B1G8 is definitely another retreat that I’ll include in my book of retreat memories. We have been praying for this singles retreat for months and I know there is no simple prayer for Him. It was truly a different experience. I was thinking about my first B1G retreat last year (B1G7) and was comparing it to B1G8. There were some things I missed from last year’s retreat, but there were also a lot of things I gained this year’s. For the first time, after all the retreats I have attended, I was not a facilitator but a retreat worker. I had a different role and responsibility – which was quite a challenge for me. But all the challenges I faced was nothing compared to how great our God is and how he can orchestrate everything.
We arrived at Hotel Stotsenberg Thursday (November 22, 2012) afternoon since we were part of the advance part for the south group. When I arrived at the main hall, I couldn’t believe how many seats there were and the number of singles we would be expecting. I was so excited. I began imagining more than 900+ singles worshiping and getting to know God is love therefore He loves them.
On that day, we finalized the registration for Alabang and helped around fixing the materials that needed to be prepared before the retreat started. We know we can rest in Him but we also know that we needed our physical rest. We slept at around 1am since the next day was going to be a big day! It was the official start of the B1G8 retreat.
Day one: November 23, 2012. We woke up at 7am, had our breakfast and started fixing our booth for Alabang. Actually, it was already fixed by the St. Francis registration team (Thank you guys!) and we just posted our tarpaulin to promote our B1G Connect Service every Saturdays, 6pm at the 3rd Floor Multipurpose Hall CCF Alabang. We also did a couple of verifications plus changes in the facilitators kits. The Alabang buses arrived at around 10:30am and I started handing the kits to the facilitators. We had lunch and right after lunch, the first joint session started. But there was a problem, all the rooms assigned to the Alabang team cannot be used until 2pm. Everyone was requested to put their bags in Tipanan hall for the meantime and proceed with joint session. Along with this, the registration of the rooms had to be fixed. I was going back and forth the main hall and the lobby to talk to people and get the keys for all the rooms assigned to us. It was pretty tiring – I think I lost a couple of pounds from walking back and forth. But despite that minor setback, I was actually smiling deep inside. I loved what I was doing. There was such a love deep within my heart, which God has put, to serve the ministry no matter what. It was really confirmed within my heart that this is where God has placed me, this is where He wants me to serve. I was so thankful to Him for giving me this opportunity to serve. This was one of my realizations for that day: I am privileged to take part in this ministry and serve Him because in reality I am not worthy of such responsibility. After the breakouts, we had dinner and then it was time to rest for me. The team (Worship Ministry) God has entrusted me to lead, invited me to bond with them. I’m blessed to have this group of talented individuals. They are truly God’s gift to me. Day one was over in a flash. Whew! That was fast. I knew that the next day was to be another busy and yet fun day.
Day two: November 24, 2012. I couldn’t believe it. I slept at around 1am but I was able to wake up at 5:30am to prepare for the dawn watch. I’m not a morning person by the way and I usually wake up 9am during weekdays. But since I knew this only happens rarely, I relished the opportunity to wake up early and have devotion with God’s people.
I just want to highlight three things from that eventful day:
- Pastor Nate’s message. Although, this was the second time I heard his message, it still penetrated my spirit that I felt compelled to write down the things that I needed to improve on. His message confirmed what God has been teaching me even before the retreat begun – It’s not about me but about him. There was still a lot of areas in my life that needed pruning. There was still a lot to change.
- Worship Night.I love worshiping God. Through all the songs that we sang, I just broke in tears seeing how good He has been in my life. In the middle of the worship night, we were asked to group ourselves together and pray for each other. I felt God asking me to gather my Dgroup and pray with them. I shared to them how thankful we must be for the 4 years God has been gracious to us and has allowed us to maintain our fellowship all through those years.
Our prayers just focused on thanking him and worshiping him. Our Dgroup has grown so close over the years and I just want to give praise to God for allowing me to lead a group of such fine individuals. I have grown because of them and I am just in awe, as well, at how much they have grown in their relationship with God. To God really be the glory!
- Fellowship Night. I didn’t expect it. I already prepared myself not to expect seeing her. But was she really there? My eyesight isn’t that good plus it was dark but when I saw her –I started wondering if I might be looking at right person. I asked one of my Dgroup members to confirm if it was really her since he knew her – CONFIRMED! I wanted to catch a glimpse of her since I haven’t really been able to see her face, but we were all asked to be in the lobby for Tommy’s surprise since it was going to be his birthday in couple of minutes. We surprised Tommy in the lobby and it was such a sight to see B1G South together and united. After the surprise, I took the time to pray. I prayed a small prayer to God asking Him to grant me favour tonight. I was determined to approach her and talk to her. But when I came back she was no longer in the fellowship area. I actually went around the hotel a lot of times to look for her. It’s funny, because I was even looking for excuses to go around the hotel hoping that I might bump into her. I can’t count the many times I went around the hotel and the center garden, hoping to find her. What a great ending to a hopeful love story! I couldn’t understand it, I was merely hoping to see her again (after a year and in a B1G retreat again). But I was also asking was it really her? She wasn’t supposed to attend this retreat, right? Anyway, I leave it all in God’s hands. Again, I can’t understand it but He is in control of everything and has a great plan for me and her. I just pray for the best of what God has in store for her.
We slept at around 3am since my Dgroup and I spent hours bonding in our room. They were playing our favorite game called “Mafia” and they even ordered food to eat. But I decided to rest after a long day of serving and after my tiring endeavor of going around the hotel just to see someone.
Day three: November 24, 2012. I woke up late but was still able to catch the team leaders’ breakfast together. I listened to Pastor Ricky’s message and it was so rich and full of life lessons. And then Francis shared to me one of his biggest take away from it:
Do you know why the net didn’t broke (John 21:11) when the disciples where hauling in their large catch? It was because it was the Lord’s catch and not the disciples.
It was pretty timely as I prepared for the baptism session. It reminded me –It’s not about me but about him. The person that we will be baptizing is His catch and He alone is to be gloried! It was truly a great privilege to take part in the baptism. I saw individuals declaring their commitment and faith to Jesus Christ. I saw others crying way before it was their time to be baptized. It was really an honor to be a part of it. I pray that those who have committed their lives will grow in their relationship with God and be used mightily by Him. After the baptism, I packed my things and went directly to the main hall to return all the keys for Alabang and join the closing ceremonies.
This is my longest entry so far and I think I need to cut it short. After the closing ceremonies, we had the traditional B1G picture, got on the buses and headed home. We arrived in Alabang at around 9pm.
I can’t believe it’s over. After months of pushing for prayer and tireless preparations, the retreat has just ended. But I know what we have experienced shouldn’t end here. God is always ready to bless us with his presence and love. This is why I continue to encourage everyone who attended the retreat to commit to attending Dgroups and joining big and small groups because it is through these that we continue to spur one another and continue to experience our own small B1G event. Our fire and zeal for God should not die down or stop. We should continue to grow and mature in our relationship with God and we need to do that together. We need one another. I do hope to see everyone in the B1G South’s reunion.
To God be the glory always and forever!