Monday, June 11, 2012

The Conference Continues!! (Harvest Church Mission Trip)

WOW! Say it backwards, "WOW!" Saturday was a FANTASTIC day!! After a short night of sleep we started Day 2 of the conference at 7am. We split up and spread out all over the church property in order to do our individual devotions. We all read passages from Matthew, Ephesians, and 1 Timothy as we spent some time seeking God in prayer and Bible study. There's no better way to start the day! Afterward we all had breakfast together in the cafeteria. As we spent quality time together while eating each meal it seems like God began forging new relationships and it always took place in the cafeteria. The exciting thing about that is that Harvest Church bought the supplies and built the floor of the cafeteria last summer. So in a very real way we are enjoying the fruit of our labor from last summer's mission trip. God is using the cafeteria to expand His Kingdom and there is something very satisfying about knowing that God allowed us to be a part of the efforts. The Costa Ricans and Americans have also bonded over a game played with drinking cups at the table as well as other spontaneous games that popped up throughout the cafeteria. It's so cool how God uses meal times to build closer bonds.

After breakfast we walked back over to the church. Jenny, their volunteer youth coordinator, delivered a powerful challenge to the attendees just before opening the next session with prayer. We had 2 Harvest Church students (Jennifer Valdez & Baily Bishop) share their testimony. They both did a super job. Pastor Ben then took the podium and preached a great message from John 15 about the importance of staying connected in the "Vine". In John 15 Jesus teaches about our calling to bear eternal fruit as well as our dependency upon Him in order to even be able to bear fruit. Jesus says we are completely dependent upon Him just as a branch is dependent upon the vine. Ben used a living green plant with one dead branch coming out of it to illustrate his message. Excellent job Ben!! And thanks for putting together an impactful conference with our Christian brothers & sisters in Costa Rica.

The next session of the conference was an absolute blast!! The staff & volunteers from our host church planned out, organized, and executed a God-awesome day of team building games. They split the group up into 4 or 5 fairly large teams and took us on an adventurous journey all over the church property. Throughout the day each team participated in 8 different team building challenges that were interactive, physical, wet, muddy, and extremely fun!! As a director of a recreation ministry, I have to tell you that the church did a fantastic job of facilitating each team building game. Their staff set an incredible tone while providing a very effective and quality event. After the games we enjoyed dinner together in the cafeteria.

For our night session we had to go off the church property to the local high school. We had nearly 200 people attend the Saturday night and Sunday morning sessions which was a little too much for the church facility to accommodate. The praise & worship was out of this world! Let's just say it moved a lot of feet to dancing and celebrating the goodness of God. Madi Strickland did a wonderful job of sharing her testimony. Pastor Roger was our keynote speaker. He preached a strong message on the importance of honor. Honoring God, honoring people in authority over us, and honoring the people who are under our authority is what God calls us to. Roger explained how honor is similar to a chain. Every link hangs on the first link of honoring God. If any link is broken it will affect every other link. God has called us to a life of honoring others and it all starts with honoring Him first. We finished the night with a lot of praying as well as some more praising, worshiping and dancing. In fact, the entire weekend was laced with breakout sessions of intercessory prayer.

Saturday night the Harvest youth group came back to the cafeteria to debrief about the event and share highlights of the day. There was a lot of good feedback and several memorable highlights. Sunday will be the last day of the conference.