True Community

This past weekend I embarked upon a Campus Ministry (Outpost, or Chi Alpha) event called Men’s Advance. Nearly 100 gents packed into a mansion overlooking a misty lake set in the Fall scenery. Games were played (last night we got no less than 12 noise complaints from the surrounding area.. Don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed about that haha), wrestling was had, clay pigeons shot, and Jesus preached.

Throughout the trip as I met and shared life experiences with these guys one thing stuck out to me. I noticed how different each person was. Different backdrops, different personality types, different appearances, and different lifestyles were all represented here. Normally a situation such as this would not host abundant diversity. Like personalities would have split off, forming their own “click”, and authentic bonding would have been no more than a figment of our imaginations.

The thing that brought us all together was outside of any of us. It was Christ that united what would otherwise have been a group of guys searching for true meaning. This unique bond was created between everyone on the retreat, forged only through our pursuit of Christ. This, to me, felt like true community. I didn’t know half of the guys and yet felt as though we understood each other. We were brothers running after truth, touched by love and purpose that only God can provide. This truth transcends just men’s advance. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, and occupation/major, we’re all united in Him. I can’t wait to see what God does in each of our lives throughout this next year, but I know it will be exciting, nerve racking, and all together rad. #Mensadvance2k16.

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Some bros sitting listening to the morning sermon preached by Alex Rodriguez.

 

Don’t Give Up

My good friend and I decided to go “surviving” this past weekend. This is a term I use to describe trekking out into the Colorado woods with nothing but warm clothes, a knife, tinder and flint, and a rope. Food? Nope. Water? We brought a pot to boil any water we found. A tent? No chance.

After parking the car on the side of a bumpy dirt road we decided to get to high ground and scope out any areas we thought could provide water. In the distance the slight shimmer of a small lake caught our eye. We hiked through a forest of fallen trees and shrubs for the next hour and a half and finally stumbled upon a small stream. Screw the lake, it was time to make a shelter. We pieced together a basic lean-to structure with an entrance that opened up to a small fire ring. Soon we had a fire and began to boil water. A dash of pine needles made for a faint taste of tea. Heck, we were living in the lap of luxury here.

Just before dusk we decided to explore the area and make sure we weren’t on private property. Earlier that day we had seen keep out signs and headed in the opposite direction. Unfortunately the evidence was clear: Salt licks, a chained up picnic table, and quite a bit of untouched firewood not 3 minutes from where we had set up camp. My hopes sank as I realized we had to high tail it out of there. To get busted for trespassing let alone making a fire on private property is serious business. We quietly packed up what little we had and bid farewell to our shelter.

By this time the sun was well below the rim of mountains around us. The moon provided little light but not enough for us to see very far. We headed for the first ridge back to where we had come. An hour and we would be back to our parked car. Stars poked their way through the blackness around us and the moon fabricated shapes with which to navigate. After the first ridge we headed towards the next. And the next. Before long the shadows blurred and the ridges loomed. The car surely was just over the next crest. Time seemed to slow. It had now been three hours since we left the shelter. Jordan and I were exhausted. No sooner had we stopped to rethink our navigation when a light illuminated the darkness. We had found the road.

There was a point in the hike where fear wormed it’s way into my head. Would we make it back, or spend the whole night in the cold without a shelter? We both wanted to give up. But we kept hiking and finally made it back to the car. We could have just sat there in denial and let the night take hold but we suppressed the temptation and soon found our way back. In what situations do you feel like giving up? How can you overcome that temptation?

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Jordan and I at the site before our trek back.

 

Bridging the Gap

As I prepare for my second week of school, I can’t help but reminisce over my experiences during the last month of summer. I returned from geology field camp on the first of July and immediately began work for a demolition company in Denver. I soon realized my list of extensive duties included filling up a small dumpster with trash from a site, taking the trash to our truck, and dumping it at a local scrap yard. Yes, I know, very extensive. Though the tasks may have seemed dull at the time, the job allowed me to interact with local workers whose daily, monthly, and yearly income depended on this demolition job.

Most of the guys I worked with spoke solely Spanish and had little knowledge of the goings on outside of their respective communities. I fortunately obtained a minor in Spanish recently and was able to communicate with the “hombres” throughout my time there.

Each one of these men allowed me to catch a vague glimpse of the world through their “lens”. I learned a lot about what each person values, the difficulties they experience on a regular basis, and their aspirations. This opened my eyes to further realize how interconnected we all are despite race, language barriers, and opportunities. I wish I could spend more time with these guys to understand more about their lives, but sadly, life must move on, and here I am back in college for my last year. Consolation lies in the memories I have of these great fellows.

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Most of the guys I had the privilege of working with for a month this summer.

Fads

I know it’s been a little while since Pokemon Go hit smartphones around the nation, but I thought I would give my thoughts on this subject.

To me, it’s interesting to see just how fast fads can take shape in the modern world. The internet has made it extremely easy to see what the latest fasion, gadget, news item, or viral video is beginning to attain popularity. Pokemon Go sets a shining example of just this. In slightly over a week this app exploded its way throughout the United States, leaving parks strewn with “zombie” like people engrossed in their game.

After talking with a friend and proponent of the game I was still unconvinced of downloading the app. I can see that it gets people out of their houses, into the fresh air, a bonus of the app. Developers of the app also have extreme influence over where to send these players, mainly placing Pokestops in parks and natural areas. This is all good, but for me, in an age of distraction, the least of my concerns is dumping my time into another sinkhole. I’m sure with a little more of this time, we can foster creativity and find other more productive ways of entertaining ourselves. Until then, Pokemon Go remains a fad that I’m sure will slowly fade into the library of fads before it.

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Two young people trying to play Pokemon Go on the top of my car. This is getting quite out of hand… (Thanks to Ben and Rachel, my brother and sister, for posing for this pic.)

 

Making tasks fun

This morning I decided to clean up the apartment. Dirty dishes brimmed our sink and crumbs were scattered across our dining room table. Rather than quickly finishing these tasks, I decided to pop on some tunes and try to get a certain amount finished by the end of each song. This action passed the time quickly and before I knew it the chores were done. What tasks in your life can you change to make more fun?

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Yes, now there are more dishes filling up the sink again. I’ll have to get to those. 

Just for Fun

Here is a little snippet of a short story I started a little over a year ago.

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Chapter 1: Vengeance

White. Not white as you would find on this page or the white of a cloud alone in a sea of blue, but an altogether different white. A blinding white that pierces the eye and sends shivers down the spine. This white cut like a ray of lightning through the small window of 33 year old Thomas Montrell. As his eyes slowly adjusted, he could barely make out a landscape of jagged mountains far below. Unlike rolling hills that rose and fell like the waves of a gentle ocean, this land seemed fierce and unwelcoming. The spectacle brought with it a sensation of fear and wonder that forced Thomas to sit back and close his eyes. Planes always seemed to play with his sanity. He thought of his quaint home nestled in a green meadow broken only up by the occasional maple tree. A portion of his conscience exposed the slightest feeling of regret. One split second decision and what was now near memory could become a reality again. He could go home if he desired. His eyebrows narrowed. No. he couldn’t give up after all this planning and preparation. This was it. There was no turning back now. The pain of the near past was too much. He needed vengeance. His thoughts were shattered as a hand with a glass bottle was thrust in front of his face.

“Another swig of scotch to calm the nerves?”

His excitement urged him to reach out and grab the bottle. He shouldn’t. This was a professional excursion of which he was the leader. He lifted his hand. “No, No thank you. We’re nearly there.” Thomas was right. The six seater plane shuddered as it cut through the freezing Himalayan air.

“Al right, fun’s over,” the pilot’s voice crackled over the intercom. “Let’s buckle our seatbelts and pray for a smooth landing. This runway hasn’t been used in years… Hope it’s still there.” Thomas made a lunge for the scotch.

Sure enough, ten minutes later found the bruised but still functioning plane parked at the end of a rutted runway. The cracks had increased over the past couple of years, most likely due to weathering from the snow. Thomas stiffly stepped out of the exit and stared around him. The peaks around him were high and numerous, resembling rugged claws of that now had him and his team tightly within its grip. He felt the familiar crunch of snow beneath his feet and looked down to see the edge of the runway.