Monday, March 26, 2007

Slowing Down at Holden

By, Claire Bartleson

The mission trip to Holden Village is one that I won’t soon forget. We met so many interesting and different people with such different stories as to where their lives have taken them and how their experiences have shaped them that it has really made me examine my life and where I’m heading mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
The best part of the trip for me was being cut off from the outside world. It was tough at times but it was great not to hear cell phones ringing! It felt as if nothing else mattered at that time other than what I was doing. I didn’t have to worry about being somewhere on time, returning phones calls, getting assignments in or going to work. I was truly relaxed.
I now see why slowing down in life is important. While at Holden I really took time to look at what was around me. Waking up every morning and walking outside and seeing these huge mountains was incredible. I don’t think people take enough time anymore to really notice the beauty that is around them everyday.

Three Moments from Seattle/Holden

By, John Robinson

From all the experiences that I had from the Holden Village / Seattle trip, three moments will stay with me always.

First, the homeless center in Seattle. I had never been in a shelter like that before. In my mind, I always pictured a shelter such as this one as being slightly unkept, with a lot of "lost souls" roaming around. The reality is that the center houses many individuals who are just like you and me; yet due to situations beyond their control, they have lost everything. One "resident" of the house had actually worked with the Seattle Supersonics in their media department. He told of how at one time he had stayed in the Hilton Hotels throughout this country, living the higher profile life of someone associated with the NBA. He dropped names of the superstars he had rubbed elbows with at the time which included "Downtown" Freddie Brown (knowing I was from Iowa), and Wes Unseld (my favorite player when I was young!) The guy knew his basketball and he was articulate; and yet due to circumstances beyond his control, he is now living in a homeless shelter. BUT, he said he remains very optimistic about his future and he is not giving up. I guess I could all learn about life from him.

The second moment / thought that I come away with was the view of the mountains and how small we all really are! Waking up to mountains that reach up 8,000 feet really does humble a person! We really aren't much when we really look around this country, planet, universe. But, as Jim and I worked on the front deck of a hydroelectric plant, I also recognized the abilities that we have been given. This hydroelectrical plant just amazed me! Someone had to draw up the plans, someone had to construct the equipment, someone had to put it all in place over the small river... all in this very remote location! This smaller facility gave Holden its electrical power and it was very impressive.

Finally, the Sunday morning church service in Seattle. Before the actual message, we were read the Ten Commandments slowly and quietly. If the world is to survive, we all need to hear and reflect on what these commandments are saying. Strangely enough, that was the moment which will define my trip for me as I look back at all that I experienced.

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to take this trip.

Phoenix Group - Monday

The following is from Amanda Kafer's journal for Monday, March 19th. Amanda is a Waldorf student from Forest City, IA.

Monday 3-19-07
Today was a lot of fun. Waking up at 5:50 was a stretch for me. We ate and got going pretty quick. Today I got to go to a food bank and work with my fellow Waldorf students, as well as some of the Sheriff’s inmates of Phoenix. They were really cool. We boxed food and prepared it to be boxed by the next groups that would come in. We got a lot of work done, and it was cool to see the work it takes to feed people who need the help in that area. We spent most of our day there then got to shower at the YMCA (finally after two days without one) then finished out the day with the rest of our Waldorf group. It was a great day for me. (my hands and arms hurt from the work though). :)


If that were me...

The following was written by Waldorf student Angela Boris from Columbia Heights, MN.

If that were me…

Everyone has a story. Looking back on my week in Phoenix, I decided I needed to tell my story about it. There are many emotions that come into my head. First of all is a small sadness. I am sad that Spring Break is over, sad that just when new friendships were being built it had to end, and sad that I can no longer stare off at the mountains in the distance and just be in awe. Our last night in phoenix, I sat outside and just though about everything that happened there. There are parts of me that was expecting something else, parts of me that were frustrated and parts of me that just wanted to go home. I realized however that I learned many lessons of this trip, and here is what I have to say.

This trip was an experience. Not just an experience of a new state, a new city and new people, but an experience of sleeping on floors, being patient when all I wanted to do was get going, to keep pushing myself to fill one more box, hammer one more nail, or paint one more section when all I wanted to do was leave, because I was hot, sweaty, sore and tired. It was an experience of meeting people I would have never probably met, not just fellow students and professors from Waldorf, but just people. We had the experience to work with inmates doing community service hours. These people taught me the simple lesson to not judge someone before you get to know them. I know we were all skeptical about working with these people, but at the end of the day we all had new friends.

It was a lesson about how lucky we are. I kept thinking, if I was born somewhere else, if I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that could have been me. Everyone has a story, and I am glad that I got to hear peoples that I would have never expected.

The one thing that comes to my mind when thinking of this trip is sacrifice. Sacrificing time, energy, showers and a bed. It just amazes me sometimes how selfish people including myself can be. There were days when I know we were all thinking lets hurry up and get done so we can leave. I remember being so mad that our plane was delayed going to phoenix, and I was so hungry when we got there. Thinking about that now, some people don’t even have a house, don’t even have anything to eat. I was hungry for a few hours, while some people are hungry for days on end. It is all about perspective, and we are all so lucky.

Looking back, I realize that its not about how many records we broke at the food bank or of we got done with all our jobs. I had the wrong attitude. It was about giving something of myself, ourselves, with nothing except blisters and memories in return. For most of us on this trip, we weren't here to give fully of ourselves. Its not about getting thanks or looking good in a resume. These are simple little things that humans should do for each other. Its not about just the physicial work we did, but the attitude and heart that goes into it.

I have never seen a group of college kids so willing to go in, work and get a project done. Everyone I was with on this trip had a drive and a passion, and I am grateful that we experienced this together. Let’s challenge ourselves to look beyond the world we live in, outside our little boxes. Lets not be judgmental. We all have a story to share, and we all have a story to listen to. My sister played a song for me one time, and it sticks out in my head now. It is about how we cant live without life’s simple luxuries, and yet there are people out there with no home, no food, no body. It is a song about getting other peoples stories. We are all so lucky and blessed, and lets never forget it. Now go out there in the world, the world beyond Waldorf, Forest City and home. Thank you all for the wonderful experience. Here is that song, it helped me and I hope it helps you too.

If That Were Me

"Where do they go and what do they do?
They're walking on by.
They're looking at you.
Some people stop, some people stare.
But would they help you and do they care?

How did you fall?
Did you fall at all?
Are you happy when you are sleeping underneath the stars?
When it's cold is it your hope that keeps you warm?

A spare bit of change is all that I give.
How is that gonna help when you've got nowhere to live?
Some turn away so they don't see.
I bet you'd look if that were me.

How did you fall?
Did you fall at all?
Is it lonely where you are sleeping in between parked cars?
When it thunders where do you hide from the storm?

Could you ever forgive my self-pity?
When you've got nothing and you're living on the streets of the city.
I couldn't live without my phone.
But you don't even have a home.

How did we fall? Can we get up at all?
Are we happy where we are on our lonely little star?
When it's cold is it your hope that keeps you warm?

Where do they go and what do they do?
They're walking on by. They're looking at you.
They're walking on by. They're looking at you.


Today is where your book begins...

The following was written by Waldorf student Rachel Anderson from Postville, Iowa.

The past week in Phoenix, Arizona was an amazing experience for me and everyone else involved! First of all, it was my first time flying along with a few other first time flyers so that was exciting, second of all I got to share a great experience with fellow Waldorf people. It felt so good to know that we helped many people less fortunate than we are.

While working at the food bank, each day we broke our own records! I felt that the group got along really well even though we all complained about sleeping on the hard floor in a sleeping bag all week but in the end we could all agree that it was worth it. I gave devotion to the group to think of for the rest of the week and that was a verse from the song "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield.

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window

Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your innovations
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

The message was that today is where your book begins the rest if still unwritten; each of us has a page to fill. I strongly believe that the Phoenix group filled many of those pages as we headed to work each day! We all got to meet people that we probably would not have met if we didn't go on this trip. I'm grateful for the experiences that I shared with everyone on the Phoenix trip!


Simple Ways of Life

By Nicholette Mausser

When I was at Holden Village, I learned the simple ways of life people live. These would be things like:
Doing compost with their garbage and separating everything.
The meals that they eat
How they sort all the different materials that they use in all different situations and how they conserve things.
How everyone gets along and lives a simple life.

I enjoyed Holden Village immensely. It was so peaceful there. All the praying helps you get in touch with yourself and helps you to find what your true calling is. I enjoyed it very much, it helped me relax and appreciate the things and people I have in my life. I would work there but I would need to have someone with me, like a family member or a friend. I am too close to my family, that I wouldn’t be able to go a long period of time with out talking to them. It is a great place to get to know your inner self and to do something if you are not ready for the work world.

Simple Things

By Nicole Moklestad

For me, I felt like I have come back much more relaxed. I always say to enjoy the simple things in life, etc. However, I really feel that I have a better understanding on how to respect the simple things in life and really appreciate them-- that’s what I’m going to try to embrace from the wonderful service trip

Looking back on Holden

By Vola Ranaivoson

More, More, More. That is basically what our society wants. It seems that no one is content with what they have or the blessings that God has given them. And I’ll admit that I’m even like that, but being at Holden Village where there were no electronics and people had to live simply, a gentle peace and contentment swept over me. Looking up at the Mountains just reminded me of how small and insignificant I am compared to that but yet God loves me so much that he was willing to die on a cross for me. My intention for spring break was to go to Holden Village and help in anyway I can, and in addition have some fun, but in the process I gained new friendships, and was able to step back and reflect on my life. The people there were so warm and welcoming that it really makes anyone that comes in contact with them take a look at how they treat others and to appreciate what God has given them.

Holden Reflections

By Jim Benson

For me, the Holden experience reconfirmed why the rest of the country loves to employ midwesterners.

The people of Holden Village have a big responsibility with little more than self fulfillment as a reward for their labor.

They live with a pioneering spirit in the face of hardships that come with the commitment to operate a remote facility that lacks the normal modern day conveniences like sufficient electricity to dry clothing.

I saw the village from a facility operators view and came away with a great appreciation for the commitment these people have made.

It is easy for us to take a few days to serve, but we can not tolerate being asked to wait a few hours for a plane. These people wait for months for the chance to change clothes!

We drive a block to class. These people trudge a quarter mile through snow that is amazingly deep to go from place to place as they carry out their everyday activities, and they do this willingly several times a day.

I came away with an even greater appreciation for people willing to sacrifice for the good of their fellow man.

We live in a much different world and it was refreshing to go back in time to a place that still has that open door, pioneer spirit.

Thanks for the opportunity!

Seattle and Holden Village

In a fragmented and torn world, it is often a rare thing to find and experience community, but such would be the definition of the Seattle/Holden Village Spring Break experience from Waldorf College.

For a week, 17 people were immersed in service while being enfolded in and changed by the spirit of community.

Upon arriving in Seattle, the Waldorf team went to the Compass Center -- a transitional housing program for homeless men. Here, we readied the dining hall for the evening meal, helped prepare the night's food, heard about homelessness, received a tour of Pioneer Square from one recovering drug addict at the Compass Center, served dinner, listened to stories of heartache and survival, and cleaned the kitchen and dining hall following dinner.

As the men told us their stories, we were invited into their lives and into their community. We came to serve them, but through their stories each one of us walked away changed. What is it like to live on the streets? What is it like to know "success" and to then see it all vanish? What is it like to not only feel alone, but be alone and try to put life back together?

The next service element of our experience was Holden Village. We left the busyness of the inner city behind and found another type of community in the mountains. Two hours up the lake and twelve miles up the mountain, lives a village of people attempting to be responsible stewards of all of life. The snow was still deep -- about 70 inches of the winter's 300+ remained, and as we served in and with this community we trudged through melting snow that still buried some buildings.

So what did we do in this village? What did we experience? It is really difficult to capture the spirit of the experience in words. For a few days, while we did hours upon hours of dishes, reconstructed church pews, cleaned and painted the mailroom, filled in human-made-post-holes in the snow, built an observation deck at the hydro-plant, moved three cords of wood, and worked with garbology -- we learned how to live simply and value something other than what our culture mandates.

While we were in the village (whose electricity comes completely from a hydro-generator) the snow had melted enough that the water in the river was running fast enough so that the electricity was strong enough to once again use clothes dryers. It was simply amazing to hear the cheers of joy at not having to freeze dry their clothes anymore, as the dryers had been unavailable since late October.

We partook in a silent hunger meal -- simple food -- bread, rice, fruit and water -- something that the village does once a week -- the financial savings from which are sent to hunger relief organizations.

We worshiped -- at least once a day, finding time in quiet reflection to listen to God's voice and to be drawn together across all boundaries that might separate us.

We listened to why people choose to live in this village -- to seek a different way amid a frenetic world, to seek to change the way that we view one another and the world -- one person at a time, to live amid community while trying to figure out what life is all about, to be found in wholeness when there is brokenness.

What do we bring home from this experience? That is probably different for each person, but there are most likely some common threads and common questions. What would happen if the Waldorf community, once a week, participated in a hunger meal, and then sent the money saved to hunger relief? What would happen if we as a campus would commit to recycling and intentionally reducing what we send to the landfill? What would happen if each one of us embraced a spirit of hospitality and truly lived in a way that values and respects each other, regardless of our differences?

And a closing thought. For me, there is a metaphor for this experience that has arisen from the physical realities of both the Compass Center and Holden Village. The Compass Center is located along the water front in Seattle, and is right behind a major overpass -- a bridge that constantly generates the sound of traffic. Holden Village is located up in the mountains, away from the hectic pace of much of life, but it too is marked by a bridge and a constant sound. At the village, the bridge stretches over the river, and wherever one is, the sound of water can be heard.

I suppose all of us live by bridges of sorts -- those things that take us from one place to the next, over that which would be an impediment to what comes next without the bridge to get us there. Perhaps at the end of it all, that is what service is -- a bridge to change for those who are served and a bridge to change for those who serve.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Phoenix Group

The following was written by student Philip Klees of Burlington, Iowa.

The college spring break is a time much anticipated as the semester presses past its midway point and heads for a late April finish line. For some Waldorf students, spring break meant they would be catching a flight to some place exotic like Jamaica or the Cancun; for others it simply meant making a trip home to work or spend time with their families. But there is a more fortunate group of students at Waldorf College who allowed themselves the opportunity to see a different side of spring break, a different side of life.
Last Saturday, thirty four students and faculty boarded planes en route to Phoenix, Arizona, to pave their own remarkable road of service, friendship, and laughter. For five days these fortunates sacrificed privacy, sleep, and sometimes showers to better ensure that many families would not rest their head on an empty stomach or under a leaky roof.

By the time it was said and done they packaged enough food at St. Mary’s Food Bank to easily feed all of Forest City for an entire month, painted a home through Habitat for Humanity and the Guzman family, and hammered enough nails to pre- fabricate nine homes slated to be built in early May also through Habitat for Humanity. All of the while tired, smiles were never far from the lips of all who shared a special week together.

Days began nearly an hour before sunrise; students awoke every morning to find that they were serving, but also being served. Before the students were to rise, it was Dianne Hanson or Kristi Osheim or Dan Hanson preparing a quick breakfast and gathering together the lunches made the night before. After a short devotional, usually led by a student volunteer, the group set out for a day of work.

Days sometimes lagged on, but it didn’t seem to matter. Being volunteers, lunch breaks tended to be an hour long- a time some used to make up for the previous nights lack of sleep. Others students, especially Yannick Mulolo, took the time to meet those outside the group who were more often than not troubled teens who seemed to just be looking for someone to listen. By listening he extended a fortunate hand to few who otherwise would have not known of its existence.

For the many who cannot call themselves one of these fortunates, you missed out. This small group of Waldorf family proves that there is an untapped reservoir of service inside of every heart. This vehicle of service allowed a little effort to blossom into something more concrete and meaningful; it turned into a week of selflessness.

Philip Klees

Phoenix Group

Setting records - that became a frequent comment from the St. Mary's Food Bank staff and the Habitat for Humanity staff. The midwest work ethic shined through as we were welcomed back each day.

The week is over and as I sit here trying to recapture memories, I find myself thinking over and over about serving and having an impact on others lives. The Phoenix group touched thousands of lives. At the food bank we boxed up in one day alone - 23,500 pounds. We were told one pound feeds one family of four one meal. In one day we helped to provide 23,500 meals to a family of four. Then we proceeded to break our record each day we went back! At the Food Bank we worked with minimum security sheriff's inmates, people on probation doing community service work as well as other volunteers from church and civic service groups. We became a crew together working toward one goal of feeding needy families. At Habitat for Humanity we built walls that will be used in a building blitz in May. Three hundred volunteers will come together at that time to build nine homes in 4 1/2 days. The walls we built will be brought to the site to complete this monumental task and will provide homes for nine families. We also went on site and painted a 2-story Habitat home.

I am proud to have been a part of it. I admire and respect the 34 Phoenix trip participants I had the privilege to work with this week. We lived, we learned and we served.

Kristi Osheim

Phoenix Group

The following was written by President Dick Hanson following Day 1.

Why are we here?
After our first day of volunteering at a Phoenix food bank and work at one of the Habitat for Humanity facilities, we ate a good meal and then stopped to reflect. For many of us, the lesson gained from our work today was one of understanding more about who we are as individuals - people in a different place working to help other people. For others, there was at the top of their mind, a sense of appreciation for the human spirit, in all of its stunning complexity.

From deep inside we are bound to experience the grace of giving - from our advantage, from our privilege. And from all of this we see a profound truth: we are here to make a difference. Let it be so.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

At this second...

...Waldorf students are all over the country serving others. In Arizona, students, faculty and staff are building houses. In Holden Village, in the state of Washington, students are working at a spiritual retreat center. In Mississippi, students are helping a man move into his house after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

At this very second, a Waldorf student is making a difference. I talked to Nicole Lovik-Blaser today, Director of Student Activities at Waldorf, and she mentioned that their group had received many positive comments about their gold, 50 Days of Service t-shirts. As the members of the Waldorf community traveled to their Spring Break destinations, all of them wore their gold t-shirts to the airports. It must have been quite a sight because Nicole said that many people complimented the Waldorf group for taking part in such an ambitious task. Serving others for 50 consecutive days.

Well, 19 days are in the books, but there is a lot of service yet to be done. I can't believe how well everything has gone so far. I'm excited to hear more stories of service from our Spring Breakers.

I read a great quote the other day that reminded me of the kind of drive I've seen during the first part of our 50 Days of Service.

"Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible,
Yea, get the better of them." - Shakespeare

I feel like with the 50 Days of Service, we've asked Waldorf students to run with the idea of service and now they are doing things that might have seemed unlikely or even impossible before.

50 consecutive days of service. Ambitious, yes. Impossible, no!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Headed South!

Tomorrow we are headed to Mississippi to help with disaster relief. I can't wait to get down there and really help out. I think we'll have an amazing time and gain all sorts of great experiences. I'll keep ya updated! :)

Phoenix Group

Well, here we go. I'm new at this blogging thing but I wanted to say we are ready, and we are excited! Check back each day to read messages from some of the 34 Phoenix Service Trip participants. We will be assisting at the Food Bank and working with Habitat for Humanity.
Kristi Osheim
Thompson, IA
Administrative Assistant
Waldorf College Athletic Department

Thursday, March 8, 2007

50 Days Kickoff Event

The kickoff celebration seemed to go off without a hitch. Judging from the excitement and turnout the Waldorf populous has decided to really get behind something. It should be exciting seeing how Waldorf College will be able to move our surroundings through service.