On Sunday October 30th the male students woke up from their short sleep at 5:30am to jump into the vans and make the 2 hour drive to reunite with the female students after being separated for guys/girls week. After many hugs, stories and goodbyes the South Africa and Guatemala sites parted ways and made the their seperate treks to their seperate camp destinations near Hope BC. Our site pulled into the beautiful camp Kawkawa at around 8:30pm and got settled in before crashing for the night after the long day on the road.
The next morning everyone piled into the dining hall for breakfast in their Halloween costumes ready for a fun day. After breakfast we were called downstairs by the incredible sound of a trumpet being played extremely well. We walked into our classroom space to find Steve Klassen playing away on his trumpet. We all found our seat and became focused on our instructor for the week as he captivated us with an amazing tune to start off our day, but even though the trumpet was amazing we quickly learned that it wasn’t what we were going to be learning about that week. As the song finished Steve put his trumpet away and got right to the point. He introduced himself and told us this week we were going to be listening for God’s voice. He told us right away that he couldn’t promise we would hear God but he was fairly certain we would at least get some good teachings this week and he wasn’t wrong one bit. Our sessions that Monday morning and afternoon were focused on finding God’s voice through the scriptures and through stories and writing in the book Steve and his wife Evy wrote together. We each got a copy of Steve’s book and were encouraged to go through it as we went through the week to find how the different types of stories related to us finding God’s voice.
When we went to the scriptures we found ourselves in the gospels of Matthew and Mark and for the most part looking at many of the different inspiring verses and stories that were contained within the books. We looked at the many ways that Jesus listens for God and then how he teaches that back to the people. Some of these ways included going and praying in a solitary place or just simply asking God to give him the words to say. As we continued to look further we found that these things related to our lives a little as well in the sense that prayer and silence are extremely important tools for some to hear God’s voice. Another thing we focused on that Monday was a specific poem in Steve’s book called “My Rule For Life” by Doreen Kostynuik. This poem hit home for quite a few people in the room because of the flow of the poem and how it portrayed our relationship with God and with Jesus. The poem started by telling the reader to follow Jesus around the scriptures and watch how he interacts with his surroundings, the people, and with himself and God. Next the poem went on to instruct the reader to let Jesus look at you, touch, hold, and heal you and to be present with you. Then the poem told us to become all of those things we let Jesus do to us. We read over this poem many times in many different ways and by the end everyone had taken at least one thing from the poem that was sent significant to them. Steve then instructed us to take whatever we had found and sit with it in prayer and bring it before God. This activity gave us a taste into what was to come in the next teachings ahead of us.
Tuesday everyone put their costumes from Halloween away and came back ready to go for another day of sessions with Steve. We were told on Monday that today we were going to get some insight on what to do on our silent day which would be happening on Wednesday. The South Africa site had told us a few stories about their silent day experiences and quite a few of us were excitedly anticipating this session to lead us the next day. We got what we were looking for because Tuesday we went through Steve’s book and touched a little bit on each of the ways to listen for God’s voice. The five ways in the book were Listening to God: through scripture, at work around us, through our hearts, in silence and solitude, and in community. We had touched on scripture on Monday so we went on to talk about God at work around us. Steve lead us through a few stories from his book and got us to pick out where God was at work in the people’s lives in the story. After we had had a bit of practice at this he got us to look back into our lives and find a specific moment where we found God had been working in our lives. When we had found one he got us to look more deeply at the experience which helped us to see more ways that God had been working in our lives. After everyone had a good experience in this activity Steve guided us on to trying to listen for God through out hearts and lead us through a few different ways to pray and open ourselves to God and put everything else to the side. We practiced a few meditations that he encouraged us to remember and try in solitude on our silent day that was quickly approaching. This lead us into listening to God through silence and solitude which was perfect because it helped many of us in the silent day the next day. We went over some different ways to look and listen for God in silence and it gave our group a little more confidence going into the next day because most of our group isn’t usually that quiet so we were all looking at a day without talking as being a pretty big challenge. We ended the day here after a bit more instruction on how to go about our silent day and then Steve left us with one last encouragement for the next day.
Everyone got up and came to breakfast the next morning talking as much as they could because at 9:00am the leaders got up and made a few announcements and then told us the silent day had begun. Everyone dispersed to do whatever they either had or hadn’t planned for the day. We all gathered back at the dining hall for lunch and ate in an awkward silence the entire time and then got back up and headed out to do whatever we had or hadn’t planned once again. At 4:30pm everyone gathered back at the dining hall in the couch area to debrief the day. We all went around the circle and shared how we had or hadn’t seen or heard God through the things that we had done throughout the day. These are a few brief accounts from students on what they experienced through their day of silence.
“I found that God lead me through the entire day. I started with a prayer asking God where I should go and when I started walking around I found whenever I came to a spot where I needed to decide which turn to take God sent a sign like a small bird or a fish jumping out of the water to guide me in the direction I needed to go. I was lead to the top of a tree to pray and into a creek to meditate. God was with me the entire day and I could feel him inside me protecting and guiding me and talking to me the entire day. I learned that God is always with me and that I need to sometimes just stop being so busy with life and let God take control and lead me to a place to just be with him and not be distracted by anything else.”
“Silent day was a very humbling experience for me! I started my day off with huge plans, and a schedule to keep me preoccupied. I came into the day with high expectations and a real urge to hear from God.. However God didn’t reveal himself to me in the way I wanted, but more so in a way I needed. God spoke to me and said “Be at rest my soul” and just be still and enjoy me. Through this experience I realized the busyness of life is a huge hindrance in hearing from God, and if I want to hear from God I need to silence myself before him and sit in his presence.”
Through Steve’s week with us our group picked up some valuable lessons about how to better communicate with God and listen to how He is working in our lives. And even though everyone had different experiences throughout the week it’s pretty safe to say the everyone learned something from this week either about themselves or about their relationship with God. We were extremely honoured to have Steve Klassen with us for an amazing week of learning and are very thankful that he was able to grace us with his vast knowledge of scripture and great teachings on listening for God’s voice. This will be a week that is remembered by our site group for many years to come.
Site 1 Guatemala