What has surprised you most this year?
Callum: How much there is to know and learn about the Bible itself. Like what it actually is, all the symbolism within it and how it relates to itself throughout its entirety.
Laura: How much I have learned about the Bible that I didn’t know existed. There are so many stories, characters, events and details that I didn't know before coming to Carmel. Carmel has really helped humble me and has made me realize how little I actually knew.
Nick: My personal growth, and how much I did not actually know about my faith. I keep surprising myself with my growth in my faith, and I can see changes in my life and attitudes that have truly shocked me.
What have you learned about service?
Callum: Serving can be beneficial to me, and not just to the people I am serving.I have also learned not to judge the people I'm serving. It's a lot easier to serve when you come with an open heart and open mind and talk or interact with the people you are serving as humans and friends rather than a project.
Laura: There are so many different ways that you can serve, it does not always mean you have to be doing something physical all of the time. It could be as simple as just listening to someone who needs to talk or being there for them when they feel alone.
Nick: I have learned that to serve properly we must be serving for the right reasons. We can’t serve out of guilt or a feeling of obligation; we are called to serve out of love.
What is one great memory so far?
Callum: Our trip to Crowsnest Bible camp. We spent 5 days there doing all sorts of activities like rock climbing, hiking, working and for some reason swimming in freezing cold water. We got to experience community with each other and the amazing aspects of God's creation without the stress of school.
Laura: Our first retreat to Crowsnest Pass and our whole class climbed a mountain. When we made it to the top, all of us together, it was amazing! At some points I didn’t think that we would all make it, but because everyone encouraged each other and persevered, we made it to the top together as a team, the sense of community was very encouraging.
Nick: So far there have been many memorable events, but I think the most memorable was sitting around the table at Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp telling each other funny stories late at night.
What Bible verse has caught your attention?
Callum: 1 Peter 3: 15 is a verse that has grown to have a lot of meaning for me. It talks about always being prepared to give an answer as to why we believe and I want to leave my year at Mount Carmel with having an answer for people when they ask me.
Laura: Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who are called according to his purpose”. This verse has meant a lot to me because it helps me to know that God works for those who love him. I know He has a plan for me and I can trust in his goodness.
Nick: I have really been connecting to Psalm 119:176
I have strayed like a lost sheep
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.
This passage strikes me so deeply, because though I am broken and stray from God’s will, I have not forgotten his commands. When you stray from God it is easy to see the error in your ways, but it is still hard to change. We need God to seek us out like a shepherd does to his stray sheep in order to be saved.
What is something you have learned or have been reminded of this year?
Callum: How little I knew about the Bible even after growing up in a Christian home and community. Very few days go by where I don't learn something new in almost every class.
Laura: How much God loves everyone and how much he has done for us. Through all of the mistakes that we have made he still loves us and forgives us.
Nick: Being in our class is a whole different dynamic than any other kind of schooling, and it really changes your perspective in learning. This year I have really been reminded of what it means to really be a Christian, and how to show that in your life. What has really caught my attention is the strong community that is here at Carmel.
What has Carmel meant to you these past few months?
Callum: Mount Carmel has meant a lot to me as it marks the start of a new community of believers for me and it's helping strengthen my understanding of God, and why I believe what I believe. God's been teaching me it's important to love all his people as he loves all of us.
Laura: Mount Carmel has been a place that has helped shape who I am. I have created really great friendships with some really awesome people, and I have learned so many new things about God’s nature and about myself.
Nick: To me Mount Carmel has been a strong community of people who want to grow in faith, and guide others in their journey. It has been a place I can go to for guidance and acceptance in my walk with God.
In the fourteen weeks of this past semester, we spent seven weeks in the school and seven weeks either on retreat or doing online learning. Adapting our trips and retreats as well as temporarily moving classes online at times has been a significant change and challenge, yet students have been able to complete all their courses and exams for the first semester.
We have had two people in our community test positive for COVID this term. Both contracted it from outside sources and there was no further spread within Mount Carmel. We thank God that they and their families are now healthy and that the rest of the community was protected!
Going into this next semester we appreciate your prayers for our staff and students. Pray that we remain healthy, that we are able to complete our program well, and that this year produces deep and lasting growth in all of us as disciples of Christ.
We are grateful to report that we are finishing the year in a stable financial position, and have been able to update and repair some of our audio visual equipment.
Understandably, our overall giving has been down since the beginning of COVID, however your generosity in the last few months, combined with the Elijah Run and Giving Tuesday fundraisers, have been a significant help. We have also been receiving some wage subsidy income from the government to help fill in the gaps. Thank you for your support!
We have a unique opportunity this year to experience this season of Advent with renewed appreciation. Due to our current situation, we have a fresh experience of what it means to wait and to look forward with hope of change to circumstances beyond our control. And while this is a new experience for many of us, generations before us have had their own experiences of reality mirroring the season of Advent.
In 1943 Dietrich Bonhoeffer spent this season in a prison cell. During his time he wrote some letters and reflections on Advent including the following, “If there was ever a generation which needed to learn to wait, then it is surely ours. We wait for improved political conditions and a better economy. We wait for promotion in our employment. We wait for work. We wait for a new morality. But in all these things we wait anxiously, for who knows if what we are waiting for will ever come?” Those words could have been written yesterday, and we can find comfort in the fact that those who have gone before us have lived in the same tension we are living in now. We hope for relief from our current circumstances but it is in the waiting that we find opportunity to look past ourselves and be reminded that our true hope comes from an eternal source.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6
At this time of year, followers of Jesus can learn to change our focus and practice a different type of waiting. Not waiting with hopelessness or an inability to change our circumstances but learning to wait with hopeful anticipation for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Our deliverer came, and he is coming again.
This holiday season won’t be the same, and there will be many wonderful things that we may have to miss out on. As expressed in this final quote from Bonhoeffer we still have the opportunity to embrace this season fully, "Amid the upending of the world, the fear of death, and the knowledge of our own failings and captivity, even here one can and ought to celebrate Christmas.”
God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas season,
We appreciate your prayers as we make plans for next semester and adapt to changing guidelines and health measures.
Second Semester Start-Jan 4
Relationships Retreat - Jan 25
Ministry Exposure Trip - Apr 12
Graduation - Apr 24