“Be still and know that I am God”

“Be still and know that I am God”

  Psalm 46:10

Hello loved ones back home! We had the most amazing week in Alberta and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

We started our week off with another road trip in the vans heading from Saskatchewan to Rivers Edge, a camp near Cremona, Alberta. We drove for about ten and a half hours. We are starting to feel more in the groove of long road trips, filled with scream singing to our favourite jams and falling asleep on our neighbor’s shoulder. This week as we were getting closer and closer to our destination, you could often catch glimpses of the beautiful mountains far off in the distance. For a few people in our group this was the first time they had seen mountains and it was very special to share in their excitement.

IMG_0573

The highlight of the week was definitely learning from our instructor, Steve Klassen. He is such an amazing storyteller, full of wisdom and experiences that he was so eager to share with us. On our first day with Steve we dug into what it really means to listen for God and how God spoke to and through people in the Bible. We also spent a lot of time meditating on Matthew 11:28-30, where Jesus invites those who are weary and burdened to come to him, and he will give them rest. We had various techniques while reading through it as a group. Whether it was different voices speaking it out, different words emphasized or different speeds, each technique allowed us to highlight a word or phrase that stuck out to us. Steve taught us the importance of making space to be quiet and listen to what God was trying to teach us. He would often give us moments of quiet time, just to be alone with God and spend time in scripture, prayer, nature, and community. Reflecting as a group at the end of our time with Steve, these moments of quietness and privacy proved to be extremely rewarding and powerful for everyone in different ways.

On Wednesday we had a “silent day”. This meant that after our morning session we were not allowed to talk with anyone in the group until after dinner. It was a silent retreat, as Steve described it. It sounds a lot more difficult than it really was. Steve had provided us with a journal/workbook for us to reflect on if we wanted, but basically it was a day to just be still and try to listen to what God was trying to say to us. It was definitely odd sitting across from everyone at the dinner table and not being able to start conversation with them like you usually would. But it made you more aware of your surroundings, what you were eating and even the taste or sound of your food. Eventually, 6:30 PM rolled around and we all met for worship. It was an amazing experience to have our first words together as a group be praise to God for what God has done and is continuing to do.  It was a beautiful evening and exciting to hear about everyone’s experiences. Whether it was through scripture, poetry, thoughts, or even creatures, God spoke to each of us in ways that will stay with us and shape our faith for years to come. Our week with Steve was definitely memorable and impactful for our future endeavours with Outtatown and beyond. We each learned different lessons through God and from Steve, and what better place than at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

We finished off an already amazing week by completing a high ropes course at the camp and then doing a beauty of a hike on Saturday. We split off into two groups. One group hiked up part of “Mount Lady MacDonald,” and the other hiked “Heart Creek Trail.” Both hikes provided us with unbelievable views and reminded us of how AMAZING God’s creation is. We were reflecting on Psalm 23 at the end of our hike and standing surrounded by the beauty all around us.

LRG_DSC00264P1090324

This week was just as amazing as all the rest have been and we are continuously thinking of you all back home. Thank you so much for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, we all appreciate it! We are off to British Columbia for the next few weeks!

We’ll continue to explore this beautiful country and update you one week at a time!

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Bethany Wall

IMG_0541

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)

 

 

Hey! Kyla here. There’s no better way to start a week off than with a twelve-hour drive across the prairies. It was my first drive into Saskatoon, and surprisingly the sights of endless fields didn’t get old. Settling in at Redberry Bible Camp was relaxing. They welcomed us with warm smiles and delicious meals. The first two days of our stay we heard from our second speaker, Janelle Braun who shared an introduction to theology. Normally, that sounds an impossible topic to cover in only two days, but she managed to keep us engaged.

Janelle challenged us on how to think and feel about our faith. Which was a good balance to consider after diving into more active parts of faith in the previous weeks. Not many of us had considered theology before; so the majority of the information was new and a little overwhelming. Of course, we don’t have to understand everything about God right now, or ever. But Janelle gave us many nuggets of truth to consider over the coming months of Outtatown. For example, learning to identify what stage we are at in our faith and understanding how that applies to our current worldviews. Janelle also shared the verse above with us as a way we can view God: as someone who loves us deeply. “We love because He first loved us.”

The last two days of the week were filled with learning about Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), an organization that is doing amazing works of love all around the world. It opened up my own horizons to what my life of faith can look like. We had the opportunity to visit the town of Laird where MCC has been helping out with reconciliation between some farmers and Indigenous people about the land they both have some rights to. Hearing firsthand stories of how two groups can come together out of love and create relationships to solve shared problems was inspiring. Both groups recognized a sense of spirituality in the beginnings of their reconciling. It goes to show how God can be at work in all situations. We have all been challenged to think about how this relationship-based approach to reconciliation can be applied to our communities back home.

Through this past month I’ve found that I learn most from firsthand accounts of living through love. Whether that means ministry in the North End of Winnipeg, reconciling relationship between Mennonites and Indigenous people, or building up communities around the world, these personal stories have shown me how it is possible to make a difference in the world while living out your life with God. When the end of Outtatown comes, I’m sure this whole site will have inspiring stories that can influence others in how they see God and the world He created.

P1090006

The Plunge

Welcome back family, friends, loved ones, and all other people who have for some wild reason decided to take the time to read about our travels and experiences! My name is Ada Krahn and it’ll be my voice you’re hearing (or reading rather) for this weeks edition of The Adventures Of Guat-Squad™.

On Sunday, Sept. 23 we packed up and drove into Winnipeg to begin what we call our inner city Urban Plunge. We arrived in St. Boniface and stayed in temporarily vacant transitional housing. These townhouses, we learned, are managed by an organization that helps people arriving from French-speaking countries to transition more easily into life in Canada. It was quite an experience living and eating as a group of 27 in 3 townhouses. Many of us were very ready to rest and have some space from the group by the time Thanksgiving weekend came.

On Tuesday we made our way to 188 Princess, a church in Downtown Winnipeg. Upon arriving we learned that we would be spending the next 8 hours walking in groups to different organizations, outreach centres, ministries, and churches in the North End. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Winnipeg, the North End is the part of the city that struggles the most with the tight grip of poverty. Unfortunately, there is a very large concentration of homelessness, drug addition, gang violence, and many other symptoms of poverty in the North End. So what were we doing there? Honestly, at first we didn’t know. We knew we were there to learn, but we didn’t know what about. Some of us felt underprepared for the time we spent there, but looking back I don’t think there was a clear or easy way to prepare us for this experience.

We were given maps and written directions to help us navigate through the neighborhood in groups of four to these different organizations and a few parks. At the parks we sat and read articles about some specific struggles the community faces, including story of a young boy who died after being hit by a tow truck and how the community responded and came together to heal from the loss.

At each organization a staff member was waiting to speak with us. They spoke about some of the people they work with and their organizations do. At one we simply talked about the huge mural painted on the side of their building, and what it means to the many people who see it and have been moved by it.

82EE2F0B-8950-46BA-863D-196B04E2C19C.JPGAt other locations we talked about what poverty really is and how we can effectively help those in need. We heard of a number of alternatively-structured churches and communal living spaces and how they provide opportunities for community and support to some of the most marginalized members of our society. During the walk between each location we saw how the high amount of poverty in the area affected the types of stores and businesses in the area.

We also had the opportunity to stop and chat with some people that we passed. Some of the most memorable and impactful parts of the day were encountering people along the way, as they shared their stories and experiences. The day pushed many of us very far out of our comfort zones, letting us see, hear, and feel things that we never would have from the comfort of our regular lives. We all went to bed extremely tired after having walked and talked for 8+ hours, with the added weariness of only having $2 each to spend on supper; this is the average amount that someone who has no option but to panhandle for food earns in a day.

The following two days were very similar to each other. We split up into small groups in different ministry placements. Each group’s experience was incredibly different, but we all saw a lot of incredible people, a lot of pain and struggling, but also a lot of love.

So many of the people we met are like diamonds; they were put under immense pressure in their lives, but their experiences helped shape them into beautiful people. I saw many of our group members in tears at the end of each day, and for many different reasons. Some from sorrow and the realization of how deep-seated and present these pains are in our world. Some felt like they could have done more to help that day, or that they needed to do more to help in the future. Some from amazement at the perseverance of the people we met. Though some of us didn’t openly display our thoughts and feelings, and despite our very brief amount of time spent there, I believe we all walk forward with a new understanding of poverty in Winnipeg. One that is more sympathetic and understanding, more compassionate and much more willing to give our energy and love where we can.

God is alive in Winnipeg’s North End. In the hearts of the people who call it their home, and in the communities that are fighting to help, support, and love one another.