To begin Advent, 19 youth and 6 adults bundled up in the arctic 70+ degree December weather and travelled to Slumber Falls in New Braunfels.
During the weekend, we spent a lot of time playing and laughing, but we also spent a lot of time thinking and praying and imagining. From Friday night until Sunday morning, we thought about maturity - about taking responsibility for our own well-being. We thought about ways to remain connected to those around us while holding true to our values, understanding that we can't change other people, but we can change our actions.
As an Advent retreat, our Bible focus was on the life of Jesus. We looked at stories such as his discussion with the Syrophoenecian woman, his first experience as a leader at Nazareth (hint: things did not go well), the woman at the well, the woman who washed his feet with her tears, his experience at the last supper (as recorded by the gospel of John), and Mary's song upon learning that she was pregnent with Jesus. We spent a lot of time together, worshipping and wondering.
In conjunction with Advent and the theme of maturity, we did a sand mandala as an art project. A sand mandala is a repeating cirulcar pattern that is made with colored sand. It is a tradition of Tibetan Buddhism which went very well with the idea of process and waiting. Once a mandala is finished, it is destroyed. The beauty is in the process, not in some preserved artifact.
We also play.
We play a lot.
This time, we had several games. One of the highlights was a late-night game of capture-the-flag, with the adults patrolling the grounds as incredibly annoying - and sometimes completely oblivious - guards.
We also played a large-scale version of Angry Birds, with a giant slingshot used to launch a large red (angry) playground ball at unsuspecting pigs hiding in a cardboard fort. Add this to real-life hungry hungry hippos, Curses, hide and seek, and other games, and you have the recipe for a great weekend!
Thank you to all our adult leaders who volunteered as well as our church which so generously makes this event available to our youth at no charge.
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