Saturday, 10 December 2011

Can More can more in Canmore?

We spent our last week of Semester 1 in Canmore, where we had time to debrief, ski, and spend some last quality time together before we all headed home for the Christmas break! Check out our video blog about the week:

Rap written and preformed by Kaitlyn Peters, along with the talent of Chloe, Rachel, Kendra, Lauren, and Coral!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

All Sites Conference

The roof was raised at Camp Squeah when the three Outtatown sites all came together for our all sites conference. For some students, reconnecting with boyfriends, girlfriends or “just friends” really made the weekend perfect. But absolutely everyone was set up to enjoy the few days of the all sites conference with moving worship, a motivating message and loads of workshops and activities on the schedule.

The fun for our site was off to a good start on the first night when we performed an unexpected flash mob for everyones enjoyment (some sweet dance moves set to a german song that Sandy has introduced to us and we’ve all fallen in love with).

It was good to enjoy site 3’s well thought out flash mob the last night with so many talented dancers in the mix. Another highlight of the conference was the evening of square dancing with an authentic caller, some sweet tunes and a room full of students ready to soak in the fun. Other enjoyable moments was the tae kwon do class, the know your camera course and the crocheting lesson. It actually inspired people to take up the art of crocheting. A week later and almost our whole site is crocheting and loving it.

The motivating message that I previously mentioned was titled “Getting + Giving the Gospel”. It was brought forth by the well renowned Bruxy Cavey. We looked deeply at the revolution that Jesus began about 2000 years ago, to come to a better understanding of what it is and why it’s really so amazing. Bruxy taught “the gospel is the good news that God has come to us through Christ to
1) show us his love
2) save us from sin
3) set up his kingdom
4) shut down religion”.

One thing we all found quite beneficial to learn is that “love is not doing something to make you feel good but doing what’s good despite the feeling”. Apart from this we also talked a lot about how intentional Jesus was in stating “screw religion” with what he said and did on this earth. Furthermore, we were taught clearly that God deeply desires relationship with us and therefore wants to do everything in partnership with us, despite the lack of efficiency. Even though God’s work could be done much faster and more perfectly by him alone. He desires for us to be a part of that work. Which is awesome. We were all moved by Buxy’s message and were refocused on the fact that God wants our faith, not works; relationship, not religion.

Everybody loved the all sites conference. Although it was sad to see our speaker, worship leaders, director (Cam) and various friends leave (with this being the last uniting for some of us on Outtatown) we pushed on to the days and weeks ahead. We’re ready to put into practice the rekindled words and energy gained this weekend. Bring it on!

By: Carter

Just for fun, Hugo stars in: "Death of a Snowman"

Victoria Weekend

Once our time at Esperanza came to an end we headed to the less remote but equally beautiful Victoria! For many of us the weekend included: sleeping in, connecting with people back home, exploring the city, hitting up the mall, window shopping at boutiques and just chillin’ around the hotel. Nightly visits to Tim Hortons to hang out and chat was also very much a part of our weekend.
On Saturday, we were dropped off at the local library to learn more about the country we will be traveling to in just two months. Each small group was given a topic to research and prepare a presentation on to show the rest of the group what we learned. The four topics that we studied were: Nelson Mandela, apartheid, the Soweto uprising and the main people groups of South Africa. It was really interesting to learn about some of the people and events that have made a major impact on South Africa and the world. There are issues that we may have studied in school but knowing that we are going into the very places that we are talking about puts things in a new light. I hope that the knowledge I am gaining will help me not to feel like a typical tourist but help me understand and embrace the culture I will encounter. I think most of us would say that discussing and learning about South Africa has made us even more excited for second semester than we may have already been.
Overall it was a refreshing weekend that allowed us to relax before the craziness of all sites conference.

By: Kendra

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Squeah Take Two

And now for your entertainment, Week two at Camp Squeah!
(insert crowd cheering and applause here)
Yes, another exciting week at Squeah. We had so much fun here the first week that we decided to come back for seconds. We drove int... What!?
This just in, the first Squeah report went missing when the giant bears attacked and tried to eat us alive! But their plans were thwarted when Hugo began fighting them off with his bare hands.

 Hugo & The Bear

There were no casualties except for the first Squeah report.
Rest assured that we did have fun and we learned lots at Squeah our first week here and the food was exceptional. Now week number two. The food is still exceptional (and I do mean exceptional. Say it with a french accent if you really want to) and we still have fun times. Times like: playing Settlers of Catan, euchre, indoor volleyball, floor hockey etc. All that is fun and games but don’t worry parents and Outtatown supporters. We do get down to business and hit the books hard. Our speaker Steve Klassen spoke to us about being silent and listening to God. Very interesting stuff. Some found it challenging and others found it easy. We all learned a lot from it and took much away. You might be asking yourself “well what did they learn?” Here are some actual, factual quotes:
 “God speaks to us but we don’t always listen. Sometimes we don’t realize but he does speak to us” -Jon.
“Silence is golden” -Andrew.
“Don’t ask what the world needs but ask yourself what makes you come alive and then do it because the world needs people who are alive in what they are doing” -Zach.
“I learned that God speaks through little things that we wouldn’t expect” -Megan.
“Silent. Secret. Small. That is how God speaks. We have to slow down, step back and listen to hear God. He speaks through many ways but he won’t be flashing lights in our faces pointing us in the right direction. We have to find his voice in all of the daily chaos” -Hugo.
“Zzzzzzzz” Dan.
 After all the learning and gaining of wisdom we got back to having fun! But there was the one very serious incident. The day that the ostrich almost destroyed Camp Squeah! It was a dark day. We woke up to sounds of loud crashes and booms. Ryan looked out of his second floor room window and his eyes caught the sight of destruction. An ostrich running wild on camp grounds causing chaos. Who can help us? Who is brave enough? Just then Laura sprinted outside and began wrestling the ostrich. An epic battle that will go down in the books of history. In the end the victorious Laura walked away with a confident smirk of accomplishment on her face. The camp was saved and everything went back to normal.

 Laura & The Ostrich

Squeah is exciting and fun. Something new around every corner. Oh look! Kendra riding a unicorn singing Teenage Dream.

And now for something different.
Close your eyes, open your imaginations and follow me into a visually enticing journey!
It’s dark. You can’t see anything. Not even your hand right in front of your eyes. Water droplets can be heard drip dropping away. Drip. Drop. Drip. Drop. The walls are damp and cold. Like sitting in a frigid cement room. The air is clammy and cool. It gives gives you the jeepers creepers. There is no noise. Just you and your thoughts and what ever lurks in the dark. One wrong step and you could be done. Done like dinner. But then you turn on your headlamp and see a group of your awesome Outtatown friends around you in a cave! Yay! And that is the caving experience we had. It was marvelous. Entering the mountainside in small groups or families. Venturing deep into the mountain. Sliding, crawling, scaling, squeezing through mazes of tunnels and corridors. All of that makes for a very exhilarating experience. 

 Kelsey, Chloe, Rachel, Larissa, Becci and Hugo exiting the caves

 Dan, Tobi and Matt ready to go caving

What’s this?!? A dog swimming with dolphins? Yes, that just happened. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

And yes, I do have a handsomely deep voice.

By: Hugo Malan

Sunday, 20 November 2011

A feeling of Esperanza

Taking an extremely windy gravel road through the forests and mountains of Vancouver Island was the beginning of our adventure.  An adventure that began at 3:00am...  As we parked the vans in the little town of Tahsis, the beauty around us was already unbelievable.  A 20 minute boat ride through the channels of the misty hills got us to the community of Esperanza, the latin word for hope.  The people who live in Esperanza are committed to living a simple life while in midst of a community committed to Jesus.  While the girls slept an a big family house, the guys were lucky enough to live for the week in small cabins heated by wood stoves.

It's a rare joy to wake up to the smell of the ocean and to see sea otters dipping through the water.  Our first day in Esperanza was a Sunday and we were invited to a homey worship service, which included the residents of Esperanza.  We were able to hear about what makes the place special in the eyes of the residents and glimpse a bit of what God was doing there.  In the days of whale hunting, the native people used to spend months praying for the hunt in Esperanza.  Hearing this shed some light on the history of Jesus in this place and what we were getting the chance to experience.  A free afternoon gave us the chance to go canoeing, sleep, catch starfish (although it was more like picking them out of the water), jump off the pier into the Pacific ocean at low tide and many other unique things.

Carter, Ryan, Jonathan & Andrew showing off mad canoeing skills 
Layla catching oysters 
Jessica chasing the community chickens

Luke on the rope swing

Coral catching starfish

Stephen & Chloe admiring the local sea stars
The nest few days would be work days mixed with sessions spoken by different people.  For work, they had us tearing down greenhouses (an all girls group + Stephan), shovelling compost, transporting firewood, helping with ventilation construction, chopping wood and most surprisingly, building a giant bonfire and burning junk from all around the community.  We all loved the physical labour as we knew that our help was going a long way for the people there.

Becci in the compost heap 
Stephan, Alisha, Tausha, Kelsey & Kaitlyn working hard
Ivan, a First Nations man who grew up in the area, shared stories about Aboriginal culture and how God works in their communities  He helped us understand how protocol is very important when working with different cultures and interactions must be done in a certain way.  Ivan gave information on Native culture, so that instead of assumptions we now understand traditions, ways of live and history.

On Wednesday, we had a community potluck supper, so the dining hall was very lively, as kids ran around and conversation was exchanged between Outtatown students and the people at Esperanza.  I found it interesting how our own community was able to go into another very close community  and live for a week.  Through chopping wood, swimming int he ocean, playing games and drinking hot chocolate, eating meals, shovelling manure (we found out later that the compost wasn't just decomposing food...), listening to stories and observing God's incredible gift of beauty in nature, we were all able to grasp a bit of what peace feels like.  But most importantly, we left that place with a feeling of hope for the next part of our Outtatown journey.  A feeling of Esperanza.

Ready, set... 

Written by: Andrew

Friday, 18 November 2011

A little piece of heaven

Well, after the urban plunge in Vancouver we loaded up the vans again and headed for a relaxing retreat at Twin Creeks Lodge. We did not know what to expect until we walked down a cute, lit up path to the front door - and then we were all shrieking with excitement. This place wasn't just nice, it was absolutely beautiful!! Charming and sweet is exactly the words to describe the place and the people who were there to greet us, Pat and Peggy! Squeaks of excitement were all I could hear (mainly from the girls) as we ran around the house to our assigned rooms. Our beds were presented to us with little chocolates in our neatly wrapped towels; it was the little things like that that made us feel right at home.

the Lodge at Twin Creeks
We arrived there at night, therefore, we couldn't see what was beyond the windows. But when we woke up the next morning to meet for breakfast, we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the trees that surrounded us completely. I could go on forever about how beautiful the place was, but as for the food... it was UNREAL!!!! Peggy and her crew made incredible food and  more than enough of it so we all had happy bellies. It was a nice way to relax and be comfortable after our week in the Ivanhoe.

That weekend we took advantage of the Internet access, slept a bit, went on hikes, explored some trails, played games outside like bocce ball, " friz-knock" ( which was a favorite amongst most of the guys) and more.

Game time!

We also had the opportunity that weekend to visit a mall and value village to prepare for our Halloween party hosted by the entertainment committee! Saturday was the night of our Halloween party. It wasn't exactly October 31st, but the entertainment committee pulled it together nicely and created a haunted house for us and the only way to get in was to be blindfolded and be scared by people as well as finish off with putting our hands in buckets of left overs--I mean, brains and eye balls and gross stuff like that... We enjoyed the night with games like pin the horn on the unicorn, bobbing for apples and ate some caramel  popcorn that Peggy made, followed by a dance party where we were able to experience Carter's thrilling Michael Jackson moves. After the party some people stayed up and freaked themselves out by watching The Ring. 

Braveheart meets Legolas
Matt and his... twin?
Megan, Chloe, Becci, Kendra & Jessica... or should I say, the Spice Girls!
Pippi Longstocking & a concussed moustache
The next morning there was breakfast, church, lunch, time to chill and time to pack, we were all sad to pack up after lunch in preparation to leave. Luckily, we were heading back to Camp Squeah which we all thoroughly enjoy. Overall, I can say that every single one of us LOVED Twin Creeks and Pat and Peggy for taking such good care of us and for the opportunity to explore another beautiful part of BC!

Written by: Laura

Ninja Laura

Friday, 4 November 2011

Vancouver Urban Plunge

The Vancouver Urban Plunge was a very busy and impactful week for everyone!  For this blog I decided to experiment with video as a different way to communicate, it is my hope that you will enjoy being able to see and hear these 4 young women share their experiences and reflections.  Watch one or all- whatever interests you! 

Becci describes our first day doing a scavenger hunt around inner city Vancouver:

Lauren tells about visiting an Islamic mosque, Sikh temple, and Buddhist temple:

Alisha shares her joy of serving at the New Westminster Union Gospel mission:

Kelsey explains how her group choose to impact Vancouver:

Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to share and be filmed (especially Zach!) and to everyone who encouraged me through lots of technical difficulties.  :)

Videos by: Carol

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Free in Vancouver

On the free weekend some of our group split off to visit relatives while the rest of us got full reign of the city. Outtatown took over the streets going from one end of the city to the other on foot. We visited all the major attractions including Stanley Park and the aquarium where to Jessica’s delight, we saw a sloth. On the other end of town, we walked through Gas Town where we saw the famous steam clock and some took the challenge and walked all around Granville Island.

 And let’s not forget Science World although others would say let’s forget. Whilst there they discovered that science was not their forte they were reduced to watching a dinosaur movie and playing with children’s toys. But in all honesty, it was directed towards a younger audience (looks cool from the outside though!).

Others shopped till they dropped, figuring out Halloween costumes for the upcoming weekend. This weekend brought our community together as we had the freedom to explore the city on our own and yet we did it together.

Written by: Becci

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Who Let The Girls Out!?

1 week.  60 girls.  Beautiful, Bountiful Banff.  0 boys.  Awww yeeee!

I could  tell right then and there, once I stepped out of the van after 15 hours of driving, breathing in the fresh aroma of a kindling fire and evergreen trees that this was gonna be an unforgettable week, and it was.
The week consisted of good food, lots of pictures, a 4 hour hike at Lake Lousie, shopping, laughing, walking on the Columbia Ice Fields glacier, a private night at the Hot Springs, shaking our booties at a Zumba class, deep conversations, worshipping, and learning.  Our speaker for the week was Sharon, who blessed us with her calming presence and knowledge.  The topic was how to Live Lifeful as women with God, in our own skin, in our relationships, our sexuality, and in our dreams.  It was really interesting and eye opening to learn more about what it truly means to live as women of God and in our sexuality.  I think most of the girls would agree it was an empowering, bonding, and super cool learning experience where we were able to discuss some taboo topics. 

And let’s be honest, you can’t have girl talk without talking about our favourite subject: boys!  We were actually given a sweet opportunity to any questions we had for them, and they did the same for us.   We swapped our questions with the boys and we both answered each other’s questions.  Then some male leader  representatives for the guys came over and presented us their answers.  It was pretty interesting to hear where their hearts were at, and how they also struggle with some of the same things we do.  It was so good to settle some super important issues like what a padded bra was and “that what!? Guys have feelings too!?”  All in all, I think it opened our eyes to see no matter how immature or stinky they may seem sometimes, deep down they really are super duper guys (which we all kinda had a feeling of already).

It’s funny, Sharon pointed out to us that the first things you usually notice in a group setting, especially all girls, are the differences between each other.  I think by the end of the week, when we all left Banff, we left our differences behind and carried a new sense of unity and strength as woman.

Written by: Becci

Banff scavenger hunt
Kaitlyn, Larissa, Sandy, Tausha, Alisha, Tobi, Coral, Carol, Lauren & Chloe

Larua, Lisa, Becci & Megan showing off their mad jumping skills
hiking the beautiful snow covered trails
Chloe half-way up
demonstrating how to drink tea with the queen

Tausha, Alisha, Rachel & Coral dancing at Bow Lake
Columbia Ice Fields

big wheels!

Laura: "Look! It's a glacier!"
Kaitly: "NO WAY!!"

group shot!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Special Report: Guys Week

Hello and welcome to a very special report on guy’s week!  It was a week of epic proportions.  Picture this: a group of thirty-some guys, living in close quarters challenged to get to know one another… Let the fun times begin to roll.

Hi, my name is Hugo and on behalf of all of the guys I would just like to say that Guy’s Week was probably the highlight from the trip so far.  Some of the manly activities we participated in were: a Canmore picture scavenger hunt (with loads of amazing, memorable pictures), learning sessions with our speakers Blaine and Steve (where we were given lots of good info on becoming men of God), a ‘Canmore Plunge’ (a day where we give back to the community of Canmore).  The Plunge was full of awesome ideas like: handing out roses to patients at the hospital, raking leaves, praying for people, handing out free water with encouraging notes and handing out roses with a pay it forward intention. 

The activities didn’t stop there.  Some of us hiked up a challenging mountain, while others took a swing at the intense Disc Golf Links.  The group hike up a mountain in Lake Louise and seeing the spectacular view from the top was a mind-blowing experience to be exact.  Last, but not least, was the night at the Banff Hot Springs in our vintage onesie bathing suits.  Use your imagination for that one. 

I obviously couldn’t blog about all of the bonding experiences we had so just think about all the fun and safe/responsible things thirty-some guys would do when put together in the same hotel…

And this is Hugo, saying stay safe Outtatown supporters and enjoy life.  Goodbye… for now! Muahaha!

Written by: Hugo Malan

Monday, 17 October 2011

Bird River: Round 3

During our last week at Bird River Bible Camp, excitement for the coming Thanksgiving weekend and for our travels that would follow was very apparent! But before it was time for turkey and stuffing, we had plenty to do yet at the camp we had come to call home. We were honored to have Gavin Hall join us this week to teach us about Theology. Now I’m going to be honest, with a title like Theology I wasn’t sure how interesting these classes could be. But contrary to the appeal of its title, Theology turned out to be extremely interesting and Gavin had the attention of the entire class. He gave us things to think about, form opinions about, and also just challenged us in our walk with God and journey through scripture.  After going deeper into the subject and actually learning what Theology was, I came out with a new appreciation for it and a greater curiosity to read and study the bible.

Lauren, Zach, Megan, Andrew & Mark pondering
Other than classes, our evenings held lots of entertaining and exciting things. For one, we had our first meeting of small groups! Well, second I guess if you count our meeting when we were all blind and belting out animal noises as seen previously on our blog--one of our brightest moments! But we spent an evening playing games and getting to know our small groups, and I would just like to put out there that my small group set an Outtatown record- our first meeting was about 5 hours! Another day we had a themed supper where we all had to find our twin (or for some, triplets and quadruplets). We had our ginger triplets (the “tringers”), and lumberjack triplets who blessed us with lovely songs. We had N’sync dance moves, gender switches, old grannies, beach babes, and also members of the Twins baseball team made an appearance! I was very impressed with our effort! Well done guys, well done.

Ryan & Luke

Emily & Coral
Matt & Stephen

Jonathan, Sam & Zach
The next night we had the chance to show off our talents (ha!) and, let me tell you, our site is overflowing with talent! Layla sang a beautiful song that she wrote, Sam awed everyone with his guitar and voice, and Carter joined him later on with his mandolin! We have decided that those two are going to be famous one day. We also had some entertainment, Steve’s mustache caught on fire, and then turned into a caterpillar, which eventually crawled off his face, Hugo and Zach found love, which ended in Hugo pregnant, and to wrap up our night of many talents, we decided to see who was the macho-ist of them all.  And, of course, macho men lead to dance parties on the deck, which then leads to jumping in the freezing cold river to cool off. And it sure did do its job, it got pretty nippy outside after that. But that concluded our final week in friendly Manitoba. Next up a province with a little more to look at! 

Written by: Rachel Parkinson

Below you can bask in the talent of Site 2. :)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A visit to Purple City!!

Friday, September thirtieth and we were all at the camp
Sitting in class, we were learning like champs.
You could feel it in the air, one thought was the trend,
Why, it was all of the excitement for the Winnipeg Free Weekend!

We packed up our stuff while the boys yelled, “Van Crew!”
Then got in the vans and the time, it just flew!

Booth College was our home for those few short nights,
And we learned the members of our small groups without the use of sight!

We clucked and barked, mooed and giraffe-ed...
And by the end, all we could do was laugh-ed.
Then off on our own, we hit up the town
Visiting Purple City, and acting like clowns.

Larissa, Lisa, Jonathan, Coral, Emily, Sandy & Laura showing off their mad skills 
Welcome October, Saturday the first,
It was a day of celebration, the day of Coral’s birth!
The girls went shopping while the boys did their laundry,
I’m sure their mothers will be proud...something that rhymes with laundry.

Megan & the birthday girl
The events of that night caused people to plan,
A trip to Value Village had some laughing in the van.
Now Value Village always has treasures to be bought,
And those gems that we found we thought, “How can we not?”
Decked out in stripes, glitter and colours so bright,
We all went Roller Skating—I mean, what else do you do on a Saturday night?

Partying at Wheelies
Oh the fun we did have! The laughter and glee,
Some were quite natural, but others had a hurt knee.
We skated and danced until our feet we so sore,
But let me tell you, that the night was not a bore.

our snazzy leaders

Rachel rocking the old-school roller skates

On Sunday we went back to the place it all began,
CMU, where some of us could make a future educational plan.
It was the campus visit day and all the sites were in the land
And when we sat down to pray for supper, we were the only site holding hands!
That evening we all gathered as one collection,
For a night of worship and listening to a personal reflection.
The event was called the MUD cafe;
Mission Under Discussion, as they would say.

And that’s the tale of our eventful weekend of fun.
Just ask any Outtatowner, they will be sad that it’s done!

Written by: Megan Sherk