Sunday, April 10, 2005

Amazing Campus Retreat

This is the example of a spontaneous decision that payed off...
This wednesday, a sister sends us an email about this upcoming retreat, and I decide that I'm going.

With lots of driving in the picture, 3 fired up disciples from Montreal got there and had a great time!

So, on Thursday, I've made the planning required, and we left on Friday afternoon.
We were headed to Waterville Valley, in New Hampshire. We stayed at the Black Bear Hotel, and the events were at the Conference Center. The event was brought together under the theme of Unity, for the Boston Campus Ministry. There were guests from Sprinfield (MA) and us Montrealers.
We got at the retreat, and we had a cool worship time. People were amazed at how clearly the stars were. I was with a brother,and we prayed in thanksgiving for the amazing nature that God gave us. This brother speaks French, and he asked me to pray in French, and he prayed in English. We were looking at the stars, next to a small river in the village, with the woods right on the other side... a wonderful setting!
Afterwards, I went to a restaurant with 4 sisters. The owner called his chef passed 23:00. The chef was drunk and he decided he could cook us anything, on the menu or not. I had a great dish of veggies served on a salad. And the guy was entertaining! He even brought us in the kitchen and demonstrated how to make a desert. And the owner decided to charge us next to nothing for our meals!
On saturday, I woke up late (i.e. 8) and went jogging with three sisters, because the brothers were hesitating about basketball. I also had a good time of prayer and Bible reading. I finished 2 poems and wrote another one. I'll put them in the blog after I read them at church in a month.
That was a good run and I really need that kind of exercise. After going to the grocery store, I invited a brother to eat and we had a chat about our respective conversions. I was amazed at how many brothers and sisters were baptized at 14! Even if I were one of the oldest around, I was one of the least mature of the group!
In the afternoon, we had a teaching about the challenges in unity of the early church, through the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts and James' epistle.
Afterwards, the group split in 3 different classes, and I picked the class on brother/sister relationships. I did not hear much new, but this confirmed my convictions on relationships with sisters. I feel that a brother, no matter how much he wants to get married, must focus on building a frienship, to serve and to encourage, and so on. One brother in Montreal told me this wisdom in a very useful quote: "a good husband is before all a good friend". There was also a challenging question: Would you like your sister to date someone like you?
Also noteworthy is a commentary about the gift of celibacy (1 Corinthians 7), with the brother saying that it is not as much as a "gift" like healing, but more as a blesssing from God, since celibacy helps us invest more time and energy in serving Him. I like that interpretation/commentary, and it would be interesting to research what the Greek text was saying in this regard.
There were also warnings about emotional over-proximity. In short, there are some things that should not cross the border of the sexes, no matter how good is the frienship.
The sisters were strongly warned about flirtatiousness and clothing, being reminded that they had a responsibility in the brothers' purity. All in all, I think that the content was well-targeted and worthwile. It is simply hard for me to put in practice. I need more prayer to have a very brotherly heart.
In the evening, sisters cooked us "sloppy joes" and spaghetti, and we had a good time with good food. Afterwards, we all went to the dance.
At first, I went there and I was thinking of how to dance with sisters, how to get to the center and show off, and so on.
And I realized that I had a wrong focus, and not having fun. I went out to pray, and resolved to pray for God, like David did when he called back the arch of the alliance to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). It did loosen me up. I spontaneously could get to the center and "show off my moves" (really just some martial arts with nice movements in between) which everyone appreciated. In general, I was feeling great, knowing that Adonai was there with me.
For those who don't know Hebrew, this is one of the names for God in the Old testament. It encapsulates multiple meanings: God, king, master, husband, which describes how I see Jesus.
They put on a slower song and said that it was time to demonstrate what we learnt in the earlier lesson. I felt like inviting a close-by sister to dance, but kept my resolve. I had my eyes half-closed, dancing, and a sister came and asked me to dance. The message I got was clear: focus on God, and the rest will be taken care of.
In short, an amazing evening! I had a great time.
Afterwards, I went back to the restaurant to take a drink (I promised I would come back), and spent a little time with a brother looking at an episode of Evangelion, an anime series.
On Sunday, after a bad night (which accumulated the lack of sleep), I got up and had a good prayer time, and then joined brothers to read a part of psalm 119. Reading it, I found myself guilty of having a bad attitude towards the Word of God. I would treat 10'000 pieces of silver with a lot of care, and a LOT more than I've treated the Bible in my heart.
The preaching was from David McAnulty (I LOVE this brother!), who showed us the Scriptures clearly demonstrating that unity is a gift from God, and that it tends to be ousted by our sinful nature. I need to go through my notes and adjust my requests for personal growth.
I took a while to say goodbye and exchange emails with brothers and sisters. I think the Montreal crew managed to convince a few to come over... I can't wait to receive those brothers!
I also see how the event helped to deepen my relationship with the two other disciples I was with. The talks in private and in the car really broke some serious ice.
God has been really good to me this weekend. I felt I just needed a break from work, and I've got a lot more than I bargained for!

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