Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Cold Costa Rican Retreat

Can you remember the first time you went on a Christ Centered Retreat? If you are like me, you probably remember some vague concept of a retreat from your childhood, but really, the FIRST one is like trying to remember the first time you ever shot an air-ball during a basketball game – there are just so many to choose from.

We just returned from a four day retreat with our youth group from Puerto Viejo. We took them to a goat farm in the cold mountains of Costa Rica a complete opposite lifestyle to what they all grew up in. When we pulled up, the most excitement centered on the fog that would come out of their mouths when the exhaled. Can you imagine someone seeing that for the first time!

We had 4 teaching sessions led by a leader of a short term team that assisted us in the retreat. He spoke about prayer, changing our lives to live like Christ, and having the courage to be different than the people around us. We gave all the kids a journal that they could write their thoughts on the verses we were reading and what they were going through. I was amazed to see all of the kids writing in them, not just during the lessons but at every hour of the day, kids were writing in their journals. I got to read some of them and what they wrote was amazing. A desire to do what is right and asking God to help them have a good heart were just some of the types of thoughts that I read.

We ended the trip river rafting down the Paquare River. It is located about half way between San Jose and Puerto Viejo. Again, a new experience they have never had. It was amazing to see these kids who surf some of the most dangerous waves in Costa Rica, be scared of the white water of the river and then be emboldened as they raft though unknown rapids.

As we finished the retreat, I have seen friendships built in our youth group, leaders stand up and a unity of the group that was not there before. I feel more connected with them then I ever have and my heart has broken more and more for the youth that seem to have the hardest life. I am grateful for the blessing this first retreat experience was for this youth group and I was blessed to be a part of it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bocas Baby, Bocas

Shan and I are heading out this morning for Bocas Del Toro, a group of islands off the coast of Panama. This little forced vacation is required to renew our visas and we will be gone for two nights. We look forward to some time alone, long conversations at dinner and some relaxation on a secluded beach somewhere. It's been busy with short term teams and we look forward to the rest.