Saturday, April 12, 2008

Retreat: Tough Beginnings make for Rewarding Endings

It's been an exciting week at Metro Kidz, I took two of our kids on the Light Company (Grace's Middle School Ministry) Spring Retreat, it was quite an experience one that started out rather vicious but ended in such a way that I would not have changed anything about the weekend. We met at Grace and followed the buses to North Bay, I took two girls who were doing well in school, who I thought would experience life change that weekend and who I needed to get closer with. These girls both have hard core inner city life attitudes and I really think God broke them if not much at least a little bit last weekend!

The three of us were in a cabin with a group of 8th grade girls from Grace and it was such a learning experience for both sets of girls, but a true eye opener for me. It was such a scary experience for everyone involved, the girls I brought have a hard time tearing down walls and it wasn't easy for them to do that in 48 hours and the girls who roomed with us, a lot of them have never been exposed to people that aren't like them. The first 24 hours were vicious my girls refused to lose the attitude and the other girls refused to have open minds. The three of us ate dinner, breakfast and lunch alone the first day, it was sad to me. As the weekend went on it was still tough, but got better...the shaving cream battle which I think aside from the speaker was probably the highlight of the weekend for the girls.

Saturday night was the "serious" night, where the guest speaker got down to business and gave the serious talk of the weekend. I thought the theme for the weekend was perfect for the girls, it was "transforming your life." There were a lot of tears that night, but not from my girls, however they did make it clear that just because they weren't crying that didn't mean God wasn't tearing them up.

Both girls told me that they need to make changes in their lives, one of them expressed that she needed to change her attitude and proceeded to tell the other girls in our cabin that she was sorry because they had met the K that was mean and had a bad attitude and she knew she needed to be nicer. My prayer is that she REALLY means that and we'll see amazing changes in her life.

S told me that she was scared about the things going on in her life and she wanted to learn how to run towards God instead of away from Him. She told me that her heart was ready to change. I was so proud of them for finally opening their hearts and mind to what God was going to teach them that weekend.

That evening was tough because there was a screaming match between some of the girls and I had to sit them down and tell them how disappointed I was in all of them. My girls for having an attitude towards people who were willing to share their weekend with them, and the other girls for not being open minded. It was such a sad thing for me to experience watching both sides struggle to accept people different than them. But K/S we're willing to share what their life is like in the city, about how people get shot on a regular basis, about how they are harassed to join gangs, about how drugs run freely and they have to have an attitude to survive, the other girls were quick to respond and even prayed with and for my girls.

It was in that moment that a bond was formed, one that I don't think can be broken, they laughed together, cried together, played together and finally accepted that even though each group of girls were "different" they were really all the same.

The next morning they all worked together to clean our cabin, they laughed the whole way through, we went to breakfast and girls actually sat at the table with us and actually acted happy to be sitting with us, they went to program and the girls didn't sit entirely alone, and there were hugs and when will we see you agains, when we left to come home.

This weekend was such a learning experience for our entire cabin including myself, each group of girls learned how to be more accepting, they learned that not everyone in the world is exactly like they are and that even though we're different we can still unite. I learned that I can't have such high expectations of people and that my girls are not going to break down walls in the first 20 minutes of being somewhere. God also broke my heart even more for the kids I work with and made me realize what a treat is was for my girls to come out of their environment even for just two days.

I truly believe that God worked miracles throughout the weekend. I prayed all weekend for patience because at one point I was ready to pack my girls up and bring them home, God reminded me why we were there and some encouraging text messages reminded me how I was working with and convinced me I shouldn't give up and go home. Now, I am SO glad I didn't.

So there are some highlights from the weekend:

-Driving to North Bay talking with my girls about life, love and friendships
-Arriving there to find our cabin was the closest one to the bay and seeing the girls get so excited!
-S telling me this trip was the best birthday gift she'd ever received.
-Watching the girls get excited about the opening program, participating in the silly games and worship
-Listening to them laugh and giggle about the silly things
-Hearing them talk about the big "battle"
-Watching them get excited about going on the zip line and then hearing them talk about it afterwards
-The shaving cream battle (before, during and after)
-Bonding in the bathroom after the battle
-Saturday night program
-Driving home and listening to them talk about their experience

Now, some things you can pray about:
-That they'll continue to let God transform their lives
-That they'll look back and remember this weekend for a long time
-That our relationship will continue to strengthen

thanks friends!

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