Creative Relationships

This post was written by Kelsey Beyeler, who has been working with Athentikos since 2017 and experienced her first I Am Art camp this summer as a workshop leader in watercolors. 

It is my belief that a productive relationship is one that enables creativity and inspiration rather than stifling it. My relationship with Athentikos has provided just that. Now of course, traveling with a group of artists leaves a pretty open environment for creativity to thrive, but one aspect I didn’t realize before going was that the circumstances which we travel towards are always so inspiring. It’s hard to feel imaginative and colorful during a home visit, watching a family struggle with sickness, mental health, alcoholism, or other adversities.

The issues that surround the I Am Art camps are not the forces in the world that enable creativity, they are the ones that stifle it. This is the hard side of what we do; the kids are considered at-risk for a reason. It’s easy forget that in the middle of a workshop, because in those moments the kids aren’t in any risk, they’re just kids enjoying the beauty of art. It was difficult knowing that when the workshops ended some had to walk back to situations not so colorful.

But the model of I Am Art teaches that circumstances don’t have to stifle. It teaches us that pain needs to be transmitted in one way or another, and we worked together to explore creative ways to do that. We tried washing it away with watercolors, or dancing, or letting it go during worship. These are productive responses to pain, and if you allow it to, the process can result in beauty. This is how I know I’ve found something special with Athentikos, because it has helped me generate meaningful relationships with the kids and the team, while strengthening my own relationships with myself and God.

We still have three more 2018 I Am Art Camps! If you are unable to attend a camp but would still like to support Athentikos’ mission, we would greatly appreciate donations for our upcoming camps.

Art. God’s Love. Children.

Art. God’s Love. Children.

My passion is centered on these three. Being a part of I Am Art, I felt at home. The team worked together to shine God’s love through the tools of creating artwork we enjoy and were comfortable with. We were confident in what we were doing even if we found areas we were not so confident in, such as speaking Spanish.

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As an art teacher my confidence is in preparing and delivering lessons. Athentikos has done a great work in creating a curriculum to follow. It is flexible in the visual outcome, but unified in the main scriptural themes. As the camp was in session each workshop task looked different – drawing, painting, dancing, mosaic – but the main lesson of the day was the same, just being expressed in a variety of avenues.

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In group activities, the kids used tissue paper to transform their workshop leaders into superheroes.

Though we came together as strangers we quickly became brothers and sisters in Christ working together to spread God’s love to children whose lives may be broken. Providing the children with artistic expression to wrestle with their trials in life.

Athentikos has 3 more trips this year!  Click I AM ART below to learn more details and sign up for one of our amazing fall opportunities!  Click Donate to help us fund our mission of using creative arts to resolve conflict around the world!

Learning New Steps

This post was written by Krissy Smith who led a dance workshop during the 2018 I Am Art camp in Magdalena, Milpas Altas.

My workshop group presented a dance routine which was not the originally planned presentation—but we went with it.

We had approximately 3 minutes and 20 seconds for a dance routine to sum up all that we walked through together that week. Most of the girls were shy during the final performance and didn’t move as “largely” as they did during the week. But I could relate. As I grew up, I’ve always had a problem with moving “largely” in my pursuit of music and dance. But there was a sentence in the I AM ART Manual that stuck with me. “Creativity is about process, rather than product.” So while, to the public, we presented 3 minutes and 20 seconds of a dance routine (where I was more focused on smiling at the girls to alleviate their fears than the routine) it was actually the process that really impacted us all. And isn’t it that way for many of the truly valuable things of life? Our friendships/relationships, the pursuit of our passions, the development of our own being, our walk with the Lord…

It’s the process which reveals the most while simultaneously being hidden from the public eye. The process which can’t fully be presented on our own accord because it is often the hand of God that designs it for us. The process which is often the core piece of the artwork that we can’t take credit for because, most of the time, we intended to compose the process differently than how it actually occurred. The process which acts as a complementary shade behind the artwork which makes the product THAT much more intimate and beautiful, especially for the artist (and sometimes the audience).  The process that hurts, challenges and builds us. The process which, through its unexpected hills and valleys, serves as a reminder of God’s voice saying “Soy El Artista.” And through that process God smiles at us, urging us to carry on. The product we present to the world—the process happens to us.

So maybe the 3 minutes and 20 seconds was more a celebration of our process than a presentation of a final product. Or maybe it was a reminder that the product we create is often merely a glimpse of the process God designed. I hope that myself, the girls, Anita, Daniela, and the rest of the kids at the school and team members of the Soy Arte Camp continue to carry on all that God has placed on our hearts as His will, most importantly as we continue to shine as his own works of art.

We have 3 more wonderful camps this fall!  Click on I AM ART below to view the details!

A New Kind of Trip

This blog was written by our team member, Anita Spirek, after our 2018 Summer I Am Art Trip to Magdalena, Milpas Altas.

I have been traveling to Guatemala with my daughter Sarah for short term missions since 2014. We had just completed an 11 day trip in February to Quetzeltenango and San Lucas. Soon after returning home, I saw the Athentikos 2018 trip schedule posted.  We had several friends that were involved with Athentikos and had followed the ministry on social media for years. “I Am Art” camps seemed a perfect fit for Sarah but we hadn’t had the opportunity to participate due to scheduling. I forwarded the information about the 2018 camps to Sarah and she applied for the Zapote trip that very evening.

Sarah is creative and talented in art and music, and she loves children’s ministry. I am not an artist and didn’t really consider applying for the trip at first. I had already taken time off for our trip in February and had planned to be off several other weeks for school trips and vacation. As the days went by, I began to reconsider. This could be the last opportunity to do ministry with Sarah for a while, as she was graduating from high school and had plans to be away from home the following academic year. I applied for the trip and began rearranging other obligations.

“The ability to stay with the kids for a whole week allowed us to begin to know the kids and enabled them to begin to trust us.”

Several weeks before the trip, Volcan Fuego erupted cutting off access to Zapote. Athentikos was able to make last minute adjustments to another location in Magdalena Milpas Alta. The church and school in Magdalena is a great asset to the community. The pastor knows each of the children and is dedicated to praying for and encouraging the families and the greater community. He led us on home visits to meet families of the children that attended the school and was aware of the specific struggles they were facing. We were welcomed into homes and were blessed to have genuine conversations and prayer.

The sessions with the children were great fun! The kids came to their small group sessions after a long day at school but were still energetic and excited to learn. After a week of hard work, the kids presented an amazing art show to their parents. The show was well attended by the community and was filled with beauty, color and excitement! At the end, the children proudly took their work home with them.

I so appreciated the tone of this trip. It was something that cannot be done when you spend a day or two at a ministry site. It is this kind of relational ministry that allows an opportunity for a true expression of the love of Christ because the kids begin to know that we love them. The Athentikos curriculum is relevant to these families as many suffer serious hardships. It seemed that teaching on conflict resolution and the commonality suffering was a great encouragement.

The whole trip was a great experience and made me consider short term missions in a different way. I had been coming and trying to get so much done in the short week that I was leaving drained and exhausted. Focusing on one community really changed that dynamic. I am now on one of the last days of the trip feeling great and wishing for another week with the kids. During the week I saw team members truly serving the kids, passing on their skills and knowledge to a new generation. There was no pity or condescension. There was no seeking after recognition. The team was united in quiet humility and service in partnership with the local ministry. Authentic aptly describes my experience this week and I am leaving encouraged and with a fresh perspective.