Lessons from Santa Barbara: Student Reflections #comments4kids

Last week Anastasis Jr. High spent the week learning and serving in Santa Barbara, California. Below are their reflections from the trip.

 

Whether we were tackling each other in the sand, riding bikes through the rivers, sliding down waterfalls, or hiding beneath the stars, my lips were constantly lifted into a smile and my heart was beating in a rhythm of joy; Santa Barbara will always be a place of memories and echoes of laughter in my head. When plunging into the cold water my spirit plunged into a zest for adventure. When the tires of my bike slowed in the mud my mind seemed to slow, which caused me to live in the present, not the past or future. When we served the people who didn’t have homes, my heart felt like it was the one being served. Two of the adventures that stood out to me the most were the Seven Falls and chapel at the Rescue Mission. The Seven Falls not only allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, but also allowed a new communication throughout our class. We struggled a little, but then we found our strength. Encouragement and hands reached out to me and helped me get to the top of the falls and the excitement and water did the rest. I saw the beauty of God’s creation not only in the holes of water, but in the care of my classmates. At the chapel, my soul felt alive. While hearing the worship songs be sung, I listened to the lady clap in front of me; it was beautifully off beat. I could see the true love and gratitude flowing out of her, and the room seemed to brighten. Sometimes I sing the songs and read the verses, but my heart only sways slightly side to side; in this chapel my heart danced. Each year Santa Barbara holds a different experience and every year I come back wishing I never had to leave.  –Megan

Going to Santa Barbara is a great time to get out of our comfort zones and build community. Getting out of your comfort zone is important because we will get new experiences. We have so many chances to step out of our comfort zones, but do we take hold of that opportunity? Over this trip I got that chance to step out of my comfort zone. On Tuesday of this trip we went on a bike ride, and we crossed rivers and rode around and through big rocks. This made me step outside my comfort zone a little because I wouldn’t normally choose to do something like this. On this bike ride I got to connect with some of my class mates and get to know them a little bit better. Even small things like getting to know someone better can build community. Community is a great thing, I really got to connect and build community with my class at 7 falls. We really helped each other out and showed community. This trip is so fun and I love going ever year to build community and get closer to my class. — Lauren

Santa Barbara, California is a beautiful place to visit, both to the eyes and to the soul.
Yes, the area was full of palm trees and beautiful horizons, which is wonderful, but I got to experience something more amazing than that, too: community. I met new people like Jon (our guide) and his family, and I got to strengthen my bonds with my classmates and teachers. We had a great time, no doubt because of adventures like biking and surfing, but absolutely because of friendship. I had a bunch of laughs when Macie put some kitchen liquids in my hair and spiked it up, not to mention when Alli and Lauren kept copying me when I spoke, but I also had a great time when Jack, Mitch and I decided to take a small adventure by sleeping outside for a night as opposed to wear we normally slept. Community is what really made the trip enjoyable. — Jackson

Sometimes the best way to feel alive is when you are in a new place, with new experiences and people to do them with you. Santa Barbara was not only a door to exploring, but also led to friendships and teamwork. A specific adventure strengthened my views on what it means to work as a team and build one another up. We went to 7 Falls and had to hike upstream in our tennis shoes and eventually climb up natural rock slides. The rocks were slippery and everyone struggled  to find that boost of endurance to keep them going. Finally someone made it to the top and immediately provided a helping hand. Each of us hoisted one another up onto rocks trusting that someone would hold us so we wouldn’t fall. We learned it was not a race to the top, but how we could use our strength to empower, help, and trust those around us. We learned to not be discouraged by our failures, but simply laugh at them and get back up and try even harder. The 7 Falls hike was not only beneficial to my character, but to our bond as a class and I am assured it has strengthened it in the process.   –Macie

Learning outside of the class room walls is the best way to get an education. In school we learn about math, science, language arts, history, but when is school going to teach you about life? Santa Barbara was an amazing trip that I gained so much knowledge on. Serving at PATH was an experience I will never forget. Talking and hearing these homeless people’s story’s is what will stick with me my whole life, not an A on a test. It’s beautiful to see a community with such wonderful stories gather together. Helps me realize that they shouldn’t be called the homeless but the hopeful. Each one of them showed hope through everything that they were going through. That’s something that a test at school can’t teach you. Learning outside of a class room also allows you to step outside of your comfort zones, to face your fears head on. In Santa Barbara I faced my biggest fear of sharks by swimming in the ocean. It helped me get over this idea of being eaten by a shark just by swimming in the ocean. Can sitting in a class room teach you that? Teaching people the word of God to people who have lost it is something you can only do. It’s showing others your faith in the Lord and possibly changing their loves forever just by expanding the class room walls to the edges of the earth.  –Angelina

Having a heart is more than loving yourself. It’s being able to look outside of the glass world you live in and putting a smile on someone’s face. It’s noticing when someone’s having a bad day and needs a kind word kindly spoken. Kind words spread across your heart, but kindly spoken words get rooted deep where no one else can find them. While we were in Santa Barbara, we discovered everything from little creatures at the depth of the sand floor to the water slides at top of a water fall. We didn’t just turn Santa Barbara inside out looking for adventure and activity, but we turned ourselves inside out looking for community and love. While we were looking for community and love within ourselves, what we were really looking was a family that was waiting for us to jump aboard. Santa Barbara is a trip that I will never forget, and it will be the trip that I remember as when I searched deep within myself but found something better in others. –Mak

God is good, and that definitely showed in many ways during last week. I got to bond with all of my classmates, form stronger relationship with my teachers, and have the best time trying new things I’ve never done before. It was so much fun I want to stay for another week. Just because we couldn’t that made our time together so much more precious. I don’t have a favorite part about this trip because all of it was equally amazing. I got to surf, play sand volleyball, cliff jump, have lucky charms at midnight, mountain bike, and many more activities. But if I didn’t do any of those activities and just had my classmates and teachers sitting down together talking and laughing I would be just as fun. My friends were the trip. We bonded so much I am in a loss for words. Since most of my classmates are  graduating this year we really had to be in the moment and not think about the future.”Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.”-Unknown. All my friendships with my classmates and the memories that we made together are impossible to leave behind us. I will forever remember this trip and so stoked to be going again next year.  –Chachi

Santa Barbara was not only a trip where I can laugh, learn, and bond with new people but it is a place where I can grow my relationship with God. Santa Barbara is a place I will always remember and never forget. Through out this trip I never had a frown on my face ecept maybe when we played bean boozed. I was always laughing with some one weather it was laughing when Lauren got stuck in the quick sand or just laughing in the van. Every day I learned something new. When we were hiking the 7 falls hike I learned that we need each other to help us acomplish something. I also learned that team building is a very important skill to have. It is important to communicate and solve problems by useing each other’s ideas. On this trip I bonded with new people I only knew on a serfice level. I got to talk a lot with Maddie on this trip on the bike ride. As we were walking our bikes across the river we laughed and had a great time. My biggest take away of the whole trip was getting to know God through different prospectives. By doing the bike ride, surfing, and being in nature without my phone I got to experience God through simple things, like listening to the ocean or birds chirping. Overall this trip had so many highlights and lessons that I will carry with me through out my life.  –Alli

I walk out on this rocky path and explore. I explore beyond the 10 percent of who I am, who my neighbor is and the world that I am standing on. I start to see groups collide and start being transformed into one. I can feel the positive energy rise, and when the energy starts to drop I know it will rise again quickly. I experience caring, laughter and bonds of friends becoming one big family. Finally I slide off the rocky path while facing a fear. Then I open my eyes and realize that I am standing in a stream of water, with sand at the bottom of my feet and with a new family who is with me when I am afraid and when it’s time to go on another adventure while making memories.  –Maddie

At Santa Barbara we did not go just to play but we strengthen our community through these adventures and serving others. On the first day we got there we strengthen their community by climbing up these falls with no steps nor anything to hold onto, we just had to boost each other up and trust each other, that they have had our backs. We also had to trust the rocks like we have to trust God.
You had nothing to stand in your way except for yourself because you could do it if you believed in yourself. Even though you might not want to do it you would regret not doing it. We strengthen community by getting away from technology and not  always having our phones in our faces.   For example Lauren and I had nothing to talk about on the way there but on the way back we were full of conversation. Also getting to know people with out the stress of daily life and just being in the moment revealed a new side of each person. Over all I would go back again thousands of times and learn more about my classmates.  –Lauren

Going to Santa Barbara was an adventure to remember and to build community. Building community with classmates that I rarely hangout with made me grow stronger trough my friendships. I remember when Jackson, Jack, and I went outside to spend a night outside. We all learned to go out of our comfort zones. Climbing up the water slides on the seven falls hike made our community better and better. I know that this was my last time going to Santa Barbara but at least we spent our time well.  –Mitch

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Lessons from a WWII Veteran: Student Response

Last week we were privileged and honored to host Metanoia guest speaker, Clayton Nattier (see photo above), World War II Air Force pilot, purple heart recipient and former POW. Mr. Nattier shared stories of his personal experiences leading his flight team, parachuting into enemy territory and enduring the hardships of life as a POW in a German prison camp. His compelling stories left an impression on Anastasis students. See some of their comments below:
Times are changing. It’s not before long when souls move on and their legacies remain. Thank you so much Clayton for sharing your inspirational story. I’m still amazed that I got to speak with a national treasure such as yourself. Your story showed me the dire importance of Bravery even when fear seems to crown itself, the importance of hope when the lights seem to fade away, and the power of love even when times seem as if they are out to destroy us. I encourage you to keep spreading your story and inspiring souls in this universe. Your story has made an impact on our world and an imprint on my heart.
Even with hardships I saw the amazing faith and positivity. The story that you shared with us is so special and heroic. It’s amazing to think that through trauma God has a plan for all of us. When you told the part of your story when you had to bail from your plane, I was astounded by your true bravery and courage. You have inspired me and I am so lucky to have heard your story. Thank you, Clayton, you are truly a national treasure. 
Thank you for teaching me something that I will never forget. Something that will not just be planted on my heart, but rooted in it. You taught me that when life is hard, God is good. That when life isn’t going how we planned, all we can do is put a smile on our face and believe. Believe that something will change. Believe that God isn’t a dictator or an enemy. He is a Father, our Father. “You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.” You have taught me that it’s not just about how you have lived life, it’s about what you 
have learned from it. 
Thank you for serving in a hard war and wanting to do it again. Thank you for being vulnerable and talking about it. Thank you for sharing I learned that it helps to share your story so we can learn from it. Thank you for taking precious time out of your day. You are a great story. 
Clayton is truly an inspiration to this day. He had hope, faith, courage, and bravery in one of the most hardest times in history. Thank you so much Clayton for sharing your incredible story with us today. It is truely an honor to hear and see you to this day still living life to the fullest. Thank you for coming and serving your country.
Not many people will be able to say they have heard a story of a war hero. Today I was lucky enough to listen to Clayton’s story and how he protected our country. The most amazing thing ever to hear is that even though Clayton was a prison or of war, that he lost some great friends, that thousands of people died, he would do it all over again to protect our country. I would like to thank Clayton and all the veterans of World War Two for protecting myself and all the citizens of America. These veterans are treasures of the war that should 
never be forgotten.

Thank you, Mr. Clayton for everything you have done for our nation. I thank you for having served bravely with the love you have fueling your spirit. We are forever grateful to you for protecting our freedom and way of life, as well as protecting our independence. I thank you for that. I thank you for every act of love you have shared, and I thank you, most importantly, for never forgetting who you are.
Clayton was a brave and inspirational man. I loved hearing his story and that if he could change anything he wouldn’t. I loved hearing him talk about how he got to fly the airplanes and how much work that was. I took a lot away from this but something that I will remember for a long time is that he was brave and didn’t give up. Thank you Clayton for speaking to us and serving our country.
Clayton is a national treasure to many people. Not too many people are still alive today from WW II to show the new generation what true courage and bravery is. Thank you Clayton for sharing your story and being a primary source to all of us. My grandpa was a Colonel in the Army and hearing his stories was life changing and every single time I hear a story from experiences from war they all sound different in there own special way. Your faith and joy throughout your experience is inspiring to me to be more faithful and be brave. Thank you.
Clayton, thank you so much for all you have done for me and this country. Your really are a national treasure because there’s not many people left that are similar to you. I loved hearing your personal story and your experience in World War II. My favorite part on what you said was about how even in all that had happened to you, you still had hope. I think you were super brave to go and be apart of the war and you would still do it if you traveled back in time. 
May God bless you.  

Cultural Pilgrimage: Reflections from our visit to a Buddhist Temple and Hindu Temple #learningisbigger #commentsforkids #denver

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My experience with the Hindu and Buddhist temples was good. All of the people we met showed great hospitality and shared amazing wisdom, and we can learn a lot from what they believe. From Buddhists, we can learn to persevere through the hardships of life. As the Buddha himself allegedly said, “Life is suffering”, and is believed to have risen above suffering and attained nirvana. Even if we may not believe this to be true, we can still learn perseverance, no matter what struggles we may face in our lives.

Now let’s see what Hindus bring to the table. At the Hindu temple, Ananda said that God’s forgiveness is greater than His justice, which goes to show that just as Christians believe that God is merciful, Hindus do too. We can also learn to be more loving and devoted to our God like Hindus do. When they give offerings to God, the point is not that God takes the offering, but rather accepts their love and devotion to Him. We struggle with that a lot, considering the temptations of this world.

The things I mentioned are few of many lessons to be learned from these people, but nonetheless important.   –Jackson

 
Going a second time to the Hindu and Buddhist temple has given me a new perspective. Buddhism is such a unique religion. After going a second time I still don’t fully understand it. One of my favorite concepts of this religion is “to live a simple but fulfilled life.” (Diana) I feel that sometimes my life is to crowded. I can’t live a fulfilled life. Another one of my favorite concepts is the lotus flower. It grows in dirt but comes out beautiful. We are all broken in some way but when we become enlightened we are glued back together. One thing I learned was that we all have differences but instead of looking at the flaws we should honor our differences. Hinduism is a fascinating religion. I learned that Hinduism revolves around hidden service and putting other before your self. “The nature of the sole is to serve.” (Tushta)  We should not serve in a boastful way. We should serve in a hidden way. I learned that when we serve it should be un motivated and we get more out of it if we give rather than take. Overall this was an incredible religious pilgrimage and I am so sad this is my last time.  — Alli

 

I live in a world of glass. It’s a world where reality lays just beyond the bend. It’s a world where sometimes I can feel like I can reach out and grasp God, but then that barrier of glass reality slaps me in the face. I realize how far I really am from grasping God. “No one is perfect.”(Diana Thompson). I may know that deep down in my heart that I am no where close to God, but I still reach out my hand to try and touch him. I realize that my world of glass is as clear as me. It is as blind and lost as me. When ever I get slap in the face with reality, God always lifts me up and tells me try again. Whether it is through yoga, enlightenment, or wishful thinking, he will always lift me back up. Right as I am about to give up and escape my world of glass to enter into hell, I remember. I remember how God is always there. I remember that with the remembrance of God there can never be hell. I remember that God will always lift me up and tell me to try again. So I try. I try with the little speck of energy that I have left to reach God. This time, instead of reaching out to try and grasp him, I close my eyes and fall. I fall right through the glass barriers into Gods waiting arms, and hear him say, “All you had to do was close your eyes and trust me.”  –Mak

 
Looking back on my experience going to the Buddhist and Hindu temple was really cool for me because I got to change my perspective even more on religion. What I could contribute to my life from the Buddhist temple was to be more enlightened with me and others. I also really like what Diana said about karma. If you do something good or bad it will come back to you, but if you spread happiness it will lead and chain reaction to others. (Diana). In the Hindu temple I felt peace and comfort through the song that Tushta and Ananda sang and what we were discussing. My favorite quote from the day was, “Every word is a song and every step is a dance” (Tushta).  What that meant to me was that everything we do is either worshiping God or going against him. Our body can be good and bad depending on our mind and actions. I really enjoyed going to the Buddhist and Hindu temple and stepping out of my comfort zone.  –Charleigh

 
Buddhism:
Look to find peace through different perspectives. “People see things in different ways.”(Diana Thompson). Everyone is not always going to agree on the same thing. God made us to think differently but unique. In the Buddhism religion there are three different kinds of peace, finding peace within, finding peace with our peers and finding peace with nature. Discovering those three different kinds of peace looks different to everyone. In my opinion If you discover the three peace’s that will make God easier to find and to talk to, because you’re not in a rush to find peace. This also reminds me of the Buddhist symbol because Diana said the wheel also represents that everyone has their own path and none of the paths were the same. Looking through different perspectives matter.  –Maddie

 
Hinduism:
We need to be true servants. “True happiness is service.” (Tushta. When we are true servants we are happy. Hidden service is the best kind of service. Another thing that stood out to me was when Anada talked about how if we had a bracelet we can see all the beads, but the thing that is holding it together is the string. God is the string. God works in our life in so many different ways maybe it’s through others or scripture, but God talks to us through something. He can also show Himself through perspectives. I felt like I could feel God in the Hindu temple. It is cool to learn more about these religions and get a new perspective on it.   –Lauren

 
There is lotus flowers in the muck, and a thread that holds together a pearl bracelet. We are constantly under the muck, in the rubble of destruction. We are stuck there with everyone else. Our brains break down, instead of our hearts breaking free, but beauty still lives inside us. We have to unleash the beauty and become the one flower that blooms through brokenness and the lotus that perfectly settles in the midst of muck. When we become this beauty we inspire others to sprout as well. Everything is connected. “Karma is considering what you do because you effect others.” (Dianna, Buddhist teacher). Karma is always happening because our actions are constantly impacting others. We are all pearls on a bracelet, all connected by a thread. “We might not see the thread but the thread is needed. The thread is God.” (Ananda, Hindu teacher). At the temples today I realized that Buddhism doesn’t really have much structure. Buddhism believes everything is connected, but it’s as if the Buddhist people don’t see the thread that holds us together. The tread which is God. There are many great practices in Buddhism like the eight-fold path, which teaches doing right and being aware, yet there was an absence of structure and faith. Dianna seemed open to almost any beliefs, but she didn’t appear to have her own. On the other hand, at the Hindu temple I really could see they believed in a greater being. The Hindu people believe in Krishna, the thread of all. “Every word is a song and every step is a dance.” (Tushta, Hindu Teacher). The Hindu religion was constantly singing, listening, and dancing for God. Devotion and surrender were two words that were brought up. God constantly sculpts us, but we have to allow Him. We must surrender and meditate in devotion. When we serve we are dancing and singing. Service is a huge part of what Tushta taught us. “A person who is in a giving mood feels much more fulfillment.” (Tushta). Especially in the world today we are told fulfillment comes through materialistic items, but when we serve others the fulfillment we feel is much deeper than then our torn skin, we fill the void within us. Overall, these trips today are an eye opening experience and pull me closer to God in an abundance of ways. I feel inspired to be the beauty when there is brokenness and to thank and celebrate the Thread that holds all creation together.  — Megan

 
This experience at the Buddhist temple fed the lotus flower that is starting to bloom within my spirit. We are all stuck in the muck, but we all have the potential to blossom into to be beautiful and pristine like the lotus flower. (Diana Thomson). We must recognize the inner beauty each one of us has before we can go on and place it amongst the universe. One of the ways we can portray this beauty amongst the world is by being aware that our every action has an affect somewhere else. “Everything we do here and now has an affect somewhere else.”(Diana Thomson). Everything is interconnected; therefore what we do impacts the world around us. We have control over what we spit out into the universe whether it be good or bad. We choose to nourish the world with good actions or break it with our selfish and over attached ways.
What we do whether it be good or bad tends to come back to us. We must be cautious of what we place in society because not only will it come back to us, but it will either hurt or encourage others. “Its not what you get back, but rather how it affects others.”(Diana Thomson). Sometimes we will fail at inducing love and joy within others, but even if there are unintended consequences we must prevail.
I appreciated when Diana Thomson was talking about how service is in fact extremely important in our daily lives. I was inspired by the offerings the Buddhists would offer to the Buddha because it showed their humility and the importance to give before you yourself takes. (Diana Thomson). This experience fed my inner lotus flower with the importance of service, inner beauty, our actions, and most importantly that everything is interconnected.
There is a supreme Divine in this world and this Divine is the reservoir of all beauty. This experience opened my eyes once more that Hinduism is a similar reflection to my own view of God. God is like the thread that strings underneath every pearl attached to it. At first you may not see the thread, but it is there and holds everything together. (Ananda). Together both the pearls and the thread create a beautiful piece of art. God holds all of us together sculpting a masterpiece in the end. It takes time to sculpt a masterpiece out of muck, but first we must find the yolk between us and the Lord. We must connect with God. When we connect with the Lord we will understand how truly magnificent the Divine is. We often confine God to a certain race or religion, but God has no limits. God has no limits, he is just God. (Tushta). Humans limit themselves of what we can and can’t do. We accept the idea of serving, yet we never take action because of the borders we set for ourselves. I loved how both Tushta and Ananda were talking about the importance of serving others. Serving others satisfies our hunger for purpose and also is what we are called to do. If a person is giving they feel fulfilled. (Tushta). When we love God and recognize God loves us we will extend that love throughout the universe, feel fulfilled, and help others feel fulfilled as well. I also appreciated the perspective Ananda took on hell. Hell is just the act of forgetting God.(Ananda). When we forget God we are not fulfilled and our hunger for beauty is not quenched. We must always look towards God and see the thread underneath even in hardships because the Divine is the reservoir for all beauty and beauty prevails.  — Macie

 

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Lunch with friends from the Denver Rescue Mission #comments4kids

Team Fink has visited and served at the Denver Rescue Mission over the years. Yesterday, some of the gentlemen from the Denver Rescue Mission visited and served us at Anastasis. It was a pretty incredible day! Student reflections below. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

image1.JPGBefore you see the beauty in the world you have to appreciate the brokenness. You have to find the light in the dark. You can only find the beauty if you persevere through the hardships. Life is hard, but God is good. Beauty is in a smile that lights up the world. Beauty is in a act of kindness that changes a life. Beauty is in a story that changes our definition of hope. The stories that I heard today really opened my blind eyes. The stories made me want to live my life to the fullest and be purposeful with everything I do. Now I have a motive to serve instead of being served. Now I am aware of the world. Now I can look at the world through open and curious eyes.
–Makayla A.

We all have a story that needs to be told, a story that only our journey in life can write. Our souls are hungry for someone to listen and read our story. Today I was blessed with listening to these stories. Each and everyone of them impacted me in some way, and that is a feeling I will never forget. Their story all had a common theme, they all said that God was there even when they hit their hard times. Except they chose to look and not really see. We can try so hard to look for God, but we can miss him because we are distracted by others circumstances. Circumstances that God has put in our life to test us of our faith. That’s what I struggle with. I struggle to find the beauty in the hard times, but I believe that’s when we truly look and see God. It’s the beauty in brokenness that our souls and minds long for. We just have to choose to see the beauty instead of the broken. We all have a story that needs to be told, a story that only our journey in life can write.   — Angelina

Thank you so much, you guys all told me to get right back up when sin happens and you guys all felt beauty in brokenness. I learned so many new lessons that you can only Learn from experience. Experience is walking through the valley of shadow and death and staying strong with God.
-Mitch

I thank Torris, Todd, Bill, Johnathan, Seth, Bill, and Fish for coming to share their testimonies with us. My biggest take away was you can find God in the valley of the shadow of death, you can find God in brokenness. God is always in front of us, but never do we actually open our eyes to see him. Their testimonies kept reminding me of my uncle who was homeless and how he kept pushing God away. I don’t know if he died a Christian, but I still pray that he is watching over my mom and encouraging her and I to be better Christians. I feel like my uncle was trying to talk to me through the guys from Denver Rescue Mission. I felt peace. I felt encouragement to listen to God more and trust him. Thank you for your stories Fish, Seth, Johnathan, Todd, Bill and Torris. Thank you.   –Charleigh

A blessing for you, and a blessing for us. A blessing for you to tell, who you are. Giving our class. Hope. Showing the similarities and differences between just two humans. Each story ends up in the same path, it’s just that there are different paths. You chose there, he chose here, and he went there. We will agree on the same path, some we will not. All in all, we end up in the same path. If you could analyze your story in one word, what would it be? You have effected my story, with choosing some paths, and some different paths.  — Jack

The empowerment of their testimonies was thriving. The men from Denver Rescue Mission, Torres, Seth, Todd, Bill, Fish, and Jonathan, told us their story’s. They talked about their struggles up to the rescue from God and denver rescue mission. It was amazing to hear and learn from them and about them. They talked about how they misused drugs and explained how there is always light in the valley of the shadow of death. They always had God but sometimes they forgot about him. There faith is stronger than ever now because they were broken and their finding the beauty. They are so vulnerable to tell their story’s. I’m inspired to transform my faith to be stronger. I need to learn to be more vulnerable. Over all I want to take more time to think. Thank you to Torres, Seth, Todd, Bill, Fish, and Jonathan. Your stories are all each individually different and amazing.  –Noelle

Thank you all so much for coming to our school. I loved each of your unique stories and how you found God at the end of each dark tunnel. Every one of you has inspired me to be more like Christ and share that with others. Sometimes I struggle to find God in hard times. Your stories have inspired me to look for God in hard times. I appriciate all of you being so vulnerable and sharing your inspiring stories. Life is like a roller coster there are highs and lows but at the end of the ride each of you reunited with God. Thank you all again for coming!  –Alli

Thank you all for being brave and sharing your stories! That really impacted my life in many ways. I learned so much about life just from hearing those stories. I understand that life is like a roller coaster, there will be uphills and downhills, but God is always there to help guide us to the right path. I really liked when someone said “We found Jesus but we just had to open our eyes.” I feel like when we are connected with God our eyes are opened for the first time. I can relate to one of you, but not on a deeper level. I’m adopted from China when I was a baby and I never knew my real parents or family. Thank you all again for sharing your stories it was very inspirational! –Maddie

There is beauty in pain and trials all we have to do is look for it and let it find us. Many of you explained to us that evil will try to deceive you in many ways. Evil may seem lovable, but it is just a trick to stray from Gods path he has planned for us. The valley of shadow and death portrays itself as an escape of the struggle and pain we have in life, but beauty does not lie in this place. Beauty can be found through enduring this shadow of death, but we can not find beauty in this place because God will always be with us. No matter what, God will be with us no matter what path we walk upon. “God always is in your life whether you see him or not.” Each an every one of their story left a stamp on my heart that will be carried with me throughout my whole life. Each one their stories had a common thread which portrayed that God reveals himself even in the brokenness. Even though life throws mountains and rivers for us to cross, we endure them because our souls have a hunger to find beauty. God is the Beauty that we find in the brokenness and we must mold our eyes to accept and see Him even when evil throws a new lense over our eyes. There is beauty in pain and hardships, but if we let God find us and we strive to find Him we will be renewed. –Macie

Everybody has a story. Today Toris, Bill, Tod, Fish, Jonathan and Seth told us their stories. These men encouraged me to have a story and to trust God. Something that stood out to me was all of them came to God in their brokenness. We need to stay on our path with God and not drift off to bad things. We will probably never know what they felt like because we have loving families. We take so much for granted but we don’t relize what we really have.   –Lauren

Hearing one story can inspire thousands and through brokenness there is truly beauty. Fish, Torres, Jonathan, Tod, Seth, and Bill were such amazing people and definitely a huge impact in my life. Jesus works in ways we can never imagine. He has a plan even when we are in the valleys of the shadow of death He is constantly beside us. The vulnerability to share their hardest times was so powerful. We are blinded to see what others gifts are because all we look at is the surface. We choose to view the bad, when really there is so much more good. There was horrible moments these men had to face, yet they found God in the darkness and have been made new, redeemed. I have moments when i’m doubting, I am constantly sinning because I am a sinner, I walk in the valleys of death once in a while, but God always appears in my life. Hearing the stories today showed me the power of our Lord. God is walking with us every moment and when we can’t see His footprints it’s because we are in His arms.    –Megan S

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.

Being There: Student Post

Posted originally on Makayla’s blog January 13, 2016

|Makayla|
I have a name. I want people to know it. I love being called by my name because that means that I am known. At school, If I fall down, I get picked up. If it’s by a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. I get picked up.

I am like no other. And I’m not afraid to show it. Here, is where I am wanted. If I am having a bad day, I get encouraged. If it’s by a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. I get encouraged.

If I’m struggling, I will have help. I will not get left alone. I will get help. If it’s by a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. I get helped.

I used to feel ashamed of what I didn’t know. But now, I’m not. You have to embrace that you don’t know everything. And then you can learn and not be afraid to ask questions. If I need someone to help me get up the staircase of life, then someone will be there. If it’s a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. Someone will always be there.

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.