A trip discovering our Identity, Direction, and Community

by Geraud Brumfield

   "The desert, strips and beats and sucks the life out without hesitation or mercy. The great city manipulates and abuses and distorts life to create faux vitality out of death. The forest grows and reaches and flourishes life in healthy cycles that will continue for generations," Amelia Sanders says these words as she reflects on the ReCreate 2019 Adventure trip.

   ReCreate was a trip designed to take students outside of their normal routines; to provide students with an opportunity to re-create a vision for their life while exploring the theme of recreation in God's world. Our hope in the trip was for students to grow as followers of Jesus Christ by aligning their identity, their direction and calling, and their community, with God's intention for them. We explored 3 distinctly different places - Death Valley National Park, Las Vegas/Mead Lake, and Sequoia National Park. 

   The trip took 3 college students, - Amelia Sanders, Anyssa Romero, and Kollin Grunberg - our Director of College Ministry, Geraud Brumfield, and 2 CCO Experiential Design team representatives - Kaylee VanGent and Sam VanEman. 

   At the beginning of the trip, after all of the prep work, we trekked to spend our first two days in Death Valley. Here's Amelia's reflection, "We all shared life together and deep personal griefs. Our vulnerabilities were exposed in Death Valley ... I've struggled to be 'enough' to someone, and I've struggled to be strong. The desert stripped me of my sufficiency, I could barely pitch a tarp tent." It was here where students had to consider what it meant to trust God to provide because we ourselves were not enough.

   Next, we went to Vegas. We are promised a lot in Vegas. However, it is not what we want. Kollin reflects, "It seems superficial to say that Las Vegas was my favorite location on the trip, particularly because we visited Vegas after being in Death Valley and before camping near Sequoia. Without a doubt, the scenery of Death Valley was incredible and the stars were dazzling in the absence of any light pollution. I could easily spend a week in the desert or camping in Sequoia. Las Vegas amazed me in a different way though; more like a horrified transfixion. If we had more time, I would have loved to walk along the Strip and soak in the billboards and lights that assailed passerby on both sides of the street. I was in awe that humans are able to create such an extravagant display, but this isn't why our night in Vegas was most memorable. In fact, I think I would have gotten bored with the lights had we stayed another night. The reason why Las Vegas was powerful to me is that I witnessed blatant patterns of sin that are so easy to point out under the neon glow of Sin City, and yet difficult to identify in my own daily life. I will never forget the dazed look of gamblers, throwing money into a slot machine even though they knew they were going to lose. For them, their time spent being 'numb' in front of the screen and away from their problems outweighed the financial cost. How many times in my life do I invest in things where I know I am 'losing'? My realization....a lot!

   As Christians, we are promised eternal life and I have absolute faith that this gift is mine to receive. Even so, I often settle for substitutes because they are so readily available and I tell myself that I can have the best of both worlds. It's so easy to rebuke addictive gambling, but I came back home feeling convicted to identify more subtle areas, like intimacy, in which I turn away from God's gift and pursue worldly substitutes. I am very thankful for every person on the trip. Our conversations and support for one another made our trip become so much more than a tour of amazing scenery."

   We went to Sequoia to ask the question, "What is the company you keep?" Anyssa reflects on the group she was with. "I am someone who is extremely shy and who takes a while to warm up to someone or people I don't know, however, on this trip I found it extremely weird yet satisfying to feel comfortable and be open with the people I meant on the trip so fast. I am extremely glad that I made the decision to go on the trip because not only did I get to understand and have time to myself more, but I also got to meet some pretty amazing and caring people." Together, the students were seeing the Kingdom of God expand for them.

   This adventure ended with a very tasty meal at Dan & Suzanne Kimball's home. We sat around the table with elders and their families being reminded that our church family matters.

   In the future, we hope to take more students and have them see the Kingdom with us!