Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Well, I just got back from a very strange couple of days. Our youth retreat was nothing like I expected it to be, and I’m still trying to figure out whether that’s good or bad. On the one hand, it was really boring (more boring than the other years), but on the other hands, the worship and the time with God was amazingly awesome. So let me run down what happened the past couple days.

We got to the church on Friday at about 2:30 and packed up the school bus we were taking to the little town of Forest. On the way up, Jordan and I just mostly listened to music. For the majority of the time, we had Underoath and The Used playing in separate discmans and each had one earphone from each. We were trying to find songs that lined up well and sounded good together. It was pretty wierd because both singers/screamers had really similar voices and sounded awesome together. It was mostly the drums that didn’t line up.

So anyways, we got to the place, and it was really different from Arden, the place where we’ve gone other years. There were two cabins for the guys each with five bunk beds. Then the girl’s cabins were way far away across this big field. In the middle was the building where we ate food, hung out, and beside that was a barn that had been turned into a “sports complex” – a glorified gym that had walls covered with plywood and a dusty fridge and stove in the corner. We used that for our services.

The first night, we ate tacos for supper. After that, we had a service, and after that, we had nachos and cheese. It was a real Mexican theme. After supper, Pastor Dave got out the PlayStation 2 and loaded up DanceDance Revolution – the most annoying game in the history of anything and everything. There were two pads on the floor that had arrows pointing up, down, left, and right. A person would stand in the middle and then have to dance to the music, hitting the arrows at the right time as they appeared on the screen. That wasn’t the annoying part. The problem was that there were only about 20 songs to choose from. I assume that more could be unlocked or something, but that never happened. So after most people had a turn at it, everyone also knew all the songs off by heart. Dance songs are so annoying, since the beat just gets stuck in your head.

After a few hours of that, the guys headed off to one of the cabins to play poker. We had a jar of pennies to bet with, and we stole a round table from the eating area and rolled it in. There were about 8 people playing to begin with, each with 30 pennies. Kyle won after about three or four hours. It took so long, but it was really fun. After that, we didn’t feel like sleeping – well, most of us didn’t. A couple did, but found it hard to with the lights on and the loud talking and laughing the rest of us were doing. Since there were two guys’ cabins, they could have gone to the other one (which also had no lights, since they got hit with a football accidentally), but for some reason they didn’t. So anyways, we went out to the big hill and sledded down for a while, but the sled got kind of cracked so we had to go back. It was also pitch black, but whatever. We went back to the cabin and basically talked for about 4 or 5 hours, stopping for a couple minutes to run to the girls’ cabins and bang on their doors to wake them up. In the morning we all headed over to the eating area and played PlayStation and ate muffins until the girls finally got there.

That was Friday night and Saturday morning. The next day was pretty plain, with lots and lots of free time to do absolutely nothing. Some of the people put together a big snow football game, but Jordan, Lawrence, and I didn’t feel like doing that. So we stayed in the cabin and basically talked for three hours. It was a really boring day. But the Saturday night service was amazing. God just spoke to me like nothing else, and from the looks of things, He spoke pretty powerfully to everyone else as well. We were all just worshipping Him, and it was amazing. I’m not even sure why it was so awesome, but it just was. It was nothing that “happened;” it wasn’t some big event that made it good. It was just good.

Jordan and I went to bed pretty early on Saturday night, partly because we were tired, and partly because there was nothing else to do anyways. The next morning we were woken up to Pastor Dave banging on the door and saying, “Eight minutes to service.” So we had to all get up and get there right away. It was a pretty cool service as well, but I was still tired. After that, we ate lunch and then I had a shower because I definitely needed one. After that, it was basically just more hanging around and doing nothing until we had to pack up and get on the bus to go back home.

That’s the entire retreat in a nutshell. I’d have to say that the only awesome thing about the retreat were the services – which is probaby a good thing too. Out of everything else, the first night was definitely the best, the one where we just played poker and hung out the entire night. Although most people were looking forward to the retreat as being better than Arden, I have to say that I’d definitely have preferred Arden to Forest. The only upside to Forest was that it wasn’t as far away, so that meant that my butt didn’t hurt as much on the way there and back. Dave Slater was an awesome speaker though, and Rick Carroll’s band was pretty good too, although a bit on the loud side, mainly because they had no monitors with which to hear themselves.

I don’t know what else to say about the retreat. God’s really doing something in my life right now, and it was timed perfectly as well. He started helping me grow, and then just as I started to slip, this retreat rolled around and He pulled me back up again. Now it’s my job to keep pushing toward Him and growing in Him. And while I’m definitely looking forward to trying, I know it’s a lifelong thing and it’s going to be hard. It’s a daunting prospect, but the reward is definitely worth it.

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