keys and baby JeanneWe enjoyed our final morning at the camp on Friday and you could sense such a bond that has formed over the past few days. We all came together on Monday night and immediately needed to get through a major storm that took our power and water for a number of hours- no one complained.  Tuesday night we had a beautiful, extended worship night which drew us closer together. Throughout the week each of the missionaries were given a chance to share about their ministry and this allowed us all to connect to a deeper level. Wednesday had our regular day-time schedule with worship, teaching, meals together and free time but we finished the evening with Date Night for the couples which allowed for some solid relationships to rekindle. Thursday ‘s special function was a country square dance with a caller from Calgary and bandannas for all!  Dancing together or doing something new like this is a great way to strengthen a bond!

Friday we heard from the Elliot’s who were our last to share about their ministry.  Pastor Dallas led us in worship and Pastor Dan shared his final message from Revelation on the Vision of the New Jerusalem.  We finished with a short brainstorming session and sharing from Pastor Tracy, a time of prayer and we packed up camp and headed out.

peters lunchA large group met in Red Deer’s Peter’s Drive-In for lunch with the plan to enjoy our meal together then disperse until Sunday morning where we will all gather again to be introduced at church during the morning services and our final time together will be our Celebration Banquet in the Chapel Sunday for lunch.

God has been faithful! This has been a success based on the great feedback from the participants who enjoyed their time together, being fed in a number of ways and pampered in others. It is such a gift to be able to provide such a gift to these amazing people. Thank you CrossRoads for making this possible! Let’s do this again in 3 years!

 

 

We’ve just wrapped up another day full of fun, fellowship and adventure. The morning began quieter than normal as all the kids were still out in Sherwood Forest for their camp out. When they came in this morning as we were finishing up breakfast they were full of smiles so we knew it was a success.

During our morning we were blessed with a number of missionaries sharing their stories which is always inspiring. Dan shared another message from Revelation on the Vision of Worship. New this morning was Pastor Tammy who came to lead worship with her hubby Dave. They led us in some great worship and included special songs for the kiddos!

Another new face today was Pastor Jordan Polson who came and shared a great word about how God fills our storehouses for the dry seasons. After sharing, the missionaries all had a chance to pray over Pastors Dan and Jordan which was a special time.

prayer for leaders

For fun this afternoon we brought in a square-dance caller and who knew it could be so much fun for our diverse group!  David, the caller from Calgary, taught us 16 of 69 of the moves. After a solid dance lesson we went for a delicious and well deserved BBQ (we have not been eating meat as we are staying at an Adventist camp) so we really celebrated having burgers). After we were well fueled we went and enjoyed our dance!

 

mommy and son

What an unusual day! Today we started our retreat for North American based missionaries supported by CrossRoads. We do this for them every three years. Last November we did one of these for those missionaries based in Europe.

We have approx 31 here plus another 6 or so coming in tomorrow. Along with them, we have a number of staff and volunteers to help serve.
There were already a number of challenges that got tossed at us before we arrived on site but God has been faithful to give us what we need.
Karen and I arrived around 1pm today in the midst of a serious downpour. We started getting everything set up- welcome packs for each missionary and special activity packs for the kids. Little by little some of the volunteers started showing up and then around 4 the guests started arriving. Now the downpour was joined by crazy winds! Before long the power cut and the fun began. Dinner prep, toilets, drinking water …. all became challenges. No electricity meant no water as it is pumped out of a well.
Luckily our guests are missionaries and though they could have complained they were full of humour and grace.
We slowly got everyone checked in and eventually a light dinner was served. Right away I could tell this group is going to be great. Lots of chatter and solid conversations being had. Lots of mingling which I love to see!
After dinner we stared our evening program- introduction, a few get-to-know-you games, basics of orientation and then 9-square ( a very fun, interactive game we set up in the gym).IMG_3459
At some point during dinner we were told there was water again- no idea how but we are thankful! Then around 8 pm the power came back on. So, so thankful.
Everyone is now in their rooms, sleeping and hopefully allowing their minds to relax as they settle into a week of retreat.
What a gift it is to be able to do this for the missionaries we partner with!

Tomorrow looks to be a great day with worship and teaching, missionary presentations, massages for a few, free time and more.

Thank you for your prayers during this time.

Pastor Tracy

team photoThe sun was out today and what a difference it made! So beautiful, so warm, so inviting!  We just wrapped up another great day out here. What a solid team I get to work with- I am honored to work with them. This morning Pastor Stu took us through a 3-hour Soul Care session. This was a rich time of listening to God through a variety of ways: his Word, through Silence and Solitude, Worship, Prayer, Soul Friendship and Personal Reflection.

We let the words in Matthew 11:25-30 wash over us and minister to us and it was powerful. We were reminded that God says to us, If you are tired or worn out, we are invited to come, get away with Christ and we will recover our life through real rest because his yolk is easy. If we keep company with him we will learn to live freely and lightly.  I wish I didn’t need to be reminded of this but I do and many of us today needed this message.

Pastor Dan shared his next talk on Revelation which was on the Vision of the Throne. It was a fantastic word that helped us gain perspective on who our God, our Abba Father is, and that he is sovereign and on the Throne. While on the throne he does not panic about the things going on in our life or the world.  Therefore we also should not panic. He says, Fear Not!  He invites us personally to come to him, to know him and to name him.

mud facialAt various times when we met we again heard from a couple of the missionaries about their ministry and how God is at work. Great stuff!

During our free time in the afternoon another batch of people got relaxing massages and others got to try a Hungarian Mud Facial. From the looks of it, they were very soothing and relaxing!

Tonight was special as we sent all the couples off with a handful of cash and some good meal recommendations and sent them off for a Date Night!  Dan C and I took out those that weren’t here with a spouse.  All the kids stayed back and had roasted hot dogs over the fire and are now sleeping out at the tree houses in Sherwood Forest.

 

 

Wow, today was a full and wonderful one! It was our first full day together and  yet it is already feeling like we have been here for days. I am loving those moments where I get to watch everyone as they fellowship and feed into each other.

Some highlights from today include worship and devotions in the morning led by Pastor Dallas which was a wonderful way to begin our day and was just a taste of what was to come. Next, we heard from Pastor Dan who shared the first of 4 messages he has prepared for us. What a wonderful morning!

Throughout the morning and early afternoon a number of the missionaries were given a chance to share what God is doing in their ministry and/or life. This is a sweet time for us to be encouraged by their God stories and also a chance for us to pray for each of them individually. I took a session to review a few highlights over the past year and unpack a bit of what is coming in the world of CrossRoads’ missions.

During afternoon free time a few ladies were treated to a relaxing massage from a woman from our church who agreed to come and bless us with her gifts. Some enjoyed walks outside as the rain cleared a bit, others took naps or read all while I was able to meet with a few for pastoral care.

The main highlight was a surprise from Dallas and his Worship Team.  A few came early and totally rearranged our meeting room so it was cozy and inviting. Then by 8pm we had 15 members of the worship team here to lead us in an amazing time of worship!  It was such a sweet time. God was so present. We praised His name in a number of ways, through song, prayer, tears and petitions. It was a total gift and one that will have incredible impact on our group.  IMG_3486

We are so thankful for this space, this time and those that are pouring into the missionaries so they can be reminded they are not alone, they are valued, loved and supported and they have the freedom to receive this space to rest.IMG_3495

 

 

What an unusual day! Today we started our retreat for North American based missionaries supported by CrossRoads. We do this for them every three years. Last November we did one of these for those missionaries based in Europe.

We have approx 31 here plus another 6 or so coming in tomorrow. Along with them, we have a number of staff and volunteers to help serve.
There were already a number of challenges that got tossed at us before we arrived on site but God has been faithful to give us what we need.
Karen and I arrived around 1pm today in the midst of a serious downpour. We started getting everything set up- welcome packs for each missionary and special activity packs for the kids. Little by little some of the volunteers started showing up and then around 4 the guests started arriving. Now the downpour was joined by crazy winds! Before long the power cut and the fun began. Dinner prep, toilets, drinking water …. all became challenges. No electricity meant no water as it is pumped out of a well.
Luckily our guests are missionaries and though they could have complained they were full of humour and grace.
We slowly got everyone checked in and eventually a light dinner was served. Right away I could tell this group is going to be great. Lots of chatter and solid conversations being had. Lots of mingling which I love to see!
After dinner we stared our evening program- introduction, a few get-to-know-you games, basics of orientation and then 9-square ( a very fun, interactive game we set up in the gym).
At some point during dinner we were told there was water again- no idea how but we are thankful! Then around 8 pm the power came back on. So, so thankful.
Everyone is now in their rooms, sleeping and hopefully allowing their minds to relax as they settle into a week of retreat.
What a gift it is to be able to do this for the missionaries we partner with!

Tomorrow looks to be a great day with worship and teaching, missionary presentations, massages for a few, free time and more.

Thank you for your prayers during this time.

Pastor Tracy

Thursday, August 18
We started our last full day of camp with an uplifting set of worship that lead the way for Pastor Erin Larose from Home Church Red Deer to share her amazing story of redemption. Erin told the students about how God “never looked away” from her, even when she couldn’t look at herself in the mirror. She declared the truth of how God took the most painful experience in her life and has used it for her greatest purpose. She told students, “Your pain can be a prison or it can propel you to greater things. Let God take it and transform you.” Erin left the students with a challenge to not just take or have a moment with God, but to then go through a process with God and walk out their faith through everything He’s brought them through.
Moment from Thursday Chapel time.png

We had another great afternoon of breakout activities and free time. The event of the night was a Lip Sync Battle where all cabins had chosen a song and competed in front of judges to perform their song. One cabin won the ultimate trophy and then to end the night we all headed to campfire.

Kenton Woyke shared the journey God has taken him on and student were encouraged that a mighty young man of God had been through struggles and also continued to walk out his faith even through the trials.

Student and leaders shared with me:
“Kenton’s honesty with his struggles was so cool to see. It must have taken a lot of courage to share what he did.”
“I really liked how he talked about his faith being a process, not one big God moment.”
“I was surprised by how he had to work to overcome struggles. It wasn’t a quick overnight change.”
“I liked that his story wasn’t that extreme but it was extremely relatable. (You can follow God in the everyday things.)
“The main thing that stood out was ‘Don’t let fear hold you back.'”

Wednesday, August 17

The weather wasn’t perfect but the students were excited to head to Gleniffer Lake for Teen Camp Beach Day!
Prairie College sponsored buses and drivers for us. We packed up the buses and left mid morning to spend the day hanging out on the beach, playing games in the water and boating, tubing and wake boarding!

Prairie sponsored buses for us.jpg
Chapel was amazing and challenging again as Pastor Chris Girvan from Innisfail Alliance church talked with us about God’s goodness and His great love for us. Chris reminded us that Jesus came and died so we could become a new creation and that the work of the Holy Spirit is to weed the garden of our hearts so that the fruit of the Spirit might grow there. Students left chapel for cabin time where they discussed what the spirit had been working on in their lives, and to pray for one another that the work of the Holy Spirit would be evident.
One leader shared, “I’ve had a really hard year and God revealed to me last night that it was all part of His good plan for my life. I was able to share with some of my students and they felt encouraged that god had brought me through and they saw a real life example of his God is faithful to bring good of tough situations.” Another student shared “I want to have a deeper relationship with God and I want to pray for each other but I have trouble understanding English. In youth group and Sunday youth, if I miss a few parts of the teaching, I miss the whole thing. It is very hard for me. Can I pray for you in my language?” His cabin encouraged him with a resounding YES and they were blessed by a beautiful prayer, even though they didn’t understand what was being said. While we were away at the beach, the Rivers Edge Staff turned the dining hall into a roller rink and students rolled til the wee hours of the night enjoying 50’s music, food and fun!

Students gained more momentum in friendships built today! Following time spent worshiping through music in the morning, Pastor Jason Frizzell from CrossRoads Church shared the story of Esther. He reminded students that she was a young lady caught in the middle of turmoil and trial and was likely asking God “why me? Why is this happening to me? Why am I even here?” And that she did not know her “why” until after she became Queen of Persia and was able to persuade King Xerxes NOT to kill her people. She saved thousands of life, but it wasn’t until she made it through her struggles and trusted God, that she saw the great plan He had for her.

Pastor Jason Frizzell teaching us about the life of Esther.jpg
Students took time in their cabins, to chat about the trials they might be experiencing or the struggles they’re currently asking God “why?” About and then took time to pray for one another.

One student said, “Our cabin leader asked us to partner with someone we didn’t know and ask how to pray for them. I made a connection with my partner and shared a bit of my story with her too. It was really neat.”

Another student mentioned, “The kid in our cabin who didn’t open up before, shared a struggle going on at home and we were able to encourage him and pray for him. We reminded him that God has a purpose for his life.”

The afternoon was spent in breakout activities and slip n slide kickball was a huge hit! Even when activity time was over, most of the students stayed to slip and slide and have a water fight. Perfect end to a fun, sunny afternoon!

Slip n slide kickball.jpg
At night, students and leaders gathered around the fire pit once more for camp songs, worships songs and to hear the testimony from Ryan Oborne. Ryan shared about how the Holy Spirit has transformed his heart and mind, given him a purpose for life and inspired him to play guitar and join the youth worship band. Following this time of sharing, students were invited to stay around the campfire and worship or pray or just sit and be with Jesus.

Words students used to describe this time – “Impactful”, “Special”, “A new kind of feeling”, “God spoke to me personally.”

 

Monday Aug. 15
God has been working in amazing ways! During our first full day at camp, students connected, played together, laughed together and prayed together. We have seen bonds form that usually only show as camp winds down for the week.

Worship was amazing! And God was present in our chapel time.

Pastor Tim Sesink, from Calvary Community Church in Mill Woods, shared the story of Joseph and his triumphs through trials (found in Genesis 37, 39). Tim challenged us about our attitude trough trials – do we blame God for the bad things happening or can we ask God to prepare us through them and reveal His sovereign plan? In the end, God worked all of Joseph’s trails for good and Tim reminded students that God IS working all their trials for good. After chapel was finished, students gathered in small groups and shared about trials and tough situations they are currently experiencing and decided to pray together.

Following lunch, students were given options for big activities to take part in – paintball, horseback riding, high ropes, and archery (to name just a few).Paintball 2.jpg

Paintball 1.jpg

Our Monday night ended with one of our student leaders – Nicole Stang – sharing her God story and how God has been working on her heart in the area of forgiveness. She challenged students to not keep hold of a grudge or ill feelings, that Jesus has already forgiven so much in us, and that there is no offense against us that we should not forgive.
The Holy Spirit used this time of sharing to inspire students to seek God about relationships in their lives that needed mending.

Students are walking in expectation of God doing something great as this week continues!

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