Eventually, poor A made it through the pictures.
After morning devotions (taught by the eccentric youth counselor M) and breakfast, we went ZIP-LINING. The highlight of the trip, if you ask me! I had never been zip-lining before, so it was a new and surreal experience for me. There were five lines total, all with varying speeds and views and lengths. Looking down at how far away the ground was, one thing was certain. If any of us fell... we'd be dead.
But I wasn't thinking about that. During the first line, I looked out across the view as I zoomed by and shouted "I love You, Jesus!" My voice was lost in the wind, so it wasn't like anyone else could hear me, though. Except God :)
One of the best places to see the Lord is out in the wild, in the nature. Away from the distractions of technology and everyday life. That's the purpose of the youth retreats we go on. To escape for a few days. We took advantage of the trip by having two Bible studies per day, as well as an early morning devo and assigned evening readings. The stories in Daniel are well-known, but even after studying Nebuchadnezzar's dreams AGAIN, and the golden image story AGAIN, and the lion's den story AGAIN, God had new things to share, new lessons to teach. He never runs out of things to say.
Here are only a few of the notes I took from our Daniel studies, many of them little quotes from the pastor that he emphasized or that spoke to me.
My mind will convert my heart.
The bands of Babylon are always trying to entice me.
Having a relationship with God costs me time. Something else is going to lose out.
Team Royal Coffee
Team S.A.P. (Saved And Powerful)
Team Fro Breez (my team, because one of our teammates had an afro. I did NOT suggest it, but it kinda just happened...)
And there were a few other teams, but I can't remember what they were called. Anyway, the group divided into these teams for challenges. We had a relay race in which each member of the team had to create a tower of cups with a base of six cups working up to one. You had to put them all back in a stack before the next teammate could do it.
We also did a really hard challenge in which each team had to create a stack of cups with a base of four. The thing is, you couldn't use your hands. Five strings were tied to a rubber band, and each member held the end of a string. To make the tower, you had to work together to pull the band apart by pulling the strings and then slacken it once it was around a cup. Lift the strings and balance the cup on the tower. Pull the strings as one and carefully lift the band from around the cup. If any cups fell off the picnic table - and some did - we had to somehow pick them up using the rubber band device. No touchy.
Does that make any sense? If not, just realize that it was extremely difficult, requiring a lot of patience and team cooperation.
God decided to dump rain on us in torrents during our mini Amazing Race, which wasn't exactly convenient, what with all the running. In flip-flops. Up hills. Then aaaaaallllll the way back to the campsite. Team Fro Breez finished first for that particularly challenging challenge (whoop-whoop!), and in the end, we made second place XD Right behind S.A.P. and right above Royal Coffee.
Nights around the campfire were fun, with guitar music and s'mores. N and B always went to bed earlier, but C, A, and I liked to sit around the fire for a while. One girl plays guitar a lot and has a really pretty voice, and she led us in "Came To My Rescue" and "Heaven Song" and "All My Tears." Plus many more, but those are some of my favorites, and we sang them kinda frequently during this camp-out.
I called, and You answered
And You came to my rescue and I
Want to be where You are
My soul is getting restless
For the place where I belong
I can't wait to join the angels and sing
My heaven song
It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home, and I'll be free
It don't matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away
I could say more, but this post is long enough. I'll be keeping this youth retreat tucked into my memory as an unforgettable experience, and I pray that the fruit from it endures throughout all the rest of our lives on this earth, both individually and as a close-knit group of young people on fire for Jesus. Now I can't wait until next year's!
So, what about you? Have you ever been on a youth retreat? What was it like? Where did you go? Leave a comment or two!