Now that the 3-day holiday is over, everyone's buzzing back to their typical, daily routines. The weekend has been so refreshing for the most of us living in the UAE, because of Islamic New Year, which of course is a good thing because that meant free days for everyone! People got the much needed time to relax, and to just take a break from their busy Dubai lives. I don't know about you, but I'm grateful that I got the chance to spend those three free days with Jesus.
Before you continue, I just wanna give you all a friendly warning: This is a long post. I don't usually write this much, but since what I'm writing about was a three-day event, a lot of things happened, which I want to share with you guys! You may now continue!
My Wednesday night to Friday morning were all spent with Him, and of course the amazing people I got to learn alongside with. Our church's youth group had a retreat again--one that's already been going on for the past three years. Although I wasn't able to be a part of the first Encounter Retreat, I did make it the second time, and I just knew that I had to go again another time! Since this year is my last year as a student, I made every effort to be able to join, and thankfully, my Dad agreed to let my sister, Angel, and I go.
ENCOUNTER, this year, was held at the Jumeirah Creekside hotel, where most of the day's activities were done. Our nights were spent at host homes, where we sleep and have our morning devos. A guest speaker, Chris, was invited to do the talks, (which I admit were pretty funny) and there was time for worship, small groups and the fun stuff as well. Sadly, I do not have any photos to show you, because I didn't bring my camera and phones were not allowed., but, you can see some highlights of the event here.
The first day was pretty okay, not much happened besides registration, a session, a time of worship, and breaking into small groups - per grade/year. We went home (and by home, I mean the host homes where we would be staying at) after, and I wasn't tired at all - yet. I couldn't sleep that night. I maybe had three to four hours of sleep, but that was it.
The second day was when all the fun (and tiring) stuff happened, because then, we had games, competitions, and dancing. Aside from all the meaningful talks we had, I guess my favorite part was the Scavenger hunt where everyone got divided into different groups. Each group were given a sheet of paper that listed the things we had to do in an hour. The more embarrassing the task, the more points we would get. The more things done, the more points. And obviously, the team with the most points wins. And so, we had to do some hilarious things like take a picture of a man getting a haircut, dab with a waiter/waitress, sing with a chef, ask a bald guy for a selfie, and a whole lot more! Imagine all the times we had to explain to random strangers why we wanted to do all those stuff! And hey, we almost got kicked out from a spa and yep, we also talked to managers a couple of times. But it was all SO worth it. Haha! There were more games (AND FREE TIME! AND LOTS OF DANCING!) after that, but my team didn't win. We ended up as third placers, at least. And I was so tired that I had such a good night's rest that night!
On the third day, all the Youth peeps attended the 9 am service at Creekside branch of our church. My family and I usually go to the branch at Gloria Hotel, so this time, it was only Angel and me at Creekside. That was the last part, before we all had to say our goodbyes and head back home. There were so much more that happened during the three-day retreat, but I don't want you all staring at the screen for an hour!
Before I end, here's one thing I heard that stood out to me, and it was something Chris said at the last session:
Your gift to the world is hope. Not the kind of hope that pretends everything is okay, but the hope that can stare pain and suffering straight in the eye, and refuses to believe that's all there is.
I really wanna be honest with y'all and say that those three days really touched something inside of me. I felt God speaking to me in beautiful ways, and I got to make new friends, and strengthen the friendships I already had. Yes, I disconnected myself from anything that connected me from the rest of the world, but I definitely reconnected myself with Jesus .
PLAYLIST for ENCOUNTER 2017 :