Creation speaks of its creator. In the final two days of our time in Calgary we will be exploring this concept. If you travel two hours east of this city you come to the Canadian Badlands. This country has a lot of similarity to our Big Bend or Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo. If you drive two hours west of the city you will find the Canadian Rockies.
On Thursday we went to the Badlands to the Dinosaur Provincial Park. This site has the highest concentration of dinosaur fossils in the world, and as such has earned a Unesco World Heritage designation. In order to make our scheduled tour we had to depart the dorms at 5:45 AM. I must say, again, this group has done so well making adjustments and doing all that is asked of them. I must also commend our drivers who not only had to get up at that hour, they had to drive 2.5 hours to the park. As you drive east it feels like driving through Kansas. The fields are enormous, flat, and farmed. You see some cattle, horses, and other livestock, but what strikes you are the fields of canola. As we have discovered, Canada is the largest producer of canola oil in the world. While that may be interesting in itself, when you see the fields it is astoundingly beautiful. Imagine seeing for miles and have alternating green with long stretches of yellow. It is like their version of blue bonnets. The yellow is so striking against the sky and the other green fields it looks like a painting waiting to be hung.
After driving for what seemed like an eternity, I was becoming concerned about the badlands not being able to deliver on their promise to wow with their beauty. It was so flat and there was absolutely no change in topography. Then it happened. As soon as we came within a mile of the park, the ground gave way and the majesty of this area revealed itself. Due to the large amount of rain they have had over the past three months the land that is generally their version of a desert was covered with green. Please check our Facebook and hashtag #MCT16 for pictures. I lack the ability to adequately describe the beauty.
We had to take alternate tours due to the rain, but we had great guides and learned a lot about the area. I’ll be honest there weren’t enough dinosaurs for me, maybe they were afraid it would rain so they didn’t come out.
We’ve had great devotional moments from the students all week long. Sarah and Elizabeth got to hold theirs in an amphitheater in the park. You would be so pleased to hear their hearts as they share. They have all been sincere, sharing a truth that they have learned, or a challenge to the group. What a great blessing to witness them sharing and working out their faith before others. There will never be a more generous audience to begin let God work on these skills. I am so pleased that we do this.
After lunch we were able to explore some of the individual trails. I took a group to see some of the beautiful hoodoos (Wile E. Coyote terrain). We had a great time exploring this country. It’s liberating to explore and just enjoy God’s beauty. Rick took a group to explore the 200+ year old cotton wood trees that are also a big part of the parks identity. He said that it took four of them to make it around the circumference of those grand trees.
Long beautiful ride home. Danny and Peggy, who have made sure we have had food all week, purchased a small grill and some hamburgers. Danny and I put the little thing together, it did not take four people to reach around it, more like one young toddler, needless to say it took us a few …hours to get all those burgers grilled. But that was ok. Danny and I got to serve the group, which we were happy to do. Our drivers got to rest, and our kids got to play.
Here is the strength of the FBCSA youth family. This group of kids don’t attend school together. Many of them have have very different interests and backgrounds. In truth, they may run in different groups at their schools, but they understand that they are family. Differences aren’t exploited or shunned, they all just make it work. I have seen this for years. They are kids, don’t get me wrong, but they work and play together so well. Cards, dominoes, frisbee, basketball, VBS, Chapel Singers, whatever they are doing everyone is included and they enjoy the time they have. As I grilled, I watched them play. I was so pleased to see their joy. This is important. Don’t miss this when you pray for Rick, for the youth, for the culture and climate of our church. Celebrate the strength of their community because it is only after their ability to work and play together is realized can the discipleship begin.
Scott ended our evening with a powerful challenge to not only remove sin and obstacles from our lives, but to then fill them with the things of the spirit to allow God truly make his dwelling in us.