New markings on a renovated hiking trail have been developed with a view to total community involvement.
For anyone who has gotten lost while hiking the more than 22 miles of Weimar University trails in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, USA, traffic signs are welcome. And now hikers will receive encouragement along the way, in the form of what one author calls talking rocks.
During the first semester of the 2020-21 school year, Weimar University followed COVID-19 protocols for the safety of staff, students and our community. No one has gone out into the community for Total Community Engagement (ICT) projects, as had been the case for the past three years. Always wanting to serve the community, the university has found a creative way to do so while staying on campus.
Prior to the start of the school year, Weimar Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor and TCI founder Don Mackintosh came up with the idea to renovate and improve a trail on campus so the community could enjoy it in the future. The administration endorsed this idea, and early last semester the TCI groups got down to business. Each group was assigned a specific section of trail to reduce and clear overgrown brush and clear blockages in the creek that flows along the trail.
Another part of the trail renovation plan was to use the trail to share a message through boulders engraved with text at various points along the route. Rather than providing historical or botanical information, the rocks would build on what other Adventist institutions have done in creating a “Sabbath Trail.” Thus, the rocks would have short passages on the biblical doctrine of the Sabbath.
The first step in the process was to create and finalize the wording for each rock. This would determine the number of boulders needed and determine the amount of existing trails needed for rock placement. In addition, the school needed to find a suitable engraver and rocks relatively close to its campus.
After some research, Clive Coutet, head of the media department at the Weimar Institute, found an engraving company in San Diego capable of carrying out the project. TCI Weimar director Narlon Edwards then contacted the company and arranged the engraving. But before the engraving could take place, Weimar had to buy some rocks and have them cut by another company.
Each rock took a day to be carefully cut in half. Once they were cut, the text was carved into each half rock. The 36 half-boulders were then trucked for eight hours from San Diego to Weimar and were installed in late March.
When asked what inspired the idea of ââworking on a community trail, Mackintosh replied, âThe reasons for the Sabbath Trail were, first, that we wanted to continue doing something for the community with our people. TCI time, although we couldn’t go out into the community for a while. Second, we noticed that people from the community still came to visit our trails; in fact, the traffic has increased. Three, did we think, âLet’s do something to reach the hundreds of people who use our trails. Four, we thought, “What do people need to hear at this time in earth’s history?” – and of course the Sabbath came to mind. And five, we got the students and staff involved in writing the script that is seen on the stones. It was a collective effort – by design.
The project also allowed students to change their pace. âWorking on the trails allowed me to take a break from my studies and get to know the whole student body while serving the community,â commented Daryl, a first year medical student in Indonesia.
Not only did the Sabbath Path work strengthen the connection to the campus, it also acted as a reminder of the Creator. âThe Sabbath Trail will remind those who seek refuge from nature that the Sabbath is part of nature,â said Nathan Hold, a third-year pre-dental student from Georgia. âAs hikers use the trails to find soul restoration, they will remember the Creator who alone can restore all things. “
For others, the project underscored the value of their experience here. âTCI is the reason I am in this school,â said Atieno Mpyisi, a pre-med student from Kenya. âThe various experiences such as working in an elementary garden, giving EQ lectures in homeless shelters, or cleaning someone’s house have shown me the practical side of Christianity. The ability to be in constant touch with the community for almost three years has made me feel more connected to the experiences of others – their joys, pains and victories – in ways that I probably wouldn’t have. could have otherwise.
She added, âEven though I missed going out last semester, it’s great to finally see the tangible fruit of the hard work everyone put into this trail. Working on the trails has shown me that circumstances should not hamper our ability to help. I hope that the Sabbath Trail will be one of the defining features of the Weimar property that people point to, and that will bring them back to God.
During the Spring 2021 Weimar College Symposium, Sherlyn Bryant, author of the book Rocks that speak, developed on this thought. Sharing via Zoom, she spoke about the importance of tangible reminders of God’s involvement in individual lives and collective communities. Referring to a story from the Bible, in which the Hebrews installed a stone which they named âEbenezerâ to remind them of God’s deliverance, Bryant shared his thought: âThis stone of Ebenezer was a stone of help, proclaiming the goodness of God; how He had helped them so far. This is how God is with all of us. He has helped us so far, and he will continue to help us if we trust him.
For students, staff, faculty, and administration, these stones will be a lifelong reminder of how God has led in the past and how He will continue to lead in the future. And with its guidance, those who are lost can find their way through these talking rocks.
the original version of this news was published by Weimar University.
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