Diving In

sa2.3By Emma Mitchell

Hello everyone! Happy Thanksgiving! In reflecting on this past week, I think I speak for all of Site Two when I say that we have all realized how much we have to be thankful for. Our last few days have been spent in Winnipeg experiencing the Urban Plunge, an experience that taught us about poverty, brokenness, and compassion.

On Monday, we split into groups and headed out on the streets of the North End for a learning tour. We visited different organizations who all have a common goal: to support the less fortunate as they seek to set their lives back on track. We were also presented with a challenge: each of us received just two dollars for our dinner so we could experience the difficulty of paying for a meal with next to nothing, a struggle that is all too real for the homeless. Most of us opted for $.99 pizza, and, while our pizza cravings were satisfied and our hunger was cured, we couldn’t help but think of how, for some, this greasy and unhealthy meal was a daily occurrence

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work volunteering at different missions around the North End. From working at drop ins and having some pretty amazing encounters with people who impacted us with their stories of struggles and faith, to cleaning out storage closets, cleaning up trash, raking leaves, and sorting clothes, every job we did made a positive impact on the organizations and on ourselves.

To end our week, we moved into transitional housing, affordable and temporary housing for those in low-income jobs looking to transition into long-term housing in the near future. Our days were spent at CMU learning about our spiritual pathways from our site leader, Jannelle, starting to prepare ourselves for our trip to South Africa, and participating alongside our Site One friends in BaFa’ BaFa’, a cross cultural learning activity.

Overall, this past week has been eye opening and gave us all a change in perspective about homelessness. It won’t be an experience that is soon forgotten.


Down to Business

Dave Ens and Blanket Exercise


Class with Dave Ens!

“Lets get down to business…” – Mulan

Getting down to business is something that we have become very familiar with, and yet the business we have dealt with in the past couple weeks has been far from mundane. Despite having fairly structured schedules we have learned how to optimize the time we’ve had together. This past week we began our first instructor sessions, with Dave Ens who spoke about the narrative of the Bible. Dave gave us a different perspective on the ways in which our context affects the way we interpret the Bible, and how in community we can read and look through it. Discussions also ran throughout our group around the beautiful beginnings of our world and the great wonders that God has given us through life.


Group nap times between class

If at this point you are curious as to our whereabouts, we have spent the past few weeks at Camp Arnes in Manitoba. The camp was extraordinarily accommodating and we gained a pretty stellar friendship with our host – shout out to Angus. Outtatown’s connections through this camp set us up for a rad day of service and giving back. Emma Martens spent 6 hours raking; Jesse Patterson spent an eternity slapping grass and spending his time in an existential crisis with a borderline unusable weed whacker – he grew a lot, but unfortunately so did the grass. After the day of work, we were able to all come back together and be re-energized through a night of worship and sharing our passions in life and how God can continue to use us all in unique ways. All in all, the days at Camp Arnes seemed to go by at the astonishing rate of ‘remarkably fast’, from conversations as meaningless as debating the accuracy of calling an unknown meat substance ‘chicken’, to staying up late as fellow believers getting to the core of our faith: every moment helped us grow together and with God.


Eating some breakie at Camp Arnes

We ended our week with learning of residential schools and the very real and current existence of racism in Canada. We all left with hearts longing to spread more of Jesus Christ’s influence into the broken parts of our world; and as Angus said: to “be excellent to each other”. Not just to each other as in our peers strictly within Outtatown itself, but also within the greater world we are about to embark into. Winnipeg, here we come.

With prayer and in God’s strength, we move forward together.

Scribed by Olita Elia, Sarah Martens, and Jesse Patterson

And So It Begins…

SA camping groupSunday morning marked the beginning of this grand adventure of Outtatown. Once we arrived at Manitoba Pioneer Camp Sunday evening, bonding began immediately. We would like to invite you to imagine an evening that involved a massive conga line, star tipping, a muddy game of tug-a-war, and deep talks on the dock; laughter was a significant part of the night!

SA times

The following morning, our team of 29 was split into two groups that each embarked on a four day canoe trip across Shoal Lake, Ontario. We faced fears and pushed our own physical boundaries as we canoed through waves of all shapes and sizes. With each evening spent on a different island, we connected over quick meals around a fire, and icy cold cliff jumping – parents don’t freak out. camping sunsetAdam Regier would like to personally let his mom know that “I’m okay!”. As a result of one very stormy night, which soaked several students, we grew to love the sunny hours of canoeing and sore arms much more. With the devotional theme of the trip being beauty and brokenness, we were able to appreciate the discovery of both, in nature and in our own lives.

“Our group may not have been mellow, but the whole time I felt completely tranquil. There’s something freeing about being in the outdoors with no concept of time whatsoever,” says Emma Martens.

“I learned how to talk about everything and nothing at the same time,” says Mathew Lancaster.

“It was quite the experience to not be hindered by mirrors or showers, which created an attitude of realness amongst the group,” says Alia Dieleman.

SA canoeing again

Once back at the camp, and after EVERYONE had showered (we made sure EVERYONE showered…), we were once again on the road headed towards our next destination: Camp Arnes. These past few days have been an exciting mixture of getting to know the other half of our family, those we didn’t canoe alongside of, and learning how to live in a thriving community. With a lot of laughs we have started our greatly anticipated semester together once again. We are looking forward to a week of instruction from David Ens regarding the Bible and its dilemma. How fortunate are we to be learning about the King of Kings, all day every day?! #universitylife

SA hammock

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” Genesis 1:1

With prayer and in God’s strength, we move forward together.


By Hannah McNeilly

SA canoeing

Welcome to the SA 2017/18 blog!

Helloo South Africa students of 2017-2018! Welcome to this year’s blog! Throughout the year our site will be updating this blog with stories of our journey through Western Canada and South Africa! We are so excited to meet you all this Sunday! We hope this interview will help you to get to know us a little more. If this make us sound awesome that’s fantastic, but if you’re thinking this is kinda lame we can’t wait to meet you to change your mind!

IMG_0130If you’re on a diving board about to jump in, what liquid would you choose to fill the pool with?

Rachael: Sunny D
Chris: tartar sauce and fish sticks
Julien: soft serve ice cream
Jannelle: Pistachio pudding

Highlight of the summer?

Rachael: Visiting Fort Babine first nations in Northern BC especially enjoying some DELICIOUS Bannock over some late night fires that lasted all the way until 9:30.
Chris: Seeing a family of moose swimming across the lake.
Julien: Having a cottage weekend with some friends in Muskoka Ontario and attending three close friends’ weddings.
Jannelle: Making new friends from all over the world while I attended Canadian School of Peace Building at CMU.

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Rachael: Pho
Chris: Tartar sauce and fish sticks. Besides that, breakfast for supper.
Julien: Pizza
Jannelle: Nachos and guacamole.

3 words to describe each person (chosen by the other leaders):

Rachael: Too cool, energetic, great dancer
Julien: Exuberant, pensive, bearded
Jannelle: Sensei, sporty, loyal
Chris: Witty, buoyant, punctual (fast-walker)

Favourite piece of clothing:

Julien: My hoodies
Jannelle: Anything I own that’s black or grey
Rachael: My beautiful pink fanny pack!!!
Chris: My waffle cut Long Johns and matching shirt!

What is the most useless things you have packed for Outtatown?

Julien: Whether something is useless or not is a matter of opinion
Rachael: 30 pairs of underwear and socks
Jannelle: My ginormous Starbucks cup that leaks and is very impractical
Chris: My 1980’s road bike

What are you most excited for this year?

Jannelle: Driving the mini van
Rachael: I’m most excited for exciting adventures and meeting new friends
Julien: Meeting up with old friends and making new friends in South Africa
Chris: Meeting all of you new students!!!

Well, that’s all there is to know! Can’t wait to see you all soon!


Much love from the Core Four (Julien, Rachael, Chris, Jannelle)

The Journey is Done

By Bailey Cressman
What a year this has been! From discovering more about the country that I live in, to learning about another, this year has taught us all so much. We’ve had our challenges, but we’ve also had our joys, and I know that for me, the joys by far outweighed the challenges. We will never forget how the past seven months have impacted and shaped us all as individuals and as an entire community. But this is it. Now it’s our time to say goodbye. Thank you to those who have been following us through this journey, for praying for us, and supporting us, we are extremely grateful. God bless!
This is Outtatown, South Africa, 2016/17, signing out.

Amani Amstutz: Outtatown challenged me in the best ways and I got to grow in so many beautiful places- couldn’t be more grateful for this year.



Rianna Isaak: Ubuntu: We are people through other people.



Hadiya Huijer: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” – Joshua 1:9

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Tez Peterson: My favourite part was tanning.


Danielle Brockman: Remember that time we were hit by the Plague?


Eli Melsness: There’s been fun times and challenges and I’ve learned from both.


Adam Neufeld: Outtatown was filled with unforgettable experiences had with amazing friends; whether lazing around humming in a dog pile, hiking up mountains, or serving with people we met along the way.


Alyssa Enns: There’s nothing better than seeing Jesus through the faces of the South Africans.


Jana Enns: This year has been full of adventures. Jumping out of planes, sleeping in caves, waking up way too early to see sunrises, and staying up way too late to watch movies.


Josh Driedger: Outtatown has taught me what it is to love everyone the same no matter who it is.


Daniel Kang: On Outtatown I have experienced firsthand the outcome of poverty, power abuse, community building, deep conversations with friends, etc. Through the adventures I’ve had with this group however, one thing has stayed consistent: God was there. God was present and was not idle in his actions.


Jessica Smith: Outtatown is a journey with highs and lows, fun days and days that kill ya, but all in all it is an adventure full of memories with people you grow to love.

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Beth Verwoerd: I’ve loved experiencing the many culture of South Africa; whether it was through going to a show with my Afrikaner homestay family, attempting to Zulu dance in KwaZulu Natal, trying to eat curry dishes with my hands in Durban, or having a braai with my coloured homestay family in Strandfontein.


Lyds Keesmaat-Welsh: Give us peace when the journey is done.

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Jonah Thiessen: Outtatown is a blast, just do it.


Josh Toews: Traveling through South Africa has been an incredible journey where I learned a lot about God, myself, and the world around me and had many adventures with the group.


Alexa Nicolle: “I laughed; I cried; it moved me Bob.” – Larry the Cucumber


Silas Allen: I am thankful to my community for three things: making it a hoot and a half of a year, helping me grow personally, and helping me grow spiritually.


Brianna Wiebe: Outtatown teaches you as much or more as you want and strive to learn.


Cole Stewart: I went skydiving, bungee jumping, and learned to surf, but the best part of Outtatown, for me was experiencing two beautiful countries and their incredible diversity.


Katie Clements: I had a mind-blowing time in South Africa. The people, the food, and the land are all unique in their own way. God is definitely at work in that place.


Julien Busse: If you boast of your wisdom, you reveal your foolishness. If you speak of your humility, you show off your pride. And if you call yourself godly, you unveil just how far you’ve moved away from Him. This I say, never consider yourself godly, humble, or wise. But seek to become them.


Reanne Regier: Outtatown taught me that I have to put God first and be best friends with Him before anyone. God always comes first. No matter what.


Sean Inglis: Outtatown has been a wild year full of crazy fun experiences that have caused me to grow in many ways.


Holly Vroom: Live until you find a reason to want to live.


Holly Dean: I’m so done. 🙂


Andrew Nakatsuka: 8/10, would do it again.


Hannah Vanderheyden: Collect the good little things. 


Joey Speers: Outtatown gives you an opportunity to destroy what the world says you are and allows you to dig deeper into who Jesus says you are.


Skye Wagenman: You get the best out of this journey when you put your best into it.


Jannelle Dyck: I leave this year filled with awe, wonder, and gratitude. Thanks be to God!


Tim Nauta: Not all heroes wear capes.

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Sid Roth: I found God while on Outtatown which embarked me on a crazy life of faith.


Naomi Wiebe: Outtatown is a program that makes you grow in all areas: emotionally, spiritually, and unfortunately physically (girth-wise).


Justin Eisinga: I never imagined I would travel to South Africa. I never imagined I would jump off a bridge or fall out of an airplane. And I surely never imagined I would be called “surrogate father” by a bunch of young adults. I guess Outtatown is kind of like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.


Ben McIntosh: Safety never takes a holiday.


Bailey Cressman: I have learned more in the seven months of being in Outtatown that I probably would have in five years without doing it.

Hike in the Drakensburg Mountains

Hike 1

By Silas Allen

Last week we did a three-day hike in the Drakensburg Mountains and went to the top of Rhino Peak. It was something that I had been looking forward to all year. We arrived at the base greeted by 4 piles of supplies and food to add to our backpacks. After repacking our bags, we hiked an hour and a half to the cave. We were welcomed to the Drakensburg by rain and thunder which couldn’t stop our team… as a matter of fact it helped us. The rain would be start stop, start stop the whole way up and we loved having the rain to cool us down after building up a sweat. We arrived at the cave, set up camp and then did various things to relax and unwind. Some of us went down to jump in the cold river and take a few glugs of the delicious mountain water. We then made our 2-minute dinner, hung out in the cave, stood amazed by a double rainbow, listened to Daniel read Songs of Solomon, and then went to bed. The next morning, we woke up and started our 4 hour hike to the peak. Half way up we heard a man yelling at us from the top of the mountain screaming “aaaagghh!!!” A few minutes later we discovered that it wasn’t a local Basoot but was a pack of Baboons running along the side of the mountains. Finally, after 3 1/2 hours, we made it to the top only to have our breath taken away by the beauty of God’s creation all around us. It was amazing, we had sun shining on us and only a few kilometers away we watched the rain fall and lightning strike over the Burg. After hiking down, we cooled down in the flowing waterfall. On the final day, some of us watched the sunrise and then made breakfast, packed, and headed back. We made it to the bottom and enjoyed both the lunch ready for us as well as a real bathroom. We met the second group, wished them luck and then spent the next couple days at project gateway doing some service and catching up on our assignments. We were also treated to a Zulu night with traditional food and dance. Overall it was a great week of experiencing God in the beauty of his creation of the Drakensburg.

Hike 2

By Skye Wagenman

On Friday morning, we (the second group) loaded the bus and prepared to leave for the Drakensburg hike. Just as the bus started to pull away, the rain started. It rained, and hailed, everyone scrambled to quickly cover their bags, ensuring they were dry. The rain made it quite chilly and many of us were worrying if we brought enough layers or a warm enough sleeping bag. We arrived at the spot where we were meeting our guides, unloaded our bags and all took shelter under a small, covered area. We were then introduced to the four leaders, Matt, Martin, Monde, and Sekele. We were also given our food, dishes, and bathroom supplies for the next few days. After we all got our bags on and fitting comfortably, we were off! We walked through the rain, every so often stopping to catch our breath, or stare at the mountain outlines through the mist. We walked mostly in silence, with the occasional conversation, or the phrase, “We winning!” yelled out. After over an hour and a half, we arrived at a large cave, unpacked all of our supplies and made our fantastic lunch/dinner of 2-minute noodles. Most people went to their beds not long after, because it was so cold. As the sun set, the view from inside the cave looking out was incredible. The sky was a thick orange mist for as far as you could see.

The next morning, once everyone was awake and de-frosted enough to look outside, we were a little disheartened to see nothing but fog. Unfortunately, the guides decided conditions were too dangerous to hike to Rhino Peak, but they did open up an optional hike for those who really wanted to go. Myself and a few others decided to hike as far as we could. We hiked for over 2 hours, but unfortunately had to stop at the base of Rhino Peak. We hiked back to the cave and arrived wet and cold, but in good spirits. The people who stayed behind wrote poems, read through John, had good conversations, and never left their sleeping bags. As the day went on, it felt like the temperature was dropping more and more. As the sun went down, people prepared for bed. They could be seen zipping sleeping bags together, squeezing two people into one sleeping bag, and layering up.

Heading out on the last morning, we were expecting to see the foggy, misty view that had been our reality for the past two days, but we were struck with a beautiful view of the mountains, hills and valleys surrounding us. We all stood there in awe of God’s amazing works and timing. We hiked out full of joy and laughter. The Drakensburg hike gave us all such amazing memories and brought us even closer together. Those three days, despite how cold and rainy it was, we all stood in awe of the beautiful creation God has blessed us with.

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