Written by Jane Mehringer
Today was a special day for all of us! It is fascinating to watch our attendees begin to build friendships. It was a surprise to me the age differences within these ladies. They are all ages–some are really young and some are close to retiring, but they are bound together through their commitment to serve our Lord!
Yesterday everyone was put into groups and had time to get to know each other. As they began sharing what their lives were like, I wondered why or even if, retreating was important to them and why. “That’s easy,” one replied. “I have been looking forward to this for three weeks!! I so needed a break from the routine day in and day out!” Many shared the desire for community. Some are pretty isolated geographically and some feel isolated in their team. Before our first group gathering was complete, we began to see them connecting with each other. Their worship together is Holy. There’s no other word for it, as I listen to them sing, I feel I am on holy ground.
This afternoon they began enjoying the different activities we had prepared for them. In the pedicure room, you can find both volunteers and guest laughing, telling stories, and releasing some tension as well! We at home take this simple thing for granted, but for these ladies, it is a luxury! “Where I am,” one of our young ladies said, “nobody hugs. It feels so good just to be touched!”
This sentiment carried over to the massage room as well. The volunteers would ask if they could pray for the attendee while they enjoyed their the massage. It was amazing to nearly see the fatigue, worry, loneliness, and burdens lifted. A few left with tears streaming down their face, yet smiling at the same time.
Will this change their perspective as they return to their place of service? Indeed! No doubt at all! There were so many obstacles that both sets of women had to go through to get there. God brought exactly the right people, equipped with gifts and talents that are being used. He orchestrated this time. It’s making a difference.
What I do know is that the volunteers at the Thrive retreat have sacrificed their time and so much more to be available to God so that we may meet as many needs as we can. We are richly rewarded with the attendees’ smiles. As for me, I’m being blessed in the most unimaginable ways. GOD IS GOOD and His grace has been poured over not only me, but I can confidently say, to everyone here.
One of the greatest things that happen at a weekend like this is the connections that grow between the attendees and the volunteers! You can see them seeking each other out at meals, hugging goodnight, and more… It’s easy to tell that a bond has been built that will not easily be broken.