Last week, after months of planning, the entire Love & Hope Children’s Home family embarked on a two-day retreat to the mountains. This was our second annual retreat!
Preparations for the retreat started months ago as Tio Julio took charge and separated responsibilities among the staff. We planned the theme, devotions, music, food, games, t-shirts, teams, location, etc. Tio Julio decided once again to have the retreat in the beautiful mountains of the department of Chalatenango, El Salvador.
A few days before the retreat, Julio called a meeting to announce teams, talk about rules and pass out t-shirts. The following day, each team got together to pick a team name and make headbands, bracelets and flags. Each team also had to be ready to leave, with their bags packed the afternoon before the retreat. Everything counted for points!
On the morning of the retreat, everyone was ready by 7:00 am to make the 3 hour drive to Chalatenango. After praying, we loaded into the cars, pumped up the music, and headed north. Once at the campsite, the kids worked together to put up their tents while waiting for lunch. It was quite the campsite!
Later, it was game time! The games all counted for points for each team. The favorite game seemed to be “Human Anatomy.” Each team separated into partners. A caller would yell two body parts, “Nose to nose!” Each pair of players had to put their noses together as fast as possible. We started out easy, then mixed things up with calls like, “Tongue to big toe!” Needless to say, we laughed a lot and the most extreme pair won!
After games, it was time for dinner, then the first devotion. The theme for the retreat was based on Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Julio and Rachel planned devotions for the teenagers, and Gloria and René planned devotions for the younger kids. Both devotional times (a second was held the next day) were wonderful. The kids were responsive and interactive!
In the evening, our friends Bobby and Britney Hibbs, Alex Perez and Chris Huovinen arrived to lead a chapel time. Bobby preached about how to shine before others: telling the truth instead of lying, using edifying words rather than ugly language, giving over stealing, and living with joy rather than anger. Alex and Chris led the kids in some great worship time!
The first day ended with a bonfire, s’mores and a sky full of stars!
After breakfast and devotions on the second day, it was time for some more extreme activities. We could choose between three challenges: the pendulum, high ropes course, and zip-line. The kids (and adults) were so brave and supportive of each other.
Before heading home, we cleaned up, prayed and announced the winners of the retreat. The blue team won first place and a pizza dinner, but every team was awarded with some kind of prize! Everyone agreed that the retreat was a success. The cars were pretty quiet on the way home, as everyone was exhausted.
We treasure opportunities like this to spend time with our family. The retreat was a great way to reconnect with God and each other, play and explore together. Events like the retreat are only possible because of the generosity of our donors and sponsors. Thank you for helping us to provide experiences like this for our children!