So since last week, we’ve had adventures and experiences in new places, and in our classes. Ready to hear all about them? Seatbelts!

Graham was in charge of taking us around on our Wednesday excursions for two weeks in a row which was really fun! We went to a merchant’s palace in Culross which had a beautiful view from the garden. Then we went to the abbey in Dunfermline where Robert the Bruce is buried under the pulpit and where there was a park with the coolest swing I have ever played on!! Lastly we made our way to Linlithgow palace which was huge. We also made a pit stop to see the Hopetoun House where Anna and I decided Mr. Darcy lives. Graham would tell us little bits of history and information about each place we went to and even pushed us on the swing. It was definitely a great day.
On Friday morning we left for Northern Ireland to go to a Young Adults Weekend. When we arrived we were able to do some exploring In Belfast before heading to Annalong, where the event took place. That night as we were settling in, I came to the discovery that my sleeping bag was not a sleeping bag at all but a parachute (you know the kind you use in gym class as a kid). It was pretty hilarious and one of the people on the committee was able to lend me a spare. The focus of the talks was the Kingdom of Heaven and we were able to examine different aspects of it through Jesus’ parables. I was really taken with the thought that as Christians, we are the wealthiest people alive. There is nothing to be gained that has more importance, more beauty, and more worth. How then can we justify being so desirous of things we don’t actually need when we already have everything? Or on the other hand how can we keep to ourselves this great wealth we have? The psalms we sang were about how we see the work of God in nature around us.
Saturday I was able to watch part of a rugby game which was pretty fun! That day we also had two talks and seminars on Spiritual gifts. In our free time Anna and I were able to go to the Mountains of Mourne. The view there was just too good. The sea behind us, a waterfall beside us, a rocky path ahead of us, a hairy cow with some sheep on the other side and a rainbow above us…I just can’t get over the beauty of it all.
We had an extra day in Northern Ireland after the conference where we were able to go to a B&B. Both the place and the people were extra nice. My favorite was our breakfast and not only because the food was absolutely fantastic, but because of the people we met. There was a pastor and his wife from England and a Swedish couple. Before we left the pastor was talking to us and said something I really loved and needed to hear. He was telling us a story about how a man had asked what the “secret” behind the success of a certain mighty man of God was; he told us that the answer he received was that he took the whole Bible and lived his life according to what it said. He went on to say that it didn’t matter if he agreed, or if it always felt nice, or if it was easy, it’s the word of God and it’s there for us to follow. I loved that. When we left the B&B we went to Giant’s Causeway. It was beautiful even in the rain but when the sun came out it nothing short of magnificent. We went to white rock beach and I raced up the dunes, and ran down them which was extra fun. I’d never done that before =]
The layout of this program is really unique because we are able to read books, maybe even wrestle with them a bit, and then discuss them afterward in our seminars. Last week we delved in to the study of the aims and motives of missions, the spiritual disciplines of meditation, and memorization of scripture and we had our first class on Paul. I really like how I have the opportunity to examine every aspect of my faith in detail and learn and grow in Christ. it’s not about the grade, it’s not about the speed of the reading, it’s about understanding, wrestling with the material, thinking through the ideas presented and coming to a conclusion about what I really believe and why. I think if I’ve learned anything in my time here so far, it’s that I have so much more to learn! (Which sounds really lame but it’s so true.

– Graci Arias