Category Archives: Snowbird15

Snowbird – Thursday, 4/2/15

Hello to all! The blog of the day is brought to you by your super senior bloggers, Nic Englert and Joseph Loo! We are happy to be here and guide you through the journey of Day 4, so sit back and enjoy the ride as we attempt to impress our Lit teacher!

The troops are weary from the previous day’s activities and their morale was low. Lack of sleep was evident at breakfast, but the rush of soda in the morning soon turned that around. After a delicious meal consisting of pizza and cereal, we trekked towards the Worship Center for a breakout session entitled: “How to Study Your Bible.” Our speaker Rob thoroughly explained the fundamentals of getting in the Word and it’s significance in order to truly grow closer to God. One note of interest: for anyone looking for somewhere to start, try starting in Matthew and work your way through the New Testament.  This was encouragement for the students to apply into their day as they began their extra-curricular activities.

Filing out of the Worship Center, the students took this time to take care of any needs they had. This ranged from showers, to catching up on some sleep, or even taking it to the volleyball and basketball courts to settle some Snowbird feuds. The games were intense; many feelings were hurt, along with the pride of our defeated enemies. We celebrated with a trip to the dining hall where we were greeted with a delicious array of food that satisfied the soul. This prepared us for the incredible adventures that were in store for us after lunch.

Now it was time for bloodshed. Bruised and battered, the students limped off the battlefield, where the guys were eager to see who had the worst war-wound. Meaning, we played paintball. We soon left the Field of Glory to try our at hand at different activities. Many of us tried out the Goliath Swing, The Zip line, 3-Man Swing, and the Gun Range. This was exciting for many of us as most had never shot a gun before. Joseph, the man whose work you are also reading, shot his first gun today. His gun of choice, the 20-gauge shotgun, went 8/8 while skeet shooting. Many others shot for the first time as well and had a great time. But I wish we could have kept the earpieces from the gun range to drown out Mr. Ritchey’s scream from the 3-man swing. This place really keeps you on your toes. One example was the wonderful message given by Brody at tonight’s service.

Before the amazing service, there was a skit led by two staff members, Cam and Gens. They demonstrated how we have all of this pent up sin that we hold on to and they used red paint on a window to symbolize the mess it makes. Then Jesus comes and cleans it, making it clear once again; an image that truly represents what Christ does for us everyday. Brody then talked about God “clearing sin” from our lives. He used an illustration of an iPhone, where there are open apps that can build up until they overcome the phone and drains the battery. Brody’s assistant, as God does, double clicks the Home Button and swipes all of those unwanted and wasteful apps from his phone. In the same way God opens those up, and just swipes them away, forgetting our sin, giving us new life. An Illustration most every teenager can relate to nowadays.

As we bring this tale to an end, we reflect on this week. Tomorrow is the day we leave and it is somewhat upsetting. This is our last spring term, a four-year journey coming to an end. This trip was something else and it is sad to leave it all. We are grateful for the amazing teachers on this trip who are so willing to lead and guide us. AKA we need a good grade this last quarter. Thanks for following us on tonight’s journey; we really appreciate you guys thinking we’re interesting people.

Signing off,

Nic and Joseph…Nic and Joseph…writing a blog with Nic and Joseph

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Snowbird – Wednesday, 4/1/15

Coach Timms warned the students today that the Nantahala River would feel ten times as cold as the ice bucket challenge, and in a few short hours they realized he was not lying. I just wanted to be sure you knew that when your students come home with elaborate descriptions of the treacherous, polar, icy water, that they’re most likely not even being dramatic. Even so, we had an absolute blast. Mrs. Timms had a raft with all the girls, and Coach Timms and I split off into a couple different boats filled with eager young men. We all got a little wild—teachers included. We were braving rapids, making up tribal chants, and even jumping into other boats and tossing out whomever we could find, when the water was calm enough of course! Needless to say, that was one river trip that will be hard to top. Tim (one of our counselors and river guides) told me that was one of the best trips down the river he’s had in a while.

I pulled aside Nick West tonight to ask him about a couple of “take aways” he had from the sessions with Brody. Here’s what he shared with me: “I liked when Brody said today: God can do all things, but he still chooses to use us.” He said that was only topped by the moment on Tuesday night when Brody said, “We have all this Christianity surrounding us, but we’re treating Jesus like an accessory. When in reality, he should be like the very oxygen we breathe.” It was so encouraging to hear that the students are plugged-in and trying to soak up everything they could from the excellent preaching of God’s Word that we’ve been exposed to this week.

Tonight Brody continued on with the book of Ephesians 2, walking us through the first ten verses of that chapter. It was a powerful message about our desperate and dreadful position before God saw fit to intervene and save us from our sin. When the students get home, feel free to return to these passages with them and see how the Lord has been challenging them. I love knowing that the fire of God’s Word doesn’t have to flicker out when they return home, but that their loving parents and guardians can keep dousing on the fuel and encourage them to plunge headlong into the kind of meaningful life God has set out for each one of them.

Tomorrow morning we’re going to be sitting under a breakout session called “How To Study The Bible.” I’ve already had two different conversations with students who have told me that they want to develop a devotional time with God, but they really don’t know how to get started. Snowbird is the first place where I learned how to set up that pattern in my life, so I can’t wait for them to begin learning this invaluable spiritual discipline tomorrow.

Look out for a post from our very own Nic Englert and Joseph Loo tomorrow night!

*Understandably, we don’t have pictures from the day of rafting, as we didn’t want to risk losing our phones or cameras on the river.

Time to crash,

John-Michael Ritchey

Snowbird – Tuesday, 3/31/15

Today we dedicated our time to service. I loved the time we spent, but not for the reason you might expect. The students weren’t working with orphans, feeding the homeless, or tending to prisoners. There will be no monument set up for them after we leave for their grand acts of philanthropy. Mostly, the kids worked tirelessly staining fences and spreading mulch around camp. Snowbird has a huge campus where thousands of kids come each year, and they’re always fighting to make it affordable for kids from all walks of life to be able to come and be changed by the message of the gospel. No fancy cleaning crews or landscaping contractors—and that’s where we came in.

But that’s why I loved today—because the way our students spent their time serving was simple and it wasn’t glamorous. I’m going to quote “The Hobbit” because I teach British Literature, and so I hope you’ll just go with me on this. But I kept thinking of a quote from one of the main characters in the recent movie adaptation, that so relates to the kinds of things we did today. Gandalf mentions that one of his fellows (who ends up becoming evil in the end) “believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check,” but his take on how we should battle the evil in the world is very different. He says, “I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” Although the weather was hot, the jobs were tedious, and we were all sticky and sweaty, I’m confident that God used today to show each one of us the beauty and importance of even the “small acts” of service, kindness, and love.

After the work around camp, the students spent their time climbing the obstacle courses, playing basketball, and having a seriously intense volleyball match. I don’t want to boast, but my team (which included Moriah, Sean, Joseph, Balsa, and Victor) came out on top. If you’re a parent of one of these volleyball stars, then have them show you our cheer when they get home. You won’t regret it!

The night closed out with another service and time for small groups. Brody picked back up with Ephesians chapter one, and began explaining to us the powerful and life-altering words Paul left for us there. Brody even used an illustration involving Chris Djomou Nana and his remote control helicopter that he’s been flying around camp all week to show us what “redemption” is really all about. My prayer for these messages continues to be that God would wreck these students with the power of the gospel. Many of our students know quite a bit about what Brody has to share with us. But I don’t know that all of them are experiencing Jesus the way that he and the other staffers up here so powerfully model for us.

Tomorrow we get to look forward to some rafting on the Nantahala River. Oh… and it’s April Fools day too, but I promise: I won’t try to trick you with a terrifying post about us losing all the children.

Believing that God will keep doing abundantly more,

John-Michael Ritchey

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Snowbird – Monday, 3/30/15

So, let’s start with some good news: none of the students were left behind! All twenty-something of us loaded up on the bus after a time of prayer, and after what has felt like an eternity, we finally embarked on our trip to Snowbird.

In all honesty, I think the most excited ones were Coach, Mrs. Timms, and I. For the kids—sure—there was the usual excitement that accompanies the beginning of a week apart from the typical routine of class, homework, and tests. But for us, there was an excitement that comes from having experienced this place, a place dedicated to confronting students with the person of Jesus and everything He stands to offer them. All three of us have had the privilege of working with students at Snowbird, and all three of us have seen God do powerful and often times even unexpected things in the minds and hearts of students. We’re ready to see it happen one more time!

Even before we arrived, though, the trip already began with an encouraging twist. At the Woodstock Outlets, where we stopped for lunch, a group of our students encountered a crowd of Mormons who were doing some “evangelism” in the area. Sean Hourigan and Balsa Rogosic decided to talk to the gentlemen, hoping to hear a little bit more about what the Book of Mormon really teaches. I couldn’t help but chuckle as Sean mentioned to us later, “Yeah… They actually said exactly what Mr. Faulk told us they would say!” Although it was just a time of questions, I was extremely impressed with those guys for stepping out of their comfort zones and moving into a place where God might work and speak through them. If you think of it, you can join us in praying for Elder Bacon and his other missionary friends.

A few short hours later, we arrived at camp and settled into our cabins. All the students seemed excited, but also a little unsure about what to expect. Some of our counselors for the week came over, introduced themselves, and then they all scattered to play some basketball and other games. I had fun sitting back and watching the relationships start to bud. In truth, that’s where the powerful things really happen at Snowbird. These counselors give up so much to come and work at this place for virtually no money, all because they’re motivated by love for students, and a massive desire to see them meet Jesus in a real and meaningful way.

After dinner, we headed off to our first session where Brody (the lead teacher here at Snowbird) began the week with a message out of Ephesians, the book that we’re going to be studying together all week. Before he talked, we sang a song that was probably unfamiliar to most of us, but I was struck by the beautiful picture it offered us:

“I was an orphan lost at the fall
Running away when I’d hear your call
But Father, you worked your will”

Brody hit us hard with the metaphor of adoption found in Ephesians 1, and laid some amazing groundwork for the rest of the week. He told some hilarious stories about his two, newly adopted children from Uganda that had all our students rolling in laughter—but that only made it all the more powerful when he brought them back to Ephesians 1 and challenged them to think through Paul’s reminder that to be a Christian means we have been adopted by God. There was no doubt that Brody loved his two newest children—we’re just praying that we would all see that God loves those of us in Christ like that, and oh so much more abundantly than even that!

The night ended with small groups and more hang out time. The girls and guys all split up into smaller groups and were challenged by the various counselors on staff here to begin seriously considering where they stand in relationship to the gospel. Snowbird is a place where no student will be able to “hide,” and every student is going to have to get real and vulnerable about where they are in their walk with Christ (or lack thereof) We can’t wait to see how each one of them is challenged and encouraged in unique ways to do so much more than just dance around the routines of religion—but to actually come face-to-face with the person of Jesus Christ.

We head off to bed soon, with a full day of missions ahead of us. Thank you for your prayers. What a joy it is to know that we serve a God who can always do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.

Until next time,
John-Michael Ritchey

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