had a speaker named Dana Penner, who came and talked to us about how to be a godly woman and how to be women of valour. We learned about things from the influential women in the Bible (how to be strong in our faith and with each other as females) to the burning questions that the opposite gender has for one another (a question swap between the girls and the guys on our sites mixed together to ask and answer all that our hearts desired).

All in all I would say that this week was a fantastic time for getting to know some of the people on (and not) on our site, and having a great time together. I can’t wait for the things our leaders and this program have in store for us on our future escapades in this journey!

-Allison

Hi, My Name is Kierra And I Love the North End, Winnipeg!

Packing up once again, Site 1 was on the move Tuesday night (Oct 8) to their fourth location for an urban plunge in the inner city of Winnipeg at the Vineyard church. From doing SOAR Heartland, it was my third time doing something like this in my city. I’ve realised that each time I’m back in the North End I grow to love it more and more. This city has so much to offer, along with so much to learn from. It is evident that God is at work here in the North End. We started with a learning tour on Wednesday, which consisted of walking around the inner city, talking to people on the street and going to various places to hear speakers talk about different issues such as gangs, prostitution, immigration and some others. Many of us met a man named John on the street that day; although I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him, I’m pretty sure he had a good day. My group of three for the learning tour didn’t even finish by five o’clock, as we spent so much time talking to people on the street, they just have so much to teach you about the area. One of my friends made a comment that she didn’t think it would take long to know everyone in the North End. The community is so strong that everyone knows everyone, I even ran into someone that I talked to by a mural a second time coming out of Young’s grocery store. For dinner the first night we had as much money as someone on the street might have for dinner, only three dollars, combined nine bucks between each group of 3.This taught us the struggle of managing money while still trying to maintain a healthy diet. Some, such as myself, realised you can get quite full off of just this little amount of money.

The next two days consisted of ministry assignments with packed lunches as we set out to learn about different organizations and what they’re doing. One of these was Flatlanders, located directly above the Vineyard church on Main Street. Flatlanders is an intentional Christian community living at affordable pricing. We were all given a tour of the two floors of this living space; to see all that the Vineyard church is doing is incredible. You can drive around the North End and see people smoking, standing on street corners, asking for money, or you can look past those external actions to see the struggle and understand where they are coming from. No one decides to suddenly live this way for the fun of it. I believe that having the background knowledge of the residential schools helped us understand this fact a bit more, as did talking with the people on the street about their lives. They were all very open to share about what they have gone through.

Culture isn’t dead; God is working in so many ways. We experienced the reality of brokenness by seeing faces to the numbers we hear so much about. People are working to restore relationships with the natives and the poor. Everyone has a story worth hearing. No matter how small a deed it never goes unnoticed by someone in the community. The “lost” and “broken” can teach us a lot about how lost and broken we are as well. These are just some responses we had when asked what we learned during the Urban Plunge, and we only spent three days here. In such a small amount of time God has shown us so much that we can take home with us, and there is so much more we can learn still if we had more time.

Check back next week to hear how Girls and Guys Week went!

-Kierra

To Be Or Anishinabe

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Neglected. Lazy. Traditional. Addicted. Misunderstood. Mysterious. Segregated. Broken. Just some of the words shared when our group was asked how we view the Anishinabe people, before our week commenced. Surprisingly enough, as we entered the Roseau River Reserve, we found our misconceptions and preconceived notions disrupted by a beautifully diverse culture that has been pushed aside in the hustle and bustle of our world. We learned of a unique nation of integrated spirituality, respect for nature and humanity, and valued tradition and history.

On the first day, I found myself putting up walls, becoming defensive for the country I grew up in and confused about what I had grown up thinking. As the hours and days progressed, an overshadowing compassion began to build up inside of me. I saw this unique group of people as fellow creations with great knowledge that we can learn from and, fortunately enough, my site was able to experience the traditional way of Anishinabe life first hand. Many of us, except for Peter and the Moon Time Girls (our new on-site band!), took part in smudging and a pipe ceremony, and experienced the most interesting and uncomfortably hot hour of our lives contained in a pitch black sweat lodge heated by red hot rocks. We picked sage to make medicine, but remembered to leave the roots in the ground to ensure that the Earth could replenish what we took. WIMG_3353-7e were given the opportunity to connect with our Creator in a completely unique way, and given a wider worldview on spirituality. As some of us continue to wrestle with how the culture and traditional spirituality of Anishinabe can coexist with Christianity, we learned the importance of humbly and respectfully engaging with new cultures. Our friends on the Roseau River Reserve were great examples of this. They welcomed us into their community with immense hospitality, as several different people went out of their way to come share their stories with us. We were even invited to a Turtle clan family feast by our main instructor, Colleen Littlejohn, before she even met us!

I caught a glimpse of this humorous, inviting culture, but my eyes, along with many other Outtatowners, were opened to the injustice and prejudice faced within the walls of our own country. I walked into this week with a textbook knowledge of the residential schools and unfair treaties, but I had never had a face to connect to the issue. As I sat in the lodge with freezing toes (because I had forgotten socks), I heard stories of hardship and the loss of identity, as culture and tradition were ripped away from the Anishinabe people. I heard stories of hope and anticipation, as people of all ages re-educate those who have lost track of their roots. I heard stories of healing and renewal, as people found ways to connect to the Creator and rid themselves of the negativity in their lives.

I’ll leave you with some words of hope from Gloria, one of the elders on the Roseau River Reserve:

“When I look at people, I do not see colour. I see people who are suffering too… We care for everyone, not just our own people. We want you to have good lives too.”

-Jen, Mushkooday Biishiikii Ikwe