After a very long hiatus I am extremely excited to get the ball rolling on filling you all in on what our site has being doing over the last half of the semester.
During the week of October 15-23, we spent our time at Redberry Bible Camp just outside of Rosthern, Saskatchewan. As a site, we were very excited to spend a full week in Saskatchewan as this was the first time in Outtatown history that multiple nights had been spent in the province.
We had the pleasure of living, working, and learning with MB Mission’s Discipleship on Mission (DOM) program. Getting to interact with new people was so much fun and we loved getting to know them as both individuals and as a team. They fit right in with us and saying goodbye to them was one of the hardest moments of the week.
While staying at Redberry we had a speaker named Gil Dueck who taught us all about theology as transformation. Before the week began many of us didn’t have a strong understanding of what theology was, yet alone how it applied to our lives. Gil explained theology as “the study of great convictions.” These convictions are critical to who we are and how we see the world. One of Gil’s main points was speaking on the echoes of God’s voice. The four echoes he told us about were: Our longing for justice, our thirst for spirituality, our desire for relationships, and our love of beauty. Through these echoes, we come to the realization that we live in a sinful world because these echoes have paradoxes. Justice is elusive, spirituality is ambiguous, relationships are messy, and beauty is fleeting. Gil also provided us with an illustration to help us understand human being’s fall into sin. He described sinful choices as bad apples, the condition of sin as the bad barrel, and the spiritual power of sin as the bad barrel makers. Gil finished off his lessons by telling us everything the cross accomplished and the transformative power of death and resurrection.
The second half of our week was spent with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) learning about a local story of reconciliation and the international refugee crisis. Thursday morning, we got to hear first hand from some farmers in the area about Stoney Knoll. Stoney Knoll is also known as The Young Chippewayan Indian Reserve. In 1897 this land was taken from the Young Chippewayans by Mennonite and Lutheran Settlers. For a couple of hundred years nothing was done to resolve this injustice; that was until 2006. In 2006 Young Chippewayans, Lutherans, and Mennonites gathered on Stoney Knoll to draft the Memorandum of Understanding. All three parties agreed to peace and justice! Through this Memorandum has come healing and reconciliation. Although the Young Chippewayan Band has never been compensated for the land that was taken peace is being reached. For our site to hear this true story of forgiveness and reconciliation, especially after spending a week at Roseau River Reserve, allowed us to see hope for a future of peaceful and healthy relationships. That afternoon we were able to visit Stoney Knoll which allowed us to fully appreciate the precious land that the Young Chippewayan’s value.
Friday we headed into the MCC office in Saskatoon. We got to participate in a refugee simulation activity. We were divided into small groups which represented a family. Each family was provided with some money, food rations, and health rations. Then we had to make decisions that led us to different check points depending on the decisions we made. For example, my family decided that we would risk not getting proper documentation and we would illegally take refuge in another country. This worked for a while but at one of the checkpoints we had to bribe the border security with our food rations because we didn’t have a passport. Another family ended up stranded on the side of the road with two medically fragile family members due to decisions made early in the game. This learning activity really caused each of us to think; although we were just pretending, real refugees make life or death decisions everyday. We were left to contemplate questions such as what would you bring with you if you were forced out of your country? Would you risk not having authentic I.D? What would you consider an illegal immigrant? Overall the day was extremely thought provoking and challenging.
As our week in Saskatchewan ended we looked forward to our time in Alberta. Stay tuned to hear more about our adventures out West!