Monday, November 21, 2011

Retiro Juvenil 2011--Youth Retreat!

Good morning!! This blog has gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to receiving attention from us lately! I'm not sure if we should chalk it up to moving to another country, staying with friends for 5 weeks, unloading a container and setting up a house, getting 3 kids settled in said house, schooling 2 of said kids to catch up for a late start in the school year, going to church 5 nights a week, or planning an entire youth retreat in a month and a half...Hmmmmm... :)

Obviously we have a lot to catch up on, and we plan to do so, but right now I want to tell you about the retreat that we just came back from this weekend! Mission UpReach generously provided all of the things we needed to make it happen, and Jon did an amazing job putting together a youth retreat for the youth group at the Iglesia de Cristo en Santa Rosa de Copán. It was the VERY FIRST time that ANYONE there (adults and youth) had ever seen anything like it! The theme was impactful. The lessons were powerful. The activities were purposeful. The games were fun. The food was delicious. Lives were touched. Transformed. People were changed. Eight new brothers and sisters were added to the kingdom by putting Christ on in baptism, and many renewed their commitment to Christ and were covered in prayer.
The youth group here had been a sort of scattered mess. Meeting regularly, but no sense of unity. No real growth. No order to the lessons. We wanted to provide them with a weekend that would teach them about true surrender to God. About becoming one as a group. Supporting each other, helping each other and growing together rather than tearing each other down.
The theme of the retreat was Entregate, which is a term that means to bring yourself. Surrender yourself. Hand yourself over. Give yourself up to HIM. Submit. Follow his calling. Allow him to work in your life. It's a pretty heavy word.
Raul Solis and his family, who live in Toluca, Mexico, came in to bring us the lessons. He did an amazing job. In three sessions (1. Deny yourself and follow Him, 2. Forgetting what is behind, 3. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me) Raul did a beautiful job teaching our teens how to surrender themselves. We learned how we need to leave behind our former lives when we choose to follow Him. We no longer should think as the world things, act as the world acts, admire what the world admires. How we become weighed down by the baggage that we carry around daily--the sins that overtake our lives and make us feel helpless to change. Things like lying, hate, anger and gossip. Others like malice, pornography, fornication, and hypocrisy. When we can let those things go and ask God to purify us, cleanse us, and help us move forward, we can strain toward what is ahead--to the purpose he has for us. Finally, in the third session Raul talked about how once we forget was is behind and we bring ourselves to God that we are to become a new creation--that we no longer live but Christ in us.
We had activities to help bring out these points...We made up a sort of relay game that we called Baggage. During Solo Time they had spent time following a guide that directed them to write their sins and struggles, their baggage, on 3 bricks. During the Baggage game the groups had to haul their 18 bricks of baggage through four different stations:
  • Put a puzzle together.

A brother in the church made us these puzzles that were SOOOOOO hard to do, but I just love them. They're beautiful! The cross is cut out in perfectly straight lines, and the other pieces were curvy and confusing. The application verse in this activity was Romans 12:2--"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..."

  • Crawl under a net.

We made a cargo net and staked it to the ground. The kids, and their bricks, had to cross to the other side, completely under the net. The application verse in this activity was Hebrews 12:1-2--"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."

  • Red Corn.

In a jar full of kernels of corn, each group had to find ONE kernel that had been colored red. The verse was 1 Corinthians 4:7, 10--"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us..."

  • Brick Puzzle.

Finally, after carrying these bricks through the entire course, they had to take them out, and sort them out to read Filipenses (Philippians) 3:12-14--"Not that I have already obtained this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on and take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Saturday evening, we had a bonfire and after another powerful message an invitaion was given and 4 teens responded to the call. Phil baptized them for the forgiveness of their sins and we had a joyful evening welcoming these new brothers and sisters. Sunday morning we had a special communion service followed by the Application message--over 20 responded that they were renewing their commitment to Christ and 4 more responded to the call of baptism. A brother, Daniel Perdomo, baptized these 4 and one of the most touching moments of the weekend was watching him baptize 3 teens and then his own daughter into Christ. There was hardly a dry eye to be found.

God was working here this weekend in Santa Rosa and it was amazing to watch. Personally there were a few times that I was nearly overcome with emotion. As I watched Jon running here and there, I was so proud to see how all of his planning, preparation and hard work was being blessed by God. As I reflected on that, and as I saw the way that the message was touching these kids' lives and changing their hearts, I had no doubt that God had brought us here because he has a work for us to do. It was amazing confirmation to my heart to see how He was blessing every effort that had been made--down to the beautiful weather, the power not going out, and the wet firewood staying lit during the bonfire. It is obvious that He was at work, and we gladly give all the glory of the success of the weekend to Him.

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