Written by Karyn Ward

Photo by Karyn Ward

Along with some of the Thrive Estonia retreat volunteers, I arrived a day before our volunteer training was set to begin on October 19. Our early arrival helped us with our jet lag and gave us time to acclimate to Estonia.

I used my extra day today to explore the ruins of the Pirita Monastery with another volunteer. Falling autumn leaves beautifully covered the grounds of an old graveyard like a beautiful carpet and caught my attention. I pondered how fall foliage can be so strikingly pretty yet the beauty comes from the death of the leaves.

Standing in front of all the cross tombstones of the old monastery led me to think about how there is beauty in the death of a believer, as we know from Psalm 116:15, “Precious in  the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints,” and also from Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father when he received Stephen into heaven, Acts 7:56.

Each of the Thrive retreat volunteers is entering into this retreat thinking about life, not death. We want to breathe love and life into our attendees yet there is also some death going on because in order to effectively serve, we must in some ways die to ourselves. We are not here to see a new country, although we will; or make new friends, though that will certainly happen; but we’re here to serve the Lord and the global workers He is bringing to this retreat.

As volunteers, we prayerfully seek to put aside our personal wants, desires, and pride as we trust the Lord to shape us both individually and as a group into a beautiful carpet of golden leaves that reflect Him as we pour out lavish love on the attendees, knowing that what we offer is really just a smidgen of the love He has for all of us.

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