Building community through travel: Team Anastasis goes to Santa Barbara #standagain

After spending the week in Santa Barbara for the Surf and Serve trip, Team Fink reflects on their experience.

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Thank you Simply Venture for making this trip possible!

Community:
The nights in Santa Barbara are what has brought our class closer together. From running about in the yard overlooking foggy rolling valleys, to playing card games inside, the games we played at night in Santa Barbara are one of the most memorable parts of our trip. Whether we were laying by the hammocks near the cactus, playing Mafia as Joseph descriptively narrated, (I will never look at cruise ships the same way again) or riding penny boards in the pitch black night sky, we came closer as a community through these experiences. The class bonded and strengthened relationships with each other. I connected with people during these fun actives I never thought I would, and strengthened my relationships with my closest friends. Although in many years I may not fully remember this trip, I will always know that I can connect with people through the littlest situations, whether it’s sliding over a table to grab a spoon or naming plants and animals as our own. “People coming together as a community can make things happen.” (Jacob Rees)

Santa Barbara Community Garden:
One action can have an effect forever. The service we did in the community garden was super meaningful to me because I got to see the way my work the year before had given a lasting impact. It felt so fulfilling to sit on the tree stumps we had moved the year before, and gave me such joy to look at the tree I once gave a ‘haircut’.  Little actions can change the world, like how our energy can change the dynamic of a room. We pulled weeds, we put down cardboard, we poured mulch. We worked, but it was fun and satisfying. We left an imprint. Although it is just a small garden, it could be the start of something bigger. The community garden also helped us grow closer together and commune. Our class worked hard and it was amazing to know that we can have fun while serving. I hope that I can go back next year and realize the beauty our work has left again. “The sea is really only drops of water that have come together.” (Desmond Tutu). What will our drop be?

Hiking Inspiration Point:
At the top of the mountain I saw sights I never thought were even real. When I was sitting on top of a rock I looked out over Santa Barbara and saw all of Gods creation. As I watched and observed the beautiful world that the Lord has created, I also reflected on my self and on my character. When we were on top looking out over the world I could feel that God was with me in that moment and truly feel peace in this world of chaos. Who knew that in this crazy world there are still areas of peace and comfort. I now know more than ever that the Lord is always with me even in the hard and scary times. Now back to reality, noise, crowds, and hurry are in my life once more. As I try to find peace like I had on top of the mountain, I get distracted by a ding on phone or the smell of bacon and eggs. Having joy and finding peace relates to Foster on the subject of taking time from the world and giving it to God. Isaiah 55:12 “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” This bible verse stood out to me for the peace and the love He gives us. We need to go out in joy to truly experience peace from the Lord. The world is our sandbox.

Last day:
We went surfing, biking and served the homeless in California. It was our last day in Santa Barbara and the trip was starting to come to an end. In the process not only did we get to go to California, but we created memories with each other that will last a life time. This might have looked different to everyone but I have a feeling we all had a lot of fun. We walked the boardwalk, played on the beach went to the candy store and some shops. Ricky and I even met Brodie Smith!!! The point was that our memories stick with us forever and we can choose to make that good our bad. “We don’t remember days we remember moments.” (Cesare Pavese) The last day was a reminder to us that we have all those good memories and still continue to make them. This years Santa Barbara trip created so many good memories for all of us. Life is full of memories, make sure to cherish the good ones.

PATH:
During our class trip to Santa Barbara we went to PATH (people assisting the homeless). This honestly wasn’t a period of the trip I was super exited about because I figured it would be mostly kitchen work and food prep. The trip to PATH turned out to be probably the best part of the whole trip, for me at least. We all started out working in the kitchen which was just fine. We did tasks to prepare food which is necessary. If service was always fun and exiting more people would be drawn to it. After food prep we ate lunch. I was pretty tired so I decided I was just going to sit down and play the piano for a few minutes (I didn’t really want to), grab lunch and go hang out with my friends. So I sat down and started playing what I could remember, when this homeless man named Garvin came and sat by me. Garvin asked me what I was playing and then he asked if he could show me a few things. He taught me music I’d never played before, and it really ended up being super meaningful. An hour later I got up. I came to PATH thinking I would be serving people and giving to them. I think they did a better job of helping and serving me. I thought I was completely different than the homeless man but there are things that can tie us all together. Music is one of those things and it shows that we’re not different at all. Sometimes the world seems ridiculous, but then there are times where people truly show unique qualities, sometimes the people we’d least expect.

SB Rescue Mission Chapel:
When we went to the homeless shelter and led the church service I was thinking how privileged I am to meet these homeless people as if they were famous. I met this man named Lamar, the definition of Lamar in Arabic is “Liquid Gold”, and that is what I saw in him. Just to sit in a room and listen to Amazing Grace with all of these amazing people was a privilege. I learned a lesson that is go find the most intimidating people and talk about God and see what happens. “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” -Mother Teresa This means to me that when we give something we should have a purpose of love. Overall this trip gave me freedom.

Surfing:
This Santa Barbara surf and serve trip was incredible. This trip had so many highlights that I will always remember. One of the main highlights for me on this trip was surfing. I had never been surfing, and it was a new and exciting experience. After many tries and failures, after being crushed by the waves, and finally conquering my first wave, I learned that you can never get something perfect in the first try. An individual must practice and learn from those mistakes and failures. Once you learn from those mistakes you will be better then you were. Personally, when I fail it makes me motivated and more determined to work even harder. The most memorable part of this trip was when we all put away the surf boards and went into the ocean as a community. We laughed, splashed, and jumped waves as a whole. Being in a community, that is what I loved most about this trip.

Surfing:
On our trip to California we got to go surfing. On our first full day is when we went surfing. Once we arrived at the beach we split up into groups. A couple of kids would go with one instructor, and my surf instructors name was Lang. When we got out on the water I was so excited to surf with my friends. I can still remember how beautiful the water was. The first wave that I tried to catch was too small and I fell off of the board, but that’s what made it fun and what made me want to try harder. The first wave that I stood up and surfed was after three tries of falling off of the surf board. When you were surfing or swimming to get to a wave the water would pull you to the left. So you would have to get out and walk back or you would go to far out. When Alli, Macie, Lang and I started to walk back, I tripped on the cord that wraps around your ankle and fell on my face when lots of people were watching me. That was one of my embarrassing moments of the trip. After surfing a long time with Lang I went back to the beach and started to surf with Liselle. I surfed with her for a while and she taught me how to evenly balance my weight to catch bigger waves. Something I found really fun was falling off the board. An example of when I did that was when I tried to catch a wave but I didn’t  turn all the way around, and my board flipped over. I was pretty tired at that point and went back to the beach and put my surf board down. All of my class was playing in the water, and I went to join them. We were jumping over waves and splashing each other. Our class got really close and we were all in community. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 24-25. At the beginning of the year our class was in two groups and I feel like even on the first day in California was a bonding experience.

Biking:
This week we went on a trip to Santa Barbara. We had a a lot of fun on the trip doing many different things. We went surfing, biking, and hiking and we were able to serve. I thought the most powerful moment was the bike ride. I think bike riding is powerful to me because on the way to the dirt park there was a gap jump and I did it and failed. However, I thought to myself to try, try, try, again. That part of the bike ride was a great day for me and it was very powerful.  The other part was seeing the amazing view of the ocean because I thought of all the people in the world that are trying to succeed. Their failures are what encourages their successes.

Night Hike:
It is always good to have your eyes be open to seeing Gods hand prints all over the world. The hike we did was just a small fraction of what God has done. Even though it was in the dark and people were laughing, falling, slipping, scraping their knees, “Macie”. You just could tell that God was walking that hike with us. When one person would slip it was almost as if God had come in front of that person and caught them.
My favorite part about that night hike was when it was totally dark. You can’t see where you are going at all. It reminded me of how life goes. It was light for for just a little while but then it got totally dark. We had to walk through it with out seeing. How in life we walk through life not prepared and can’t see what is next. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil” ( Psalm 23:4). Sometimes we will laugh. Sometimes we will cry. We will always fall, but God will come and catch  us before we hit the ground. I yelled at Fink so many times to turn on a light. We yell at God for not shining a light on our dark path. God will choose when to shine the light on our path.

Serving the Homeless:
Santa Barbara was an amazing experience that changed my views on the homeless. In particular, there was an experience that opened my eyes and heart the most. One night we went to serve the homeless at a shelter. We led a church service and a few homeless people attended. I realized that being with the homeless helped me to pay attention and learn more. I was immersed in God with these people because it was new to me. “It is not a strange place, but a new one.” (The Alchemist). I have been with the homeless before, but I have never been able share the love of God with them. I was able to listen more because the homeless inspired me. I had the feeling that the homeless people weren’t there to brag to others, or to gain a reputation but they were there to praise God. The homeless didn’t care what people thought of them. The homeless had a plan to praise and love God. The most touching moment for me was when John was preaching. I looked back and saw a man with tears in eyes. At my church I have never seen a person cry during a service because they recognized Gods love for us. “I stand at the door and knock …” was originally penned for believers, not unbelievers” (Rev. 3:20). Society is so hooked on noise, crowd, and hurry that people do not pay as much attention about noticing and observing everything God has done for us. God tries to show us everyday. The homeless are disconnected from society because the ones who believe in God are the ones that truly believe. The homeless don’t go to church to prove that they should be accepted by society but to love God. I always used to think that the homeless could never be Christian because of their tattoos. Or because they seem dirty to us because we are blinded by the luxury of taking showers every night. I was proven wrong at this church service. I could feel the Holy Spirit in the room, in the hearts of others and myself because I realized that I was wrong. I was humbled. My opinion of, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” was put before my eyes. I realized that just because they are homeless doesn’t give us the power to take away their right to faith. Sometimes I find that the homeless are motivated to be connected with God more than us. God loves everyone of us. Whenever I think the homeless should not be treated the same as me, I will be reminded of this moment during the trip.

Reflections from Cultural Pilgrimage Day 1: Mosque

Reflections from Team Fink, Cultural Pilgrimage Day 1:

 

Sometimes we need to experience something twice to process it. Going to the Mosque for the second round made me feel more comfortable with different religions. There are many differences between Christianity and Islam, but we can also learn from people that don’t believe the same as we do. Today I learned more about women’s rights in Islam, their teachings and their beliefs. The one thing that stood out to me was the call for prayer (muezzin) and its translation. God is greater than anything we are doing this second, and the least we can do is think about him for a few minutes. What still stands with me is that we tend to spend not a lot of time focusing on God every day, while others dedicate their time each day to love and thank God.

Notes
Women are like diamonds
In order to thank or as for forgiveness from God, we a have to thank or apologize to the people we affected
Using Google, but not relying on it
They believe that Jesus did not die on the cross
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“Recently we were attacked by Muslim terrorists”
“The Islamic group ISIS has just destroyed..”
“We are still at war with Muslim Radicals”
“These people pose a great threat to our society”
There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. 95% are peaceful, only 5% are radical. That is still over 50 million people. 50 million people mixed with the media can make us think differently of the entire 1.7 billion.  In reality Islam isn’t the religion the media poses it to be. Visiting a Mosque can change the way you think. There are many different views of even Islam. It’s up to us to learn about these things and not just focus on the media.
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When Mati spoke to us it almost gave me goosebumps. One of my favorite topics he was talking about was when he said you need to acknowledge something before you fix something. Like with ourselves I the power of one we have to know who we are before we can fix ourselves. We are so quick to judge that we try to fix a religion or culture but we don’t even know it. He was also saying that we have a lot of similarities in religion but it is the differences that make it so unique. I loved that because we are always trying to get people to be a specific way but differences are something that we should admire. He talked a lot about how the most important source to learn from is books. He said that the we should use the Internet but not rely on it. I liked that he was saying that they think of woman more precious than jewels so they cover themselves to get rid of the distraction and to treat them not for their looks but for their minds. A part that Mati said was extremely powerful for me and I will remember it for a long time. Mati said, “God does not need us to pray, it is for our own benefit.” I loved that because God is perfect and righteous a person like that does not need people to bow down to him. God provides for us and he gives us the blessing to observe and choose for ourselves. Mati made a metaphor saying that God created man and woman differrent and that they are both needed. He said that one would be the transmission in the car and the other engine. You could have a really strong engine but without the transmission it could never move no matter how strong the engine is. You could have a great transmission but without the power of the engine it won’t go anywhere.
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I never in my life time thought that I would ever step foot in a mosque. I always thought that people who aren’t Christian are bad. That they are sinners and they are going to hell. Even though it was out of my comfort zone, it showed me a religion that was so strongly proud of what they believe. ” This wasn’t a strange place, it was a new one” ( The Alchemist). A man named Matt was speaking to us about his religion and his beliefs. Not word for word, but in quotes that he has made. One quote that stood out to me was, ” don’t trust google, find out for yourself.” I have always heard that but having him repeat it over and over hit me harder then anyone else saying it.
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Going to the mosque for a second time was different than before, especially having someone else teaching. I learned more about the religion and have a better understanding of it. I really liked the imam this time around. Some of the topics he told me about had better affect than last year. It was interesting and cool to hear about how people treat him since the attacks in Paris. When we were meeting his wife, she was fully covered. He even asked us, “doesn’t she look like she’s from a different land?” At first we laughed, and then he told us to be honest. We nodded, and he goes, “she’s completely American.” then smiled. She was the sweetest person I have ever met. I enjoyed this trip.
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This experience was eye opening to new cultures and religions. It gave me a new perspective on what Muslims believe and think about society. Something that I thought was cool was when they did the call for prayer because Matt was translating it for us. One of my favorite lines was ” God is the greatest, God is the greatest” because they take God and their religion so seriously. Something that I remembered that Matt said was, ” If a black person sat by a white person and asked him if he had fifty cents the white man would be quick to say no and look away. If a white man sat by a white man and asked him for fifty cents he would be going through his bag to find some money.” That stood out to me because it is acceptance and who society tell us we have to hang out with.
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Mati spoke to us about his religion and Cluture. He said that Christianity and Islam were very similar. Mati said Christianity and Islam both worship the same God. He said a lot of cool quotes. “Do not always rely on what people tell you.” People thought that Mati was a Muslim extrimest. We shouId not be so quick to judge. We should get to know someone not by looks but, by their 90%. Muslims have a lot of respect for God when they pray. It was really humbling for me when they put their noses to the floor to show that they are so much less then God. Christians just lay on the couch and do not pray respecfuly. Overall this was an amazing expirence to learn a different religion that I never knew.
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We talked to a Islamist with the name of Mati. He showed us the call for prayer (which was my favorite part) and showed us what he understood. Seeing the men do their prayer really stunned me and made me think about ‘they really love God and show it through their movements.’ It made me think on how the difference of prayer for Muslims and Christians. Why do we judge Muslims before we see what they do, they have better prayer than us.

Learning Excursion Reflection: The Great Sand Dunes

Learning Excursion

Our Great Sand Dunes adventure was truly phenomenal!  The students were well behaved, and I was truly impressed with the depth of learning, sharing, playing, and building community.  What a blessing to be at a school that allows this type of learning!

Below are several quotes we shared, analyzed, and responded to the past few days. I hope you enjoy. – Lance
Nature Quotations
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir (1838–1914)

What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn! ~Logan Pearsall Smith

Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard. -Unknown

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Khalil Gibran

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes. ~e.e. Cummings

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia. ~Charles A. Lindbergh

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. This natural beauty-hunger is made manifest in the little window-sill gardens of the poor, though perhaps only a geranium slip in a broken cup, as well as in the carefully tended rose and lily gardens of the rich, the thousands of spacious city parks and botanical gardens, and in our magnificent National parks — the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. — Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world. ~John Muir

Student Responses:

Sand  Dunes The  towering  dunes.  The  flowing  stream.  The  loud,  fun  van  rides.  The  awesome  prank.  The  gas  station  stops.  The  falling  tent.  The  warm  fire  with the  star  lit  sky  above.  I’d  say  this  trip  was  one  to  remember.  Friends. Community.  Determination  and  perseverance.  Nature,  solitude,  peace. Sand  Dunes,  had  it  all  for  us.  This  trip  was  amazing.  The  tight  knit community  plus  the  ineffable,  serene  location  was  absolutely  unique  and fantastic.  There  was  so  much  that  we  saw  and  did  there,  but  getting  to  the top  of  high  dune  definitely  was  remarkable.  “Forget  not  that  the  Earth delights  to  feel  your  bare  feet  and  the  winds  long  to  play  with  your hair.”  (Khalil  Gibran)  At  the  top,  the  dunes  felt  as  if  they  went  on  forever. The  winds  would  play  with  us  and  I  realized  how  worth  it  is  to  persevere. The  experience  to  do  this  was  phenomenal  and  I  hope  to  go  to  the  Sand Dunes  again someday, hopefully  with such a great  group. – Megan

This trip was one of my favorites. Some things that I liked were the Sand Dunes. We hiked up the Sand Dune and went sand boarding and sledding that was so much fun. Also the van rides it was fun jamming to music and laughing with friends. We also took a hike up to the waterfall. The waterfall was enviable. While we were up there we had quiet time that was so powerful to me listening to the stream and talking with God. It was fun sitting around the campfire as a community playing games and laughing. Over all I loved this trip hanging out with friends, laughing and being a community.  – Alli

I enjoyed coming on this sand dunes trip for many reasons, you may ask me “Luke what was your favorite part of the sand dunes trip” and you would probably hear an answer like sand boarding. That was my favorite part of the trip, but there was more to it than just that. God spoke to me in many ways on this trip, and seeing his beauty out in nature was incredible. That’s what I enjoyed about our sand dunes excursion. – Luke

I thought that this trip was the best school trip I have ever been on so far. One of my favorite parts were just camping and being with my friends, my other favorite part was playing a prank on the girls and Mr. Fink. I also thought being out in nature helped me reflect, and come to know god better. The sand dunes were amazing as well, the only bad part was that it was super windy and sand got in my eyes, but other than that my trip was amazing. – JP

I had such a fun week in the Sand Dunes. One of my favorite parts was the waterfall, the crashing water splashing on my face. The waterfall was so serene. I like how I can get closer to my friends and class. When we went to the Dunes I felt so accomplished because I went to the highest dune. It was also so fun when I went sand sledding. I crashed but that’s the fun of it. – Lauren

My favorite part about the camping trip, was running around in the forest. I felt like that it was so peaceful at night in there. Just the laughter and nature brings a whole new camping to the trip. It’s like the trees soaked up my worries and stress, and the grass cleaned it off. Stars seemed to be having a great time, shooting across the sky. Nothing that is man built could beat this appearance. No remotes to see this on Tv, no pictures from the past, man built resources that showed it, could still not beat the creation. – Jack

Nature is filling to the soul. The trip to the Sand Dunes was an amazing experience. Camping is refreshing and is an escape from everyday life and business. Hiking to the Sand Dunes was accomplishing. It was hard but the view was worth it it look like a painting of the museum. My favorite part of these trips are the nights. Pranking each other, talking, and getting to know each other are an essential part of these trips and will be memories that I will look back at. These trips help us become one with nature and each other. – Isabella

The trip we took to the sand dunes was remarkable in many different ways. I really enjoyed being out in nature, away from the classroom, experiencing the wilderness. I will never forget those moments in the outdoors, whether it was the view from the highest sand dune, or the canyon waterfall. The moments spent in community were also extremely memorable. I loved being with my friends sandboarding, in a tree, or even in the van ride. It is so awesome that we have the opportunity in our school to go on this amazing trip. Everything we did was super awesome, the Garden of the Gods was gorgeous, the sand dunes were wicked cool, the camping was fun, and the gator farm was epic. Overall it was an incredible learning experience. -Joseph

On this camping trip I felt in nature. There were only a few things we did inside. I felt like God was right with me the whole entire time. My two favorite parts of camping were the sand dunes and the waterfall hike. Reaching the highest sand dune was such a success for me. Seeing almost everything in Colorado was breath taking. I absolutely loved the waterfall hike. When I first walked in the cave and saw it I was amazed! The way the teachers put this trip together was great! I know I got closer to God in nature!  (Samantha )

One of the things that I really liked was the hike up to the waterfall and stream.I really enjoyed the walk up there for me that was the perfect amount of walking. When we got up there you could be one with nature. one thing that stuck out to me was when I got to talk to some of the new kids to the school like JP and Grace. I got to hang out with them some more. I loved stargazing.Where I live you only see ten or fifteen a night was really cool.I really liked hanging out with Ella,Kayleigh, samantha, Makayla and Grace. They always had a happy attitude and were ready to help and serve and they were all so sweet. (Gabby )

My favorite part of the trip was hiking the Sand Dunes! The reason why the Sand Dunes were my favorite part was because I was able to climb the tallest or second tallest Sand Dune. I had a huge open blister on the bottom of my foot but that didn’t stop me from hiking all the way up. Even though it hurt a little I wanted to succeed and I did. While we were hiking up the dunes I was able to hang out with friends and I also meet some new teachers and kids. I loved when the wind was blowing even though the sand hurt sometimes. You could feel the wind playing with your hair. It was phenomenal! I also liked sledding down the sand.  It was so much fun to fall off the sled.  Then I would get back on and sled the rest of the way down. A lot of people were extraordinary at boarding and sledding like Angelina Hogan, Dylan, Samantha and others. (Maddie)

We traveled to a beautiful camp ground where we set up camp… There was something special about it. Oh yeah, we’re right next to the Great Sand Dunes National Park! My goal was to get to the top of the second highest dune in the park. The dune is called High Dune. We rented sand boards and sand sleds to take to the top with us. Some of us went to the top of the dune. It felt really good to be up there except for the sand in my eyes. I felt so accomplished up there looking out to the other HUGE piles of sand. It was a great trip. After we sand sledded down from the dunes, we went on a hike to a great waterfall and took some time to think about how great our God is. He created the mountains that stand strong today. He created all animals that roam around in the grasslands or swim under the water. He made us so we can do all the things we do today. Thanks to Him we can climb to the top of the sand dunes or play sports with others. Also we can have a good time talking and hanging out with our friends. I’m so glad I got to go on this trip. It’s an experience I will never forget.    (Ben)

I thing the best part of the trip was the time we had at the waterfall to just listen. I know we learned that God can talk to us in a whisper or a loud voice, but I did not understand that it could be even smaller then that. I was sitting listening to the waterfall, when I decided to pray to God to ask him for a whisper. I wanted him to tell me something. Now that’s not bad. But when we started to get back together, I got mad because he had not talked to me at all. Then I got madder and madder. When realized that maybe he was not going to talk to me in plain English. Maybe he had tried to talk to me by giving me signs in nature. And I had not understood him because I thought that there was only one right way to hear God and because of that I missed him. My heart was not open enough for him to get in it a way that I would understand. I am sure that he wanted to tell me something, but my heart was not ready to understand it. So he gave me something to grow on and something to learn from so the next time my heart might be ready to hear him in the way he wants.    (Makayla)

We are Anastasis: Parent Perspective (My Day as an 8th Grader)

The following letter was written by Anastasis parent Amy Whitehouse.  Amy has 4 students that attend Anastasis: a kindergartener, fourth grader, seventh grader and eighth grader.  Amy generously agreed to allow us to post her letter here.
MY DAY AS AN 8TH GRADER……
I am completely blown away.  I’m not sure what I expected, but any expectations I had, have been far exceeded.  We started with Mr. Matt in devotions talking about Grace, and how God grants us grace day after day.  His ability to engage the kids while teaching God’s lesson was impressive.  I found myself wanting to come back to chapel each day and learn again as a child learns.
We then moved upstairs with Mr. Fink and the most amazing eight girls I’ve ever been around.  We were shown three pictures and asked to use one word to describe the picture.  Twice, I found myself with no word.  Not the girls though, they pulled words from their vocabulary lists that fit the picture in such detail, and yet sometimes in obscure ways.  Another mom and I kept looking at each other with bewilderment in our eyes.  I kept thinking…these are not the same girls that I knew just two years ago.  These girls carry themselves with such confidence.  They are not afraid of failure, so they are empowered to speak.  They throw out ideas and the depth of their conversations is actually something you can’t fathom until you witness it first hand.  We were next shown two pictures and were told to write a paragraph setting up the scene.  I had written a paragraph, but after listening to the girls, chose not to share mine. 🙂  These girls are further ahead than I am at 40!  Mr. Fink is inspiring.  The way he looks at the girls and validates what they say, is a gift given to these girls.  He listens with his whole being, and looks them in the eyes.
With his words and actions, he tells these girls over and over again during the day that they matter.  That they can be game changers.  That they can go into the world and make a difference.
Before lunch, we took a math test, which I failed horribly (even with cheating), and we were challenged to a competition.  Fink asked us questions off the Citizenship Test, and the kids won 27-8.  We were annihilated.  Enough said.
Next was our first Anastasis Communion.  This was absolutely beautiful.  It’s hard to describe in words what transpired.  All the classes gave presentations on what they have learned from Mr. Matt’s teachings this week.  Each class presentation was completely different and yet so true to who they are, and where they are in life.
Next, Mr. Matt, Mr. A, and the teachers gave each child bread and juice representing Jesus’ body and blood shed for us.  They looked deep into each child’s eyes and spoke life into them.  I about cried as I heard Mr. Matt say, “Tommy, you know that Jesus died just for you?  Do you realize Tommy, Jesus loves you and did this for YOU??”  Beautiful. We then separated into classes, and every teacher prayed a blessing over their own class.  I was able to listen to three different prayers, and literally felt the power of God’s love prayed out over my kids.
Matthew then prayed over the entire school.  The Holy Spirit was alive and active.  Many of us actually felt “electricity” through our legs, myself included.  My 10-year-old told me she physically felt the Holy Spirit enter her body.  Her legs went numb, she started sweating, and her glasses fogged up.  She knew it was the Spirit entering her body.  Amazing.
Next….more school work to do.  Mr. Fink had us watch a film called “Baraka.”  I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it, as there is so much to this film.  But my take-away is we all get so caught up with our own agendas, our stuff, our goals, etc. that we find ourselves in the middle of a wound up bundle of chaos.  God has so much more in store for us, but do we take time to be quiet and listen to that still, small voice?
We ended with dodgeball.  I’m telling you….those 8th grade girls are tough!!
I’m so thankful to Lance for extending the invitation for parents to come and be a part of our kids life at Anastasis.  We as parents get so wrapped up with the details of math, grammar, spelling, etc. which are important, but at the end of the day, there is so much more to life and “education.”  I saw kids who KNOW who they are.  I saw kids understand that God loves them completely.  I saw my own daughter FEEL the Holy Spirit enter her body.  I saw my 8th grader standing tall with confidence which needed to be rebuilt.  I saw time and time again teachers speaking truth and words of LIFE into our kids.  I saw teachers faces light up when a child approached them.  This speaks to our kids hearts.  This is living for Jesus.  This is what matters.  This is what I witnessed today at Anastasis Academy.  What our teachers teach, can’t be labeled with a grade, or put into a box.  They are teaching outside of the box, and in turn, our kids will learn to live outside of the box.  Jesus was never one to live inside a box, and He certainly didn’t request that we do so.  I could not be more filled with thankfulness to God for giving Matthew and Kelly the vision for our school, and for hand-picking each and every teacher who spends 40 hours a week speaking life and truth into my children’s lives.
So full of thankfulness and joy!!
Amy