i guess it's about time i write in here again. i've been meaning to, but haven't gotten around to doing it yet. my lovely sister kate reminded me that i should and i agree.
i think one of the reasons i've been avoiding blogging (at least for the past month) are because i have yet to wrap my head around the things that i've experienced. i bought a journal to write about the events that took place while i was in denver, but could never bring myself to write in it. i kept telling myself that i would write later and later never came... until now. although the medium isn't exactly the same i think it will suffice. let me back up...
on october 1st i flew to denver to the ywam base where i did my dts last winter. this time i was going to attend their 12 week school of worship. i was really excited because worship is something i'm very passionate about so i was very anxious to dive into it more. my first few weeks there were tough as all these insecurities and feelings of rejection tried to creep in. i find that happens often when i meet a new group of people. again, God made me deal with the roots of those issues and i'm starting to realize that while God can and does "set us free" from things it doesn't mean that we won't ever deal with it again. i am a person and with that comes my inate ability to pick things up that i've laid down at God's feet.
needless to say after i got through all that i was able to open up and make some amazing friends. i really thought the chances of meeting amazing people like i did during dts was impossible and i'm happy to say i was wrong. my class of 18 people (9 guys and 9 girls) were like a tight-knit family. we did everything together and even though we spent hours together during the day we still wanted to be together during our free time. some of my favorite pasttimes from that are hanging out in the "war room" and being goofy... going to barnes and nobles to get chai and read a book... ooohhh and going to the zoo on their free admission days (i did that twice!).
our school was scheduled to graduate on dec 21st but that was cut short because early sunday morning (12:30am) on dec 9th a former ywam denver student came into our dorm and shot 4 staff members, injuring 2 and killing 2. looking back on that night i feel like i should have seen it coming, but obviously there was no forewarning. on saturday dec 8th we had our annual end of the quarter family as an entire community. since it was close to christmas it was a nicer meal and everyone was dressed up. after dinner we had a talent show which was short so the festivities ended around 8. like any other night most of my friends gathered in the war room to discuss our plans for the rest of the evening. we eventually decided to go bowling at the nearby bowling alley. about 12 of us from our school ended up going out that night. we would have normally tried to be back at the base by curfew (12am) but decided to call our school director and get permission to stay out a little past curfew so we could bowl a little more. he reluctantly said yes and so at about 12:30 we left the bowling alley to go back to the base which was only about a mile away. my friend andrew got a call on his cell phone when we were a block away. it was our friend stephen telling us not to come back to the base because there was a shooter there. immediately we all thought it was a joke but then we saw a police car racing towards the base and we realized it wasn't a joke.
we found out later that stephen was in the hall where the shooting took place while it was happening. he managed to slip into his dorm room unnoticed, which is a miracle in and of itself. i told him later that i knew God had blinded stephen from view. our car full of people then drove to our school director's house followed by another carful from the bowling alley. when we got to his house we didn't know any details and i experienced what i think was my first ever panic attack. my mind went to all my friends who were at the base and i was wondering who was shot and were they ok and when were we going to know and how could this happen? there were so many thoughts running through all of our heads. it felt like we were in a movie and at times it was so surreal and then you realized, this is no movie, this is happening here to us. throughout the next few hours we got news of what happened.
a 22 year old named matthew came to the base that night and asked if he could stay the night. tiffany, one of the victims, a staff member and friend did her job as the hospitality director and politely told him that he couldn't stay at the base, but that she could try to find him other housing for the night. soon after that he opened fire on tiff and 3 other staff members. he fled the scene and as you probably know prepared for his second round of shooting at new life church in colorado springs the next morning where he inevitably lost his own life.
when we got the news that tiff and phil didn't make it, my heart just sank. there was no way tiff, who was so full of life, passion, and hope, wasn't here anymore. but i just talked to her tonight and she hugged me and told me how beautiful i was. and 3 days ago she spent half an hour telling me her dreams and plans for her life. how could it just come to an end like that? those and many other questions were constantly in my mind over the coming days and i'm still wrestling with many of them now. how could this happen? did God know this was going to happen? why weren't they protected? why? why? why?
i know i probably won't get the answers to these questions, but i think it's ok to ask them anyway. i think it's part of the grieving and healing process. i don't think a day has gone by where i haven't thought about what happened and said "God, why?" i probably say it because i feel like there's nothing else to say. i hate the thought of knowing that people you love can just be ripped away from you. i hate that shooting people has become a trend for young people. i hate that there are people in this world who are even at a level in their life where they can come to the point of taking another life. i hate that i don't love people enough... especially the tough ones who need it most.
in all that though i still love because that's what God asks of me- to love Him and love people with all that i have. if there's anything i've taken from this experience it is that. tiff said it best when she said, "i'm gonna change this world by loving people."
i couldn't have said it better myself.