Sunday, May 31, 2015

We survived the BUSH retreat!

Since the retreat, the girls have not stopped asking me, "when are we going again?" Needless to say, we think it was a sucess. If not for the girls' feedback, the way that the Holy Spirit moved while we were away on our retreat certainly confirmed God's presence in our weekend away when we took our oldest girls on a retreat to the BUSH called Seceleca 2015...

Friday morning I grabbed two of the oldest girls and a lovely Mozambican woman to come with me to the market to purchase all the food for the weekend. The girls eye's widened as I instructed them to load the cart with as much junk food as possible. After all, what is a youth retreat without sugar and treats! Once again, I was put to culinary shame by my girls as they began to instruct me on how to cook for large groups and use a giant mortar and pestal to thrash peanuts.

On Friday night, Evan and I loaded up a bus of our thirteen oldest girls along with two of our other friends from the U.S., Stephen and Danielle. The girls were excited and yet timid, unsure of what lay ahead. Some of the boys from our centre teased and taunted us before leaving claiming we wouldn't survive and that they would have to accompany us to take care of all the snakes. (We think they were just jealous it wasn't a boys retreat!) We may live in one of the poorest countries in the world, but our girls have become quite accustomed to the running water and electricity that our centre has to offer. In other words, it was something like trying to bring a bunch of city-slickers out to the BUSH. On the way there, however nothing got my heart racing as much as when our bus was almost hit by a passing train. Fortunately, without any suburban Mozambican luxuries (an ironic slew of words!) and thanks to making it across the tracks on time, our girls managed to survive. Over the weekend, I even got to draw water from a well for my bucket shower.
The focus of our weekend was to experience, empower and equip: to experience more of the Holy Spirit, and to be empowered as young woman and equipped to face some of the many awful challenges this world will throw at them. A few dozen teens from Gumbane joined us on Saturday for some of our conference sessions focused on what it means to stand firm in your faith. So often, our youth here view faith as something serious and lacking joy, fun and excitement. Our heart behind the weekend was to provide a container for them to experience the Holy Spirit in a new way while having fun and enjoying their youth. In a country stricken by poverty, so many of our eleven to nineteen year olds miss out on their "youth" as their parents pass away or abandon them and they are left to care for their families, forsake their education, miss out on much of the joy of simply being a "youth", and fall victim to the continuing cycle of poverty. These ladies below certainly aren't going to miss out of their youth!
Sure, the retreat may only have lasted a weekend, but we believe that the seeds that were sown may last a lifetime. And so we returned, all in one piece, smiling and laughing, slightly exhausted, and definetely in need of a proper shower!

Infinite thanks for your prayers and support during our weekend away!

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