This weekend was the annual Student Leadership Retreat for all of us at TWU. We went to a camp called Qwanoes on Vancouver Island, an absolutely beautiful location on the ocean. We spent our time in sessions with games, worship, prayer, and a speaker, as well as free time full of awesome camp activities like a high ropes course, zip lines, water sports, soccer, etc. with about 250 fellow student leaders and our staff. It was a blast. But if I was to summarize some of the deeper things I drew from this weekend retreat, it might be these:

more in store.

I woke up quite early on Saturday morning so I could go down to the shore to have my quiet time. I got dressed in the dark, threw on my backpack, and headed out of the lodge. Suddenly, my breath was taken away. It was this sky (multiply the beauty by 10 because photos never do nature justice), this sunrise over another nearby island. Clouds always take my breath away, and adding this color in this place... it was stunning. I was hit with the fact that my subtle good-christian pride has subconsciously felt very proud of myself for getting up early to "give my time" to God. Without realizing it, I'd felt like I was doing Him a favor. He could have condemned me in my stupid pride, but He didn't. Instead, He painted the sky for me, and it felt like He was saying in love, I have far more in store for you than you can offer me. I was silenced and awed by the message, and I will continue to live the next days, weeks, and maybe longer with my eyes open to the fact that He is the giver and He is the lover. All I do is receive and be loved.

me and sharon on the ferry. she's a friend I can trust. 
say hard things

Our speaker was Jason Ballard, and he spent one session talking about the characteristics of a good friend. We're all in a season of life where we're forming our own character and forming hopefully lifelong friendships, so his talk was timely and valuable. He told us that good friends:
- don't keep score
- show up in times of need
- say hard things
- push us toward Jesus
- are in it for the long haul
During our small group discussion times and during personal conversations, many of us were really struck by the point, "say hard things." By this, Jason meant that we need friends who are willing to confront us for our sake in order to help us live a more abundant, full, Jesus-like life. And we need to be people who will care so deeply about our friends that we'll be willing to talk with them humbly and sincerely about areas in their life that may need growth.  As an Intercultural Programs team, we committed to being real with one another, being willing to speak to one another about things we see in each others' lives, and being humble enough to accept what they may say, even if their delivery of the message isn't perfect. And outside our team, I started thinking about my other dear friends. From today, I want to intentionally tell them that I trust them and want them to contribute to my life by helping me grow. I hope that this is the beginning of a whole new way God will grow me.


after communion on the beach
Sometimes I get discouraged. Like many people at Trinity, sometimes I feel like there are very few people who really want to seek Jesus like I want to. So much of that feeling is just my arrogance and pride comparing myself to people I don't even know. I hate that I do that, but God and I are still working on it.

But this weekend, I was encouraged. I saw 250 student leaders who wanted to worship and know God. I saw a group of leaders who could have spent 10-20 minutes praying for each other after a session, but instead prayed for hours until we were told it was time for bed. So many of them came and prayed for me; I was overwhelmed by their kindness. And I wrestled in prayer for them, prayer that will continue even now that we're back. This morning we had a completely optional sunrise communion on the beach, and probably 150 student leaders got up earlier than needed to come and together remember Jesus. I am so, so grateful to be part of this community at Trinity Western University, and grateful for a school that invests this way in its student leaders.

So many words, themes, ideas, concepts, prayers, and thoughts began at Qwanoes that I will continue to ponder over in the times to come. Thank you Trinity. Thank you Father, Jesus, Spirit.


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