Unmasking God’s Plan

One of our Guatemalan volunteers, Cristha Fuentes, wrote the following blog. Cristha assisted in our mask-making workshop at our Oasis camp this Fall. We loved having her creative and happy spirit as part of our team.

Two weeks have passed since Oasis camp finished and I can sum up my amazing experience in 3 acts narrated through Ephesians 2:10…

  • ACT 1: For we are his workmanship,

On Tuesday, I was sitting next to the dorms where we were staying and admiring a beautiful sunset.  While I was enjoying the sunset, I could hear the girls playing soccer close by and I suddenly started feeling overwhelmed by the outrageous love God had shown me that day. All of these feelings brought to my mind the verse of the day and especially the word “workmanship” and how if we search for its Hebrew root it actually means “poetry”… why did this matter at this point?  Because even though the beauty of the sunset was breathtaking, God’s poetry wasn’t there; it was in me, and not only in me, but also in the girls playing soccer and in pretty much everyone around me.  We are His poetry, His masterpiece; despite everything we’ve done, in His eyes we are perfect.  And that single thought reminded me how Guatemala is not just beautiful because of the landscapes it has, the volcanoes or even the stunning lakes; Guatemala’s beauty lies in its people and their stories. That was something I didn’t realize until I was able to see my country through the eyes of the U.S volunteers, they could see us in a way we couldn’t see ourselves. I have no words to describe how much it fills my heart with courage and hope hearing how much they love Guatemalan people, and how they admire our capacity for resilience. All those things gave me hope and perspective on how God sees us, His Guatemalan poems.

 

  • ACT 2: …created in Christ Jesus for good Works

Since my first camp at La Limonada with I Am Art this past summer, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life… for once I felt useful.  So when I was asked to volunteer at Oasis I immediately said yes. I was thrilled to be with the girls and humbled by them trusting me with their stories. Nevertheless, on Wednesday I started feeling anxious about the idea of leaving them after camp. I had doubts like: “what will happen to them after I leave? Will they be okay?” All these thoughts were making me feel terrible and even guilty about coming back home to the comfort of my life. God knew how I was feeling, so He started working on me.  During large group and the workshops, I started understanding how being there was my way of being God’s tool in a much bigger picture, much greater than the small fraction I was seeing. I was only a small brushstroke on God’s masterpiece, and like me, He is going to use other brushstrokes to finish what He had started in the girl’s lives.  Therefore, I understood that being there was my mission and I could rest and believe God was going to be with them and finish His good work. So, “be still my heart and know that I am God”.

  • ACT 3: …which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The biggest lesson I learned in this journey was: Trust in God’s process.  For the workshops to be a success and the purpose of the camp be fulfilled, the girls had to trust us during the process. They had to go through all the steps even if they didn’t understand them.  The girls had to go through the journey of creating something they considered beautiful, go through the pain of seeing that beautiful creation being altered through conflict, to finally be comforted by the masterpiece created after the restoration process. During the process we live in IAA, conflict was particularly harder than the last time I participated. The girls had been working on their masks, and putting in their best effort to reflect who they were in each color and design they added. All of the sudden, on Wednesday, we asked the girls to grab someone else’s mask and destroy half of it. At first they got angry, they couldn’t even looked us in the face…for 10 minutes or so they stood quietly just looking at their masks, and suddenly I started seeing tears falling from their eyes; they started crying. Even if they didn’t understand at the moment what was happening they still did what we asked them to do. After that we had a group hug and we started praying for each other and talking about the experience. Of course, they were not simply crying about the mask, the girls went deeper in this exercise. In one girl’s words, they “went back to that single moment in [their] lives when [their] hearts got broken.” Hearing those words broke my heart too. I felt so guilty for putting the girls through that experience again. Even if I already knew the next day was going to be better and they would learn to find solutions and that God can fix anything… I still suffered with them. It was an emotional and hard experience, but above all it was powerful. For once, we were not teacher and student, we were sisters; their pain was my pain and my struggle was their struggle. We really opened our hearts that day and I know they will keep that moment in their hearts forever and I´m sure I will too.

Later on that day, I was laying on my bed, trying to acknowledge all the experiences of that day and I realized that, that’s life and we need to trust that God knows the plans beforehand. He knew what would happen in the camp. He knows all our stories, and He knows how our stories will develop; we just have to trust He has control on the outcome.  He says in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Our duty is to trust Him and enjoy the ride. Just trust in His process, trust that He has big plans not just for us, but also for each one of the girls at Oasis.

So in conclusion, it was another amazing camp, I do not regret for a second spending my week there and it was the best way to celebrate that I’m finally done with college. It was God’s purpose to have me and everyone from the team there. And to finish, I just want to say thank you…

Thank you to the volunteers for flying from U.S or Finland just to help my country and to fulfill God’s purpose. Thank you to Athentikos for using art to heal wounds and for giving me the chance to finally use my artistic talents in something that is not for myself. And thank you to the girls from Oasis for changing my life forever.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Reassembling the Collage

image1-1I came home from Guatemala feeling a lot different than when I left. Maybe it’s because I only got an hour and a half’s worth of sleep the night before I boarded the airplane home, but I think “emotional wreck” might be an understatement for describing my internal condition. I stayed up all night and into the early morning trying to hold onto the very last bit of time I could spend at Oasis with my new friends and passion for I AM ART Camp. But in the end, I knew I needed to return to go to classes, write papers, and take final exams.

Now that I am home, everyone keeps asking how my trip was and I want to be able to tell them everything, but words just don’t seem to be enough to explain it. I LOVED my time in Guatemala. The country, the culture, my team, and those girls were all enough to break my heart apart into a million pieces and reassemble it like the collages I helped the girls make in a workshop. Together we learned about the process of layering different pieces of papers and materials (ourselves and each other) to create a beautiful masterpiece, even if we didn’t know what it would look like in the end.

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(A completed canvas from one of the girls in the collage workshop)

I knew I would be sad coming home; I wanted my final collage to look like Guatemala and I AM ART Camp, not school and work. I didn’t want to leave when I was having such a great time and connecting with both my team and God in ways that I haven’t connected in a while. But what I didn’t expect was a different kind of emotion that I couldn’t even name on my own, a layer I hadn’t really planned on putting in my collage.

I asked my friend Tina who had gone on this trip last year about how she felt coming home and she finally gave me the word I was looking for – resentment. I’m not trying to say that I didn’t experience incredibly positive emotions. Everything you’ve ever heard about mission trips is true: they energize you in an unexplainable way. They supply you with extraordinary amounts of joy and love and connection. I feel all those things on a level I didn’t even know was possible. But I also feel resentment. I am bitter about coming home to all the obligations and necessary work when I feel so called to the mission of Athentikos and I AM ART Camp. Then once I recognized the resentment, I started to get mad at myself. I began asking myself, “Why didn’t I do all this work before I left? Why am I letting everything get under my skin? Why can’t I just enjoy all the positive feelings I felt before I came home?”

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(Gluing previously torn up pieces of art onto the painted canvas)

So as I wrote this blog and tried to answer those questions, I remembered a message we were told about Jesus’s presentation of bread in the Bible. First, it was chosen. Second, it was blessed. Third, it was broken. Then, finally, it was given away to be shared with others.  I was chosen when I felt God calling me to ask about working with Athentikos, and chosen once more when Amelia encouraged me to join one of the I AM ART trips. I was chosen to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Then I was blessed through my experiences in Guatemala. I’m blessed to have met all the wonderful people on my team and to have been able to open up my heart wide enough to fit over 100 girls and their stories inside. I’m blessed to be able to come home and tell my stories to everyone I meet. Yet as much as I keep trying to resist the brokenness, I know that I have to go through that too. It’s not a forever brokenness. I wrote in my Wreck This Journal this week, “Broken isn’t forever”, and I still believe that to be true. It’s hard to be grateful for being broken, but the girls at camp showed me just what it means to be part of the step where you’re given away to be shared with others. It doesn’t make missing my team or the girls any easier, but I think I might be able to love a little more and forgive a little easier. They set an example for me in their faith in God and love for one another.

As I mentioned, the night before I came home was rough. But that night (or early morning if we’re going to get specific), Amelia took my hands in her own and said a prayer for me so that I might come home and be filled with joy and spirit and not overcome by depression and pain. She didn’t pray that I wouldn’t experience hurt or brokenness; I think we both knew it was going to be difficult no matter what. But she knew that I would be changed in the best kind of way if I could let my heart be open to it… if I could give my broken pieces back to God and trust Him to create His masterpiece. So now, I am trying to figure out what that looks like exactly, and because of this trip, I have the courage and faith to grow and discover what I am called to do. I think that’s worth being a little bit broken.

God is our refuge and our strength. Our safe help in times of distress. Psalms 46:1

(Artwork from one of the girls in the collage workshop)

Philanthropy vs Charity

The pictures used in this post are from our Casa Bernabe team’s camp. 

October 28th, 2016

Driving in a van from the airport in Guatemala City to Antigua yesterday, meeting our team members, taking in the scenery and dipping in and out of different conversations happening in the van, my mind drifted for a bit and fixated on the word Philanthropy. 

buildingFirst let me give a little back story of why. Christopheraaron and I are the only “mission trip” virgins on our trip, (well maybe one or two other fellows but I don’t know everyone’s backstory yet).  Anyway, most of these ladies have shed their Americanized way of living, thinking and being to uproot/shift the lives of their families and friends to live some full time indefinitely or some part time traveling back and forth.  Many times when I hear the term philanthropist I think of the most recent celebrity to receive this award or accolade, but really those acts of the worlds wealthiest, as gracious as they may be, should really be called charity. This description below is taken from Webster’s dictionary of the word: Philanthropy.Philanthropy has distinguishing features from charity; not all charity is philanthropy, or vice versa, though there is a recognized degree of overlap in practice. A difference commonly cited is that charity aims to relieve the pain of a particular social problem, whereas philanthropy attempts to address the root cause of the problem—the difference between the proverbial gift of a fish to a hungry person, versus teaching them how to fish.

So in my reflection a true philanthropist is really a teacher right? When you think of your favorite teacher, what are some components you think of? When I think of what makes a good teacher, I think of Relationship, and the only way to build relationship is to invest time.  So to those that have altered their lives in anyway, shape or form to be the hands and feet of Jesus, my heart overflows with awe, gratitude and appreciation.

Matthew 4:19-20 “Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

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Potential in Poverty

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5: 3-6

When you become an Athentikos team member for I AM ART, you are strongly encouraged to watch Athentikos’s documentary, Reparando. So, armed with my favorite pillow and blanket, I set up my laptop and sat on my bed with my roommate and we began watching. Neither of us really knew anything about Guatemala, so this was going to be an educational experience for the two of us. If you didn’t know, Guatemala suffered through a 36-year civil war, the longest in Latin American history. Their civil war lasted longer than I’ve been alive. As a result, Guatemala has been struggling to rebuild, which is quite a challenge when poverty levels are high. The most extreme examples of poverty are slums in “Zonas Rojas,” or “Red Zones,” where the crime rates are high and the standard of living is low. Reparando focuses on La Limonada, one of the largest slums in Central America, with an estimation of 60,000 inhabitants. The conditions in which people are living are horrible. There is violence, hunger, intense pollution — things that most of us could never even imagine. And some of the people living in those conditions are children. There are kids living in dangerous places, experiencing traumatic things, stuck in a cycle of poverty, all for a war they had nothing to do with.

A study done in 1994 by Duncan, Brooks-Gunn, and Klebanov looked at poverty’s impact on child development. They concluded, “Family income and poverty status are powerful determinants of the cognitive development and behavior of children” (Duncan et al., 1994). And unfortunately, nothing about that conclusion is surprising. Poverty-ridden areas are known for drugs, crime, and low standards for education. This information sounds hopeless, I know. No one wants to hear that there are children in these conditions. Casa Bernabé (House of Comfort) is an orphanage and Oasis Residential Home takes in girls who have been the victims of sexual abuse. The kids from Casa Bernabé and Oasis Residential Home have been in extremely rough conditions. There’s nothing easy about that.

Fortunately, coming from a difficult background isn’t a life sentence. Resilience is the ability to adapt to challenging or threatening circumstances and kids are notoriously resilient. But that doesn’t mean just hoping for the best. Change requires action. Athentikos is helping kids learn how to express themselves and process the world around them through creativity. This isn’t something that will instantly transform Guatemala. Our camps will not reverse the problems that their civil war caused. It’s not going to fix the world. But it will, in a unique and beautiful way, change their individual worlds. I read that proactive orientation is “taking initiative in one’s own life and believing in one’s own effectiveness” (Alvord & Grados, 2005). Immediately I thought, “that’s what Athentikos is doing.” We’re teaching these kids to believe in themselves and to see the possibilities that are available to them. We hear over and over again about how children are the future, so it’s important we treat them well. Their lives have not been easy but they have potential to create beautiful art and tell their stories.

If you want to watch Reparando, the incredible documentary I mentioned, you can rent it on the Athentikos website for $2 or purchase it for $10 (https://athentikos.com/reparando/). This documentary solidified my passion for going to Guatemala and it’s well worth it to see how the people of Guatemala are finding their potential in poverty.

View More: http://ameliajmoore.pass.us/iamart2014

Connecting with Kathlyn

kathlynWe are excited to officially announce that Kathlyn Beyer is our full-time In-Country Coordinator for I AM ART  in Guatemala. Kathlyn lives full-time in Guatemala with her family and has participated in the I AM ART camps for the last two years. She wears many hats as part of our operations team including logistics for hotels, transportation, meeting with artists in Guatemala, organizing materials, scheduling our translators, and she’s a fabulous photographer! Kathlyn also enjoys drawing, painting and music. She’s a great fit for our team with her organizational skills, love of kids, the arts, Spanish skills, and heart for God! Here’s a little more about Kathlyn:
What brought you to Guatemala?
Some family friends began a long journey of adoptions and mission ending in a move and new ministry planting here in Guatemala.  Before they made the move, they brought down short-term teams of which I was a team member.  I loved Guatemala.  When I returned home I agreed with my sister, who had previously visited Guatemala on a Short-term, that our family should take a trip to Guatemala together; that wish became a reality in 2011.  Our friends had moved down 2 months before our visit and had a great vision of ministry growth.  They asked my parents to join them in their efforts.  To which my parents responded, “we will pray for someone to fill the need.”  1 year later they felt God was asking them to consider being the answer to their prayers.  And so, the visits and church sharing, tears and prayers began.  We made the move in May of 2013.  I was 20.  Yes, I could have stayed back “home” in the states.  But, as you will soon discover, how could I?
What did you think about moving when your parents first started talking and praying about it?
I was thrilled. I had already left my heart in Guatemala, so I was anxious to be reunited with it.  God had provided a way and I was more than excited to be able to make such a move with the people closest to me, my family.
What is your favorite thing about living in Guatemala?
The color, the people, diversity in landscape from region to region. The colors are vibrant and give life to the concrete dwellings.  They also tell stories of the history and culture, wrapping the people in a rainbow of patterns. Family is important. The people are welcoming, lively, and always celebrating something or someone.  The countryside spreads from the ocean to the Caribbean.  With 22  volcanoes, many mountains and lots of farmland, Guatemala is an exciting and incredibly photogenic country to live in.
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There are so many epic places to visit in Guatemala, what is your favorite place to visit?
I unfortunately haven’t been to many of the touristic destinations.  That is something I would like to improve on.  I love to go to the beach.  I find it relaxing, but the sand is HOT.  Lake Atitlan is another great destination… so pretty, but frequented by tourists.  I like to go to beautiful places that I don’t have to share with a ton of people.
On the flip side, what do you miss the most from the US (besides friends or family)?
Outdoor adventures, peanut butter M&Ms, unlimited internet and phone use, clearance sales, car trips to see friends and family, Panera Bread Co., etc.
Why did you decide to join the Athentikos I AM ART leadership team?
Art has been a part of me since I was very young.  I remember creating things from twisty ties, painting rocks, sketching on Sundays, etc. as a pretty frequent part of my day to day life.  When I moved to Guatemala with my family I didn’t have any real direction as to what I should be doing. Naturally, when I heard of Athentikos I AM ART camps I was hooked.  I love the outlet it provided for me to use my creative/artistic abilities/hobbies in an impacting the Kingdom focused way.  The first week had such an impact on me and everyone else involved I just knew it was something I would want to continue being a part of.
What do you enjoy most about the I AM ART camp?
Watching the children experience and create during the week and connecting with them throughout the week.
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How do you see the I AM ART camp impact the kids?
I AM ART gives the kids an outlet to express themselves in ways they haven’t otherwise explored.  Throughout the week the kids slowly open up and begin to trust their leaders and share their hearts.  It’s a safe environment for healing to take place in the lives and hearts of the children.
You are a talented artist in several areas, tell us a little about your creative “hobbies.”
I grew up in a singing family.  Music happens randomly throughout the house any time of the day.  I love to join in on the music making: singing, playing violin, guitar, and piano.  I’ve been practicing photography for the past couple of years. I love documenting life, the faces of loved ones, the beauty of Guatemala, and pushing myself creatively with the camera settings.  I also love to sketch and paint.
A huge thanks to Kathlyn for telling us about herself. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her as part of our team. She is an incredible addition and we appreciate all of her hard work and passion!

It’s Not About Who’s Right

Myth  People belong in one of two categories. Left Brain: the logical, calculating, mathematically driven organizers; or Right Brain: the creative and free-flowing artists of the world.

Fact  That’s not how brains work. Though individual parts of the brain perform different functions, there is no evidence to support that we preferentially use one side over the other.

Athentikos is an organization that calls for “creatives,” which can be intimidating if every online quiz you’ve ever taken has declared you a “left-brainer.”  I personally like organizing things and using logic. I take notes during meetings just for the fun of it.  I’m what many would call a predominantly “left-brainer.” My strengths do not include a skill for artistry. I enjoy art, but you’re never going to find my work being sold at auction for a lot of money or hanging in a fancy building. Yet lately, when someone asks me about who I am, I’ve been telling them, “I’m a creative.” I might like taking organized notes, but they’re color coordinated and have doodles in the margins. I suspect I’m not the only person to be part of Athentikos that is not the conventional creative.

We can all be creative in our own ways. Every member of the Athentikos team is bringing their story to the table. It’s like a potluck meal that we’ve all been invited to partake in, a communion. You’re going to bring your own food and flavor and it’s going to be great. However, it’s not about the food, it’s about the community time spent enjoying the meal.

View More: http://ameliajmoore.pass.us/iamart2014If you’re planning on going to Guatemala and you really feel like you’ve found your identity as a creative, you can help us learn and explore a world you’re familiar with already. Thank you. If you’re planning on going to Guatemala and you’re not quite sure of yourself yet, you can bring new perspectives, new ideas, and challenge us all to grow. Thank you. If you’re not going to Guatemala or you’ve already been, you have the chance to share what Athentikos is doing with the people in your life. Thank you. Creativity is not for the haves and have-nots. It’s for the doers, the thinkers, the parents, the kids, the nine-to-fivers, the free spirits, the no-nonsensers. Creativity is for all of us. It might not be your thing right now, but it can be. We can help each other grow. That’s why we’re here.

Myth  If you aren’t artistically talented, it’s better to leave it to the professionals—the “right-brainers.”

Fact  Our society would not function successfully if it were full of identical people. Everyone has various strengths and skills that make them who they are.

I AM ART is about more than being able to paint a picture. It’s a celebration of authenticity. You don’t have to show off, you have to show up. God has called all of us to be part of this organization because we belong here. We serve a purpose. We are enough. It’s not about who is right and who is left or our skills and talents. Casa Bernabe and Oasis Residential Home are full of kids. They aren’t going to care how great we are at doing art or organizing or whether we identify as creatives. They’ll care about whether we like the color they chose for their picture, whether we laugh at their jokes or not, whether we listen to them. So let’s gather around the table with these kids, bring what we have, and enjoy communion together. All are welcome here.

Returning To Guatemala

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today was the day I have often thought about and anticipated over the last five years. Since our last visit to La Limonada in 2011. La Limonada is a place unlike any other I have ever experienced first hand. It is a place that is full of sharp contrasts, a place with beautiful people, and extremely hard lives. A place that is known for violence and poverty and crime. Even amongst Guatemala’s own people, it is known for it’s unsavory reputation. When we were in Antigua earlier this week, we were talking with someone who asked where our group was from…when we replied with what we were in Guatemala doing – facilitating and running an I Am Art camp with Athentikos for children in Zone 5 – we were given a shocked and completely surprised response. A response that said, “wow…you guys are crazy!”

But what most people don’t realize about La Limonada (Central America’s largest slum community) is that it is also a beautiful place. A place where the people living there are no different than you or I, a place where you will most likely be greeted with a hug and a smile and a Buenos Tardes as you pass them on the narrow streets. You will be welcomed into their homes and given first priority for a place to sit. Many of the residents in the slum look out for their neighbors, and are doing the best they can to raise good kids and make ends meet…you know – just like you and I.

What struck me today, as I visited the community for my third time – is that there is an amazing amount of hard work, determination, and love that has already been established in the community – that makes it even possible for a ‘gringa’ from the States to visit. This work, this labor of love, and this choosing to extend Jesus’ grace and good news of His Gospel to any and all – is the work of the amazing staff members and leader of Vidas Plenas, Tita. I affectionately call Tita a Guatemalan Mother Theresa, because, well…. few people on this planet love and live as Tita does. The beauty of the slum was first seen in her eyes, and because of her compelling to engage with the people in the community – there is now a beacon of Gods light radiating there through the work of the committed staff and Tita, and offering hope and a future to precious kids in the Academies.

I was thrilled to see kids in our art camp this week that I had first met 6 years ago. They are taller now, but they are still there – excited to participate and engage and dreaming big and wanting to do right. Learning about Christ, and thriving in an extremely difficult environment. It has blessed my soul. I will forever be grateful to Tita and her work, and thankful for my opportunities to experience the beauty that is La Limonada.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][mk_gallery images=”7875,7872,7871,7869″ column=”4″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The art of creating begins in our dreams

La Limonada

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today was the start of I Am Art, Vidas Plenas. Our location is a small church outside the La Limonada slum in Guatemala City. The neighborhood isn’t pretty by most people’s standards and is a very hard place to live, but the people of La Limonada and those that live in the surrounding zone 5, are beautiful! We started off the day talking about the theme of the day, who we are. We wanted the kids to start to think about who they were, in their community, in their school and in their families. Most importantly who they are to their creator. That they are God’s workmanship or poetry as Ephesians 2:10 tells us and that all of God’s work is a marvelous creation therefore they are a marvelous creation. After the children went into their workshops we had a chance to talk with many of the children about who they are and who they would like to become. To our surprise many of them seemed to have it already figured out! They dream about a brighter future than what they currently have. Most are confident in who they want to be and the things they take joy in. Simple things are important to them, like ice cream, fotball (soccer), and their pets. They’re also concerned about weightier things like family, good jobs and safety for their future. The kids also know that they have to work hard to achieve their goals and dreams and are not afraid to try new things, whether it was learning to dance or write their own stories or try their hand at the art of miming, they quickly became engrossed in the task at hand and their personalities started to shine. We are looking forward to sharing with you throughout the week what the kids learn about who God says we are as a reflection of Him, and how that gives us purposeful lives.

Dreams are limitless[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_gallery images=”7847,7848,7849,7850,7851,7852,7853,7854,7855,7856,7857,7858,7859,7860″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

You Are Art

I AM ART Se Luz 2016 Team

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On Thursday morning Laura held her breath and waited to see if her students would come back to class after she had melted their art before their eyes. Miraculously, they did, and as they sat down she finally got to reveal a sculpture she had made of her own melted pieces and those of her translator and workshop assistant—a mass of colorful, curling and swirling plastic, reminiscent of a Chihuly blown glass chandelier. The students approached with wide eyes and began turning, touching, and examining the sculpture from every angle.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]“Sometimes in our lives we might feel like trash,” she told them. “Sometimes we feel like we’re not who we’re meant to be, or who we thought we were going to be. But even when we can only see pain and ugliness, God has a purpose for us. Today we’re going to put our pieces back together to create something unexpected, and even more beautiful than before, just like God can do with us.” Without missing a beat her students broke into smiles and began eagerly reaching for the hot glue gun, lifting and turning their own melted pieces up to the sculpture to find where they would best fit.

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7819″ img_size=”full”][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]The finished piece was magnificent. At the art show on Saturday it spun in slow circles in the square between the church, municipal building, market, and school—right in the heart of Santiago. Rainbow colors shone and stretched as the sun’s rays pierced it through and Laura’s students stood guard around it, careful to make sure the other kids didn’t touch or bump it.

The other students’ pieces had been transformed as well. The cut-up prints now fluttered above our heads as giant paper stars and the once stripped bicycle passed in gay circles—bell tinkling, plastic dinosaur spinning, streamers flying—as kids and adults took turns peddling around the tables filled with art. Around the corner, a 140-foot mural stretched across the side of the soccer stadium, boasting symbols of pride and hope for Guatemala: the sun, the ceiba tree, the white nun orchid, Quetzales, giant kites, and even Santiago itself in miniature.

[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IAA_Se_Luz_2016_Mural.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”The I AM ART Se Luz 2016 Mural.” caption_location=”outside-image”][vc_column_text]That day we celebrated all we had learned and created by singing, dancing, hugging, laughing, and even letting paper lanterns drift into the sky as a sign that we had given everything we are to Christ.

Best of all, when Laura asked her students a critical question, they responded differently than they had on Wednesday:

“Do you think this is trash now?” she asked.

“No!”

“Do you think this is art?”

“Yes!”

[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_9454.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Laura’s class proudly displaying their art at I AM ART Se Luz 2016.” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_9009.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Adolfo proudly displaying the Chihuly art he made at I AM ART Se Luz 2016, after it was destroyed and repaired.” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0006.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Chihuly Sculpture at I AM ART Se Luz 2016″ caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0202.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Singing Soy Arte at the I AM ART Se Luz 2016 Art Show.” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]We all understand now, that no matter how you feel, no matter what you’ve gone through, no matter how may pieces you’re in, the same can be said of you. Give yourself to God and watch with patient trust how He forms you into something you never imagined you could be. That’s what we did this week, and our hearts are still singing:

Soy arte / I am art

Soy arte / I am art

Una creación de Dios / A creation of God

Soy arte / I am art

Soy arte / I am art

Envuelto en amor / Enveloped in love

Es amor / He is love

Es amor / He is love

Dios es amor / God is love

Soy arte / I am art

Soy arte / I am art

Soy arte / I am art

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_9921.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”The I AM ART Se Luz 2016 Art Show” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0167.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Artwork displayed at the I AM ART Se Luz 2016 Art Show” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_9956.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Celebrating at the I AM ART Se Luz 2016 Art Show.” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0094.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Artwork displayed at the I AM ART Se Luz 2016 Art Show” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0113.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”Adolfo watching his sky lantern fly into the sky at I AM ART Se Luz 2016.” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/IMG_0125.jpg” image_size=”full” lightbox=”true” desc=”A Sky Lantern released at I AM ART Se Luz 2016.” caption_location=”outside-image”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_button dimension=”flat” corner_style=”rounded” size=”large” url=”https://athentikos.com/give” fullwidth=”true” bg_color=”#dd9933″ btn_hover_bg=”#000000″]Give a donation to I AM ART[/mk_button][vc_column_text]I AM ART needs you. Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to help us continue this mission. THANKS![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Held in Pain

Children processing conflict at Athentikos I AM ART 2016 Se Luz

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Conflict day … On the Wednesday of each I AM ART camp week, the workshop leaders direct their students to destroy or drastically modify the pieces they’ve spent the last two days working on—pieces that represent the children themselves. Everyone knew this day would be difficult and many of us went to bed on Tuesday with knots in our stomachs.

The kids’ reactions were much as expected. Those in the recycled art class kicked angrily at the lights, flowers, and feather boas they had been instructed to rip from the bike they were transforming into recycled art. In the printmaking class, every face was downcast as the children cut into their prints and set them aside, for what purpose they knew not. And in Laura’s mixed media class, Adolfo stared in horror, shaking his head and mouthing the word “no,” as she held his meticulously colored plate over a pot of boiling water.

What we learned that day was, for me, completely unexpected.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7805″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]Jenn, the printmaker, tried to explain to her students that even though today was painful, they would be using their now cut-up prints to make a new, more beautiful piece of art tomorrow. “You’ll just have to trust me,” she told them. “But what if we don’t?” one student replied.

Meanwhile Laura’s students gathered their melted plates, cups, and bowls in their arms and began walking out of class. “Where are you going?” she cried. “We’re going to throw it away,” they said. “It’s trash now.”

“It killed me inside,” Laura says, her voice breaking. “I know what’s going to happen and I wanted so badly to just hug them and tell them it’s going to be okay, but I couldn’t.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7806″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]The other artists echoed her sentiment and suddenly I understood a little bit better how hard it must be for God to allow us to experience pain and how much more it hurts us and Him when we don’t trust Him. Though God never positively wills our pain, He does at times allow us to experience it, with a clear vision of how He will use it to make us new, more beautiful creations.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7807″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]

We went to bed on Wednesday night aching for our students who we had left in pain, who couldn’t see our vision, who didn’t trust us to transform their pain into purpose. All we could do was trust that God had His own, larger vision, and was holding us in this pain, using this camp to transform us all.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7808″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row]