My school retreat in Africa
DISCLAIMER: i am a Christian and all of the God related ideas are my own and i'm not trying to force my opinions on any one.
As I woke up on Thursday the 8th of April, I searched through my closet trying to find comfortable clothing. This was the day we were going to leave for Agu, the Togo YWAM base for our school retreat. The night before I had packed a backpack full of clothing, bedding, sunscreen, mosquito spray, a garbage bag for dirty clothing, a grocery bag for garbage, my asthma medication, and other toiletries. In another bag I put books, my Bible, a journal, snacks, a blanket, a sweatshirt, and any overflow from my backpack. At 8:00 we all gathered in the cafe area with all of our bags. After our parents prayed over us, we all headed out to the dock to pack 3 Land Rovers and a Nissan with all of out food, water, and bags. Once everything and everyone was loaded into the cars, we were off. After 2 1/2 to 3 hours in a car, we finally reached the base. After we unloaded the cars, we headed to our rooms. I was rooming with the other ninth graders.We got our rooms all set up, the mosquito nets hung, put all of our snack items high off the floor, and got changed into something cooler. We all gathered by the mango tree for a brief meeting before lunch.
When lunch was finished the 8th and 9th grade girls did the dishes. It consisted of dumping the leftovers, rinsing, washing, rinsing again, and drying 20+ dishes, in cold water (the base had no hot water heater). Then we all gathered at the main house and were split into teams. My team was Emma, Joey, Chenell, and Bendik. We choose a team colour, and we where given a flag to make a team name. Our team colour was green so we made our team name The Incredible Hulks. The other team names were Team Rice, The Blue Waljis, and Team Destroy. We then played Ships and Sailors. Miss Orman would call something and we would have to do that. After we played Ships and Sailors two teams went with Miss Orman and the other two stayed with Mr. Calvert. My team and the Blue Walgis stayed with Mr. Calvert to play Human Tug of War and my team sadly lost. After that we headed up to Miss Orman, and we played turn over a leaf, with a big piece of brown paper, my team did the first one fast, but we got slower and slower. After that we all went back down to the main house to have some free time before dinner at 6. While a group played the Frisbee version of Monkey (or piggy if your from the UK or anywhere in Europe) in the middle, I watched and laughed my head off. About 10 to 6 I went to take a shower, and boy did that feel good!
By the dinner time we needed our flashlights, to see where we were walking, and to see what we were eating, because the generators were not working. After dinner we gathered again for a devotional time, we sang, and listened to Marty talk and then we left. During this time, I had a wow moment with God. I realized that out of all the galaxies, all of the people past, present, and future, God knows all the names, and everything we ever said and will say, and the most amazing thing, HE NEVER FORGETS!! Since we had until 10:30 before we had to be in our rooms, my friends and I played mango catch. Let's just say that we ended up "killing" two mango's... After that we went in and my room mates and I talked until we had to go to sleep. At about 12:30 in the morning, I woke up, my face burning like crazy At first I thought it was just from being out in the sun all day, but that wasn't it. I wasn't the only one to be up at this time, every one except 6 people also woke up with burning faces. In the morning my friends and I were talking about it, and we discovered that it was the mosquito nets The directions said to wash and let air dry, but we thought that was if they got dirty, but it was wash before use, so, everyone who had burning faces washed their nets and they hung them out to dry.
After breakfast and personal time, we all hiked up to an outdoor church that was randomly in the woods, where we had our morning worship. After we finished we went back and got changed into our swimsuits, to go swimming in a waterfall. The first waterfall we hiked to wasn't safe to swim in, so we sat on some rocks and ate lunch. After lunch we all piled back into the Land Rovers and drove to an area to park, then we hiked for about half an hour, came to a beautiful clearing that was looking out into the waterfall, and as the guys went to the water, I held back and waited for my friends. Once they came we stripped down to our swimsuits and jumped in. The water was a lot more shallow than I thought it would be...
After everyone got dried off we started the hike back to the Land Rovers. Again we all piled into the land rovers and headed back to the base. When we got back we all headed up to the dining hall, and we met some nuns from the Missionaries of Charity the organization Mother Theressa started. When the nuns left we were able to go and take showers. After we took showers we headed up to the dining hall again, and we ate dinner, this time without flashlights. After dinner we had a little free time until we had to go to worship. On this particular night after worship, we had a camp fire because it was our last night at Agu. We roasted marshmallows, and put them on a cookie that had chocolate presses on them. Being American, I think that the best s'mores are marshmallow, gram cracker, and Hershey's chocolate. We stayed out until curfew, then went to bed.
In the morning we woke up to the sound of rain drumming on the roof. After getting dressed we went out to the clearing in front of the main house, and jumped in puddles, and played in the rain. After everyone got up, we met on the porch of the main house and set off to the stairs outside of the camp to make our prayer stations. The other 9th grade girls and I made the tomb, and put 3 crosses on top.As Marty told us to go up one at a time, we stood by each place and prayed about what the station is about. Soon every one was at the church at the top of the stairs, and we sang a few songs.
When we finished with worship we went back down, we all gathered in the dining hall again, and we made a poster in our small groups about what we learned.
All of the posters were amazing. After we finished getting all packed up, we did some final things, like cleaning the bathrooms, the showers, and sweeping out our rooms. After the guys finished packing up the Land Rovers and Nissan again, we all climbed in to start the long ride home. I was in a Land Rover with Marty, Miss Nikki, Allison, Miss Orman, and Mrs. Robinson, along with the 6th grade girls. As we sang some songs, Marty sang opera, and Bethany mouthed some of the words, while I read.
Getting back to the ship was a relief, but I wished that we could have stayed longer at the YWAM base.