Teenagers who scale mountains, wake up at 5 a.m. on their own accord, cook and clean their own meals, research the mysterious of God, can it really be real? Well our superstar Seekers showed that given the tools and the opportunities, they truly can excel. Come read how in our 2016 Awakening Trip Recap.
By Grant Boatwright, ED Veritas Life Adventures
Part II: The Immeasurable Reward
Last week we looked at how the art of giving is a practice, sometimes a difficult one, but one that has some immeasurable rewards at the end. These rewards come in various forms. This could be better health as the Berkeley study found, or seeing the results of your gift manifest in a life transformed. However, the best way for you to see just how Veritas Life Adventures is a part of this giving practice, and it’s immeasurable rewards, is to hear from a continual giver to Veritas Life Adventures, Jeff, and the life he helped change in Conner Jansen, a 4 year Seeker and graduate of Veritas Life Adventures.
The practitioner: Jeff Montgomery
Giving is choice. It is not always easy, and it comes at a cost, but the reward is immeasurable. Giving inexorably links you to the plight of another and that practice dislodges self-centered thinking that can become toxic. The Bible teaches not only to tithe and give to church; but also to be cheerful givers, even outside the church. I believe that the reason for this is to take your focus off of yourself and to participate in the world that surrounds you. These beliefs are what motivate me to give to Veritas Life Adventures, which is involved in raising leaders who have the tools to go and change the world.
If you want to find a charitable cause to give to, start with one that I support, and that can make the world that you live in a better place. That is the end result in empowering young men and women to grow in physical, nutritional, and spiritual health; so that they can embark on a journey to make a positive impact on the world they live in.
The Immeasurable reward: Conner Jansen
Four years ago, my main goal in life was to get Prestige on Call of Duty and eat an entire large Pizza on my own. I was involved in my church, but there were key things in my faith that were missing. I had a foundation, but I wasn’t building on top of that. All of that was about to change when I joined Veritas Life Adventures.
The first I heard of Veritas was from my youth pastor, Gary Malone. I was skeptical at first, but then I decided to take a risk. Since then, Veritas has continued to mold and change my life for the better through the three main aspects that Veritas focuses on: the physical, nutritional, and emotional/spiritual. One of the great things Veritas has taught me is that to be truly healthy, you need all three in balance.
First, I want to talk about the physical aspect. This is, I think, is the most obvious of changes in my life. When I started, I had no desire to do any physical activity, but through Veritas, that all changed. Through a lot of hard work and determination, Veritas has given me the knowledge and habits needed to maintain an active lifestyle. Today, I actually enjoy being active and have improved so much since then.
I remember going on my first backpacking trip and struggling through everything. Now, I can get through, still with some struggle, but I don’t need to take a break every five steps.
Nutrition is another aspect. When I started, I never thought about the nutrition facts on the back of the things that tasted delicious, and I hated anything that has color in it (ie: vegetables). I never even considered cooking. Then, when I joined Veritas, I started to see everything that I was doing to my body by eating bad things. I started to love cooking for my family and involving vegetables in my everyday life. Then, I started to see my body react in better ways. I was able to do workouts more easily when I didn’t eat Whataburger right before and instead ate an apple. My acne, although not completely clear, lightened up. My life took another turn with the gift of food Veritas presented to me.
The last aspect I changed in was my spiritual/emotional. When I started with Veritas, I had a foundation of a very basic love for Christ, but not anything much past that. I hated reading, I didn’t like deep conversations, and my world ended at my TV screen. Veritas showed me that there is so much more to life than just what I was seeing. I was able to build my faith in Christ and my intellectual thought was given food and strength. Now my faith in Christ is as strong as ever, but another thing Veritas has showed me is that you can never stop improving on yourself. So I continue to build in my faith in Christ. I have been asked to lead Bible studies in high school and now in college, I look for Bible Studies around campus. Ever since I was given the gift of Veritas I have never stopped growing.
Veritas has changed my life in unimaginable ways, and I am forever thankful for that. Our group trips have given me memories and experiences that will live with me forever. Veritas has given me the leadership qualities and self-confidence I needed to stand out from the crowd and follow my dream of helping deaf people. Veritas has given me everything I needed to be the person I am today.
Now is your chance to keep Seeker transformations like Conner's continuing on Thursday, September 17th from 6 am to midnight online with North Texas Giving day. Every dollar will be matched up to $10,000 and every $25 dollar gift, or more, will have a percentage match as well! Challenge your practice of the art of giving, and find your immeasurable reward here.
by Cassie Byard, Women’s Director at Veritas Life Adventures
How do you say goodbye and move on from a season that has been so full and good? You honor it with laughter. With tears. With good food and fun. With photographs and long chats. With silence. This is how we (the women) wrapped up our last Veritas venture.
This trip to the hill country of Texas was a meaningful one for both its adventurers, as each of us is moving into different directions on our life journeys. Tessa, this year’s sole female participant in the Veritas program, will be beginning afresh(man ;)) at the University of North Texas this month (with a well-earned, FULL-RIDE SCHOLARSHIP, I might add!) moving on to the exciting world of college life! As for me (Cassie), this month marks the last of my time with Veritas. I’ll be leaving in less than two weeks to return to the mountains of Switzerland for the fall. So, to commemorate our Veritas experiences and make a few last memories for good measure, Tessa and I headed deep into the heart of Texas and explored caverns, waterholes, lakeside cliff edges and natural springs.
With iTunes playlists ready and car packed for two nights of camping in July heat (WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!?!), we hit the road for Inks Lake State Park! Good company makes the time pass so quickly; before we knew it we were setting up camp and making dinner in our “glamping” electric skillet :) —I must say, short-term camping with the opportunity to make fresh food instead of dehydrated meals was a lovely way to end our Veritas saga!
Watching the sun set over the lake was the perfect way to end the day, and once sun was down it was “lights out” for us, too. Though, even with the measures we took to cool down the tent, we still had a restless night of “sleep” due to the fact that it was July. In Texas.
So, how else should we counter the heat than spend as much time as possible in the water? There’s a cove in Inks Lake with a section of craggy cliffs and large boulders called “Devil’s Waterhole.” It’s popular for its straightedge rock face and water level deep enough for some mild cliff jumping. I mean, you had me at “Devil’s Waterhole,” but add the option for cliff jumping and we are IN! And here I must brag on the courageous determination of Miss Tessa Baca. While I stood at the edge of the rocks and deliberated my first jump for more than a minute, Tessa climbed to the top, peered over the edge and took the plunge with no more than a second blink! As she swam over to me after the jump, I remarked on her fearlessness. “No, I was definitely afraid,” she replied, “But this was something I had to do, so I just did it! I knew if I just stood there and thought about it I wouldn’t do it. So I just jumped.” Now THAT is how you face life. It’s not about being fearless; it’s about staring your fear in the face, saying, “You don’t own me, and you can’t hold me back,” and pushing through it! Waytago, Tessa!
After a snack lunch we headed down the road for an extensive tour of Longhorn Cavern, a fascinating underground labyrinth packed with mystery, history and natural A/C! If you’ve never been in a cave, this is a great one to check out!
That evening we strolled down to the lake’s edge as the sun sank toward the horizon and performed a Veritas closing ceremony of sorts. The plan was to light Chinese sky lanterns to commemorate the close of one season and beginning of another, but the wind had another idea. An entire box of matches later, we said goodbye to two drowning sky lanterns that never got to fly. Well, they flew a little bit. Er… maybe they fell. In style. We’ll just say the flight was less like an eagle’s, more like a chicken’s. But we chuckled as we watched our “futures” dashed, drowned and destroyed despite our best intentions. At least we snapped a photo of one in the air before it died! (p.s. we’ll do better with our actual futures ;))
Our trek home the next day required driving further south first, to experience the wonders of Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well. Neither of these places can be described in words; they MUST be seen! But even photos don’t fully capture their beauty and marvel, as Tessa would tell you (she cheated and looked up photos before we visited both places and was still blown away -but I’ll let her describe that in an upcoming blog!). So if you haven’t been to either, plan a detour through Dripping Springs and Wimberley next time you’re near Austin. I promise it’s worth it!
In only two and a half days, we experienced the perfect conclusion to each of our Veritas journeys. Throughout this season, we have found friendship and depth, love and acceptance, challenges and encouragement. We have overcome obstacles, faced fears and crushed opposition. We have grown, each of us in different ways, but always moving forward. And now we move on to the future, glowing bright and flying high —and the wind will not blow us into the lake and put out our light! :)