Quiet by Elsewhere

A little video I had the pleasure of shooting and editing of Torrence Poteet of the band Elsewhere at a live concert in mid December.

The featured image was shot by my lovely wife Genoveve Zepeda Whiston. You can see more of her handiwork from the evening on Elsewhere’s Facebook page.

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Bible College Update IV

Hello!

Here is Bible College Update IV: the abbreviated version. I apologize that it has been so long, and I apologize that this will be such a broad stroke, but I wanted to share some exciting stuff that’s been going on lately.

We’re Making an EP!

After Christmas break, we did Songwriting II and Project Production, where we spent most of our days in the beautiful recording cabin on campus writing and recording songs. The tracks are being mixed and mastered by our wonderful professor Barry Patterson. I’ll let you know when it’s ready–I’m super excited about it! It was amazing to create such an amazing project with such an amazing group of people.

Recording some trombone tracks in the cabin. Photo by the beautiful and talented Genoveve Zepeda.
Recording some trombone tracks in the cabin. Photo by the beautiful and talented Genoveve Zepeda.
Photo by Genoveve Zepeda
Photo by Genoveve Zepeda

We are going on tour!

We have been split onto two teams to do ministry tours for the next 10 days. Genoveve’s team is doing northern Alberta, and the team I’m on will be going through Montana, Idaho and BC. Using some music, skits, testimonies, videos and preaching we’ll be talking about trusting God in the midst of uncertainty. Please pray for us as we travel around in vans and u-haul trailers that God would use us to show his love to the churches and schools we visit and that we would have grace for each other as we spend considerable amounts of time in cramped quarters.

Edited a video featuring the testimonies of some of the students that we are showing on tour.
Edited a video featuring the testimonies of some of the students that we are showing on tour.

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I’m Engaged!

This is what I’m probably most excited about! Two weekends ago when we were home I asked Genoveve to marry me.. and she said yes! We are super excited about this next step in our lives and we’ll have lots more to say about it when we get back from tour!

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There is so much more to say about what’s been going on lately, but at least here are some highlights and pictures. God is so good, and even amidst bouts of frustration, weariness or outright bitterness he has been molding my heart and taking out the bad stuff and replacing it with his love. I am so thankful for the people around me and the place that I’m in and I simply can’t take it for granted.

All the best,

willi

Learning Who I Am (and some other thoughts)

I feel like I’ve been drifting. It makes me wonder. Do I really need God? I’ve been doing pretty good so far… yet still I know I need Him. He seems so far away.

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But that was earlier. Now I feel forgiven. The peace that passes understanding is rolling over me. But as much as it is in fact peace, I feel unsettled. A healthy unsettled. My heart is waking up. As much as I feel fuller, as much as I feel loved, as much as my capacity to love feels like it has increased, I grow anxious. I can’t sit still. It is the world around me.

There is so much going on in this world. I hardly understand it. They say ignorance is bliss. And they are right. But bliss is suddenly an unattractive option when my heart wakes up. Bliss is not enough. Bliss is a sort of laziness, a cop out. It’s not that I’m a pessimist, but an Unitarian existence is not enough. It can’t exist. It reminds me of the quote by Edmund Burke:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

I suppose I’m one of the good men. A part of Dumbledore’s Army, but in a grander scale. Because my leader isn’t some fictional wizard. My leader is the ruler of all, the King of kings, Creator of the World. Wow. That is crazy. Awe astounding. It never dawned on me like that. I can’t even put it into words. My understanding of how great God is has grown again.

Sometimes I go to the mountains. They are like cathedrals. The trees rise like pillars while the wildflowers find refuge in the valleys from the wind. When the sun sets, the rock reflects the most beautiful colours of purple and orange you’ve ever seen. It’s as if the very rocks cry out to his majesty.

Majesty. A king. A kingdom. A kingdom upside down. A kingdom of love. What am I then? A peasant? Or am I a knight. No, I am in fact nobility. A child of the King.

But still I run around forgetting who my father really is. Nobility made undeserving of it. I am so unworthy. But still he makes me His child. I am covered so completely by grace. Every charge laid down. I don’t need to make a show, perform a ritual, or prove myself somehow to a distant deity. He’s the king, and I am His son. This is so very incredible.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

Romans 8:15-17 (MSG)

Three Shalt Be The Number of this Update of Bible College

First an important video about the number three (which will also explain the title of this post).

A substantial amount of time has passed since my last update, and for that I apologize; I will attempt to fill you in on the goings on here as best I can.

Seven weeks ago, I got a roommate–Merry the beta fish. Unfortunately he passed on about two weeks after his arrival.

Following his departure, Genoveve gave me a new friend–Gandalf the beautiful red beta fish. However, it was only about a week before he too found his way down to the Clearwater river. I concluded that I cannot keep fish alive and packed my little tank into a box and put it in my closet. It was a sad day.

Accepting the fact that I could not keep fish alive, after Thanksgiving break I received two new companions: a Boston fern and a spider plant. They’re harder to kill, harder to get emotionally attached to, and they keep the air clean in my room. It might be what you call a win-win. The spider plant has been flowering lately too, and it looks rather nice.

The flowering spider plant in all of its glory.
The flowering spider plant in all of its glory.

Besides my drama with fishes and ferns, life has been going along fairly well. Since my last update, I’ve had three classes: History and Theology of Worship, Intro to Media Arts, and Synoptic Gospels. History and Theology of Worship has been my favorite class so far and we read through an excellent book by D.A. Caron called “Worship by the Book.” We talked a bunch about worship in the context of the New Covenant, developing liturgy and a bunch of other good stuff. It was very much fun. In Intro to Media Arts we played a bunch with video, lighting and some audio work. It was a quick class, but fun none-the-less. It was what we call an “experiential class,” so my final project was a video instead of a paper. Here it is if you’re so interested.

Synoptic Gospels was a long class, and while it was interesting, I’m glad it’s finally over.

Besides classes, we had a Campus Experience weekend where the CCA’s lead worship for the weekend, which was the first time we’ve led together as a group. There were a couple hiccups, but it went well all things considered. We also lead at the youth group at the Church of the Nazarene in Caroline every second week.

Genoveve and I have been attending Living Branches Community Church in Rocky Mountain House. It’s a good midsize church and we’re getting to know the people there better. I’m one of the worship leaders there now, so that’s pretty exciting.

Over the weekends, the students have gone to the Calgary Zoo, and Genoveve and I have gone on a hike in Nordegg. Other than that, we mostly just hang around here at the college. It’s starting to get cold, so you have to bundle up to go for a walk, but it’s still pretty nice.

Music lessons are going well; I’m learning a bunch on the guitar, my vocal range is expanding, and I’m getting much better at singing harmony. I’ve started playing electric more as well in the context of praise and worship music, which is something I never really felt comfortable about before. All in all, I feel like I’m learning stuff.

The biggest thing I’ve been struggling with is just being stuck here. Sometimes, it can be hard to feel like you can do anything for the kingdom of God when you’re stuck out in the middle of (almost) nowhere. But because of this, I’m learning more about the power of prayer and realizing more and more how very important it is to pray.

I apologize that this was so long-winded, a lot has happened since the last update! I’m very much looking forward to Christmas, and being home again.

All the best,

willi

Two Roads Diverged In A Yellow Wood

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken // by Robert Frost

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The Second Update of Bible College

Hello friends and family,

As the long weekend comes to a close and with it my first week at Bible College, I am pleased to present the second update. When I left you last we were in the middle of orientation, learning all about life here on campus. It was mostly a bunch of rules.

On Thursday we went on a hike to Siffleur Falls in Nordegg. It was a great time out to get to know my fellow students and teachers a little more. I always forgot how much I love the mountains, they are so beautiful–a tangible way of appreciating both the majesty and creativity of the man upstairs. I took some pictures on the hike, you can see them here.

Friday was our first day of classes. We’ve started with a class on Spiritual Disciplines, working through a book by Donald S. Whitney. The book is a little repetitive, and reads a bit like a self-help book, but our professor has a great testimony, and really brings the content to life.

It’s worth noting that around this time of the week, I saw the picture of Aylan Kurdi washed up on shore. It shook me quite a bit… I wrote about it here.

The long weekend was well… long. There wasn’t much to do, and it was mostly cold and rainy for the duration of the weekend. Genoveve and I made it all the way through the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. A good number of the students attended Living Faith Fellowship this Sunday. The service was quite good. I think we’ll be checking out another church in Rocky next Sunday.

Before I take off, here’s some pictures of my room–my home for the next while.

View from the door
View from the door
Where I sleep (a.k.a. my bed)
Where I sleep (a.k.a. my bed)
the other side of my room
the other side of my room

Hopefully this was informative and not too long-winded. Kinda starting to miss home, but I’m getting use to life here, so I guess that’s good.

willi

Siffleur Falls

I made sure to bring along my camera on a hike to Siffleur Falls in Nordegg, Alberta. After having been to Jasper a few times now, I forgot how beautiful the other parts of the rockies are. The colours become even more vibrant with the changing of the seasons.

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The Boy In The Red T-Shirt

I’d seen it earlier. You’ve probably seen it too—the image on the front of the Globe and Mail on September 3 2015. The three year old in the red t-shirt, washed ashore on a beach resort. His name was Alan Kurdi. “That’s awful,” I said to myself. Then I went on with the rest of my day.

That evening I watched a movie with my girlfriend. Then I showed her the picture. That’s when it hit me.

I’ve been asking the man upstairs if he could make me better a loving people, that somehow he would show me how how he feels when he thinks about them. Sometimes I guess its dangerous to ask for things like that. Turns out it can feel sort of unpleasant.

Every time I think about the boy in the red t-shirt a deep pain wells up inside of me. Tears well up in my eyes. While I sit idle on a couch watching movies, fathers lose their families while trying their hardest to save them.

Why does this happen? Why this great unbalance? Why is there such pain halfway around the world? Why does it seem that I can do nothing?

Church, what must we do? I’ve heard that the church struggles with staying relevant. Maybe this is a good place to start. Will we reach out? Will our hearts be troubled? Will our sleep be restless? Will this deep unrest cause us to love more deeply than we ever have before?

I think it must.

Church, let us not be idle. Let our hearts be broken. Let tears roll down our cheeks. No we can’t save the world, but we can damn well play our part. Let us love more deeply and more authentically than we ever have before. Let our feet be led by our hearts to pick up the pieces of our broken world.

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns!

In case you’re not up to speed on the Syrian refugee crisis, check out this article in the Globe and Mail.