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

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.