By Ryan Hopko and Elaina Wagenman
Hola friends and family! Greetings from Site 1 Guatemala! We finished off our church our weekend and arrived back at Camp Squeah very late Sunday evening. We were warmly welcomed back by the uber hospitable Squeah staff and were happy to be back someplace familiar. We went to sleep quite tired, but excited, and looking forward to the week to come!
We kicked off Monday morning with J Janzen, who helped us debrief and reflect on the churches we had visited over the weekend. As a group, we discussed the differences and similarities between each denomination and their unique services. Together we compared each church to our previous experiences and the diverse places of worship we have attended in the past.
On Tuesday morning we split up into our small groups and spent time together either hiking the Othello tunnels, baking sugar cookies, or just hanging out and having some good chats at Squeah. Our speaker, Nathan Rieger, arrived that evening and we dove into learning about different types of idols, their presence in our lives, and the importance of separating ourselves from these idols.
We continued to learn through Nathan’s riveting stories on Wednesday and Thursday. We challenged our Squeah staff friends to an intense soccer game on Wednesday evening, involving only minor injuries and so much fun. We finished off the week of sessions with an opportunity to share in community some personal stories about idols in our lives. It was an emotional afternoon, but we really grew closer as a group and learned more about each other.
Thursday evening we got dolled up and looking spiffy for a Christmas banquet. The amazing cooks at camp served us a surprisingly fancy Christmas dinner. Our evening was spent drinking eggnog, singing and dancing to carols, playing musical chairs, building gingerbread houses, and making paper snowflakes. To finish it off, we snuggled up like a bunch of bugs and watched Elf together.
Friday began with a continuation of the discussion Nathan began, led by our dear friend and leader Andrew Fawcett. He further explained and introduced a method for overcoming idols. Next we had a Knowing Yourself session led by Dave, who spoke about discerning God’s plan for our lives. We talked about the difference between our career and our calling, and identified some prominent values specific to ourselves. Late that night, an adventurous group of us hiked into the dark wilderness in search of a giant tree. The hike took much longer than we anticipated as the trail was not clearly marked, but eventually everyone made it out of the woods. The big tree we found was most definitely huge – the wingspan of at least 8 people. Incredible!
After a more relaxed morning, we headed into Hope Saturday afternoon to skate at the arena. It was so fun to hang out together. Then, we let loose in the evening by having a night of worship through dance, led by the krump queen – Brette.
We departed early Sunday morning on a long 13 hour drive towards River’s Edge Retreat Center near Cremona, Alberta. We stopped for some delicious pho for dinner and even took a break to explore Lake Louise. After arriving we went straight to sleep to prepare ourselves for a week of debrief and transitioning to go home for the holidays.
Overall this week was an opportunity to self-reflect and to be vulnerable by sharing with the group. This vulnerability helped us to get to know each other on a deeper level and gave us a chance to encourage and support each other. Some of us who shared felt as if a weight had been lifted off our shoulders after addressing our idols; describing it as a freeing experience.