Parker: Yesterday was our last full day on the pilgrimage. My favorite part of the day was indoor sky diving. David had told us that we were going somewhere fun but we didn't know exactly where we were going. When we pulled into the parking lot, everyone was so excited! We all had to put on wind suits and practice the flying position. When we finally went to fly, I thought it would be scary but it was really fun. The instructors helped you at first and then let you twirl and fly around. At the end, they grabbed your hands and you twirled to the top.
During evening compline, David brought up the point that the indoor skydiving could symbolize God holding you up and even if you fell, you would be okay. It made the experience even better and encouraged me to think about other situations that could symbolize my faith.
Jordan: On Saturday, we went indoor skydiving. None of us knew where we were going, but when we pulled up to the place, we were all so excited and so ready to skydive. It was so fun and such a great experience to feel like you're skydiving without the real danger of jumping out of a plane. Later, we went swimming in a river and hiked up a hill to overlook tons of cacti, desert, and mountains. After we went to see Finding Dory at a drive in theater, we all came back to the church where we were staying for compline. We (the youth) had asked to lead compline that night to do something special for David as he is leaving St. Luke's on July 3rd. We all light candles, sang songs, and went through the normal compline prayers. Then, we went around in a circle and said nice things about David and shared stories and thanked him for being such an amazing youth director. We all are really going to miss him and appreciate everything he's done for us.
Today was our final day in Flagstaff as we made our way down to Phoenix, dropping off Brittany, our Wonder Voyage tour guide, at the airport since she had another trip to coordinate. Brittany – thanks for helping to make our J2Arizona Pilgrimage such a great experience! We really enjoyed getting to know you and having you in our midst. If you’re ever in Atlanta, please stop by St. Luke’s and join us for worship.
Today was all about swimmin’ holes (no movie stars) and fun in the hot Oak Creek Canyon area. It was also our final day in Flagstaff, and we’ll travel to Phoenix for the last couple of days of our trip. Keep our group in your prayers as we travel and continue to encounter God throughout this amazing adventure!
Katie: Today was a mildly relaxing day. We went to slide rock state park which was unbelievably fun and offered an opportunity to cool off from the heat of Arizona. The area featured many places where one could sit and be pulled along by the natural spring water. It was also incredibly fun to jump off an especially high rock into the deep water. It was like nature’s water park!
Jordan: Today was a blast! We went to Slide Rock park and went down a series of natural “water slides” that pulled us through cooling water along the river’s rocky bottom. We also hiked down to a place further up the river where there was a swimming hole and dozens of beautiful little corners of the rivers where we could just marvel at the nature around us. My favorite part of the day was having a church service and conducting Eucharist in the creek. It was so wonderful to be praising God right in his natural world and to see his creations all around us.
Alex: Today was really fun and chill. We went to slide rock state park, which had a river with teeny waterfalls that we could slide down. After that, we went to a little stream with deep area sin which we swam and jumped into, as well as a really beautiful area upstream which Jordan, Parker, Katie, and I hiked to and talked in for a while. After that, we had a Eucharist in the creek which was pretty casual and gave me a new perspective on the Eucharist. Since it was our last full day with Brittany, we reviewed what we had learned from the trip about each other and what we had especially enjoyed so far. I really enjoyed listening to what everyone had to say.
Our week continued today with breathtaking views, physical exhaustion that was worth every step, and relationships continuing to grow among our pilgrims. Here are some thoughts a couple of our youth offered:
Joey E: Today, we woke up early and hopped into the cars, and we proceeded to drive on over to the Grand Canyon. On the way, many of us were tempted to have a good experience at a McDonald’s Play Place, but we decided that it would probably be a better idea to keep driving to the canyon. I am very glad that we did. We walked towards the canyon, and each one of us was made speechless as we saw the canyon. At least that’s what I would think. I was focused much more on the canyon than my fellow pilgrims’ lack of talking. The canyon was many things. It was a hole, it was red, it was layered, it was big, it was deep, but the word that stood out to me most in description of the Grand Canyon was certainly grand. This is almost certainly because far before the trip to Arizona, it had been engrained into my brain that this specific canyon was grand, but I think that whoever named the canyon did a pretty grand job indeed. As a hole, I really enjoyed the Grand Canyon, and I did probably the best hiking in my life there, and I certainly hope to go back very soon.
Frances: Today was pretty great, or you could say “grand,” because today we saw the Grand Canyon. It was my first time going and it wasn’t at all what I expected. Honestly, I don’t remember what I thought it was going to be like, because the whole thing was just amazing, it gave me a whole new perspective on the Earth and its landmarks. We walked along the rim and saw the Canyon from a bunch of different angles. Then, we got to hike down a path that took us into the Canyon, we didn’t go all the way to the bottom, maybe about one third of the way down. It was truly spectacular and was definitely my favorite hiking spot.
[David’s addition:] Our day also featured pizza (one of which was cheese-less!), most of our kids trying Combos (the pretzel-cheese snack) for the first time, swimming and hanging out at the Flagstaff Aquaplex, and a deep and very insightful conversation about penitence, confession, and God’s mercy. We are focusing our attention on prayer this week, as well as the questions – What made you think of God today? and What is God doing this week in our midst?
Our Pilgrimage moved right along today with more viewing of God’s beautiful creation. Today we visited Walnut Canyon National Park to see the cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people in the morning, and in the afternoon we did some team-building activities a Ropes Course on the school campus. Burning to find out what some of our kids thought of today? Well quit worrying, because here they are!
Jordan: Today, we went to Walnut Canyon and hiked a trail around a mountain “island” surrounded by other mountains and mini canyons as far as you could see. All around the rocks were small rooms or cliff dwellings that were carved into the cliffs by the Native Americans that lived there. Seeing the history of the land really showed a new perspective on the land and how sacred nature is. After hiking the trails, we headed off to do a ropes course and team building exercises at the campus. When we arrived, we were all given pieces of PVC pipe and instructed to get a marble into a far-away bucket by sending the marble through our attached pipes. However, restrictions on movement and marble handling limited us, and it took a while for us to discover a way to get the marble in the bucket using teamwork. Then, we had another activity which we accomplished much more quickly and moved on to the ropes course. On the first part, we could climb a wooden telephone pole with spikes on the sides like a ladder up to a platform and then jump to grab onto a hanging bar. Everyone in the group attempted this, some hesitant and some eager, and many were able to grab ahold of the bar. It was amazing to see how we all trusted each other as we pulled on the rope that held up the person jumping; although the bar was very far above the ground, almost all of us jumped off without hesitations because we knew that the others would catch us.
Adam: After hiking on day one, I wasn’t exactly in the best mood to go again. When we got Walnut Canyon, I was expecting to start sweating immediately. It was surprisingly cool and I was so relieved. We were waiting to start hiking while others went to the restroom. Joseph, Franky and I started having a flip the bottle contest which we hope to continue throughout the week. When everyone was ready, we starting hiking the trail. The start was a bunch of stairs which I thought were quite relaxing. There were so many neat rooms left by Native Americans. It was so cool seeing the inside of ancient homes and how they looked like before. The view from the path was so beautiful. All these rocks and boulders literally dangling from the side of the cliffs. The trees growing on the floor of the canyon which seemed to be carved with such precision. When everyone made it back up the stairs and had a bathroom break, we went for a shorter hike overlooking the entire canyon. It was so pretty and serene. I also saw three of the prettiest lizards I had ever seen. It was a very chill and fulfilling hike.
Alex: As mentioned previously, today we went hiking around Walnut Canyon. It was a lovely hike, not only due to the relatively cool temperature, but also because of the Sinagua cliff dwellings and the unique wildlife (prickly pears, plants covered with teeny fernleaves, etc.). The cliff dwellings were especially cool because their walls were covered with soot from fires of the people who lived in them, which made it seem more tangible that they were once inhabited. After going home and resting a bit, we went to a ropes course. The high ropes were a little intimidating, but peoples’ willingness to climb up to and jump of a high platform was impressive. We had a yummy “stone soup” meal, cooked by Katie, Parker, Frances, Adam, and William, when we got back to the dorms and played Apples to Apples. Throughout the day we played for square, told riddles, and generally socialized; the “getting to know people better” aspect of the trip is my favorite part.
David: I’ve enjoyed Ropes Courses for a long time, both because they’re fun and challenging, and also because I think they’re theologically illuminating. When we go up in the trees or climb telephone poles and participate in these challenges and elements about 35+ feet off the ground, we’re always hooked into a guide wire so that, even if we slip off a challenge, we’re still connected to the wire. There are times when we’re successful, and there are times when make a misstep or fall short of the next platform we’re trying to reach – and the thing to remember is that whether we succeed or not, God always has us. Today’s Ropes Course adventure gave me a new perspective on this idea: as each person climbed up a telephone pole and jumped off a platform to catch a trapeze bar, all of the members of our group held the other end of the line, keeping the person safe. Today, we got to incarnate God’s never-failing love that holds us whether we catch the bar or not.
Katie: Today was pretty grand. The views were incredible; the Red Rock State Park featured mountains unbelievably big and quite barren with the exception of an occasional small scrub. This resulted in the rather appropriate name for the park, with the clay colored red surrounding us. As we hiked through the 110 degree heat and beautiful views, we played a plethora of games. Shouting from the front of the pack to the back, we talked and laughed, trying to guess the person that was ’female, over 18, famous, and not involved in politics or art’ (the game is called “I’m thinking of a person”). As we packed ourselves back into the two minivans, we solved riddles the rest of the windy way back into town.
William: In the evening, we went up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross for a prayer service. The chapel is built on a beautiful red rock hill right next to a cliff face. From inside, you can see out across Sedona and to grand rock formations. This view was incredible, but what was truly amazing about the spot was the combination of seeing the enormous rocks and the details in the cliff. You could see these grand sweeping vistas, or a beautiful pattern in the rock, or a cactus, or a small tree growing out of the cracks. It was a great reminder that beauty comes in all sorts of things. Beauty lies in huge pillars of stone and miniscule cracks in the same rock.
Parker: Every time we go outside or drive over a peak, I am amazed by the beautiful landscape. The towering mesas dip down to cactus covered desert earth; even the clouds look fluffier. This evening we attended a prayer service in a chapel perched on the top of a mountain, magnificent views surrounding it. And it was really hot. The sense of community grew as the group of strangers sweated and prayed together. God is in the silence, the prayers, the mountains, and in the heat.
Franky: When I first heard about this pilgrimage, I was a little hesitant on going. This stemmed mostly from the fact that I’d have to leave Atlanta a day after getting back from a week in Salt Lake City. However, my feelings quickly changed once we arrived in Phoenix. The environment created by the scenery, my peers, and David was one of inclusiveness and spirituality. I was awestruck by the Red Rock Mountains and enjoyed walking through their namesake state park. We wrapped up the day by visiting a service at a church perched on an outcropping of rock formations looking over the landscape. With a renewed sense of energy, I hope to enjoy the remainder of this trip and continue to learn more about myself.
Thanking God for the prayers, love, and support – those that are present on the trip, and those that are being offered back home.
Our J2A Pilgrimage to Arizona started this morning with our group receiving a blessing from Fr. Dan at the end of the 9:00 service. After that, it was lots of travel, taking MARTA to the airport before our flight to Phoenix. We had about a two-hour drive from the airport toward Flagstaff, which we filled by eating gas station snacks and listening to the "Hamilton" soundtrack. (Lin-Manuel Miranda: since you're no doubt reading this, we've got some great candidates to be understudies.)
We stopped for dinner at the Red Planet Diner, a UFO-themed diner that was showing Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Then, after some more driving, we settled into home for the week: our dorms at Northern Arizona University.
More to come as the week goes on, and in the meantime, look for pics on Instagram (@eycstlukes) and Facebook (StLukes Eyc). #J2Arizona
Journey to Adulthood
Our Journey To Adulthood youth are in Arizona for this year’s pilgrimage. They are focusing on God in the midst of nature and the wide open expanses out west, while also attuning ourselves to different types of prayer.
KEEP them in your PRAYERS:
Adam, Alex, Colleen, David, Frances, Franky, Hannah, Jordan, Joseph, Katie, Parker, William and their guide, Brittany.