Something to tell you all

So this past weekend was church retreat at Cedar Springs. I think going down, Petey and I were less prepared than we actually thought we were, resulting in very little sleep over the course of the weekend. I also feel that, at least on a personal level, I was NOT in the right place going down to camp... which is awesome, because that's usually when God loves to grab me by the collar and slap me around. Which He did. Multiple times throughout the weekend.

Friday = epic fail. Our games were tedious, our music was lame, and our energy was non-existent. The kids obviously fed off of our intense weaksauce, and the general consensus seemed to be, "Yeah, this weekend's gonna suuuuuck." That night, me and Petey left the Ranch House and went up to the Chalet to put in some much needed work on Saturday's stuff. We ended up spending the better part of three hours doing prep and not sleeping, and then went back to the Ranch House and toilet papered the girls' rooms before finally crashing. God was present.

Saturday = epic. After being a worship musician for so long, it still breaks and amazes me whenever I realize that it doesn't really work unless the ones leading the worship are in a genuine place. Saturday, that's where Petey and I found ourselves, and subsequently, music was unlame. God was present. The leadership workshops went well - or as well as they can for a group of restless teens - and the games actually exhibited some semblance of organization and fun. Fancy that, right? Team competition was heating up at this point, culminating in the weekend's piece du jour, the Amazing Race. Aside from a few accidents involving Jello, it went quite smoothly and every teen was drenched in sweat by the end of it, thanks to the plus a billion degree weather and the uphill runs. Throw in a long-brewing conversation that left both rubukers and rubukee emotionally exhausted but spiritually so refreshed, and God was present. Testimonies were the flavour of the night as Petey and I shared some personal stories that, while tying in with Uncle Bernard's leadership workshops, also presented the spiritual aspect of leaderhsip and discovering oneself. The rest of the night gave itself away to magic tricks, pushup poker, hemp, Regina Spektor, and an abundance of Mr. Noodles. God was present.

Sunday = yes. It is SUCH a blessing to see a new generation of youth who are not afraid to live Christ and shine light. Speaking as an older member of this "movement", Sunday worship was most definitely an encouragement. In an attempt to not have the teens feel like it was just us talking the whole weekend, we had Lee-Ann share her testimony with her peers. What followed was a genuine, REAL story of one girl's faith journey, a reminder to us all that "things are rough all over," and that Christ is really... it.

Anyway, after lunch the team competition finished up with the Deceptibots taking home the top prize (Starbucks gift cards ftw!) And then came, at least for me, the most defining moment of the weekend. We asked the youth, in their teams, to nominate who they thought had been the leader of their groups during the weekend. There were three unanimous decisions and one other well-deserved nomination. I had those four leaders go outside, where I had set up four benches and buckets of water with sponges. Then, bringing the youth out, I read from Matthew 20:20-28, followed by that bit in John about Jesus washing feet. I explained that today, the best leaders are confident, ruthless, and selfish; indeed, that's the way it needs to be if you want to get to the top. Then I explained that Jesus calls us to be a different type of leader; a leader who is humble, merciful, compassionate, and willing to become the servant. I asked the four nominated leaders if they would find it upon themselves to kneel down and wash the feet of their peers. What followed was the most unexpectedly genuine thing I have ever seen. Instead of the cries of protest and mocking taunts that I had assumed would come, the youth instead lined up quietly while the four teens knelt down without a word and began to scrub.

It is conviction that comes to visit sometimes in moments of emotion, and as I watched these teens humble themselves in front of their peers, God definitely told me to listen up. What I heard was, "You need to lower yourself for these ones." As in, I needed to step up, kneel down, and the wash the feet of those who I was hired to lead. How much more can one be broken? And so I had the four leaders, once they had finished with their peers, sit down on the bench, and then I knelt and washed their feet. God was present.

Highlights of the weekend included:
  • chicken pasta
  • too many video clips
  • magic tricks that don't make sense
  • "Never Have I Ever"
  • seeing that the youth aren't afraid to get us back
  • Josh barfing Jello
  • volleyball against the oldies
  • affirmation from the teens (apparently, Petey and I aren't that bad of youth leaders)
  • writing a song
  • watching the Aicha video. Over and over and over and over.
  • losing Petey's computer cord (and later finding it)
  • getting owned by the sun and humbled by the volleyball
  • conversation

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