It’s been nearly a week, and I’m still having a hard time gathering together everything that went down on this youth retreat from the perspective of a leader—a leader doing semi-one-on-one at that. I think I experienced the youth retreat this past weekend bit differently than most. Not in a way that was any better or worse, but just, different. A good different, though.
I think there were times in all of it that I was really challenged. That is a good thing. There are things that happen and you realize “Wow, I am here for a reason. This is where I am supposed to be.” And they rock. I think that was a biggie for me this past weekend. Like, I have no words—God is just too faithful, too big, too awesome for me to have words!
I think what it is, is that I really struggled to find a church where I felt like I belonged. Where people outside of the people I came with knew me. Where I got to meet new people, pray with new people, and worship with new people . . . People who have huge love and passion for God that extends outside of the physical building that is church. And then when the time was right, maybe bring new people into the mix once in awhile. That is where I am now. And that is something I realized in the midst of worship on Saturday. “This is where I’m supposed to be” and that just felt so awesome. It took me five years to finally found a church I love. This is it. It feels awesome.
The fact that I’m doing inclusion-ish stuff, like I’ve said before, is just crazy that God would put me in a place where I’m totally stepping out of my comfort-zone and needing to trust Him more in knowing that I will do okay. And I really believe that is part of the reason He’s brought me here, too.
The girl I was hanging out with was awesome and a sweetheart most of the time, although she did have a bit of a rougher time at some points which is fine, that’s why I was there. We clicked really quickly, and we had a lot of fun, even on Saturday night when she started having a rougher time because she got a bit homesick [the first night wasn’t a problem. But this was the first time she’d been away from home for two nights before]. She and Brenda called her mom during worship, and then she and I headed back to the cabin to chill and take it easy. [We were supposed to be going on a night hike to shout their declarations into some valley, and I kind of thought she wouldn’t dig the night hike part—I wasn’t gonna stop her, but I’m really glad we just hung out in the cabin together. We had a really good talk, too.]
I finally got her to go to bed because she was totally zonked. Her mom wanted us to call before she went to sleep, so we did that too. [Actually, calling her mom was totally a good incentive to get her in bed. “Okay, take your inhaler, get your pajamas on, go to the bathroom, and then we’ll call your mom.” Worked like a charm, especially because her mom was coming earlier the next morning to get her.
So after she said goodnight to her household and her mom and I talked about how she was doing at the retreat, I asked her if she wanted to pray together before we went to bed. And let me tell you, it just pumps me up when kids say yes to that! So we prayed, talked a little bit longer until she started trailing off. My favourite thing was that the last thing she said before falling asleep was “Jesus rules”, and then 30 seconds later she totally conked out.
At this point I really got to just sit and reflect on the weekend, and pray, and read my bible and stuff. I had an hour and a half of downtime between then and when the other girls came back, so I spent a long time writing, read Ephesians and finally got in my sleeping bag and just about fell asleep when the other girls came back. Oh well 🙂
To switch gears, food. Remember how I like, take food everywhere because of my picky not-eating-meat-ness? The food at this camp freaking rocked. There was SO much of it, and pretty fruit plates on the table at every meal, and fresh bread! It was yummy. I was pumped when on Sunday morning when I said to Brenda and Elisa on the way to the dining hall “I hope we have cereal!” and I walked in to find a bunch of cereal on all the tables. I don’t usually eat breakfast, but on Sunday morning I totally had half a muffin, Raisin Bran and fruit. Epic.
All in all, despite the minor challenges, despite being eaten by a stick [oh yeah, my kiddo dragged me through the middle of the forest and killed herself laughing when I told her a stick tried to eat me. It totally did.], despite the freezing-cold bus with no heat on the way back . . .
it was awesome. And as much as the retreat was to challenge the kids to go deeper . . . it challenged me, too. I think it challenged several of us leaders, too – engaged us in the process of growing with the students.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.