Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Same Love" A Hispanic Christian Experience by Danny Housholder

Church was a comfort zone for me growing up. My father is a pastor and in one way or another, I’d usually end up with him at work everyday as a kid. With that, church became a second home to me, and the other staff members were nothing short of an extended family. I loved being at church because I felt welcome. I knew a lot of the people there, and they knew me.

More importantly than the social comfort I encountered in church, I discovered, developed and nurtured the foundations of my relationship with Jesus there. My faith quickly became the most satisfying aspect of my life, and since I could associate it with church, I loved being at church.

As I’ve grown, I’ve moved away from home and been to more churches. Because of my pleasant experience with them growing up, I again felt comfortable during services or other church activities. I can relate to people there. We’re all broken people clinging onto a Savior who can save of us from the disappointment of this world. Our words confess it whether it’s through traditional liturgy, a preacher’s sermon, contemporary worship songs, prayer, discussion in fellowship and the list goes on. I believe these cries from the pits of our souls bring us closer to the relieving arms of Jesus, but I also think they bring us together as the body of Christ. We find communities in relationships with others who are enthralled with the love that frees us from the crushing blows of life. This is why I love church. 
Friendships and conversations with anyone of any background should be valued, but in church, I am able to talk with others, listen to others, sing with others and realize that I am not alone in my struggles.

This whole idea, though, of finding a community in church was challenged recently because for so long, I developed this community through verbal acknowledgement. For a class, I was expected to attend a Spanish speaking service at Annunciation Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado. My professor won’t like hearing this, but I was not excited for it at all. I thought, ‘How am I supposed to get anything out of a service I can’t understand?’ How selfish? Sure enough, though, I sat with my poor attitude for a majority of the service feeling upset. I wanted to take this time to be at a church where I could at least understand the message. Furthermore, I felt more awkward than a giraffe in a helicopter considering I was the only person with blonde hair and fair skin in the entire building. I felt stupid when someone would speak Spanish to their friend and then look at me and sympathetically say hello to me English. They mean nothing wrong by it. Actually, they were just being friendly and trying to make me feel like I could fit in, but I wasn’t having it.

Then, one of those mind-altering moments that only happen a few times in a life happened to me. They served communion. Now, I wasn’t allowed to take communion because I’m not Catholic, and I wanted to respect their traditions (quite frankly, I let that bother me too at first). But then I started to think about what was happening. These people with completely different backgrounds, cultures and languages than mine were going up to be cleansed with the same blood that was shed and body that was broken for me. They weren’t saying it with their voices, but louder than ever I heard every person in that building crying out for freedom—the same freedom I have begged for with other believers in English speaking churches my entire life. They were experiencing the same love that frees us all from the crushing blows of life.

I started to choke up, and soon the lump in my throat worked up tears in my eyes. Look, I’m a Lutheran. I don’t usually get emotional in church, and I’m pretty skeptical of personally experiencing my own “spiritual moments.” I love hearing about others’, but it just freaks me out sometimes. And there I was, having one in the last place I ever expected it. I learned on that Sunday morning in Annunciation Catholic Church, that the body of Christ I am apart of does not stop and start over new again when a different building, tradition or language is used. The body of Christ is anyone who believes in the everlasting love of Jesus, and it is the same love of our Redeemer that unites us together no matter what our differences are that makes us a community that will live together in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, it could be said that I had a pretty awesome experience at Annunciation Catholic Church. I’m glad I was forced to go because I’m not so sure my stubborn attitude would have ever voluntarily gone.

Everyone needs freedom from this world, and Jesus uses the same love for each and every one of us to do just that.

An inviting city

Greetings from Denver!  My name is Rachel Price, and I am a Wartburg student currently studying at Wartburg West.  I am double-majoring in Religion and Peace and Justice, and I have an internship which takes place partially at the Rocky Mountain Synod office – ECLA, and partially at Colorado Impact: Center for Economic Prosperity.  Thus far, I have greatly enjoyed both opportunities and I’m learning worlds of new information about advocacy work, government processes, and the wider church. 
There are many bits and pieces of my Denver life which have really stuck with me in the last month, and surely those pieces, the things I’ve found most valuable, are the things which may be most worth discussing now. For example, most everything in our area is accessible by foot, and surely by bike.  In my hometown, we have to drive 30 minutes just to find a Wal-Mart, but I’ve been here for almost a month, and I still have three quarters of a tank of gas in my car.  There’s great fro-yo everywhere, and intriguing restaurants everywhere I look.  Shopping or hanging out at the 16th St. Mall can happen just a few blocks away, and so can a visit to the Capitol Building and Civic Park. 
Another perk is the friendliness of those who live in the city.  I’ve noticed that a vast majority of people around here are more than willing to engage in friendly conversation in a line at a store, walking down the sidewalk, etc.  People aren’t so reserved, and it’s great to get to know people from many varying cultures and backgrounds.  I’ve experienced many different festivals which exhibit many different cultures while in Denver, as well.  The way I see it, this city sort of exemplifies the “melting pot” trend that people normally attribute to the United States; however, because it’s so much more condensed in a city than an entire country, the truth in that title is very visible here.  I’ve met people already who come from many other places and with whom the only visible things I may have in common are the humanity and dignity which are inherent to each of us (of course, that’s a large quality to share with a person).
This brings me to my final and most favorite part of my experience thus far: People do justice.  Sure, there are many different ways in which a person could “do justice,” but I’m talking about the type of social justice which unites people with one another and lets people maintain their own dignity and humanity regardless of any cultural, racial, economic, sexual, or gender-related differences between a person and the cultural “norm.” (What is normal, anyway?)  Everywhere I look, there is an organization or group of people willing to dedicate themselves to doing justice in order to have a more united, more fulfilling community, and that, surely, is the greatest thing I’ve seen yet.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My new comfort zone

Denver has a population of about 2.7 million people. Des Moines has a population of about 206,000. There are more people that live in the metro area of Denver then there are people in the state of Iowa. This is just mind blowing. When I decided to come out to Denver it was mainly for me to get out of my comfort zone and get out of my comfort zone I have.

Let’s start with public transportation. It is a main form of transportation here in Denver. So many different people take the bus and light rails. I have never had to depend on public transportation before so to say the least I got pretty worked up about it. On my first day on the bus I was really trying to blend in and look like a local. Yeah, that didn’t work. I think everyone knew that this was my first time. Maybe it was because I was holding a map with the bus routes and using Google maps on my phone to make sure we were going in the right direction but who really knows how they knew. I have always heard stories that people who take the bus are mean and scary but in my experience that is just not the case. On my first day I got complemented on my shoes and got called a Greek goddess. If that doesn’t make you feel good then I don’t know what will. So the next time you are scared to get on the bus just know there is a good chance that someone will brighten your day.

Getting out of my comfort zone is pretty easy to do in Denver. Just walked down Colfax (one of the main streets in Denver) and you will see so many different characters. Homeless people will ask you for money, business types will walk into you without even noticing and a Midwestern girl just trying to get to the bus stop will act like a starry-eyed Rachel Berry when she first lands in New York City (if you don’t understand that reference then I really am a nerd).  So far my experience in Denver has been great. I hope when I am around town again I run into the lady that offered me a cinnamon roll once before and maybe this time I‘ll take her up on her offer. Yeah, probably not. I hope that eventually I’ll feel more comfortable being on my own. So far I haven’t starved but there is only so much ramen a girl can eat. 
Denver is city that has everything you could ever want or need.  Do you need a milk shake at midnight? Because Tom’s dinner is right across the street and has the best chocolate peanut butter milkshake known to man and really what more do you need in life than a good milkshake? 
Jerica George, Comm Arts;  Internship: The Publishing House

Sunday, September 8, 2013

From Simon Sager, Communication Arts

Our first week of internships is done! I would consider this week to have been very successful. Going in to my time in Denver this fall, I think my internship is what I was most nervous about. It is nerve wracking to jump into a new organization and trying to get to a place where you are an asset to your supervisor and not a burden. Thankfully, everyone I came in contact with was absolutely wonderful. I feel like I have a good base knowledge of what I am doing (thanks Wartburg Communication Arts Department!).

On the social front, these last two weeks have made it really clear that we have a great group out here. I think that each of us is really up for just about anything and we are all determined to have an awesome time in Denver. I think the highlight for me so far has been hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a solid hike, and absolutely gorgeous at the top. 

What I love most about Wartburg West is that you have a family you can home to every night. That’s exactly what I feel like I am doing whenever I come back from my internship – coming home. It is so awesome to be able to share all of these awesome experiences with a group. Even in the short amount of time we have been here I know that I am creating friendships that will last the rest of my life.

Beginning of a New Adventure

Alexia Brewster
Wartburg West Blog
Week 1
The Beginning of a New Adventure
It has been two weeks since we have moved into the Wartburg West apartment in Denver, CO.  Our first week here was spent having orientation and exploring the city.  As a group, we rode the bus to different parts of Denver to better understand where we were living.  It is interesting how different a neighborhood can be by just going down fifteen blocks.  I still am surprised by how different the neighborhood where I live is compared to the one I work in when I take the bus to my internship.  It is also intriguing to see who rides the bus during specific times of the day.  I have found that the elderly and young families tend to ride midday while mornings and nights consist of workers.  
In addition to exploring the city, I explored the Rocky Mountains with a couple of Wartburg students last Saturday.  We left early in the morning for a three-hour drive to one of the trails by Estes Park.  It was a two-hour loop that scaled up part of the mountain and back down.  On the way up, we stopped at various small waterfalls to take pictures and dip our feet in the water.  Thankfully, it was partially cloudy and the weather wasn’t too hot for hiking, although the water did feel nice.  There were quite a few people out hiking that day, including a family that was traveling on alpacas.  You could tell it was the kids’ first time by how excited they were.  My favorite part of the hike though was when we got to the top of the mountain.  We were taking a break and eating some snacks when a small squirrel started to run up to each of us, asking for food.  Rachel, who was sitting down, offered some of her granola bar to the squirrel who immediately leapt up onto her lap and started eating.  It probably stayed on her lap for a whole five minutes before scurrying away.  After that, we trekked back down the mountain and finished our hike in the Rocky Mountains.  I can’t wait for the next adventure.