As I mentioned before, I went to Charlotte for a leadership retreat. We left campus around 3:20 Friday and arrived in Charlotte around 6. The rain and traffic slowed us down a bit. Cookout was the chosen place for dinner, but when we arrived we discovered that it was a drive-thru. Wanting to sit down and eat together, we chose to go to Wendy's down the road. Well, my car decided to stay and order Cook-Out then take it to Wendy's. I am so glad we did. The line was almost out the door. It was in a sketchy part of Charlotte and we might or might not have seen some questionable things going down.
After dinner we arrived at Uptown Church. The girls stayed in the 4 year old Sunday School rooms, while the boys stayed downstairs in the nursery. We had our first session on community. It was really good and John had some good points about building a community with who you are around. After singing, someone suggested a game of Underground Church. I had never played before, but was eager to find out what it was. Guys, this game had so many emotions. I wanted to laugh and cry. It was so fun, yet so scary. Let me explain. The premise of the game is there is a pastor who is creating a underground church in China, so he goes and hides anywhere (there were four levels of Uptown Church-including a sanctuary with a balcony). Then there are 2 or 3 (depending on how many are playing) assassins who are trying to find the pastor and putting anyone else (called the Christians) in jail. If they find the pastor, the assassins win. But if the Christians (either all, or we said 7) found the pastor first, the church wins. Friday, we played 4 or 5 rounds and went to bed around 2 am.
At one point, I was hiding under a pew and saw one of the assassins (who happens to be very tall and large) chasing a girl up in the balcony. I could see the shadows in front of the stain glass windows and it looked like a scene in a horror movie or murder mystery show. Then it hit me, there are people actually doing this. People who are meeting in secret, risking their lives. If they are found, they aren't going to the ballroom-the are going to jail or usually murdered. It was a humbling experience and made me realize that this is some people's actual life.
Saturday I woke up at 8:30 to help with breakfast. As I was standing in the kitchen, I saw Anna Harper walk by. I whispered her name (loudly) because the boys were sleeping, but ended up going to seeing what she was doing there. She had come with our neighbors to babysit, while they were training for a new ministry. Some of the boys woke up confused why little kids were there, but I assured them that they were just as surprised to see college boys sleeping in their play area. Several people came up to me at breakfast, telling me they had seen a girl who looked exactly like me. I laughed and told them to wait until later that night because I had another sister who looked even more like me.
After breakfast, we had a time of singing then splitting up into small groups of boys and girls in order to talk more about community and how we can apply it in our life. We read through Philippians and discussed the benefits of community. We were suppose to meet for 40 minutes and ended up talking for an hour and twenty minutes. For lunch, we had soup and grilled cheese for lunch (perfect for a rainy, cold day). Then I took some girls to take showers at my house (there was only one at the church). When we returned, we had quiet time to study Philippians 3 (CORE is memorizing the whole chapter). Since I have an awesome boyfriend, I already knew the first 6 verses, but I was able to memorize through verse 11-a little more than half way through. Afterwards, we played several rounds of Celebrity (each person writes a name down and everyone has to guess who is who). Around 5:30, we packed up the cars and headed to my house for dinner.
I am so grateful for my parents and how willing they are to open their home to strangers. Every college student loves home cooked meals and the feeling of being in a home. There was game playing, eating, laughing and story telling. I'm glad that my parents got to know some of the people I spend a lot of time with.
Coming back home, I was expecting a ring. For our one year anniversary, Bryce had gotten me a promise ring, showing me his commitment to our relationship. It was my birthstone (an Opal), it's so pretty. But, it was just a little big for my tiny, little finger, so we went before Christmas to get it sized and sent off. I knew it was going to be coming in around this time, so I was expecting to get it. When I went to take my shower, I saw the receipt and an empty ring box. I was sad, but asked my mom anyways-she said that it hadn't come in and probably would next week. I was disappointed because I really thought it would be there. I was playing apples to apples at my house later and saw my sisters and mom looking at me strangely, so I went upstairs to see what they were up to. As I walked upstairs, my phone rang. It was Bryce. I thought it was a little strange because he was at a debate meet and he knew I was at my house. I answered though because I knew it was probably something important. I answered and he told me to go upstairs, into my parents room and look under the chair...and guess what was there? My ring. I was so surprised and happy that it came in and that Bryce was able to "give" it to me. Obviously, my mom had lied to me earlier because of what was planned later.
|this picture doesn't do it justice, but I wanted yall to see it!|
Sorry for that little side note-back to the retreat. After leaving my house, we went back to the church and just hung out. There was a concert at church that night so we were waiting for everyone to leave so we could play underground church again. We occupied ourselves with games of ninja, trivia and sleeping bag wars. Finally, around midnight, we started. We played until 1:30 since we had to get up early for church.
Sunday we woke up at 7:15 to clean up and pack the cars before church. We went to the 9:00 service then had our own small group. We left the church around 11:30 in order to get back so others could do homework and such. Personally, I think we should have stayed longer, but I know it's only because I'm from Charlotte.
We got back to AU around 2:30, after a short stop to Taco Bell for lunch. I'm so glad that I got to know my CORE people better as well as the people on leadership. I can see everyone's passion for Christ and their want to know him better. Last night, I ate with several people from the retreat and it was so good to see that they didn't just talk to me because they had to. I have plans to eat dinner with two of the girls later this week. I hope that this isn't just a "high" from the retreat and that it will carry over to the rest of the semester.
And now it's back to reality. I have so much school work, I feel overloaded and just want to quit. I know that I can't and that I need to finish this semester strong. I'm already counting down the days until Spring Break and Summer. Pray for me, I need a lot of it right now in my life.