This year our youth group had the privilege of joining Lake Country Baptist on their yearly winter retreat to Plain, WA. Retreats are often great and important experiences for students, but the size of our youth group makes such events hard to organize on our own. I'm thankful for the connections in our church to the people at Lake Country Baptist and for introducing me to their Youth Director Tyler. Tyler invited us and another local youth group to join them on their retreat, and it was a huge blessing to us. Joining them freed me up from all the logistics that come with planning such an event. They have their retreats tuned in and running with purpose, and we were beneficiaries of the years of experience and hard work they have put into planning these events.
Our trip began with four students, Candace, and I loading up in the vehicle graciously loaned to us by the Phams. We were set to head to Lake Stevens to meet at Lake Country Baptist and before we even got there, the Thule roof rack popped open on Highway 2, littering a few of our items on the highway behind us. After a quick stop, we retrieved all our scattered items except Candace’s pillow (RIP). The rest of the drive was uneventful and we arrived at Stone Water Ranch near Leavenworth ready for our long weekend away from our regular lives. Most of our group went into the weekend a little anxious being around so many strangers for so long, but all of us grew closer together and made new friends during our time.
A couple highlights of the weekend:
Excellent Bible Teaching - The teacher for the weekend was a member of Lake Country Baptist. Aaron spent the whole year preparing this series of five messages specifically for this weekend. The teaching walked us through the Old Testament, showing the history of Israel and God's plan of salvation. He showed us how Jesus was the fulfillment of the covenants God made to Abraham, Moses, David, the prophecies of Daniel, and all the Old Testament. The teaching was advanced, all of us learned a lot, and many of the students felt challenged to keep up with the high level of teaching. I was greatly encouraged by this. Though the Gospel is simple enough for a child to understand, God's word is deep and worthy of much study. It was a joy for me to see one student light up when putting together that Jesus was Abraham's great great great...grandson, and He himself was the blessing to the whole world promised to Abraham. Also that Jesus was the lamb who was slain for us, and that is why we no longer sacrifice animals in the temple as God commanded Moses to do. This student stated their desire to go from this trip and read the Bible more. My assumption and hope is that this desire to read the Bible after the retreat came from how the Bible was shown to be so complex, interesting, and beautiful that this student simply saw how beneficial it is to read God's word.
Fellowship - It was great to experience God grow the relationships in our group in just a few days. It was not all fun and games, there were tough moments relationally on this trip for sure. But, I think this trip was one that will be looked on as one of the best things we've done as a group since we started youth group here at The Vine. The last 15 minutes of our car ride together showed me a glimpse of how the trip knit us together. We were all exhausted from the weekend, and even more so from the car ride full of pit stops for car sickness, and yet we were all hysterically laughing while recalling all the craziness of the day and the trip as a whole. It was such a sweet and fun way to end our trip together. On top of that the fellowship experienced between brothers and sisters in Christ from other churches was a great experience for us. Watching everyone from our group, myself included, build relationships throughout our time was a great tangible way of experiencing the body of Christ outside of our local church.
Service - Our group was served so well this trip. Three members of Lake Country Baptist cooked EVERY SINGLE meal for 60+ people, three meals a day. No one from our church so much as lifted a finger in providing or cleaning up any meal the entire trip. The level of service we experienced in this way was unreal. Another notable way in which our group was served so well was by the worship team. The worship team did an amazing job leading us in song before and after each lesson. The last night of the trip a worship night was scheduled and the worship leader had noticed our students hadn't been familiar with the songs they were singing, and asked me for song recommendations so our group would be able to join in on songs that we knew and loved. It was so thoughtful and kind of them to make sure to include songs that would more naturally speak to our students.
Fun - It was just plain a good time. We got very little sleep, but had lots of fun. Our days were packed with learning, hanging out, tubing down a massive hill, playing board games, and numerous other activities.
I am very thankful for our trip and the time we got to spend together and the time we got to spend meeting and hanging out with the folks from Lake Country Baptist and Restoration Road. My prayer is that the knowledge learned and relationships built will continue to point the students to Jesus into the new year and beyond.
Zane Sporleder, Youth Director