This post was written by Athentikos Alumni Jen Galvin. She has participated in several I Am Art camps, both in Virginia and Guatemala, and returned this December to serve with Athentikos at The Jungle School.

The Jungle School and the children that go there have really left me feeling like I need to do more, to be more for them, and for the world. God has
really spoken to me this week through this experience and the children at Jungle School. Saying goodbye to the team and Guatemala gets harder each
time I leave. I learned to know my kids and appreciate each of them, and wished I could have stayed
longer.

As my workshop walked through the week, we made lots of art together. We journaled together, laughed together, and then, of course, on conflict day, they got a little upset with me. This conflict day was a little different from my past experiences. It felt like the kids didn’t want to admit they were upset, like if they admitted it, they would
be admitting defeat.

Our workshop made prints and put them on bags. By Wednesday they had each made eighteen prints, one on each side of nine bags. On conflict day I asked them to cut their bags. After cutting his, one of the boys asked ‘is that all?’ and looked at me like I was a little crazy when I asked him to cut it. After we finished I asked them how cutting their bags made them feel…

Silence fell. My translator asked again. Still silence. One child said good, one said bad. We asked both why…the girl said bad because they are no good anymore. The boy said good because even though they were broken, he was still working.

Still working…. This child knew. Even though he hadn’t experienced the
redemption of changing our bags into stars, he                                                                                          knew that he needed to keep working through the pain and the troubles, because if you stop nothing gets achieved.

The next day I asked them if they thought there was any hope for their bags. One girl said, “No”. Then I took out my example of all nine bags glued together in a gigantic star, she gasped and said, “Oh, beautiful!”

These words let me know they got it. We talked about how God is always with us as we work through the conflict, even if it looks like there is no hope. God is always there and there is always hope. And there is beauty.

That is what I AM Art does, it helps leaders and children in our camps see that there is beauty, even when conflict takes over, and gives us the courage to keep
working even when it looks bleak and we don’t know where we are going. God
is always there. God is good all the time!

If you support Athentikos’ mission of processing pain through creative arts, please consider joining a trip (stay tuned for 2019 trip announcements!) or donating to support trip fees, operational costs, and camp supplies. You can stay posted on blogs, newsletters, and announcements by signing up for our mailing list and following us on social media.

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