Week 1 in British Columbia (Oct 22-28)

Welcome back folks to yet another edition of The Adventures of Guat-Squad™!  The action packed blog where we, the fabulous writers of the Blog Committee, provide you, the beloved readers, with the THRILLING experience of reading about what we’ve been experiencing! Your lovely (and moderately caffeinated) writer Ada is back at it again, giving you the sauce AND the meat of the last week. So sit back, put your feet up, get that uncomfortable wrinkle or twist out of your sock and relax! The show is about to start!

Since arriving at Camp Squeah in the stunningly beautiful, though slightly damp, province of British Columbia we have had two major learning experiences. The first of which was lead by speakers Kevin and Emily who brought some fantastic lessons and guidance on the topic of relationships. We were happy to join South Africa for these sessions and share stories from our respective adventures with each other! During our time with Emily and Kevin we talked about sexuality, singleness and marriage, and the too-often-not-talked-about struggles of them. They used many personal and vulnerable stories to help better equip us to go about healthy relationships, as well as provided insight as to how to integrate your faith into relationships. Personally I am very grateful for the opportunity to hear and ask questions about these topics in a safe and encouraging community setting. I believe Emily and Kevin’s stories and messages will stay with us all for a long time and will impact us all as we go about our lives with or without partners.

Now before I dive into the second part of this last week I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you. For a religion that preaches so much about unity, Christianity has a large amount of fairly different denominations, and we often believe that our denomination or our way is the best one, whether it’s a conscious thought or not. I’m guilty of this myself. However, something that has recently become apparent is that we as an Outtatown group all come from a diverse spread of Christian groups. Roman Catholic, Anglican, Pentecostal, Evangelical Covenant, Evangelical Missionary, Missionary, Baptist, Mennonite (GC and MB), and Non-Denominational. We all come from different backgrounds, different styles of worship and prayer, different areas of focus and approaches to faith, and different kinds of interaction with God. Some of us have only ever set foot in a single kind of church, yet despite all of that we have come together to form a beautiful, joyful, supportive, and caring faith-based community! We’ve united as one body despite our differing methods, often sharing our own understandings and experiences, helping each other to see things in a different light, and learning a lot from each other.

This kind of thinking was something we explored this last Friday to Sunday as we had our church visit weekend. Our leader through the weekend, J, brought us to a number of very different church services. I believe all of us had at least a few entirely new experiences, and witnessed approaches to faith and church that we would never have expected. We reflected on each service as a group and talked about the values each church seemed to hold strongest. We all carried an amount of personal bias into each service, and many of us were uncomfortable at some point in the weekend, but after some guided discussion I believe we came to a better understanding and new appreciation for every church we visited. A speaker named Lloyd who we listened to in Winnipeg told us, “You have to step into someone else’s culture before you can understand your own.” I keep recalling that line, and it has rung so true for many of our experiences thus far. This weekend has given me a lot to think about and has helped me realize a lot about what I value in my own faith, as well as why, and I’m sure it’s had a similar effect on many of us here.

So I’ll leave you with a few questions I’ve been pondering myself. What does church mean to you? Why do you worship and pray the way you do? Why do you like your church? How do you view other denominations and why? Can we still be one body despite our different methods and preferences? I would encourage every person reading this to experience this for themselves. Consider going to a service you never would have considered going to before, leave your biases at home, and try to see and understand the goodness that is occurring there. I promise there’s something for you to learn there, but it’s up to you to try to find it.

Thank you for reading! Stay hydrated and eat plenty of fibre! Until next time…

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