Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Favorites {No. 22} Love, Snow, and Worship

Wow!!!  SO much has happened since my last post!  I've included a couple of "Valentine's Day" pictures and lots of pictures from the Teen Retreat I went to last Friday through Monday.

My amazing husband really treated me well for Valentine's Day!  In return, I baked a couple dozen of Andrew's favorite oatmeal raisen cookies and made him a card.  :-)  How fun!

Picture by Natalie, special effects added by me
Love is in the air!

Picture by Kristi.  L-R Front Row: Angie, Lydia, Ginny, and Jessie.  L-R Back Row: Charity, Levi, Thomas, Gage, Pastor Chris (my Dad), ME, and Natalie.

Here is a picture of the group from my own church that attended the winter teen retreat!  It was a 3-hour drive to the camp and it was incredibly fun!

Picture by Kristi

Me with some amazing ladies from my church: my sister, Natalie, and my sisters' friends (now MY friends too!), Ginny and Lydia (who are also sisters).  We were haning out in the chapel (the place we met twice a day for teaching/worship sessions).

Picture by Kristi or Eric... can't remember!
 Here is the whole group, leaders and campers.  I had four young ladies in my own Bible Study group, all who were so sweet and lovely.
I knew quite a few people in this group, but about half were people I either didn't know well or had never met before.  It was really great getting to meet new people and worship God as a big group together!

One of the games we played in our free time was carpet ball.  It was incredible how intense this little game could get... and yes, I admit to getting rather competitive.  :-)

One of the two drama groups.  This one was the smaller one, but they made up for it in personality and energy.  L-R Monica, Kylea, Jessie, Stephen, and Caleb.  They were a crazy group!!!  In the first picture I told them to "look like a band", so they all assumed the "staring off into the middle-distance" pose.  The second picture they are hard at work memorizing their lines!

One really cool thing we did on Saturday was have the teens pick different ministry workshops and attend two sessions on the ministry outreach of their choice.  Since both of my sisters and three more teens from my church chose the drama department (and since I have been part of drama groups and directed dramas in the past), I hung around in the drama workshop.  There were two different skits that two groups worked on.  Both groups had only one afternoon to learn their skit (including memorizing their lines, learning expressions, and figuring out positioning).  Both skits were performed the next day during the youth-led worship service and both groups did amazingly!!!

Other workshops included worship leading, preaching (for the young men), Bible story teaching, Biblical counselling, and the like!

My Dad takes KGB night very seriously.  One girl said that my dad truly scared her!  :-P

Saturday night was KGB night!  It is an annual tradition to do this not only as a fun game, but also to help the teens learn witnessing skills.  All of the leaders play police and the teens play undercover Christians trying to smuggle Bibles to a specific area.  The leaders have to capture the teens and interrogate them and it is the teens' job to share the gospel in an affective enough way for us to let them go without taking their Bibles from them.  I caught about 12-15 teens and it was really great putting on an accent and very seriously questioning them.  One guy said that I was the best KGB he had encountered all night.  :-D  More than half of the teens I caught really knew how to give answers that made sense and, even when I threw out really hard excuses and reasons for unbelief, they were able to lovingly come back with Biblical answers.  I had to take Bibles from a few others, breaking out of character a couple of times to offer advice and encouragement (which was also part of my job as a leader).  It was a very fun (and VERY cold) night!

Sunday morning was snowy and beautiful.  This picture was taken at about 7:40am on my morning walk to the mess hall for my personal devotions.  There is nothing so cool as doing your personal devos over a cup of hot tea surrounded by other believers with their Bibles open.  :-)

Natalie and I stealing a moment together between group devos and the morning worship service.

After devos and breakfast every day, the small groups met for shared devotions (leading these studies was part of my "job" as an adult on the retreat).  After that, we all met for morning worship and a teaching session.

The chapel was just beautiful, with gorgeous stain glass windows!

Sunday morning my sister, Jessie, and her friend, Ginny, helped on worship team.  They sounded so fantastic with Jessie on her violin and Ginny on the keyboard!  As you can see in this picture, almost every person helping with worship is, in fact, a teenager!  How amazing to see young people using their gifts to serve the Lord.

Sunday's big event was the Great Sled Race!  The teens are devided into groups (some with leaders to help, others without any outside help) and are given a bundle of materials such as cardboard boxes, big trash bags, duct tape, twine, and twisty-ties.  From this assortment, they have to build their own sled!

After the sleds were assembled, they were lined up at the top of a big hill and some courageous teens took them down on their maiden voyages!  It was incredible how fast those homemade sleds went!

Angie on her ride down the hill!  Being one of the more petite girls, she practically flew!

We had competitions for speed, distance, endurance, and design.  It was SO fun!

One of the coolest things was that, when we arrived at the camp, there wasn't any snow on the ground.  Then snow just seemed to dump from the sky all Friday evening and all day Saturday, giving us more than enough snow for all of our outdoor events!  God is so good!

Sunday afternoon, once most of the homemade sleds had fallen apart, we went tubing!  The tubing hill was beyond incredible.  It was specifically designed for the tubes and was like taking a ride at an amusement park!  I spent most of the time snapping pictures, but I DID go down once.  We linked TEN tubes together, gripped each others' feet and piled FOURTEEN people onto the tubes (I shared one tube with another girl, had Natalie and another girl on the the tube in front of us and two boys on the tube behind us) and went zooming down the hill.  I was told that I screamed like a little girl the whole time.  :-P  One of the craziest parts was that about 1/4 of the way down the boot of the boy who's foot I was hanging on to came off and his foot went flying out of my reach!  He finally swung his foot around and I spent the rest of the ride (still screaming) with one arm clinging to his boot and the other arm wrapped around his stocking foot!  His biggest suprise at the bottom of the hill was that I still was holding his boot.  What a blast!

These two young ladies are so special to me.  Jessie has endured nearly three very lonely years at our church where my Dad pastors until this young lady and her family came along.  Ginny, who has also struggled with lonliness and needing a friend, has quickly become the friend I prayed for my sister to make.  Ginny commented to me that she was shocked how amazingly alike our families are, to the point where it feels like we already are family.  I really got to know Ginny and her sisters during the retreat and am so excited to continue being a part of their lives and to have them in mine.  We all come from big, homeschooling families and both have special needs siblings... we can connect with and encourage each other on so many levels.  It is really neat how God works things out. 

Sunday night was the youth-led worship service.  This music team did a wonderful job!  We also had both drama teams do their skits as well as one young man do a Bible story-telling.

This fourteen-year-old young man preached a short sermon that he prepared and also did an excellent job sharing the Scriptures with the group.

That night we all sat around a bonfire sharing testemonies, thoughts of encouragement, singing praise songs and hymns (we had a good bunch of singers at this camp!), and roasting marshmellows!  We also spent time with our eyes gazing up at the amazing star-filled skies, wondering at the awesomeness of our great God.  What an incredible night!

I had to include a picture on one of my favorite places in the camp: the hot drink center!!!  There were many different kinds of teas, hot cocoa, and coffee.  Yes, this was were the magic happened!

Top picture L-R:  Charity, Lydia, Natalie, and Ginny.  Bottom Picture L-R: Jessie, Jon (a good friend of ours), Gage, Levi, Ben and Debbie (the newlyweds from the wedding pictures I posted a little while back), Brandon, and Amber.
A couple of group shots on Monday before we left right after lunch.  It truly was such an amazing time of being filled with encouragement, fellowship, great fun, and convicting teaching.  I was also able to have a great talk with a couple who have been in ministry for many years about some of the struggles I have been going through and recieved great advice and encouragement from them.

So, would I go on this retreat again if God gave me the opportunity?  Hands down.  No hesitation.  YES.  Period.  The End.

And, lastly, on our way home we made a pit-stop at a Bass Pro Shop.  We stretched our legs while looking at amazing nature displays and big tanks of both fresh and saltwater fish.  On our way out to the van, Natalie, Lydia, and Angie did a pose advertising the store for all of you who might be interested in going.  ;-)

So yes, a very full week.  Tuesday through today has been spent recovering my very drained energy supply, getting my home back into order, catching up on laundry, and a little bit of sewing.  Oh yes, and drinking coffee. 

As a final thought, I will include a little snippet of something I posted on Facebook as I reflected on my weekend:

I have songs from retreat still playing in my head. Many of them were songs I didn't know, but grew to love SO much!

"Oh Great and Mighty One, with one desire we come: that You would reign, that You would reign in us. We're offering up our lives; a living sacrifice. That You would reign, that You would reign in us... So reign, please reign, in us. Come purify our hearts and send us out so th...
e world may know You reign. You reign in us."

It is so easy to sing these words and really "feel" them when you are in a secluded camp surrounded by believers singing the same thing. Each day back in the real world it is harder and harder to truly mean them and live them out. May God give us each strength to let Him reign in us every day.

I hope you all have a lovely Friday!!!  Many blessings in Christ.


Annie said...

Wow, this retreat looked like a blast! So fun! I look forward to the day when I'm old enough to staff at teen events like this. =)


Hannah Elise said...

You are *so* beautiful, Rachel :)