This NET year is in its last week, and this realization is being brought to our team. There are many things we reflect back upon as we near this end, and a big thing is how we have changed individually and as a team.
We have put on 120 retreats and we have reached out to over 6,800 youth, and we still have more to come.
We have witnessed many young people come into the retreat very doubtful, and unaware of the presence of God, and these same youth leave the retreat knowing something that brings a smile to their faces, a joy they may have never experienced before. Countless young people have shared after their retreat how they became closer to God on retreat, and how they really appreciated the retreat even if going into it they didn’t want to be there. Not all retreats are typical though; they all bring about different people and different stories. A prime example of this is a particular retreat that had 64 confirmation candidates plus their sponsors and anyone else who came along.
The audience was not just the typical 6-12th graders, but it ranged from babies to grandparents. As a team we really did not know what to expect from the adults and the youth, but what we saw was that these adults really took part in the retreat and really set an example. These young people look up to these adults and it was encouraging for the whole team to see adults really taking a stand in learning more about their faith even at an older age. One of the adults had been taking notes the entire time of the retreat (it was only a two hour retreat) and he came up at the end to share his experience and spoke up to the community that was there, that they needed to be more of a community not just when their kids get confirmed.
The people on retreat are not the only people changing or experiencing God in a new way. We as a team are much different than when we started out. We are much more loving to one another and those whom we encounter. We have learned that choosing joy is much easier said than done, but is completely worth it. When we die to our own emotions and choose to love those around us regardless of what we are feeling that day, we have a much better day. This requires so much humility, though. There is never enough humility we can have if we want to become a saint (go to heaven).
We must be humble and choose joy! When we recognize our own weaknesses and acknowledge the fact we need God’s strength, it is these moments that God literally works through us. When we think we can handle it on our own, we almost always mess up or at least leave out what God could have done if only we invited Him in. God chooses the weakest for a reason, and we are all weak!