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Spring Break 2011: community and grace

Every year Lutheran Campus Ministries provides an alternative spring break trip for Minot State University students. In the past, groups have volunteered in New Orleans and Washington D.C., and for Habitat for Humanity. This year, Pastor Kari Williamson and four others spent March 12-20 at Holden Village, in north central Washington State in the remote area of the Cascade Mountains above Lake Chelan. The only way to get there is by train, then boat, followed by a harrowing bus ride up 11 miles of narrow road that include nine switchbacks.

Holden Village was a working copper mine in the early 1900s that closed and was purchased in the 1960s by the Lutheran Church. Williamson said it has become a retreat center for folks to experience renewal, service and be a part of God’s creation. Visitors are expected to do different projects during their stay to meet Holden Village’s needs. .

"I had no idea what to expect," said Joe Davis, a MSU senior from Minot. "I signed up with the ‘Mavericks’ team and shoveled more snow in a week than I have in my entire life!"

The hard work was rewarding, Davis related, and the people there made the trip exceptional.

"Everyone was so kind, that your heart would grow like the Grinch if you arrived in a bad mood," Davis said.

Sarah Walker, an administrative assistant in the MSU College of Business, first heard about Holden Village at her home church in Colorado.

"When Kari told me she was taking a group to Holden Village over Spring Break," said Walker, "I invited myself along. I’ve wanted to go there for many years but asked myself ‘why’ several times during the bus ride up the mountain."

During her stay, Walker volunteered in the kitchen. She said the highlight of her week was the variety show where she, Davis and fellow student Erin Neumann, Bismarck, presented a spoken poem, accompanied by violin, with sung refrain.

"After Joe finished his poem, the audience joined me in singing the refrain, while Erin played the violin. It was so touching to share that ... I call it my ‘Glimpse of God’ moment," Walker said.

Neumann’s take away was a little less esoteric than her peers, but reflective nonetheless.

"The village’s electricity is generated hydroelectrically, and there were no phone lines," said Neumann. "I also learned about what the staff refers to as ‘Garbology’ - where all trash is sorted into compost, recycling or landfill bins. This made me realize we create a lot of waste, and it made me more conscientious about trying to be more ‘green’," she said.

Williamson said every day included worship, which created a sense of community among the 40 young adults present and inspiration for Davis to create another poem.

"(At Holden Village) there is no grace period," he said. "There’s only grace. Period."