Friday, August 29, 2008

Welcome to ACTS

So I’m here.  In eastern Washington.  At ACTS, aka Antioch Christian Training School, aka God Camp as I lovingly call it.  Let me just tell you how utterly unprepared I was for the view.  Not just because I had no idea that eastern Washington is a mountainous dessert.  I mean, when they said “remote” I took from my brain a little picture of remote central PA- rolling hills with lots of trees and windy roads.  Well, they have the windy roads, and they have (larger) rolling hills, but it’s quite unlike anywhere I’ve been, and the views are spectacular.  Take for instance, the view out my bedroom window, which is a beautiful mountain.  I have been taking a picture of it each morning when I wake, because it is different depending on fog, clouds, sun, etc.  I will post them whenever I get my camera cord and can download my pictures.

And by “my” bedroom, I mean the room I share with four lovely other girls.  Flashback to college mixed with hostelling Europe.  So here we are, 9 girls, 5 guys, 3 RAs (who are also “students”) and some staff.  The students range in age from 17 to 25, though it’s much more heavily weighted towards the lower end.  The staff couples and RAs are all 25-28, so that balances out nicely age wise.  Then of course there is Jeff and Val Sutton who run the place, and they’re pretty much awesome.  Have I mentioned yet the yellow lab Sandy?  Because she’s awesome too.  Or the 8 and 5 month old babies and a soon-to-be newborn?  Um, yes please.  It’s basically our own little village. 

As it goes this first week is team building and getting-to-know-you type activities.  Day One we went on a hike that started out all nice and easy and relaxing.  And then we got to this cool cave and a little waterfall and explored around a bit in that area.  Then we went through the cave.  Yes, through the cave.  A dark unlit cave.  Ostensibly there was a trail through the cave, but it wasn’t like we could SEE it.  We’re talking pitch black darkness.  And it wasn’t some smooth little trail where you can just meander through the dark and come out the other end.  Oh no, it was rocky and uneven, with the occasional large rock in the middle of the path, making the whole thing a bit more challenging.  And then there was the creek.  Which apparently was avoidable if you stayed “on the path” but I missed that memo and submerged almost calf-deep into icy water.  Unexpected, yet refreshing. 

Once out of the cave and feeling like we had accomplished something, we decided that rather than take the same nice and easy path back down the hill we would walk out through the creek bed.  “Creek bed” conveys something much less of an adventure than this was.  With rocks and logs and water (oh my!), we had for ourselves quite a little obstacle course.  And if I had any doubt in my mind whether the nice hiking shoes I bought were actually useful, on Day One with this hike I knew it was money well spent.  Knee deep in chilly water, balancing across fallen logs, or navigating rocks across various places, having those shoes was definitely clutch.  Now, I consider myself an athletic person, but I’ve never really had or sought out many opportunities for “outdoorsy” activities.  Combined with living in cities for the past 6 years, I just don’t get to do things like that, say, ever.  Needless to say, I really enjoyed that hike/cave/creek-ing, and I look forward to more fun outdoor adventures.

Righto, so during the week we have 3 hours of class each weekday, with different topics every week, covering such broad areas as Genesis, Revelation, Philippians, Ephesians, Worship, Paul and the Early Church, Marriage and Relationships, and International Missions.  In addition we have several books to read: Absolute Surrender, which we were sent before we arrived to read, My Utmost for His Highest, The Pursuit of God, More Than a Carpenter, Passion and Purity, and Fresh Wind Fresh Fire.  Seriously, how fortunate am I to get such a time to absorb all this?  Each day we have 8am worship before breakfast, then an hour of solitude time (again, how awesome to have an hour scheduled into my day just to chillax with God), and then class with lunch mixed in there.  Our afternoons alternate between meal prep, maintenance around the buildings, and community service.

And then, starting November 18th, for a whole month, we go together as a team to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico for a missions trip.  Woh.  Guys, it’s just surreal.  I am soaking it all in, learning about my new family, taking in this great time for all its worth.  And I couldn’t be more excited to see how the next 4 months unfold.  I will do my best to post regularly about our adventures and what I’m learning.  Stay tuned, it’s going to be a whole new adventure in the wonderful world of Spangles.

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