All of us have those events that take a lot of time and effort and seem to dominate the calendar and energy, right? Something we work towards for at least half a year before it takes place? Well, we just had one of those events – the Homeschool Teen Fellowship Retreat! It was our sixth annual retreat mostly geared for homeschoolers here in Ecuador.
Preparations started last fall when we had our HTF Family Fair. The teens run the booths at the fair and we invite all the homeschooled families to come and have a fun for several hours playing games, eating food, buying baked goods and crafts and just generally having a wonderful time visiting with each other. Granted it’s a pretty small thing to most people, but to our group a lot of hours and effort goes into it. All the profits from time and goods donated goes towards our retreat every spring. Every year we’ve been making a bit more to go towards the cost of the retreat. Because it was a particularly “good” year for our funds, we decided to take our group to El Refugio in Calacali this year for the retreat, March 16th – 18th. This is a retreat and training center for groups to learn team building through outdoor activities like rope courses. It is nestled in a beautiful little valley, so everyone also enjoys the flora and fauna with some great hiking trails. It’s truly a lovely place!
This year we had eighteen teens attend the retreat. We always run right around twenty kids, so were pleased with the attendance. The leadership team consisted of Ron, Esther, Sarah and Ben, a father of two of our teens. Our theme this year was the Underground Church, particularly spending time talking about the Persecuted Church using media from Voice of the Martyrs to introduce each of our three teaching sessions.
That evening we had a rousing after-dark game of Bible Smugglers. Two attendees decided on a senior prank of dressing up as tourists during the game (gave an interesting twist to things!) and because of them, we actually have a few pictures!
Saturday morning we woke early to spend some solo time on our devotions.
After breakfast, the El Refugio team-building course began with some simple group and trust building games:
Then our gang broke up into two groups and started on some low rope courses:
After lunch the real challenge began: the High Ropes Course! So proud of our group as every single one gave their best (plus some) to maneuver around the course.
We had great meals served to us by the El Refugio staff in their beautiful new dining room
That evening Ron taught Session 2 on the Cost of Being a Disciple of Christ
Sunday morning part of the gang went on a sunrise hike/climb around the camp boundary line and then we had early morning devos again
Breakfast and then Session 3 taught by Ron’s brother Rick on Preparing for Persecution
Gotta mention the skits, especially “Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego in the Airplane”
And just a beautiful place to spend an amazing time with good friends…
Thanks to all of you for praying for us and our group this past weekend. We could see God working in the lives of these young people.