This past month we had Steve Klassen, Director of the MARK Centre, come and spend four days teaching us about listening to God. We learned about many different ways we can hear God speak and how God is working in our everyday lives. We were taught that one of the most important things to do if you want to hear God speak is to simply listen. Which led us to a day of silence.
Starting from about 9:30 in the morning until 7:30 that evening, our energetic and noisy group was challenged to not talk to anyone. People took the day to rest, enjoy nature, go for hikes, read their Bibles, talk to God, and just listen. Many people heard something from God, whether it was through a Bible verse that came to mind, words and images, or through the environment around them. Some people also felt as if they didn’t hear God, but that doesn’t mean He was any less present to them.
I really enjoyed the silent day. While I am not too sure what God said to me on that day, I know He was there watching over me. Near the end of the silent day I wrote a short story reflecting on an image. This is what I wrote:
“The little girl dances through the forest without a care in the world. Free as ever, filled with uncontainable joy, spinning with her arms spread wide, her hair flowing behind her. Curious and overflowing with excitement, she has so much to look forward to. She doesn’t know what the future holds. Right now she is just focused on the present, looking at all the amazing beauty around her. Soaking everything in, she doesn’t want to forget one second of this moment.
“God is looking down at this little girl, watching her. He sees her face glowing in the sun and hearing the laughter echo through the trees. He is happy, He is proud, He loves her SO much.
"What if I told you that God thinks this when He looks at you? It’s true, God knows you are beautiful, He knows you are special, He cares for you so much and He loves you unconditionally. If God knows it’s true, why is it so hard to believe ourselves?
“The world is moving so fast. What if we just stopped and took a step back? Why can’t we just go back to being like a child? Why do we need to worry and stress? God is our Heavenly Father and He will take care of everything we need. God loves us no matter where we are in our faith journey, we don’t have to be perfect like society tells us. Jesus said to come as you are."
I want to be like the little girl that I pictured that day, without a care in the world, laughing and dancing, just enjoying the presence of God. WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN and He loves us all so much! I think we should all strive to be like that child in the forest, filled with God’s love, glowing with His goodness and joy.
“How great is the love the Father has given us so freely! Now we can be called children of God. And that's what we really are! The world doesn't know us because it didn't know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God. He still hasn't let us know what we will be. But we know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him. We will see him as he really is.” 1 John 3:1-2
– Makenna Olson, Site Two South Africa student, 2018-19
I’ve been shopping lately. Yes, Christmas is coming and I get a bit excited about that! I love the sparkle of the glitter in a Christmas wreath, the twinkle of lights, thinking about the people that I can buy a gift for, and the aroma of turkey and stuffing roasting in preparation for the gathering of friends and family. These things I really look forward to.
The countdown is definitely on! In my wandering through many stores, I was impacted by how many different versions of Advent calendars I saw. All the way from a rustic barn board with a star that tracks along a zig zag edge following days 1-25 to a board with intriguing little doors filled with Lindt chocolate….it’s all there! The biggest chocolate surprise, of course, is on December 25!
What is all this Advent anticipation about? For many years, I made my living in the retail sales and floral industry helping people like you to get into the frenzied whirlwind of gift buying and making sure that your homes were beautifully decorated. I still design beautiful things, but I have come to realize that we have more important things to expectantly wait and prepare for. I look forward to celebrating that Christ has come with Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy and is the Light for this world that is not always beautiful.
As of December 1, Semester 1 has come to an end for the Outtatown Program. What are the students preparing for and looking forward to? I’m sure the comforts of home, seeing friends and family, and a favorite meal or two is appealing. Will what the students have learned and been introduced to cause them to pause? And what are the hopes and expectations for the next part of the journey as the learning continues into different cultures and geography?
Wherever we are this Christmas season and whatever we are anticipating, may we reflect on our God of perfect Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. Let’s celebrate that Jesus, the Light of the World, has come.
– Joyce Friesen, Outtatown Program Assistant