Burkina Faso Outtatown

December: Billy’s Talent

While in Montreal, our site saw how urban poverty shapes communities and the people within them. On Thanksgiving Monday we experienced the inner-city, watched how people went about their activities, as we had the option to engage with people on the streets. That morning I, along with two others, met a homeless man in his 50’s named Billy. We spent a fair bit of time talking with this very intelligent, clean-clothed, and gracious man.

Before leaving, we told him that if we were in the area again, we’d come say hi—little did we know that we’d have that opportunity that very afternoon. After lunch, our leaders gave us a few hours and a bit of cash to go back into the inner-city community to “make an impact in the local community.”

We started off our afternoon with a lot of walking, sharing food, and enjoying small talk with those on the streets. A few hours later we saw Billy a couple blocks away from his morning spot. He was very happy to see us and we began to engage in more great conversation. We mentioned how we hadn’t really explored Montreal too much, so Billy said he’d be our own personal tour guide!

After 25 years of life on the streets, Billy had learned lots and had so much to share with us: This was evident in how we seemed to be respected by others on the streets. One example of this was when another homeless person began to heckle my friends for money. He was quickly quieted by Billy who said, “Leave them alone, they’re with me.” When we said goodbye to Billy outside a Metro station, we were saying goodbye to someone who not only welcomed us into Montreal, but became our unlikely friend.

Despite the amount of time and energy he spent on us, he never asked for any money or food from us. When we did offer him food, he only took it because we had told him that we had food for ourselves.

Billy was definitely not perfect, but he shared a certain essence of Jesus with us in the way he welcomed and led us—despite him being a poor, recovering drug addict living on the streets. What will you learn if you spend time with the people on the streets whom you usually walk past?

 – Sarah Isaak (Burkina Faso '16)

Outtatown South Africa

August: Finding Hope Through Hardship

A small part of the difficult and tangled history of Strandfontein was revealed to us as we lived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Roberts, a Coloured couple living in a well-appointed bungalow, nestled on a busy suburban street. Coloured is an official racial category in South Africa referring to people whose ancestry began with the intermarriage between couples of different races. At the Roberts home, we were welcomed with delicious Biryani, meat pies, and other delicious food, and our week of endless conversations about soccer, history, and Strandfontein’s struggles and triumphs began. 

Now in no way can you hope to attain a full understanding of a culture through one family’s stories and experiences, yet we learned so much. In conversation and through observing their life, we glimpsed a culture very different than our own. Be it through Mrs. Roberts’ fiercely imposed hospitality, or Mr. Roberts stories of segregation and political history, we were certainly immersed in a community that had been shaped by struggle, unimaginable hardship, and also hope.

Community so strong in fact, that tragedy produced tighter bonds and showcased this community’s graciousness and drive all the more. Weeks before we arrived, a strong community leader passed away – a leader from the Methodist Church who was a key figure in our homestay experience.  The fact that we were welcomed in the midst of this tragic loss showcases the community’s amazing hospitality.

Struggle and tragedy, however, is not the full story. It’s unfair, I think, to only remember stories of heartbreak or political corruption faced by the Coloured community and not remember our host family’s passion for soccer, for family, for close community, and for eclectic music. In hardship and joy, the Coloured community rallied together to create a truly memorable homestay experience.          

 – Sam Gillett (South Africa '15/16)

Guatemala Outtatown

June: Little by Little, One Travels Far…

There she was, basking in the warmth of the September sun, waves crashing against the Manitoba Pioneer Camp canoe, praying with an open mind and content heart—“God, this semester is yours. Transform me, I desire to know you.”

She wiped her slate clean, handing God the worries, hurt, and troubles from back home. It wasn’t easy, but it allowed her to dive into community, seek God with her whole heart, be intentionally present and make the most of every experience. I suppose it’s true when people say, “be careful what you wish for,” or in this case “pray for.” Not only did our Heavenly Father blow her expectations out of the water, He also transformed her in unimaginable ways. These transformations happened during the urban plunges, experiencing beauty and brokenness in various forms, living in community, and most evidently through outdoor adventures and the instructors who changed her perspective.

Jesus held her along the way, reminding her even in the difficult times that she was, and is, never alone; that she is deeply loved and created in His image.

Outtatown has been such an adventure! I was given the opportunity to find a friend and home in Jesus, our Savior, who rescued me. The multitude of experiences we’ve had in the past semester have impacted and shaped where I stand in Christ—deeply rooted in His love and grace.

I’ve found passions and God-given gifts in myself and loved being alongside 23 other people on this same journey of discovery. Our community has grown in a variety of beautiful ways and I look forward to discovering the places our Father will guide us in Guatemala! He is a great God who loves to give great gifts. I am eternally grateful.

– Alison Berard (Guatemala '15/16)

Guatemala Outtatown Updates

Site 1 Fall 2012 video

All our groups have some great new blog updates, check them out to hear how God has been moving in the students lives.  

Here's a link to a video one of Site 1 showing the first semester experience:  

Outtatown South Africa Updates

Special visit with Archbishop Desmund Tutu!

Click here to read more about Outtatown's privileged opportunity to visit with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu! This was truly an honour to meet with the man who is widely respected across the world as "the moral conscience of South Africa".

Outtatown Updates

The Adventure Begins!

Outtatown's fall semester officially kicked off this past Sunday Sept. 11th.  We are grateful to God for a great group of leaders and students – Outtatown's largest student group ever at 106! 

Current student photos and links to each site's blog are coming soon!

Outtatown staff and students 2011-2012