I know it’s been a while since I wrote something for my blog. These past months, I‘ve been busy preparing and planning for a retreat. The True Life retreat just ended and I am once again filled with mixed emotions. I remember writing an article last year about my B1G8 experience so this time allow me to just walk you through what has happened in this year’s True Life Retreat.
I was part of the advance party which arrived at the Rizal Re-creation Center last Thursday (November 28, 2013) and immediately, there was a big problem that we needed to address. The main hall which was supposed to be unoccupied was filled with around 120 people who were having a retreat as well. One of our main objectives for the advance party was to setup the stage design. So we just decided to do the stage setup somewhere else and transport it the following day. But that was not actually the major concern. The main concern is the actual program that we planned for the morning of Day 1. Part of our program during the first day was to have an opening program in the main hall. But those who were occupying the hall were scheduled to vacate it after lunch. This left me thinking of other options that we could do. I started talking to a lot of people about contingency plans. This also made me ask God for help through prayer and at the same time, wisdom for what to do. I really did not want to change the program and adjust. To be honest, I’m the type of guy who wants everything to be planned and executed perfectly. But I knew God had a plan and I just needed to trust him. Even before the retreat, He has constantly been reminding me that He will be faithful and that I just needed to trust him.
We adjusted the program and decided to replace the opening program with an early lunch. When Day 1 came, I was excited but at the same time nervous. I was so looking forward to seeing all the participants that I was even confident enough in what we had planned to do. I also set out a challenge for myself. I know people have always been telling me that I needed to improve my social skills so I decided to welcome people at the retreat. Before everyone had a chance to leave their bags at the designated area, I was there welcoming them and with a big smile. I really wanted to make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed. I can’t remember how many times I said “Good morning” but each time I would greet someone and smile at them – they would politely smile back. I thought to myself – “Hey, this is not bad. I should do this more often.” I was even relieved to know that the participants were being accommodated because people were approaching them with boards hanging over their necks which had questions they needed to answer. Overall, I saw that despite the change in schedule, God was still working it for the good. As he has been telling me all day long – He is always faithful. This was also the first time that the first part of the program was not an opening ceremony, but a getting to know activity for the breakout groups. I was scared honestly, since this might be awkward for some participants and the break group leader had to ensure that they’ll be able to build rapport with their group on the first meet. I trusted God and thought to myself that the opening program is not the major factor that will help ensure the catch, but it’s the relationships that will be created and nurtured in the breakout groups. I know God is working and I should trust him.
If you’re thinking that the problem ended there, it was actually just the beginning. Because while the breakout groups were getting to know one another, lots of things still needed to be done. Those occupying the main hall finished late and the mobile rental equipment had around 3 hours to setup the speakers, wiring, amplifiers, drums, etc. To top it all off, while the mobile equipment was being prepped, the production team needed to setup the stage and transport all the designs they have built to the main hall. The opening program was delayed and we started at 3pm. I also needed to compose myself because I was scheduled to play the bass during the opening program and preach the first message after the opening program. To simply explain my condition during that time – I was just very tired. But when I started to preach, I just really felt very relaxed and energized. As I looked into everyone’s eyes from the pulpit, I felt this overwhelming joy because it made me realize that these are the people that we will be serving the next 3 days and I want nothing more than for them to get to know the Lord and grow in their love for Him. I really thank God that despite the issues and problems we had, when I started to preach I was focused and was able to deliver the message well. Truly, I am always left thanking God after each message I deliver. This was really another work of the Lord and glory should only be towards him.
I was really relieved after preaching, everything was almost in order and I was done with most of the things I really needed to do. We had dinner and I sat with my Dgroup. I asked how everyone was since I haven’t been able to really connect with them because of my busy schedule. As I tried to listen to them, I can feel that most of them were going through something which left me very burdened and not at peace. I wanted to minister to them. I wanted to be there for them. But I couldn’t handle everything that’s why I asked one of the Dgroup members to be an intern and handle the group for the meantime during breakouts. I was left asking God, what I should do. I was thinking, do I need to join them during breakout? But again, looking back at what was God was telling me, I know He will be faithful and I needed to focus on what my responsibilities are. So I entrusted my group towards God. But in the end, He still never fails to guide me. During the breakout, I was doing nothing and no concern was coming along my way so I took the guitar and started playing outside the main hall and somehow, God lead me to just listen to the discussion of my Dgroup and then eventually join them. So I did and we had a good discussion about life in general.
Day 1 was really exhausting for me. I ended the day briefing all the volunteers what would happen on Day 2 and at the same time praying for them. The tone of my voice was monotonous and without energy but deep within my heart, I felt peace and joy to be part of the work of the Lord. Despite being tired, I was still actually able to roam around and do security checks. I really do not know how much energy I spent during that day. But I know deep within my heart that it was fuelled by my love for the Lord and the love I have for the people he has entrusted me to lead. This is just my Day 1 experience which really showed me that God is in control and He will always be faithful no matter what happens. I still want to write about Day 2 but I feel I need to cut this entry since it might be too long. I hope while reading this, you were encouraged and you realize that no matter what setbacks we may have in life, God still holds us in his hand. Again, He is faithful.
The first day of the True Life Singles Retreat has just ended and here is what happened the following day in the retreat.