Student Reflections: Santa Barbara #comments4kids

Last week, Team Fink went on our annual “Surf and Serve” trip to Santa Barbara with Simply Venture. Below are their written reflections:
image7
The stars were our flashlights, frogs and crickets were our music, the smell was fresh pine. “The earth has music for those who listen.” (Santana). We fell down a lot but we were able to help each other up and laugh about it. During the hike, we all were warning each other about where it was slippery and easy to fall. When we got to the top of the mountain we saw lights from the city, it was almost like it came out of a painting. When I wasn’t falling It felt peaceful. Everything on that hike was so beautiful, but then again I couldn’t really see anything. I’m curious about what it looks like during the day. What made it so beautiful was being out in nature with my friends surrounded by God’s creation. I’m glad I was able to experience the night hike, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’m grateful for our week in Santa Barbara. – Kaleigh
Sometimes trusting isn’t always knowing what will happen, sometimes trusting is stepping over the edge and hoping there will be something or someone there to catch you. When we went cliff jumping, I was scared at first. I was so high up and didn’t know how it would feel if I jumped into the water. I put my trust in God and jumped. When I jumped into the water for the first time, I leaped into God’s loving arms. Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight. The cold water rushed over me and as I surfaced, I wasn’t scared anymore. I saw the sun reflecting on the emerald green water that had seemed scary just a minute ago. I remember the cold feeling in my toes when I first slid into the water, gliding from the shore to the next rock. I remember the terror that filled me thinking about what may lurk below the surface, but now I knew that those fears were irrational and I began to see the beauty in not knowing. I am glad I can now see the beauty of what God has created in Santa Barbara, the beauty in California and the beauty in all of nature. Now that I have been to Santa Barbara I am beginning to see the beauty in not knowing what is below the surface, not knowing there is mud that causes devastation and not knowing how far I will have to fall for someone to catch me. – Sophie
In Santa Barbara, we saw, experienced, and learned so many things that we will remember in the future. The courthouse, the ocean, beautiful trails, and a culture filled with Spanish heritage. A large harbor filled with boats, ocean and a large pier at the end. Walking through this wonderland of sand, boats, docks and the smell of fish was super fun. We used this opportunity to learn about American and Spanish history. One thing that interested me was the fact that America took Nevada, Arizona, California and some other states in a surge in power and size. Another interesting thing was reading the story of how the pier burnt down in 1973. One of the restaurants caught on fire and that resulted in a 13 million dollar reconstruction of the pier. The pier is commonly known as Stearns Wharf and is named after the man who constructed it, John P. Steans. I really enjoyed the social aspect of that walk too. I talked with some people I don’t normally talk to and related what we were seeing to the movie Finding Dory. It was super fun the remember that movie with people who I would not have even talked to back in Colorado. This walk allowed me to learn it’s easy to remember junk that never would have crossed my mind. An example of that was how the sea lion made us think of Finding Dory. We spent the rest of that walk looking for the other characters. -Will
The trip to Santa Barbara showed me the true beauty of nature and Gods people. I learned what made us natural in our own way. I experienced the flow of peace. God had a lot of presence there, and I felt it. We learned more about ourselves and the unexpected parts of others. There was the feeling of interconnectedness within. Seeing the devastation of the mud slides and homelessness showed me that the people of Santa Barbara cared about each other even though they had no relation. The homeless were pure people in need of God and love. You could tell they were working hard to overcome the hardships they were buried in. I told stories about myself and I learned more about others. I learned that those who surround me care about my well being. Overall, I would go to Santa Barbara any day. — OLIVER
The ocean used to be too big and too cold, but on the plane home, it looked so small out the planes square window. On the beach, I could feel the sand on my feet as I grabbed a board. The sun was no match for the cold water. I ran forward toward the ocean. Then I ran back as the icy water chased my feet back to my comfort zone. Surfing used to be something that seemed terrifying. My mind only focused on the fear I felt inside and I couldn’t see the adventure waiting for me in Santa Barbara. When I was sitting in the water I could feel the pressure of my fear like someone knocking on a door telling me what I already knew, somewhere in the ocean I was sitting in, my fear swayed in the currents. Then the wave came, the wave that told me to start paddling and stand up. Then I was riding the fear that had me trapped for so long and it brought me to the shore. Soon enough I was paddling out again waiting for a wave. The waves got bigger and I fell what seemed about a hundred times, but the waves always came and I would stand up again. The sun went down and my fear grew smaller. My mind, heart, and soul were with me on the surf board. In the waves, I felt alive. In Santa Barbara, I got rid of my biggest fear. I am no longer scared of the ocean. We will see what happens after I watch shark week this summer. —Ella
Wave after wave crashes over onto the soft, smooth sand of the shore. Every wave with a force to take you under. Each wave crashing into our bodies. The numbness of your hands and feet make it so that every step is a privilege to be walking. The wet suits are on and ready to embrace the frigid sea. The thought of sharks lingers around in my head. What if all the movies I’ve watched become reality? What if I see a shark? Dreadful thoughts filled my head, but they were silly. Why would I be afraid when there is so much beauty around me to embrace? The surfers rise and stand with pride. The second you catch a wave is the second you feel that nothing is impossible. “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). The Santa Barbara breeze was calling us with a sweet whistle. Running, playing, chasing on those beaches with the sand between our toes and the numbness screeching; take me back to California.  — Kuyla
Running to the cold salty water that I have not touched for 7 years was amazing. When my feet touched the grains of sand they immediately stuck to my toes like gum would stick to your shoes. The sun reflected in my eyes while I was looking at the ocean.When I was nearly two feet from the ocean’s starting point. My body threw itself into the water. All of my fears about sharks and jellyfish had all disappeared when the tip of my head was just barely in the water. I was so content with not having a surf board and just being able to be in the water. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like I was in my happy place. Once I was kinda over being amazed by how beautiful the water was I decided to grab a surfboard. It was a lot bigger than I thought and harder as well. I found that it was challenging to time getting up on the board right, but I eventually got it. The waves kept crashing on me and at some points, I felt discouraged. I can really relate to the waves. If you look at them you will see that there is a high point to them where it is smooth and the best time to stand up on your surfboard, but about ten seconds later it is crashing down and if you try to surf those crashing waves and you will crash with them. It is just like my life. One second I am on top of the world and the next second I am at rock bottom. I have high and low points in my life, but I just need to remember that God is always with me. “When you pass through deep waters I will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:2). I don’t think I would’ve had as good of an experience if I was not with my friends. They helped me keep a positive out look and also made me want to try and try again. Surfing at the Santa Barbara Beach is going to be one of the adventures that I will always remember. – Gabby
Obstacles in life can be seen in many ways. It can be seen as the end of the world or a way to gain strength. The obstacles can also come up at any time. Rock climbing has a lot of obstacles that you have to overcome. It all starts before you ever start climbing. In some ways, the hardest part of rock climbing is when you are on the ground the ”what if ” questions started to fill my mind the first time as I anticipate what could happen and envision tragic accident in my head. What if my rope snaps? What if I fall? The first challenge you have to go through is your self. Then when you actually get on the rock physical and more mental challenges come, but when you get through it all you are at the top. You see what you’ve accomplished. You see the best part and the reason that many people do this over and over again. The site of green tumbling hill and the sun reflecting off the ocean, it makes you come back for more. Now that a have done rock climbing, I now see the obstacles as opportunities. Opportunities to become better opportunities for improvement. — Caeleb
You have two beautifully crafted hands that are made perfectly. One to help yourself, and the other to serve others. Although the two hands have different purposes, they still serve your body; which serves God. In Santa Barbara, I came to appreciate serving more than I ever have in my life. Serving is not just moving your hands and feet, but serving with your heart. Such a simple food as beans could put a smile on someone’s face. At first, when I was serving food, I had a stone hard face and I didn’t connect or talk to anyone I was serving. Until one lady I served had the biggest smile on her face, and I felt my mood change. Her smile spread on to my face and I felt in my happy place. At that moment I knew my smile could spread a million miles. I started to serve with a happy heart and a smile on my face and finally began to realize that I had the power to create change. One small act of kindness could fill a hole in someone that food could never satisfy. We have the power keep someone from starving. We have the power to keep someone from freezing. We have the power be a safe haven for someone who is on the edge of being consumed by depression and loneliness. We have the power to stop someone from taking their own life. We have the power to do amazing things, but still, we limit ourselves. Next time you are at a stop light with a homeless man on the curb, I ask you to roll down your window and give him a smile and tell him to have a good day. You may get a smile in return or you may not. Whatever happens, just remember that you are serving God. Santa Barbara opened my eyes to the power that serving can have on others, and also on yourself. — Makayla
Community is the reason we go to Santa Barbara. Going with a class of kids who have their clicks, leaving with a bonded class. We played together. We surfed together. We ate together. We were tired together. Santa Barbara brought a part of everyone together. It also taught us new parts of each classmate. We met new people and created a bigger community. It is easier to step into the unknown with people. I never felt alone. A class of kids helped me experience new things. I could not do anything with out my class. I would not have been able to climb up the rocks if it were not for the cheering in my ear saying, “You got this Noelle!” “You’re doing great!”. I could not have kept going on the night hike with out the stories Mrs. Cunningham told or being scared enough to run ahead. Conversations would not have been as interesting without the jokes we came up with. Flying back was sad but I’m happy I did not have to leave my class. “People will forget what you said and forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”(Maya Angelou). My class made me feel joy and love. This trip would be fun if I was alone, but together it was amazing.  — Noelle
The heat from the sun beams onto my head, the helmet traps the air, and the heat is making it harder to peddle forward. Even though it was extremely hot it was worth it and I would not change a single aspect of it. The bike ride was an amazing experience because I got to see the view of the ocean that we all know I will never be able to see in Colorado. While we were on the bike ride I got to talk and ride with people I never would have thought of talking to. “A simple hello could lead to a million things” (Kelley Carter). I grew closer to people and I would not have thought it would happen on a bike ride. When I was behind it was silent and peaceful. I got to take my time and understand how amazing it was that I got to be in California with my closest friends. I got to enjoy nature and it’s calming surroundings. I already miss the view of the ocean, and I will have the memories of this trip for a long time. — Nikki
Small waves are like a comfort zone, I got to not only see, but overcome my fears and surf the bigger waves. Since I was little I was scared to go into the ocean any further than 20 feet from the shore in fear of sharks, drowning, or being pulled in by the current. All my fears held me back from ever wanting to surf. While I was in Santa Barbara I was nervous and scared, but I grabbed a surf board and got in the water. Once I got on the board I forgot all my fears and paddled out into the ocean. The water was a greenish blue and the water was cold, but now I was too excited to get out. It took me forever to get up on the board, every time I stood up my foot would slip on water on the board and I would fall. Every time I fell I laughed, it didn’t matter to me if I would be able to stand or not, what mattered to me was that I was having fun. I had lost track of time and the next time I sat and looked at the sky, the sun was almost gone. The next day the waves were bigger. I grabbed a board and ran into the water, but this time I wasn’t scared. Since the waves were bigger I got tumbled over and over. I had surfed for a long time and I had also hit my head MANY times. Every time I crashed I learned from my mistakes, I learned that I was sitting too far forward, or that I had to place my feet a certain way. I had to get out of the water, but I didn’t want to get out until I caught one more wave. A wave came and I knew it was the right one. I swam as fast as I could, I caught the wave and stood up. I had a sudden feeling of happiness and peace run through my body. I wasn’t alone when I rode that wave, it was the perfect way to end the day.
~Camryn

 

Advertisements

Student Reflection: Stories from The Crossing #learningisbigger #standagain

More than a school, Anastasis seeks to be a movement of good in our community and beyond. We partner with non-profit organizations from around the Denver Metro community. This week, Team Fink hosted some men from Denver Rescue Mission’s The Crossing to join us for lunch and stories. Below are student reflections following the visit:
The Crossing
Feeling uneasy, I expected the worst. I have to say, I was scared. I was thinking that I wasn’t going to like it. When I thought of homeless people, I always thought of they got kicked out of their homes because they didn’t pay their rent or they lost their jobs. I was closed minded, I didn’t think much of what was happening on the streets. When we sat down with the men from The Crossing, I was surprised. I thought much differently of how they would look and how they would act. I was a little scared, but also a little interested and excited about what was about to happen. They were so nice and funny! They were calm and positive people! I felt myself smiling when they would laugh or if they would just smile! When we all sat down and after we introduced ourselves, they began to tell their background story’s. During Seth’s, I could tell I was on the edge of crying. I had a painful lump in my throat and tears stung my eyes. The lump grew bigger after everyone told their stories. At that moment when we were discussing and talking to them, my mind felt open and my heart ached. Bella, Chris, Michel, Jay, Todd and Seth all were so brave and so strong. Their stories were so inspiring, emotional, and heartbreaking. Even through I only meet them for a couple hours, I felt that I built a relationship with them! I’m so honored that they shared their stories, rapped, played guitar, read poetry and sang for us. I’m so proud of them! I will forever take on what they all taught us, God will always have your back, he will provide for you, when you turn yourself to Christ, he will save you. Thank you for showing me that there is hope, even in darkest times. -Grace
Life isn’t always as simple as it seems. There will always be ups, downs, twist, and turns, there will never be a direct straight path to the destination. “To be simple is not always as easy as it seams.” (Ferdinand Holder). Hearing the stories of people that went through some of the low parts in life and recovered showed me that they aren’t afraid to share their stories and let others see what they are really like. Hearing someone’s story is the one way to know what they are really like. When I think of someone with the label “homeless,” I think of people with old clothes, dirty hands and feet, and rude attitude because that is what I was told for so long. Some homeless people are less fortunate, but today my perspective changed because I got to meet and hear the stories of homeless men and not just judge them based on what was on the outside. I was encouraged today to always believe in myself, and always know that God is with me. May you men know that God is with you no matter what, and that sharing your stories has encouraged us all. — Cam
Looking out the window and seeing the street corner that you used to live on makes reality blow up in our face. You have come so far, but you still have so much in store for you. Your words take form when they reach your lips but they are still incomplete until they have taken the form of peotry or been added to a melody. Knowing that a story hides behinds every face makes it personal. It opens our eyes to see that our differences are our similarities. An ordinary man living in an ordinary world could have their life turned upside down because of one decision. We don’t realize that we are standing on common ground until we hear stories and began to realize that we are more similar than different. Looking out the window and seeing the street corner you used to live on allows you to understand that your past doesn’t define your future.
Psalms 16:8
Thank you for sharing your stories!
Makayla Au
Hearing stories, connecting. Learning to not judge one another but learning that we are more alike than different. Learning that their past does not put labels on who they are. It does not reflect the person they are now or who they will be in the future. Because of this the next time I see a homeless person, a broken person I will know that. “We are all broken that’s how the light gets in,” (Ernest Hemingway). I will know that every person I see on the street has a story. You can’t let your mistakes define you but you can let them mold you into the person you will become. Connecting with everyone today I saw the greatness in their hearts, I saw people striving every day to be better than they were the day before. I hope I can learn to be able to have the motivation and self confidence to make my way through the hard times like they did. I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my life letting it guide me and direct me to have greatness in my heart like the people that sat before me today. Thank you for sharing your stories, may God stay with you in your journey ahead.
—Ella
Each of these men hold a new and whole different story. Their stories related to me and many I know. They too have gone through trouble. I learned that God does not want sin no matter what. Chris empowered me to never give up. Before today I thought all homeless people held the same story. I then learned there is another story behind one’s story. I did not feel sympathy for any homeless people before today. Seth’s story showed me to forgive through hard times. Chris’s story taught me to persevere. Jay’s story taught me to stay on track. Michael’s story taught me to face fear. Bella’s story taught me to be passionate. Todd’s story taught me to be a leader. Above all I have learned to keep going. I must say thank you for putting a new “perspective” on the homeless. —Oliver
Life has ups and downs, but the way you live is your choice and your perspective. Today men from Denver Rescue Mission, the Crossing came in today and told us thier story. What stood out too me from all there stories is that they don’t let their past define them. They  do a really good job about living in the present . The men, especially Chris, taught me to be content with my situation no matter what is thrown my way. He had a rough life and he had a bad leg that he might have lost. He was okay about it he did not worry because what would happen would happen. Lastly I realized that my problems are not as big as losing everything. This morning I couldn’t find my other shoe, I was so frustrated but listening to their stories put my story in to perspective. I have like five or more shoe options. I did not lose everything my problems are mostly first world ones. Their stories impacted me more than I can even proses. Thank you the to these men, Seth, Jay, Todd, Michael, Chris, and Bella, for sharing your stories whether you read this or not. You made me think to live in the present. I know if you guys work hard through God you can continue to get back what you lost. -Noelle
A tree is a home to some and paper to other. Just like trees, these people made great use of what they were given. When it could be used in a pointless way they made great use of it and turned it into a house. The story that touched me the most was Jay’s. Such a normal guy, like the rest, gone so different then what he probably dreamed of as kid. The only reason I was touched so much by his story is because it was close to our school. He brought his daughter to the church our school is in. I’m so glad that all of them changed their lives around to become happy. The best part was that all of them are successfully making use of their time and enjoying life to the fullest. I hope you maintain your faith and soberness. Thanks for coming in and inspiring me to continue to keep my life on track.
Sincerely,
Will How
Don’t let your past define you. Today was an amazing experience. I always thought of homeless people as people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Today gave me a different perspective on how stories really uncover the truth. These men today were so sweet. The fact that the were so vulnerable to tell us their stories of not the best part of their life really open my eyes. One story that really stuck out for me was Chris’s. His story was so encouraging to keep looking on the bright side. Every time he was told that he might never have a leg again he just told them it’s ok God has my back. He had hope. Each one of these six men had incredible stories and I will forever remember them. Thank you Jay, Seth, Bella, Todd, Michael, and Chris for showing me the past does not define you. — Gabby
Everybody makes mistakes, but nobody should have them held against them. Every one of the men had an extremely powerful story and I would love to hear more about each and every one. Everyone was so understanding when we talked about our problems and they tried to help. I thought it was extremely powerful when Michael said that, “it wasn’t a disease that spreads, it’s a choice that you make.” His story meant a lot to me and I can learn so much from him in the future. Everyone was extremely brave throughout everything that they told us. They are not homeless, they are not drug addicts, but they are imperfect people just like us. Overall thank you for willingly sharing your story and overcoming the hard times.
– Nicole
   You can’t change what’s in the past but you can change the future. When I think of the homeless I thought of dirty people who spent all their money on drugs. Now I think of people who made a mistake. Every one makes mistakes, even me, but the the men from Crossing are known for their mistakes. Sometimes it seems impossible to get out of a hole that you dug for yourself. Change is always possible. No one really likes change. Change can help and it’s not impossible to get out of the hole you dug. The people who came today proved that. What I learned from the people who came today is to never give up. Thank you for coming today and telling your story. Hearing your story is something that will impact how I view the homeless for the rest of my life.
~Kaleigh
It is crazy how your life can change in an instant. You can go from playing golf, then be at the lowest point in your life. The key is to stay on track and focus on what matters. When you get down, and you learn that God is on your side, it becomes easier to power through. “If you are in a bad place surrounded by bad people you will do bad things”(Michael), but the more you are around good people and are in good places the less you do bad things. Thank you to the men at Denver Rescue Mission for showing me that God is by my side and to stay strong through hard times. — Caeleb
People are people and the past is the past. The past is where you learn. Learn from the mistakes. Your past does not define you, for you are you and the past is the past. You will always have a choice. The choice of accepting that everyday is an opportunity to start new, or to suffer in the memory of your past. However, there is a third choice. The choice of accepting who you are through Christ, our savior and creator of life. This choice will always be a choice no matter the circumstance. Jesus will forgive your past and help you with you with the present. The love of Jesus is unending for those thirsting for love, the poor and needy, the homeless and the hungry. Face the world with courage, no matter what you do, and know within your heart that God is always there for you. Guiding you through this journey we call life. Even in the darkest moments. For those are the moments where Christ helps you the most to see the light in the darkness. “Stars can’t shine without darkness” (unknown). Without the suffering and the pain, we cannot accomplish anything.
Stories are told and stories teach. Each story has a lesson, whether its obvious or hidden. The stories I heard Tuesday, November 28, 2017, were stories that I will remember for the rest of my life. Astonishing stories of the lives of six men. Men who have been addicted to drugs and alcohol, but have overcome their addiction through Christ. Chris, one of the men, told his story. Listening to his story, I realized how much more he has been through than I have, yet his positivity throughout his life is extraordinary. He had the knowledge of Christ being his savior and that was enough for him. The men have faced trials throughout their life, but that didn’t stop them from becoming disciples of Christ. “Meeting with the wrong people at the wrong place leads to doing the wrong things. But meeting with good people at the right place will lead to doing the right things” (Michael). All of these men had sad but yet heartwarming stories. This experience to talk with these men really opened up my mind to think about being grateful for everything I have and that everything happens for a purpose. Thank you for coming in to talk to us. This experience was truly inspiring to me.  -Kuyla Kim

Denver Flashmob of Good (Student Reflection) #commentsforkids #flashmobofgood #standagain #learningisbigger

Today, Team Fink headed downtown as a flashmob of good. Armed with hotdogs, lemonade, and a smile they served 150 hotdogs in 45 minutes. They asked names, listened to stories. They connected.

Their teacher is still reflecting. While at the park serving hot dogs, a park director stopped to talk to him. He told Fink about the hundreds of heroine needles that were picked up in the park just today. He thanked him for what he and his students were doing, but mentioned that when food comes to the park, some of these homeless never have to leave the park and it can exacerbate the problem. Rather than leave the conversation there, Fink invited this park director to come to Anastasis and share the complexity of the homeless problem Denver faces. He wondered how Anastasis students might be able to help be a part of the solution. He also plans to invite our friends from the Denver Rescue Mission to be part of the conversation.

This moment of spreading good, will extend into inquiry and our students will attempt to connect and learn from a variety of perspectives. They’ll learn about unintended consequences and delve into design thinking.

Today, they reflected on the experience:

Feeling the joy in my heart, I can feel the memory of the outing-burn in the back of my mind. Looking at the once unknown faces turn into friends faces and their gleeful smiles light up the very park we were just in, handing out hot dogs and lemonade. At one part I was picked to travel around the park in search for people who maybe hadn’t heard the word about our hotdogs. Shifting my gaze from the sidewalk to the persons face, I saw grief and sadness. They also had their heads down, cigarette in on hand, slowly disintegrating. Walking up to them, feeling the fear build its way up inside my stomach and up to my throat. Hearing the shuffle of our feet their head slowly rose, looking at their eyes I can see sadness and, surprisingly, hope! Asking if they would like some food, I could see their eyes light up. One in particular was a old man with billions of wrinkles, but when I looked in his eyes, his eyes held me in a trance. Bright, bright sea-foam eyes! When we were going to move on he gave us a toothless smile and a wave. I smile back feeling happiness spread through out my body. In a way, I felt that this field trip changed me in a good way, seeing all of these people, who probably have been through so much, give us school kids smiles and hugs!  Showing me that people who have gone through so much can still be rich at heart and soul. –Grace

 

Love on people, give them food, and learn their story. Loving, eating, and telling stories are universal languages. When you combine them, spectacular things can happen. Like Andrew, he is a wonderful man, he shared about our opportunity we have as kids to be the change and the hope we give him. When flowers, butterflies, kids, and food are around, conversations spark up and smiles spread. When you give you are also the one receiving. When you serve people food you get a frown that turns into a smile, a story to listen to, and a lesson to learn from. I loved today and seeing smiles spread. –Noelle

 

Just a smile can make someone’s day. Taking the time to look someone in the eyes and smile can do a lot. It can show them that they matter when the person doesn’t even know that themselves. It can make them smile at other people and have a domino effect. Giving someone a cup of lemonade and a hot dog brought out smiles in everyone. It showed me the caring person inside of everyone I met today. It didn’t matter what you did or where you came from. It was just a bunch of people smiling and eating hotdogs. –Ella

 

A name is gift given at birth. A name like “Andrew” is the story of that human. If a name seems so precious and so easy to obtain, then why don’t we just ask someone for their name. If you refer to someone by their name then you can learn and grow in joy from the happy conversations. –Will

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