The Words of the Groenedyk Family

The 2nd Adventure Workshop in Montana

Sarah Groenendyk
July 23, 2006

Hello all STF members, staff, parents and all Blessed Family members! I’d first like to thank Heavenly Father and True Parents for all the blessings I could receive through my STF experience…

My name is Sarah Groenendyk, and I am currently a first year STFer, preparing for the coming second year of witnessing. I’d like to use this opportunity to share with all of you about my experience in Hyun Jin Nim’s ranch in Montana, receiving adventure leadership training from the amazing Mr. Keith McMurdie. I was part of the second of two groups of first years who got the chance to go on a 5 day backpacking challenge, as well as have one day of horseback riding.

In preparing for the week long program, we had decided to set individual goals for ourselves, to create more clarity on what we wanted to practice and gain. My own goal for this experience was to "find my value as a child of God". I felt that if I could take one step closer in understanding my God given value, then I would be able to more deeply understand the God given value of all my brothers and sisters. In addition, I feel we all wanted to better understand the heart of Hyun Jin Nim, as well as his heart behind challenging himself in nature.

So upon arriving to the property, we found ourselves surrounded by so much of God’s beautiful nature and wildlife. I could see how much absolute love Heavenly Father had put into everything He created; from the vast mountains to the small and humble flowers. And that in creating this world, He only had one thought in mind...that He was creating all of this for us, His beloved children. It was an ideal setting for prayer, and I found myself feeling so much freer to express my heart to God, receiving so much direct love from Him continuously. But nature provided us with more then just it’s beauty, because climbing up a mountain with a 40 to 50 pound back pack in unpredictable weather is, needless to say, fairly uncomfortable. And so a day after arrival, under the amazing guidance of our elder brother Mr. McMurdie, we began our backpacking excursion.

Quite early into the hike, I found myself more then physically challenged. I was challenged physically as well as mentally and emotionally, among other things. Scaling these mountains everyday became almost some sort of "suffering course" in understanding my value as a team member. Not being the most physically capable of the bunch, I would compare myself, feel judged, become frustrated, and sometimes wonder why I had even been chosen to go on this training program. Generally speaking, playing my role as a member of the team became more difficult then I expected, and cooperating and uniting with other members was even more of a struggle. What I realized though that these struggles were not just my own, but issues my whole team dealt with, and in addition, these challenges were not meaningless, but had a clear purpose.

Every night Mr. McMurdie would give us personal testimonies about his experiences with Hyun Jin Nim, and with each story we could inherit so much from Hyun Jin Nim. The motivation behind Hyun Jin Nim’s outdoorsman ship was more then just for personal enjoyment as well as escape from the public lifestyle. Rather, Hyun Jin Nim utilizes hunting and horseback riding as ways to confront his own limitations, and overcome them through practicing and embodying the Core Values. It was through this understanding of Hyun Jin Nim’s motivation that the true meaning of our adventure training would unravel.

So as you can probably imagine, within a week we all had so many experiences, all touching upon the different issues concerning our life of faith. But I’d like to share about what we’d all probably consider to be the "climax" of our training… climbing the infamous Mount Hollow Top. Hollow Top was basically the hike of all hikes for the week, and would take a full day’s trip to get from top to bottom, taking us through 19th century mining fields, eventually leading to a barely visible goat trail and ending with about an hour and a half of just walking on jagged rock. My expectation of Hollow Top was very far from the reality of it. I was more challenged then ever before in my whole life… on at least a physical level any way. We were all pushed to the point where every fallen nature we possess, seemed to have come out full blast, causing much confusion, and at times disunity. And as much as I hate to admit it… I just wanted to quit.

But eventually, by some miracle, some happenstance, we made it to the top of our mountain. And once we reached the top, we found a fairly large metal box, that when opened, was found to have a beautiful picture of our True Parents taped to the inside lid, and 50 or so notes and letters from our brothers and sisters from the first group of STFers as well as CARP members in the past years. It was in opening that box to see True Parents, after overcoming such difficulty, that one couldn’t help but cry. Daniel Treacy, our 2nd year captain, then gave a beautiful representative prayer, and it was at that moment that I was able to finally open my heart to the whole experience. What I came to realize, is that the kind of mountain I had just overcome, was nothing in comparison to the many mountains, hills and valleys that our True Family is constantly challenged and faced with. So it was through my trust in God, that He would help me get through this experience, that I could really come to this realization, and be able comprehend the amazing love that Heavenly Father and True Parents have for me.

So I couldn’t say that this experience has led to me truly completing my search in finding my value as a child of God, though I think that may be a life long endeavor. But I do feel that through this Montana experience, I have shed some baggage, and opened my heart just a little more, feeling more free to trust in god and the way in which he chooses to guide me. I’m punching a whole through my limitations, and I’m even more determined then before to completely rid myself of these barriers, because I better understand my value and the kind of potential I have.

Honestly speaking, there is so much more to write about concerning this experience, but I feel that this is essentially the core, or backbone of it all. Through Montana, I feel so much more ready to move unto my 2nd year of STF. I’m more excited than before in my new stage of spiritual growth, and more then ever I want to give joy and love to God, True Parents, True Family and all my brother and sisters in STF and on the frontline!

So once again, all my love and gratitude to Heavenly Father, True Parents and Hyun Jin Nim Oppa for this amazing experience, and thank you to all the STF staff for your hard work and allowing me to share this testimony with all of you…

God Bless and mansei to the coming year of STF 2006!

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