Student Reflections: Santa Barbara #comments4kids

Last week, Team Fink went on our annual “Surf and Serve” trip to Santa Barbara with Simply Venture. Below are their written reflections:
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The stars were our flashlights, frogs and crickets were our music, the smell was fresh pine. “The earth has music for those who listen.” (Santana). We fell down a lot but we were able to help each other up and laugh about it. During the hike, we all were warning each other about where it was slippery and easy to fall. When we got to the top of the mountain we saw lights from the city, it was almost like it came out of a painting. When I wasn’t falling It felt peaceful. Everything on that hike was so beautiful, but then again I couldn’t really see anything. I’m curious about what it looks like during the day. What made it so beautiful was being out in nature with my friends surrounded by God’s creation. I’m glad I was able to experience the night hike, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’m grateful for our week in Santa Barbara. – Kaleigh
Sometimes trusting isn’t always knowing what will happen, sometimes trusting is stepping over the edge and hoping there will be something or someone there to catch you. When we went cliff jumping, I was scared at first. I was so high up and didn’t know how it would feel if I jumped into the water. I put my trust in God and jumped. When I jumped into the water for the first time, I leaped into God’s loving arms. Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight. The cold water rushed over me and as I surfaced, I wasn’t scared anymore. I saw the sun reflecting on the emerald green water that had seemed scary just a minute ago. I remember the cold feeling in my toes when I first slid into the water, gliding from the shore to the next rock. I remember the terror that filled me thinking about what may lurk below the surface, but now I knew that those fears were irrational and I began to see the beauty in not knowing. I am glad I can now see the beauty of what God has created in Santa Barbara, the beauty in California and the beauty in all of nature. Now that I have been to Santa Barbara I am beginning to see the beauty in not knowing what is below the surface, not knowing there is mud that causes devastation and not knowing how far I will have to fall for someone to catch me. – Sophie
In Santa Barbara, we saw, experienced, and learned so many things that we will remember in the future. The courthouse, the ocean, beautiful trails, and a culture filled with Spanish heritage. A large harbor filled with boats, ocean and a large pier at the end. Walking through this wonderland of sand, boats, docks and the smell of fish was super fun. We used this opportunity to learn about American and Spanish history. One thing that interested me was the fact that America took Nevada, Arizona, California and some other states in a surge in power and size. Another interesting thing was reading the story of how the pier burnt down in 1973. One of the restaurants caught on fire and that resulted in a 13 million dollar reconstruction of the pier. The pier is commonly known as Stearns Wharf and is named after the man who constructed it, John P. Steans. I really enjoyed the social aspect of that walk too. I talked with some people I don’t normally talk to and related what we were seeing to the movie Finding Dory. It was super fun the remember that movie with people who I would not have even talked to back in Colorado. This walk allowed me to learn it’s easy to remember junk that never would have crossed my mind. An example of that was how the sea lion made us think of Finding Dory. We spent the rest of that walk looking for the other characters. -Will
The trip to Santa Barbara showed me the true beauty of nature and Gods people. I learned what made us natural in our own way. I experienced the flow of peace. God had a lot of presence there, and I felt it. We learned more about ourselves and the unexpected parts of others. There was the feeling of interconnectedness within. Seeing the devastation of the mud slides and homelessness showed me that the people of Santa Barbara cared about each other even though they had no relation. The homeless were pure people in need of God and love. You could tell they were working hard to overcome the hardships they were buried in. I told stories about myself and I learned more about others. I learned that those who surround me care about my well being. Overall, I would go to Santa Barbara any day. — OLIVER
The ocean used to be too big and too cold, but on the plane home, it looked so small out the planes square window. On the beach, I could feel the sand on my feet as I grabbed a board. The sun was no match for the cold water. I ran forward toward the ocean. Then I ran back as the icy water chased my feet back to my comfort zone. Surfing used to be something that seemed terrifying. My mind only focused on the fear I felt inside and I couldn’t see the adventure waiting for me in Santa Barbara. When I was sitting in the water I could feel the pressure of my fear like someone knocking on a door telling me what I already knew, somewhere in the ocean I was sitting in, my fear swayed in the currents. Then the wave came, the wave that told me to start paddling and stand up. Then I was riding the fear that had me trapped for so long and it brought me to the shore. Soon enough I was paddling out again waiting for a wave. The waves got bigger and I fell what seemed about a hundred times, but the waves always came and I would stand up again. The sun went down and my fear grew smaller. My mind, heart, and soul were with me on the surf board. In the waves, I felt alive. In Santa Barbara, I got rid of my biggest fear. I am no longer scared of the ocean. We will see what happens after I watch shark week this summer. —Ella
Wave after wave crashes over onto the soft, smooth sand of the shore. Every wave with a force to take you under. Each wave crashing into our bodies. The numbness of your hands and feet make it so that every step is a privilege to be walking. The wet suits are on and ready to embrace the frigid sea. The thought of sharks lingers around in my head. What if all the movies I’ve watched become reality? What if I see a shark? Dreadful thoughts filled my head, but they were silly. Why would I be afraid when there is so much beauty around me to embrace? The surfers rise and stand with pride. The second you catch a wave is the second you feel that nothing is impossible. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). The Santa Barbara breeze was calling us with a sweet whistle. Running, playing, chasing on those beaches with the sand between our toes and the numbness screeching; take me back to California.  — Kuyla
Running to the cold salty water that I have not touched for 7 years was amazing. When my feet touched the grains of sand they immediately stuck to my toes like gum would stick to your shoes. The sun reflected in my eyes while I was looking at the ocean.When I was nearly two feet from the ocean’s starting point. My body threw itself into the water. All of my fears about sharks and jellyfish had all disappeared when the tip of my head was just barely in the water. I was so content with not having a surf board and just being able to be in the water. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like I was in my happy place. Once I was kinda over being amazed by how beautiful the water was I decided to grab a surfboard. It was a lot bigger than I thought and harder as well. I found that it was challenging to time getting up on the board right, but I eventually got it. The waves kept crashing on me and at some points, I felt discouraged. I can really relate to the waves. If you look at them you will see that there is a high point to them where it is smooth and the best time to stand up on your surfboard, but about ten seconds later it is crashing down and if you try to surf those crashing waves and you will crash with them. It is just like my life. One second I am on top of the world and the next second I am at rock bottom. I have high and low points in my life, but I just need to remember that God is always with me. “When you pass through deep waters I will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:2). I don’t think I would’ve had as good of an experience if I was not with my friends. They helped me keep a positive out look and also made me want to try and try again. Surfing at the Santa Barbara Beach is going to be one of the adventures that I will always remember. – Gabby
Obstacles in life can be seen in many ways. It can be seen as the end of the world or a way to gain strength. The obstacles can also come up at any time. Rock climbing has a lot of obstacles that you have to overcome. It all starts before you ever start climbing. In some ways, the hardest part of rock climbing is when you are on the ground the ”what if ” questions started to fill my mind the first time as I anticipate what could happen and envision tragic accident in my head. What if my rope snaps? What if I fall? The first challenge you have to go through is your self. Then when you actually get on the rock physical and more mental challenges come, but when you get through it all you are at the top. You see what you’ve accomplished. You see the best part and the reason that many people do this over and over again. The site of green tumbling hill and the sun reflecting off the ocean, it makes you come back for more. Now that a have done rock climbing, I now see the obstacles as opportunities. Opportunities to become better opportunities for improvement. — Caeleb
You have two beautifully crafted hands that are made perfectly. One to help yourself, and the other to serve others. Although the two hands have different purposes, they still serve your body; which serves God. In Santa Barbara, I came to appreciate serving more than I ever have in my life. Serving is not just moving your hands and feet, but serving with your heart. Such a simple food as beans could put a smile on someone’s face. At first, when I was serving food, I had a stone hard face and I didn’t connect or talk to anyone I was serving. Until one lady I served had the biggest smile on her face, and I felt my mood change. Her smile spread on to my face and I felt in my happy place. At that moment I knew my smile could spread a million miles. I started to serve with a happy heart and a smile on my face and finally began to realize that I had the power to create change. One small act of kindness could fill a hole in someone that food could never satisfy. We have the power keep someone from starving. We have the power to keep someone from freezing. We have the power be a safe haven for someone who is on the edge of being consumed by depression and loneliness. We have the power to stop someone from taking their own life. We have the power to do amazing things, but still, we limit ourselves. Next time you are at a stop light with a homeless man on the curb, I ask you to roll down your window and give him a smile and tell him to have a good day. You may get a smile in return or you may not. Whatever happens, just remember that you are serving God. Santa Barbara opened my eyes to the power that serving can have on others, and also on yourself. — Makayla
Community is the reason we go to Santa Barbara. Going with a class of kids who have their clicks, leaving with a bonded class. We played together. We surfed together. We ate together. We were tired together. Santa Barbara brought a part of everyone together. It also taught us new parts of each classmate. We met new people and created a bigger community. It is easier to step into the unknown with people. I never felt alone. A class of kids helped me experience new things. I could not do anything with out my class. I would not have been able to climb up the rocks if it were not for the cheering in my ear saying, “You got this Noelle!” “You’re doing great!”. I could not have kept going on the night hike with out the stories Mrs. Cunningham told or being scared enough to run ahead. Conversations would not have been as interesting without the jokes we came up with. Flying back was sad but I’m happy I did not have to leave my class. “People will forget what you said and forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”(Maya Angelou). My class made me feel joy and love. This trip would be fun if I was alone, but together it was amazing.  — Noelle
The heat from the sun beams onto my head, the helmet traps the air, and the heat is making it harder to peddle forward. Even though it was extremely hot it was worth it and I would not change a single aspect of it. The bike ride was an amazing experience because I got to see the view of the ocean that we all know I will never be able to see in Colorado. While we were on the bike ride I got to talk and ride with people I never would have thought of talking to. “A simple hello could lead to a million things” (Kelley Carter). I grew closer to people and I would not have thought it would happen on a bike ride. When I was behind it was silent and peaceful. I got to take my time and understand how amazing it was that I got to be in California with my closest friends. I got to enjoy nature and it’s calming surroundings. I already miss the view of the ocean, and I will have the memories of this trip for a long time. — Nikki
Small waves are like a comfort zone, I got to not only see, but overcome my fears and surf the bigger waves. Since I was little I was scared to go into the ocean any further than 20 feet from the shore in fear of sharks, drowning, or being pulled in by the current. All my fears held me back from ever wanting to surf. While I was in Santa Barbara I was nervous and scared, but I grabbed a surf board and got in the water. Once I got on the board I forgot all my fears and paddled out into the ocean. The water was a greenish blue and the water was cold, but now I was too excited to get out. It took me forever to get up on the board, every time I stood up my foot would slip on water on the board and I would fall. Every time I fell I laughed, it didn’t matter to me if I would be able to stand or not, what mattered to me was that I was having fun. I had lost track of time and the next time I sat and looked at the sky, the sun was almost gone. The next day the waves were bigger. I grabbed a board and ran into the water, but this time I wasn’t scared. Since the waves were bigger I got tumbled over and over. I had surfed for a long time and I had also hit my head MANY times. Every time I crashed I learned from my mistakes, I learned that I was sitting too far forward, or that I had to place my feet a certain way. I had to get out of the water, but I didn’t want to get out until I caught one more wave. A wave came and I knew it was the right one. I swam as fast as I could, I caught the wave and stood up. I had a sudden feeling of happiness and peace run through my body. I wasn’t alone when I rode that wave, it was the perfect way to end the day.
~Camryn

 

Black Hills Reflection #standagain #comments4kids

 

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Black Hills Reflections:

“Beautiful Creation”
I could reach the skies, feel the wind, see the beauty not only in the nature but in the friendship I’ve been blessed to receive, Mt. Baldy was a phenomenal destination. As I reached the top, the wind wrestled with me, yet the solid, sandpapered rock held me strong and kept me safe. I looked around and my eyes adjusted, I saw the hills, the rocks, the dirt, the trees, and the horizon that awaited much more. My crouched body made way a couple of steps; my eyes went along. There was clouds and skies that touched the heavens, but there was even more. Faces. Each face entered my mind, followed with thousands of stories. Peace. Every breath I took my lungs would fill with peace and let go of the stress that it held. Freedom. I was free, I felt alive. I no longer worried about, “I need to Instagram this!” because I knew any photo I took would never be as crisp as the memory in my mind. Any photo I took, would not come along with the smell of the fresh air, the pine trees, and the sweat shed while climbing the mountain. Photos couldn’t capture the warmth of love or the comforting trust that settled within the air. We were on top of the world; without my friends I wouldn’t have been there. I knew any person I reached to they would give me a hand and help me to the top. “It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” (Henry Ward Beecher). This year there was times I climbed down, yet my friends always pulled me up to the magnificent view. Creation is not just the mountains or oceans, but it’s the people too. It was possibly my last trip with some of them, maybe even last van ride, but forever I will remember being with my best friends on the top of Mt. Baldy. Trust, love, peace, laughter. Beautiful creation.
–Megan Suedkamp

“Ride of Pride ”
“I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred tree of life and the whole earth will become one circle again.” – Crazy Horse. Anyone can hear about ones effort to change the world, but when you see the imprint they left with your own two eyes it unlocks a whole new perspective. Crazy Horse was a man who fought against the whites with pride and encouraged his people to never give up. People compete to see who can have the highest tower and don’t even think about why they are building it. The Native Americans knew why they wanted to build this memorial. The Native Americans thrived for building this monument because they wanted to provide strength and pride to their people and show the rest of the world that Native Americans are just capable as any white person on earth. You may believe that you must get to the finish line first, but what you don’t realize is your only competitor is yourself. “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” (Jeremiah 2:25). This relates to me because I run so fast in life only keeping my eyes pressed against the banner that says finish. Along the way I miss everything else around me and when I think I have reached the finish line in reality my destination just keeps moving farther away. Just observing the monument taught me that the journey matters more than the destination. The Native Americans do not care when the monument will be finished, but they care about what comes along the way. I observed that the builders were focused mainly on the appearance of the statues size and compared it to the size of Mount Rushmore. The size of what you are trying to leave behind doesn’t matter, it’s the impact you are leaving. I heard stories of Crazy Horse and what he was like, but I was clueless until I was in the presence of the legacy itself.
–Macie

“Fun Size Devils Tower”
As I keep searching for God in my journey Fink takes us to the Black Hills. I was excited to be hiking Mini Devils Tower. The first hike that we went to was the biggest hike we went on and also my favorite hike. Jack, JP, Ricky, and I leave the class and run up Mini Devils Tower. As we get up to the top the rest of the class starts to come. Jack and I break off. Ricky and JP go to play Mafia with the rest of the class. I see Jack dangling his feet over this cliff and I go and do the same. We lay back on the crystal rock and talk about life in general. Now that I am reading this I begin to know how dumb it was because here we are my best friend and I sitting on Gods creation but still talking about “noise, crowds, hurry,”-(Foster) and drama. Then I closed my eyes, I pray that this end of the year will be great. There is a tense breeze that suffocates my breath and the sun comes out of the clouds. I say ,God, thank you, at that moment I have just a glimpse on how my journey plays out.
–Mitch

“Leap of Faith”
Cliff jumping in my definition is the leap of faith. Cliff jumping in the Black Hills was an unforgettable experience. When you see the rock when you drive up to it looks like two feet off the ground. As you climb up the rock, you begin to feel your heart beating faster and faster the higher you go. You finally get up on the top of the rock, you look down then quickly grab onto something because you think it is so high. One person after the other goes. Each time you hear a splash of water from someone jumping you think about how you are that much closer to making that sound yourself. It was finally my turn. Extremely slow I slither my way down to where you jump. Fink counts 3,2,1. It took me two times to finally jump. 3,2,1, I push off of the rock. You feel as if you are floating in the air. Then at the last second home girl over here does a belly flop. My head goes above the water, I gasp for air, I swim over to the rock that I jumped off of. Then I hit my chest on the rock. “Perfect timing” I thought. As I begin to catch my breath I hear people swimming over to me. Luke, Izzy, and Megan were my rescuers. Even though I was not smiling when they came I was smiling on the inside. After it all happened it made me think of how cliff jumping is just like life. You feel as if everything is going your way, but at the last second pain finds you. “For I know the plans I have for you”  (Jeremiah 29:11). God will come and help you catch your breath.
–Angelina Basso

“The Tower from all Angles”
The tower is an exploration, and every angle of the rock is a different sight. Say if you look at it from the front, then you went to the left front. Then you went to the right side. It’s different and it will be hard to recognize. The tower can be an exploration in anyway, maybe it’s going up and climbing on top of the tower and looking around Wyoming. Or maybe it’s looking at the rock 360 degrees and look at it from every direction. Also, maybe even going below to see what’s below the rock and see how it was brought to the surface. What would that monument be if the rock never came from the surface? What would it look like to not be the first national monument? Questions about the tower are answers humans may never know. The tower is 360 degrees around the body of it, but each boulder it takes to form it is 360 degrees. The tower in general, from the big rock to the rocks that fill in the gaps, the tower will never be looked at the same way that you looked at it the first time. In a community, a day will never be the same ever again, whether you think of the year that day came, or the time that happened and what happened, nothing will be looked like from the same angle or picture again. Sure, you may look at the front of a house the same as yesterday, but you did it the next day instead of 2 days ago, of tomorrow. Another day will stay the same, but another minute will be enjoyed. It just like what Anastasis talks about, joy lasts longer than happiness, if you enjoy the moment of today or tomorrow, then that is what people like to call, joy. Then joy will not come in the same way it did yesterday or next week, happiness maybe will, but joy will never in 1 million years be the same as tomorrow. That is what makes the tower a 360 degrees, everything comes in different angles, if you enJOY the moment.
–Jack

“Black Hills trip”
During our trip Mr. Fink had a surprise for us. We went to a place called flags and wheels. It was a really cool surprise. It had go karting, Laser tag, bumper cars, and batting cages. It was so much fun. What I did most of the time was go karting. It was fun to race Miss Jamie Mr. Fink and my friends. Everybody went to laser tag. I stayed and I raced the person that was running the go cart and we were able to mess around on the track. It was amazing to go to flags and wheels I had so much fun go karting.
–Ricky

“Wild in Spirit”
Adventure lies in nature. The most exciting piece of South Dakota was camping in the wild, unknown, forest. I look over the thundering boulders to see the swirl of colors that is the setting sun. As the sun says goodbye for the day, and the shivers of the cold wind set in, I appreciate the natural beauty of this earth. My fear of bears and unknown creatures is swept away in the midst of the natural beauty of the setting sun, fallen trees, and tweeting birds. From the laughs of my friends, to the thrill of being in the middle of nowhere, (not really, more like 2 miles from a parking lot), I enjoyed every moment. The glimmering stars of the night sky spurred my curiosity of life outside of this world, and lit the colorful, laughter-filled stories being heard and told. Although they were quite random, My stomach hurt from all the laughter. As I fell asleep, my dreams were filled with curiosity, stories, and memories created from camping in the wilderness in South Dakota. “Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity for the human spirit.” (Edward Abbey) Although I am back in suburbia, I still stay wild in spirit.
–Isabella

“Pizza Runs”
When we camped up at Mount Baldy the 8th grade boys traveled down the mountain and back bringing up pizza. We ran down the mountain, not on the trail, but on a path that we cut through the woods. It was tons of fun jumping over rocks and logs, darting between trees. When we reached the bottom we waited for Luke to show up with the van. Luke doesn’t know how to start a car. We rolled down into the small, tucked away town of Keystone and pulled up to the pizza place. While waiting for the last pizza we all got cokes. Luke doesn’t know how to hold a drink. The pizza came and we headed back to the mountain. Walking up took much longer because we weren’t running and we were carrying grub. We reached camp just before dark delivering the pizza! The thing I enjoyed most about the pizza run wasn’t the running (I’m not a runner), or the pizza (still tasty). My favorite thing about the pizza run was spending time with my teacher and friends, growing closer in relationships. Running to go get pizza sounds like a chore, but it really wasn’t, we had good conversations and we got to grill Luke’s driving skills. I got to know people better. The pizza runs were an exciting interaction I won’t soon forget. The simple things are the most memorable. I could write about big things on a grand scale such as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and The Devils Tower. Those things are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the simple things stand out just as much. I’ll remember times like the snipe hunt or running down a mountain and maybe tripping a time or two just as much as the things people travel cross country to see. The trips are so special because of the little things mixed with the big things, the all around memories. “It is the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones after all” (Laura Ingalls Wilder).
–Joseph

“Dreaming of Rushmore”
Every year at my old school the 8th graders would take a trip to South Dakota. When they came back they would present to the whole school on their trip. Mount Rushmore was my favorite part. It just looked so magical. I would constantly daydream about going there. It was never a real thought that I was able to see the place of my dreams. After years and years of waiting, I moved schools. It actually never crossed my mind I wouldn’t see Mount Rushmore.
I tap my fingers on my desk and watch as we go through the trip to South Dakota schedule. I hide my excitement when I know we get to go to the place I have just dreamed of for at least 5 years. I attempt to explain to everyone why I’m most excited for the Mount Rushmore part, but they just nod their heads and take it as nothing. That’s when I realized maybe this was something that was just a little more meaningful to me than everyone else. I didn’t care, we were still going. Cliff jumping was our first stop before Rushmore. “Jump!” everyone called as I stand on the edge of a cliff. I totally forgot today was the day. I push my legs, close my eyes, plug my nose and jump. After a rush (pun intended) into the van Mr. Fink tells us we are changing at the camp, and we are going to Mount Rushmore. The time has finally arrived after 5 years of waiting.
“I want everyone to guess why I pulled over” Fink tells us before our stop to Rushmore. We all scramble out of the van and look around. No one seems to know why we are in the middle of a road.  Some girls slowly walk forward and scream. I can’t find what their looking at. Now everyone’s screaming and I have no clue what’s going on. Megan turns my head up to the sky. My eyes stop and my mouth stretches to a smile. It’s George Washington’s head! I join the screaming and jumping before we hop into the van. It was the most surreal moment of my life. I walk into the memorial. A goal I never thought I would achieve I just did. Tears of joy were streaming down my face, and when I looked at the beautiful memorial, I never wanted to leave the place of my dreams. This was a day I will never forget.
Without this experience I don’t think I would really understand what realizing your dreams felt like. Going somewhere and doing something you have always wanted to do is the best feeling in the whole world. Every day I wish I could re-live that moment and I’m sad I’m not there. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” -Walt Disney. I am definitely taking this quote to heart after that day.
–Angelina Hogan

“I can’t feel my legs…”
South Dakota was such a fun trip with so many awesome activities. One of those activities was Harney Peak hike. As we were walking up I got to talk and bond with my friends. It was beautiful but it was windy. Once we got to the top I looked out over the rock and it was breath taking, I felt a sense of peace. Love is a way of connection with peace and that’s what I felt on top of Harney Peak. We took pictures and put all of our layers back on because it was really windy and cold. I had shivers running though my spine then I felt the Holy Spirit brush over me and I was calm. As we started to walk down some stone steps to get to a lookout. Our class climbed on the rocks and we sat down and over the rock were three mountain goats. As we started to hike back down I saw prayer flags. Prayer flags are what the natives put on trees for symbolism. Over all I thought Harney Peak was so beautiful and I loved the experience.
–Lauren

“Faith, trust, and pixie dust”
This Black Hills trip was by far one of the best trips. On this trip there were so many highlights that I will always remember. My biggest highlight was rock climbing. I had never really done rock climbing before so it was fun to work my way to the top of the mountain and then to trust my classmates to keep me alive as I worked my way back down. As I was climbing the mountain it forced me to think and watch my every step. It forced me to use a lot of strength that would soon get me to the top of the mountain. It made me push myself to reach higher and that was one step closer to the top. There were some challenges where I didn’t know if I could go any farther but once I found a good spot I could take it step by step and go to the top. My favorite part about rock climbing was reaching the top of the mountain and to look out at Gods creation. This rock climbing experience put me in a place to truly notice and enjoy Gods creation. Even though the weather was not great I still loved rock climbing and trying something new. Being in nature helps me connect with God and enjoy his presence. “You won’t understand the power of community until you are apart of one.” This year I have truly been a part of a community that is so meaningful to me. The best part about this trip was being in a community laughing and crying and making new memories that will never be forgotten.
–Alli

“Paintings”
After the months and months of the memories we’ve shared together, it has started to come to an end. At the beginning of this year I felt like we as people all represented a color. Nothing to do with one another. In the end we all came together making a beautiful painting. That night of the campfire speeches the painting was completed. We became a true family, and that’s just going to make it harder to say goodbye. The night was filled with so many emotions. Everyone was in tears and I thinks it’s because we realized each others value. It’s tough to move on but our colors will continue, their stories going on to make beautiful new pictures and memories. That makes the memories we’ve shared that more important. The point was, our campfire speeches ended the chapter and began a new era. Our campfire speeches were a farewell to the other colors within our picture. “A picture is nothing without the colors on the canvas.” (Unknown) Anastasis was a family and it was tough to say goodbye, but I guess it’s time to start a new chapter and paint a new picture.
–Luke

 

“Baptism”

The baptism experience in South Dakota was truly astonishing. I feel now as that if I have truly become a Christian and now know what it is like to walk with God. Now the wrestle with God truly begins, there will be ups and downs. In Christianity every person believes in the same thing but in different ways, now I feel like I am forming my own opinions instead of just believing exactly what my parents or piers think. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome”
(Genesis 32:28). We will be blessed after wrestling with God and struggling with him. Our ultimate blessing is to be his child, and be granted into heaven.

JP

Student Post: Reflection on Study #comments4kids

|Macie|
Study:

No matter what kind of Study it not only will provide you with more knowledge but it will set you free. The question is how do you study? Is it memorizing a page just to pass a test and then throw it away later? Instead we need to study not for one time but learn for the rest of our lives. Is study just scratching the surface instead of engaging in the deeper realm of understanding? “Let’s learn to ask questions.” ( Foster 75 ). Study must involve humility. You have to release the thought that you know everything and don’t have to be taught anymore. You will never learn if you come from the lens of I know everything and I don’t need more knowledge. “We must come as a student, not a teacher.” ( Foster 66 ). To completely connect with what you study you must include these four steps into your routine. First you must have repetition, then concentration, comprehension, and lastly reflection. “With innumerable murders being portrayed each evening on prime time TV, the repetition alone trains the inner mind in destructive thought patterns.” ( Foster 65 ). Learning is just one big circle sometimes you have to come back to the start to progress. Sometimes you have to repeat something you’ve already learned in order to attain something new. “Study simply cannot happen until we are willing to subject to the subject matter.” ( Foster 66 ). If you are distracted and cannot completely submerge in your study your mind will be in more than one place and you will feel that your work is impossible. If you De-attach from noise, crowd, and hurry you will be able to listen and comprehend. “This Eureka experience of understanding catapults us on to a new level of growth and freedom. It leads to insight and discernment. It provides the basis for a true perception of reality.” ( Foster 66 ). Without comprehension we wouldn’t be able to apply it to ourselves. When something is applicable to ourselves we automatically are able to comprehend it better because of the experiences we had in life. Although coming together and reflecting the topic almost always changes our comprehension. “Although comprehension defines what we are studying, reflection defines the significance of what we are studying.” ( Foster 66 ). Reflection is one of the most important steps. If you do not reflect you won’t be able to reach a deeper level. Reflecting is the step that opens your eyes to possibly to change. What you thought at the beginning might completely be muzzled when you reflect. What if all of this study didn’t have to be just from books. There is a fine line between verbal (books) and non verbal study. When you study books you need to have experience, other books to connect it to, and a live discussion to reflect the book. When you study non verbal you need to study nature in respectful observation, become friends with the animals, and to observe the relationships between humans. “The handiwork of the Creator can speak to us and teach us if we listen.” ( Foster 73 ). Listening to humans interactions will help understand who you are. You shouldn’t judge people when we do this. If we have a judging attitude while studying humans it won’t teach us anything. We almost need to wipe our mind clean so our automatic reaction is not to judge someone but instead to have an open mind. If we truly commit to our study we will find that study won’t harm us if we don’t allow our laziness to control it.

Bring Me the Sunset- Student poem

Bring Me The Sunset
Morning Pages #48

By Katie Anderson

Bring me the sunset in a cup,
Fill it with pinks and oranges until it’s filled up.
Serve me a full moon onto a nice plate.
Some constellations on the side sure would be great.
Give me rain and snow into a bowl,
Some thunderclouds and lightning wouldn’t be dull.
I want rainbows and sunshine in my spoon,
Next to my fork with a little room.
These days come with weather, good and bad,
They can make you happy or drive you mad.
But at this moment, my life’s at halftime,
After all you always get rain before sunshine.

Prayer is a Conversation, Not a Speech (student post)

Prayer is a Conversation, Not a Speech

|by Emma P, 8th Grade|

 Prayer is something we as Christians often do; however, the importance of this has been forgotten by many. It’s wretched to think that people have come to think of prayer as something that is required of them. Prayer should be esteemed and special to those who pray. Praying is a dialogue with God, but are you listening? Are you just talking at God? These questions are the catalyst to many more questions, such as why do we even bother to pray? Why doesn’t God always say yes? Why doesn’t he talk back? These are all outstanding questions to ask, however, we don’t search enough to actually discover the answers. Prayer is definitely not an easy topic to wrap our heads around, and we need to look at it from all angles.

 

As a wise person once said; “When you pray, move your feet.” This is an old African proverb that many treasure. This proverb explains that we can’t just pray for something and expect God to do it all for us, we have to help if we are able. For example, if you see someone who is starving on the streets, you can’t just look at them and think, “Oh, that’s too bad for them, God, please help them.” Of course, that is a fine thing to do, but if you have some food that you have no need for, you should give it to them. The Bible states in Matthew 25: 45; “He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

The Lord’s Prayer is a lighter to ignite all of your other prayers. There are six simple words that are key in the understanding of this prodigious prayer; worship, surrender, petition, confession, warfare, and thanksgiving. These principles are something that should be taken to heart, as these are what we usually include in our prayers. Most stick to one in particular, the most common being petition. The type that I most often stick to is thanksgiving. There is something about prayer that makes me think of only thanking and praising God, and rarely asking for anything. As we studied this topic, I came to realize more and more that I wasn’t putting everything I could into my prayers, they all sounded the same. As I mentioned earlier, the Lord’s Prayer being a lighter is a bit of a confusing concept, yet is actually quite simple. This prayer was taught to the disciples in Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 – 13, when they asked Jesus how to pray. Therefore, it was a perfect prayer, and had the ideal balance of the six principles that describe it. These principles, when combined in a prayer, can make it extraordinarily powerful and memorable. “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding.” We as Christians would do well to memorize this verse, found in 1st Corinthians 14: 15, as it teaches not to just say whatever comes to mind to just get it over with, but to think and to make the prayer meaningful. As a Buddhist monk once said, “We should only speak if we are improving the silence.”

There are four stages of praying that are imperative to a phenomenal prayer. The first stage says that I talk, you listen. This stage is quite straight-forward, saying that I talk to God and he listens to me. The second states that you talk and I listen. Again, this has a pretty clear message, saying that God is talking to me, and I am listening. The third is about neither of us talking and both of us listening. This quote found in the Alchemist sums this stage up nicely; “The Secret of Happiness lies in looking at all the wonders of the world and never forgetting the two drops of oil in the spoon.” This means to be aware of what’s happening around you, but to always zoom in on what’s important. The fourth and final stage is that neither talks nor listen. This is the mindset that many adopt while meditating, basically just being focused on your inner being and getting lost in the moment. This can be interpreted differently depending on your religion, your personality, and many other factors. Many are stuck between stages one and two, which is merely habit for some, but something entirely different for others. I personally have gotten to stage four, which is to just get lost in the moment. This is a natural occurrence to me, because I am quiet and calm by nature, and I like to think that I treasure every moment. You never know when something might go away, so you should enjoy it while it’s there.

Prayer and being close to God can look different in numerous religions. Many religions develop their own style of praying, such as many Hindus meditate to get closer to God. These are unequivocally diverse, but they all have a similar root. For example, Muslims always pray in the direction of the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia while bending down to show their submission to God. Buddhists meditate to be more familiar with their inner beings. Christians fold their hands, close their eyes, and bow their heads to pray. All of these types of ‘prayer’ have a common denominator, which is awareness. This is something that is highly valued in many religions. Although, I feel that these are all blanket statements of a sort, because not everyone prays the same. I prefer sitting in nature and just being calm over folding my hands and doing all of the stereotypical ‘Christian’ paraphernalia, and this might be similar to many people of all kinds of religions, whether they believe in a God or not.

Anthony De Mello, a writer who is famous for his profound writings and unfathomable knowledge, wrote many stories about prayer. There is one in particular that I like, which is one about a shoemaker. This shoemaker worked hard day and night, and found he never had time for his prayers. He went to go see a Rabbi to ask him how to fit in his prayer. The shoemaker said that while he was working, his heart would let out a sigh, a sign of longing to be close to God and to talk to him. The Rabbi said that a sigh is valued much more than a prayer, because many pray just to get it over with, but this shoemaker had an honest desire to talk to God. This story showed me that you don’t always have to be in a certain position to pray, you don’t always have to even talk to pray. It’s sometimes hard for us Christians to understand this concept, because prayer has become more and more of a burden and less of a relationship and a closeness that God and humans alike crave.

Prayer is particularly challenging to comprehend, so we have to examine all of the bits and pieces it’s made up of. Prayer is a sacred bond between man and God, and it should be respected ad infinitum, though sadly, it has become more of a habit than anything else. As I elucidated throughout, prayer is a type of awareness. It’s also a time to be honest with God. He doesn’t always want to be thanked, he wants you to approach him with your questions and give over your weaknesses. He wants to be more than a friend, more than a brother with you. Doesn’t this make you feel special? God has chosen you to love, you to nurture and you to cherish. He wants you to come to him as you are, not as someone you are pretending to be! I see prayer in a whole new light now, and I long to be closer to God, as the mystery of his great power is what keeps us wondering and yearning to be close with him.