Preparations for this gathering began last fall and really picked up over the past two months. For those who have not worked in ministry, you will never know the great detail in planning and preparation that goes into just a weekend.
This retreat was not without roadblocks as three weeks ago complications with our originally booked camp arose and we had to find a place to go last minute. I personally placed 32 phone calls and literally got the only place in Alaska left to host it. God works in mysterious ways because this camp was perfect and we liked it so much that we intend on using it for a summer spiritual retreat called Kaleidoscope instead of the camp we have used years previous.
The students arrived and we started with mixers led by yours truly. Instead of the "traditional" mixers I opted for something new. Have you ever heard of Minute to Win It? If not they are a DCE's best friend. Students did all kinds of crazy things. Shooting marbles through a pool noodle, unrolling toilet paper rolls with just hands, relay of cotton balls using only one's nose covered in Vaseline, stacking up cups, stacking dice on a Popsicle stick held by ones mouth, catching ping-pongs balls in a bucket attached to one's head, and head bobbing a pedometer to count 125 steps. These were some of 30 some tasks that brought the group together and was certainly a memorable time.
|"Stack a perfect pyramid and take it down using 36 cups, in 60 seconds"|
Somewhere in there cups led to the cup game. The kids became pretty good at it. By the 7th time through in the video below they got it solid...until people started speeding up when it all fell apart. It was still fun
Throughout the weekend we had three sessions each focusing on one of the letters in the acronym G.P.S. While the title of the retreat was “God’s Positioning System”, we decided to take it one step further and study our Gifts that God has given (G), the People God has place in our lives that make up the body of Christ and what part we play (P), and how we can Serve with our gifts to people around us (S).
I was in-charge of the session on gifts. I had the students take a spiritual gift inventory. For most of them this was the first time they had done such a thing. The questionnaire I used had 110 questions and had 22 spiritual gifts as the outcome. My personal top three were Serving, Helps and Exhortation (Encouraging).
I got to use a clip from Lord of the Rings—the Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo and his companions are leaving the Woods of Lorien. As they depart, the Lady of the Wood, Galadriel, and the other elves give each of the heroes a special gift to help them on their journey.
|Getting in the Word|
The third session was led by Gretchen who spoke of how we can apply our spiritual gifts to serve others. We talked about ways to serve in the church and positions that we may hear but do not know what they do (ie: Elders, trustees, alter guild etc). We also talked about how we wear many “hats” in life (Daugher, intern, friend, fiancée, sister etc) and how we are able to arise and serve in those different roles.
|Creating "hats" one for each role we play|
|DCE Jamie also wears many hats...she looks ready to ride a camel through the desert|
|I only made 3 "hats" because otherwise I would have been working all day|
In addition to the three main sessions I was in charge of the game. In lieu of the GPS theme I made the students go out on a scavenger hunt to get from one destination to the next. They went around camp using Bible verses as their clues. For example I use Matthew 14:22-33, where Jesus walks on water, for them to get to the lake which was frozen, and thus they could walk on water. I used John 6:1-14 where Jesus feeds the 5000 to lead them to the Dining Hall. Additionally Psalm 100 which speaks of entering the gates with thanksgiving and praise which led them to the camp entrance gate and sign. There were 15 clues in all with the final clue "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Leading them to the chapel at the foot of the cross. Of course I added some rhyming hints if the bible passages didn’t make complete sense. But it was a good way to require the students to use their bibles to look up passages, and have fun running around camp while doing so.
We also did service projects since we spoke of how to serve with gifts. We made 35 birthday bags for my internship congregation's food pantry, and we also packaged 100lbs of rice for LSSA (Lutheran Social Services of Alaska). The kids had a good time and it was fun too.
|Working together, 35 birthday bags is a lot|
|I love it! A room filled with servants|
Each evening we also had a campfire--who wouldn't with 5 feet of snow and sub-zero temps. Funny story about temperatures. During free time on Saturday it was nice. I am not Alaska native and I agree it was super nice sweatshirt weather...it was 27*F. The boys wanted to go sledding. We told them to get their snow gear on. 10 minutes later they come back in t-shirts exclaiming "It's hot". I agree with that statement it's just funny because only Alaskan's would run around in t-shirts, some even shorts at 27*F.
|The fire had lots of "spit" fits because of the birch wood|
|Jamie was telling an intense story...with intense gestures|
At the closing worship ceremony we (the three DCE's) prayed over each student as the presented a note card which they had written their top 3 spiritual gifts. We then gave them a compass with the theme verse from the week as a commissioning and a reminder that while the compass can help you find North, God will always point you in the right direction as He positions you in His grand plan.
|Compass each student recieved|
|The group-minus a few|