This year I had the privilege to attend Joni and Friends Family Retreat. I think it was the most unique week of my life. I had quite a lot of stories from other short term missionaries (STMs) in the past, and they always said something along the lines of, “You really have to be there to understand it.” That is definitely an accurate statement.
Since it was my first time attending, I went through various lectures about the most prominent disabilities that the campers would be experiencing. They were informative and it definitely helped me be more prepared for the campers to show up. However, they also made sure each STM knew that we needed to trust in God throughout the week. The theme verse for the camp was Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” This was such an important reminder throughout the week for me. It was only through the power of the Holy Spirit that I was able to serve wholeheartedly.
I worked with another STM named Joey, and we got to spend time with a young man by the name of Kolton. We had a great time hanging out throughout the week. Towards the end, he mentioned how Joey and I were different than many of his other friends who often times got him into trouble. This meant a lot to me and it definitely was a blessing to be able to spend the week with him.
We did a red carpet welcoming when everyone got there and it was priceless to see how excited everyone got. You could tell some of the campers were looking forward to this week for a long time. The talent show was also breathtaking. In the end, it certainly was a life changing week. It is a very worthy cause. Like I said, you’d have to serve there to really know what I mean.