Thursday, March 26, 2015


"EXERCISE" Mary Hill's OLW
1 Corinthians 12:21-26
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

"What exactly does fit physical condition mean Mrs. Winterstein? I am not really sure I am fit." 

This question was posed to me several weeks ago as my seventh and eighth graders and I were preparing for this week's interim trip. The verb "trekking" seemed a bit daunting to some of my students. 

"Is that like hiking? It sounds a bit more scary than walking!"

I reassured them that the longest (12km) trek, as well as the smaller (5-7km) treks, were well within their capabilities. I also made it mandatory that each student bring in their boots or shoes for inspection. Additionally students should wear new footgear to school, and a bit on the weekends for break in and to check for rubs and proper fit. I wanted to do the best to equip students from a dual prong approach of both gear and mindset.*

So now we have spent this week up on the mountains of Sapa, Vietnam. We didn't trek as high as Fanispan (Phan-Xi-Pǎng), but to reach our homestay family's house we climbed about 1800 meters up the side of the mountainous area and trekked many rocky terrains, paved and unpaved surfaces and steps and terraces along the way.
There were some students who were sure-footed and others who the guide or I leant a helping hand of balance to, or a boost to keep moving forward on our journey. A couple students voiced uncertainties in their own energy levels to reach our destination. To these students I offered the encouragement that it's okay we each travel at our own pace while being sure to take in the beauty all around us. 
When we arrived at our destination we all agreed that we had exercised muscles that perhaps we don't consistently call upon as urgently in our day to day traipsing about. (This teacher's calves are still a bit fatigued today). It wasn't just the amazingly beautiful biodiversity and tribal diversity that struck me as we trekked along. The wonderful diversity among the students in my group, their willingness to exercise their gifts (and what may also be outside their comfortable daily life) was as equally breathtaking to behold. On the trail some sang, offered advice to one another, shared extra ponchos, stopped to capture the experience via photographs. They flexed who they were by helping with dinner,
and singing to and playing with the sweet baby boy of our family when he got fussy.
They asked important questions about culture and what it means to be human.

The students encouraged those who felt a bit homesick, they shared meals and conversations while making memories. One of the grade eight students captured it best when she declared, "We always come away from these trips so much closer!"
That is the thing with exercising, whether it is a 12km trek or flexing with flourish who one is at the core; it strengthens. Everyday I am mindful of the unique individual each of my students are intellectually, spiritually, personally. Each has so much potential to do powerfully impactful things in the world. Every time they engage in "working out" these gifts they strengthen who they are and can be. Hearts can be exercised on a cardiovascular level, but also on a soul level. This week my group of middle school students and I were blessed with the opportunity to do both.

18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be?20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:18-20

*God equips us by creating us who we are. Everyday we choose our mindset as well as option to exercise that gift or sit on the sidelines. What will you choose?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Teresa, I love this post! Thank you for sharing your photos and experiences of this trek and fellowship. The scripture verses you chose to illustrate this post are those I use for my spiritual gifts class, explaining that God made us unique with gifts that contribute to the Kingdom of God. You've shown us those gifts in you and your students.