Here I sit with a full belly, and an eve fuller spirit.  Yes, I expended a decent amount of emotional, spiritual, mental and physical energy this week.  As we’ve sometimes talked about in orientation, we want to finish a week of Family Retreat knowing that we’ve left it all on the field!  I can say with certainty that the 130 volunteers (Short Term Missionaries) did just that.
One of the things I LOVE about Family Retreat, is that while it is not really a contest of any sorts, the prevailing attitude is – no, please let me do that!  People are anxious to serve; and people of all ages (I think our volunteers ranged from 9-80!).  As one of our friends and volunteers is often heard to say, “Don’t cheat me out of a blessing!”  There were certainly many, many acts people did this week that may never be known by another or celebrated here on earth, but God knows and is preparing a crown of blessing for eternity!
The young men who pulled a wagon of a preteen young man with autism and listened to the same melodic beep bops coming from his toys day in and day out.  I missed hearing how many miles they walked this week but it was close to 50 I am certain!  Then there was the celebration of joy to learn that this young man could match melodies on the piano and do some rhythmic beats!
There was an adult man who walked hand in hand with another preteen young man all around camp and in and out of various activities.  It wasn’t like he was leading him by the hand – it was companionable friendship.  These two enjoyed being together.
The two moms, who haven’t had a baby in the family for many, many years yet upon meeting their family which included twin 1 year olds, showed so much love and care for those babies that their Momma, for the first time in a year was able to relinquish care, and allowed herself to be cared for this week!
The single Dad, whose wife checked out (usually it’s the other way) who came with 5 children.  One who has a disability about age 11; and the others 4 sweeties ages 2-8 or so.  What precious, precious bundles of life.  Those STMs poured their lives into both the kids and dad this week.  The family goes home knowing they are not alone!
I got to stand in and fill some new roles on a temporary basis this week.  I spent some hours covering the book table, some time helping prepare for the talent show and hours listening to the stories of some of the Mom’s who came, and even some of the STMs.  It is really a very precious gift when someone entrusts you with their story.  There was one point at which I thought I might be dusting off my old youth ministry degree and teaching Jr High, but thankfully someone else was able to fill that sudden change of need.

I could go on and on, but it’s time to rest – that’s what this weekend between weeks is for.  But for now- THANK YOU STMs and Program staff for a job well done.  THANK YOU FAMILIIES for entrusting your precious ones to people you just met.  And THANK YOU GOD for the privilege of serving you and for uniting us together to know that WITH GOD nothing is impossible!