Hard goodbyes, Sweet Hellos

As hard as it is to believe, we have found ourselves at the end of the semester, slowly preparing for our trips back to our families. As we prepare, it is hard not to think of the many good experiences we have had together. Of course there have been many laughs, experiences that have taken us out of our comfort zones, speakers who have broadened our understanding of God and ourselves and many moments that have plunged us into the beauty that community has to offer. However, there have been hard times as we have experienced and observed the brokenness that exists within our world, the people around us and ourselves. There have been stretching moments as we have learned how to live with one another, accepting and embracing the many beautiful things that we hold, yet also the not so nice things of ourselves. As we have journeyed together these past months, God has been at work in our community as we questioned how incredible beauty can exist within undeniable brokenness.

November 23 to December 1 we were hosted by Alberta Pioneer Lodge where we had a chance to unwind after our long journey from BC, but also we had the opportunity to debrief as a community about our adventures these past three months. We had the opportunity to reflect upon what has been hard this past semester, what has been impactful or what has been a moment of realization where something made sense for the first time. For three days we shared with each other the many stories that have shaped our community, our experiences and ourselves. Such beauty existed in that space as we created an opportunity to encourage one another and affirm the many beautiful things that we saw in each other, as well as speak truth into each other of who God has created us to be. When all was finished it was hard to escape the reality that our semester was coming to an end, and that the memories that had been made will remain just that. As a leader, it is encouraging to see young people engage with one another and share with such trust the ways in which God has been at work in their lives. Continually I am reminded that the bonds that are created within our community is the work of God, and that as walls and barriers break, it is the work of our incredible Father who desires a life of abundance for us all. He has such joy, love and freedom waiting for us, and it has been through observing and being a part of community that this becomes so evident. We need each other to live differently, we need each other to move forward, and we need each other as we practice a life of love to get a glimpse of how God’s love for us is unending and perfect.

So, as we prepare to head home, it is difficult to not feel a hint of sadness as we close this chapter of our journey. Goodbyes can sometimes be very difficult, but a friend once told me, it is the hardest goodbyes that are always met with the sweetest hellos. May that be a reminder to us that though it may be hard to be away from one another these next five weeks, it will make our reunion so much sweeter. As we enter a much needed break for all of us, we begin to prepare for the next part of our journey. On January 14 we are heading to Guatemala for three months where I know without a doubt our God is going to work in miraculous ways. I can only hope that as we experience a different culture and a different way of life, we will fall into deeper relationship with God and each other. Thank you for coming with us on this journey. For those of you who let go of your kids to come with us, thank you for sharing them with us, they are all incredible individuals who have unbelievable gifts that will bless this world. Thank you.

Merry Christmas

Peace, and every good thing,

-Darin-

Fully Loved as you are Fully Known

On Monday October 20th, the Outtatown guys from both sites separated from the girls for a week at Camp Evergreen in Alberta. It didn’t take much time until everyone bonded and meshed into a large community apart from the girls. We did activities such as horseback riding, high ropes courses, wilson ball and rock climbing. While at the camp, we were challenged by the staff to climb a designated route up the climbing wall, which was intentionally designed to be very difficult. There was only one person able to climb the wall along that route and it was Andrew from our site. Needless to say, he gained bragging IMG_3065rights for the remainder of the week.
During our time at Evergreen, we had a speaker named Kevin who’s overarching theme for the week was “fully loved as you are fully known.” He talked about how we are already fully known by God, flaws and all, yet are still unconditionally loved because of the richness of God’s forgiveness and grace. Throughout the week, Kevin also made tangents into    subjects such as male sexuality and what standards Jesus calls us to live by if we are truly serious about being his disciples and letting him become the centre focus of our lives.IMG_3067
Midway through the week, we had the opportunity to travel to Canmore and hike a mountain called Ha Ling. For the majority of our trek, we were walking at what seemed like a 45° angle up the mountain. The sights were beautiful along the way and once we reached the peak, we could see the entire city of Canmore down below. It was a breathtaking experience.
Towards the end of our time at Evergreen, we had the opportunity to take part in a Q&A exchange with the girls at Pioneer Camp. We split into three groups and took the time to write down any questions that were burning in our heads about the opposite gender; the girls did the same. Overall, the exchange was a success and we learned certain things that as guys, we might not have had the opportunity to learn otherwise.
               -Austin-
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