Hello friends and family,
Our past week in Vancouver was filled with learning, exploring, and a general lack of snow.
We began it with J Janzen, who led us in our Church Plunge. Visiting 8 churches in 2 days, we were given the task to observe and look for elements of “Temple, Body and Herald”, which are the scripture-based components of what makes a church. From a Catholic mass and a mega church to a small, contemplative service and jazz vespers, we seriously got our church on! Probably our most foreign experience was the Gregorian chant at Christ Church Cathedral. It was very holy and felt different to the kind of worship services most of us have been a part of; a dim, candle-lit sanctuary, a small group in white robes singing the chant in a very quiet reflective mood. Most of us found this service to be very relaxing and took the time to reflect on our plunge or pray. These two days challenged us to analyze our own churches, how they incorporate (or don’t incorporate) the temple, body, and herald aspects of a church, and gave us some new insights on other Christian denominations.
Following a great free day in the city, we began our Urban Plunge portion of our stay in Vancouver. Hosted by YWAM (Youth with a Mission) Vancouver, we had the opportunity to tour both the West and East Sides. In groups of three, with a map and lunches, we set out for a morning in the Downtown East Side, known for being one of the most financially impoverished postal codes in Canada. We were surprised at the stark contrast between the East and West Sides. One minute you could be walking through downtown, past nice coffee shops and then the next block you were weaving your way through packed sidewalks of people experiencing homelessness. From talking with people on the streets we saw how close a community they were, and how they look out for one another with the evident hope that their situation will improve. It also brought our attention to how materialistic and detached the West Side was. We finished our day with a session about sex trafficking in Canada. After learning how prevalent and current it is, we were led in a prayer vigil for those affected. On our second day we were separated into groups to do service work at different non-profit organizations.
After finishing our time in Vancouver, we returned to Camp Squeah in Hope, where we concluded our busy week of learning with adventure! We went caving, where we reflected on how caving is similar to our journey with God. We were divided into groups of five, given overalls, helmets, headlamps, and minimal directions, and sent off into a series of caverns under a mountain. Often crawling on our stomachs, squeezing through tighter spaces than we ever realized we could squeeze through, and battling claustrophobia, our little “spelunking” adventure was quite a struggle for many of us. We would frequently reach dead ends or were confused about what direction to go, but with determination, encouragement, and a few breaks here and there (my group liked to sing during these), we eventually found the path again. Afterwards, our guide Walden debriefed us on how we often reach ‘dead ends’ in our faith and, in order to continue the path, you must persevere, with a little help from community and listening to God.
All in all, we’ve had a pretty jam-packed week in VanCity, and can’t wait to tell you about our week with Steve Klassen and our silent day! Until next time!
Blog by Ethan and Eileen