Redberry, Theology and Faith in Action

By Kaley Fehr

Last Saturday, we woke up from our last sleep at transitional housing in Winnipeg to snow on the ground. There were some mixed reactions to the snow, and the early morning, but we had a long cozy ride across the prairies to Redberry Bible Camp. For those of us from Saskatchewan, it felt a lot like coming home. By the time we got to camp it was dark, we enjoyed a hearty lentil soup and crawled into our cabins for the night. The next morning, we traveled to Hepburn, Saskatchewan, where we were welcomed into Tana’s church. Tana was honoured to take us around her hometown and invite us into her home. Even for me, growing up only one town over, it was a meaningful day to bring my new Outtatown family so close to my old home and life. The group really appreciated the comfort of being in a home and an afternoon filled with farm yard adventure.IMG_7470

Monday we began our classes on theology with Rod Schellenberg and Stephanie Christianson. The sessions went through to Wednesday, and we covered a small intro to theology, the nature of sin, the trinity, how we are rescued in Christ and sharers in God’s life, ecclesiology and how we will be heirs with Christ. It was a great opportunity for all of us to dig deeper and reflect on what we believe and why. It was important to recognize how much our beliefs, ideas and opinions are rooted in the family culture we were raised in. Hearing from varying beliefs and opinions was a good reminder to consider other people’s views and backgrounds. Many good questions came up that we were able to discuss with one another.20171016115048_IMG_5546

The camp is in a beautiful location by a lake and some rare Saskatchewan hills. There were many possibilities for our free time, with a skate park, horses to visit, a gym and lots of trails to explore. One night the group was taken on a hayride behind a tractor to a fire pit by the water where we had s’mores and campfire singing. Another evening we had the opportunity to join the Hepburn youth group and play laser tag at Bethany College.20171014_162947

Thursday and Friday we spent with MCC in Saskatoon. We learned a lot about the organization, what they stand for and how they are taking action in the name of Christ to bring relief, development and peace to those in need around the world. MCC is also present within Saskatoon, one of their areas of focus being Appleby neighbourhood where they hope to foster connectedness amongst the inner-city community. We spent some time discussing needs-based and assets-based approaches to relevant issues in “core” neighbourhoods – all within the apartment room where children gather for kids club. Back at MCC we took part in some simulations to help us better understand the lives of immigrants/refugees – both their journey and integration into Canadian society. At the end of one of the simulations we spent time in prayer over some blankets that will soon be delivered to individuals staying in refugee camps. This was a powerful experience as it connected us to those whose lives we were learning about.Resized_20171021202507_IMG_5673

This week caused us to think more critically about our faith and how we can apply it. We are ready to face the mountains as we head west into Alberta for our next week.

 

What comfort zone?

By Bailey Brockman

Being one month into program, Site 1 – Guatemala has been adjusting to our unique community life. Some have conquered this challenge very quickly, while others have had a more difficult journey. Regardless, we’ve all struggled at times, and still do, but have grown as not only a community, but as a family.

This week, our site had the opportunity to do our first Urban Plunge in downtown Winnipeg. We set up camp in both One88 Princess (a church-run drop-in centre for homeless people) and transitional housing. We had the chance to meet with Levi and Karissa from MB Mission, who told us stories and helped us prepare for the week ahead. Comfort zones were, to say the least, challenged one way or another. For some, navigating around the city streets with a sheet of directions and a map is both frightening and unfamiliar. For those of us used to city life, this wasn’t as much of a problem; however, being told to intentionally interact with those around them, specifically those experiencing homelessness, was not something they were typically used to or felt comfortable doing. Despite what previous exposure we have had to both city life and homelessness, we were pushed to broaden our comfort levels, leading to a great amount of personal growth.

Being in the North End, which is perceived as the “sketchy” part of town, was a great learning opportunity which not only changed the perspectives of those in our group from Winnipeg, but allowed everyone to pass further judgement towards a specific area, or group of people, etc.

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On Wednesday and Thursday, the group was split up, all going to different organizations and missions including, Walls of Freedom Church, Siloam Mission, Flatlanders, The Union Gospel Mission, IRCOM, and the Provincial courts. Students had the chance to work behind the scenes by sorting through clothing, preparing food for the next meal, or cleaning the facility. Others were able to serve through engaging in conversation and personally interacting with those experiencing homelessness and less fortunate people who were attending. The impact these two days had on our group was phenomenal. Everyone came back with stories about the new people they had met that day or the things they had experienced. One student had “such a change of heart and perspective in a 20 minute conversation” in which they learned to be open minded and free of judgement. Another group of students were told by a homeless man to not worry about tomorrow’s anxieties (Matthew 6:34) which couldn’t hold more meaning coming from anyone else.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFurther, our time in downtown Winnipeg has really shown the group how much we have previously taken for granted. With Thanksgiving just passed, it was the perfect time to reflect on what it is that we are thankful for. It is sort of funny what we have learned to appreciate being on program for the last month. Due to our constant moving and sleeping in a new place typically every week, you learn to love the little things. For example, how close the nearest bathroom is, a hot shower, foot deodorant and dry shampoo when showers are just not an option, and even a little shelf to call your own.

Overall, we are all experiencing life in its realest state, and being thrown into uncomfortable situations so frequently has become, ironically enough, comfortable. This has altered our definition of what a comfort zone is. So much so, I wonder when we return to what we consider our regular lives, if we will find comfort in that at all.

Remembrance and Reconciliation at Roseau River

By Grace Jones, Abby Willms andBailey Brockman

This week was full of learning and engaging in culture. We had the privilege of being welcomed into several sacred ceremonies such as the pipe ceremony, smudging, and a sweat lodge. Our host for the week was Colleen – she made us feel welcome and introduced us to several sacred grounds. She also shared with us some of her personal journey – talking about her experience at residential school and how that has shaped her life since. We had the opportunity to interact with four generations throughout our stay on the reserve – each offering a different perspective and different insight into life in Roseau River. The eldest of the four generations was Peter who taught us the history of colonialism as well as origin stories of creation, the sweat lodge, language and the clan systems.

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Not only did they offer us their wisdom and stories, they also extended incredible hospitality as they prepared daily meals for us and welcomed us to stay overnight in one of their lodges – this was the first time an Outtatown group has stayed on the reserve. The idea of being offered forgiveness and unity despite broken relationships and past injustice towards Indigenous peoples was something that impacted and inspired the group. Many hearts were touched by their hospitality and kindness and were inspired to show such kindness in our future interactions.

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Listening to the stories of several residential school survivors was a powerful and heartbreaking experience that changed our perception of Canada’s history. All coming in with different knowledge, backgrounds, and views on reserve life, hearing firsthand stories challenged some preconceived notions. While some of the realities that indigenous people face are heartbreakingly unjust, the resilience and wisdom we saw was inspiring and displayed the strength of the community and cultures foundation. As Peter’s story came to a close, he spoke of what the word reconciliation means to him and what it would take to begin to heal. This lead to several group members feeling called to express heartfelt apologies on behalf of themselves and those they felt they represented in the colonial narrative. This was an emotional time and one of connectedness.

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The combination of participating in ceremony, listening to elders, and witnessing such kindness and hospitality moved us and touched our hearts deeply. Overall, this culture has so much to offer and has so many great life lessons for all nations. It deserves to be practiced and preserved. Many misconceptions were put to rest and truth was found in the beauty of the culture.

It was an honour to be welcomed into the Anishinabe community of Roseau River – we will cherish their culture, kindness and teachings which have allowed us to learn and grow in incredible ways.

Shalom from Roseau River

By Sabrina Blank

Shalom from Site 1 Guatemala! It has been an eventful week for us here as Roseau River Bible Camp. This beautiful camp gave us many opportunities to experience God in creation. We were able to take a hike to a gorgeous swinging bridge, play a wide variety of sports, and interact with some of the farm animals that live here on the grounds. During our time away from the camp we played bigger or better and had the opportunity to visit the church of one of our site leaders, Brette. In the varying degrees of sunshine we were always able to find something to do.

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Our instructional time this week consisted of a 4 day lecture series from Ken Esau titled “The Old Testament in 13 Stages”. Ken was very knowledgeable and passionate about the scripture and it was a joy to be taught by him. Something that stuck out for many of us in these sessions was that we were able to look at the word Shalom in depth. We learned that it means so much more than just “peace”. Shalom means the state of complete health, harmony, and wholeness between all things, it is one of the best things you can wish a person.

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On Friday we were able to attend a Blanket Exercise along with the South Africa group that took place in Winnipeg. For those who don’t know what a blanket exercise is, it is a step towards reconciliation between First Nations people and the ancestors of the settlers who came in and took their land when Canada was first colonized. The ceremony was lead by Lloyd and Catherine. Catherine is a residential school survivor and was willing to share some of her personal experiences. By reliving the exile, assimilation, and injustices the First Nations people experienced we were all moved. The simulation brought up feelings of anger, sadness, and regret from people in our group, but it also brought the hope that we can one day right these wrongs.

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We all look forward to going to a First Nations Reserve here in Manitoba next week and ask that your prayers be with us as we continue our journey towards reconciliation and shalom.

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