Greetings from West Virginia! Team 2 is happily enjoying the autumn colors of West Virginia after traveling from North Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida.
So far, we have put on 27 retreats, evangelized to just over 1,500 youth, and collectively eaten 257 slices of pizza.
Our team has been so grateful for all the hospitality and generosity we have experienced so far – God really does provide, and we have seen Him work through the host families and parishioners we have met along the way.
Speaking of Team 2, it’s time to introduce its members!
- Starting on the West Coast, we have Cori Matsumiya and Austin Cabral from California.
- Ray Kapsa traveled all the way from Texas, and Jacob Currier came up from the south, too, from his home in Louisiana.
- The Midwest is represented by Wisconsinite Jake Koepke, Minnesotan Lindsey Becker, Bethany Szamocki from Illinois, and Kate Cherry from Ohio.
- Claire Buede proudly hails from West Virginia (and is basking in our glorious time here) and Joe Traver hung out with ‘gators in Florida (probably minus the alligator part, but we don’t know for sure).
- And finally, our fearless team leaders: Josh Billing and Cailee Hamblen, from Illinois and Texas respectively.
Our team has been quickly growing in fellowship, both spiritually and through lots of fun; the four-day drive from Wisconsin to Florida really brought us together right from the get-go.
We have taken on Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati as our team patron, intercessor, and cheerleader. We have been protected, abundantly blessed, and constantly reminded of the astonishing power of God and His ability to work in both the big and small parts of daily life. Though growing together as a team as we are on the road is such an adventure, our mission this year is to spread God’s love to the youth we encounter on the retreats we put on.
We have had retreats having as many as 170 retreatants and ones with as few as 6.
But no matter the size or attitude of the group, we treat every retreat as if it were our first, last, and only.
It has quickly become apparent that our favorite part of each retreat is the designated time of prayer; some might call it the climax of the retreat. In it, we move the retreat into the church or chapel, and the youth have time to talk to God, offer any intentions to Him, and listen to Him. The Lord is present in every part of the retreat, but especially during this time of prayer.
As a Netter, it is amazing to witness. No matter how the retreat has gone so far – if the retreatants did not listen to our talks, did not participate in small groups, and did not laugh at our skits – the Lord takes over. We hand the retreatants over to Him and let him do the work. And without fail, we see changes in the youth every single time. We can visibly see them encountering the Lord. It’s epic. To see the transformation of the retreatants from the beginning of the retreat to the end is awesome, and we receive lots of positive feedback from the youth themselves. Many of them share with us that the retreat taught them more about their faith, and inspired them to draw closer to God. Many say that it was the first time they truly experienced God in prayer.
One youth that really touched us was an exchange student from Luxembourg; he told us that his experience with God on the retreat gave him new hope to be in the United States without his family and friends. Another retreatant said that the retreat brought her home to God:
“I was lost but now am found.”
We are so encouraged and inspired by the openness and transformations of the youth. We see people find God every day, and this is our job for a whole year! Unbelievable.
Team 2 will continue to rock the East Coast.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us and prayed for us!
Peace and God bless!