On the evening of Friday, February 16, the New Life youth set off on the 2018 winter retreat. We knew we would have a productive weekend in the way of building community, having fun with one another, and learning more about God. What we didn’t realize was that God would greatly challenge our hearts in one way or another. The guest speaker, Moses, delivered sermons to prompt these challenges of our faith, which led us to fruitful discussions within our small groups.
After the tragedy in Florida only a few days before we left, there were feelings of pain and questioning that pain heavy on our hearts. I should think that this heaviness was not necessarily relieved by the highly emotional conversation we had about it Saturday night, but it would be reasonable for me to believe that we all left with a greater understanding of great pain and why we feel it.
One of the greatest revelations I had that weekend was when Moses said that we feel pain because it gives us a hint of what Jesus felt when he died for us. God allows us to feel pain because he loves us, and uses it as a sort of reminder of what Jesus did for us and to turn to him when we are hurting. I know for certain that personally it’s going to take me a while to accept pain and be OK with it, but at least for now, I understand it, which makes it easier to deal with.
As well as being confronted with these messages, we got to spend a lot of time building relationships and strengthening old ones. Whenever I reflect on any trip with the youth group, that is one of the things I notice that always happens, and it’s important to build relationships within the church. If we want to be able to do God’s work, we have to have a team with us to do it, which is why these trips are so important.
We had the privilege to be joined by Oreland on this retreat, and while I personally didn’t branch out socially as much as I wish I had, there is certainly a bond between our youth groups and we hope to plan more events with them in the future as a means to create more community.
As it goes for strengthening pre-existing relationships within New Life, we had productive conversations with both our small groups and the large group of just our church. We were also able to share many laughs and games late at night, and early in the morning, as well as all other hours of the day. The bond that our youth group is that like no other I have experienced. We all want the best for each other and enjoy each other’s company a lot, and this is reinforced every time we get together. Without the relationships I’ve made within this youth group, I would be a very different person today, and I wouldn’t have experienced many of the things that I have.