you know how much i like travel diaries. they’re a fun way for me to record my adventures. this particular one is about spending a weekend in the mountains on a youth retreat. :)
also, i’m aware that the pictures suck. i was cold and in a hurry, and this is all i have.
« day one »
my mum took me to the meeting point, the church’s office. i chilled there for a bit before the leaders made us load up our bags and get settled in the buses. they managed to fit all the girls in this giant white vehicle and we played name games and telephone on the ninety minute ride.
i love the drive up to the lodge. the serpentine roads are bordered with pine trees, the sheer drop-offs make you dizzy, and once you’re out of the forest, there is so much sky. last year, the sunset stained the whole world; this time, it was just cloudy, but still gorgeous.
the girls stayed in the “doughnut room” — a circular space with a closet in the middle, with bunk beds lining the walls. once we’d all unpacked, we sat in the dining hall and decided what animal everyone would be. i was told that i would be a doe, graceful and light. i don’t think i have great self-awareness, so it was really interesting to see how others perceive me.
we played spoons after that. i happen to be an expert at that game, and i was the first to get a spoon about 4/5 times. i’ve even played full contact spoons, which is excellent and violent.
the lodge director preaches after every meal. the room he talks in has this domed window on the ceiling, and i think i spend more time staring up at the sky than listening.
anyway, on friday night, the director spoke about spiritual highs and lows. when you’re at the lodge, surrounded by other christians, it’s easy to feel on fire for the Lord. but when you’re home and back in your routine, the only way to stay close to God is by reading the bible everyday.
they leave that room open every night for prayer. i stayed there for awhile to write in my journal, and the youth leader who invited me on the retreat prayed with me. we talked about the school shooting and my family and maybe some other things, but i was tired and i love her voice, so whatever she said just kind of floated through my head like soft music.
« day two »
i got up super early on saturday morning. it was still dark. but the world was beginning to wake up, so i did, too.
i won a game that day. it wasn’t very fun, but hey, i got prizes: a giant hershey’s cookies ‘n’ cream bar, a freaking enormous tube of sweetarts (like, as long as my leg), and a basketball net that you wear on your head. i gave the net to this annoying kid who sang the sound of silence // disturbed nonstop last year.
after the morning service, they made us have time alone with God. i read my bible by the creek. i’ve been going through psalms, but i lost my bookmark, so i decided to read 1 corinthians instead.
then we were all forced outside into the damp, freezing wilderness to play ultimate dodgeball. it can be fun, but the game just goes on and on forever.
a group of us went inside early and played wild uno in the dining hall by the fire. wild uno is just like normal uno, but if you have a card that’s identical to the one in the center, you can play when it’s not your turn. it’s really fun and intense.
i made a friend while playing cards, i guess: one of the youth leaders, a guy named johnny. he’s twenty-something and doesn’t know how to shuffle. we teased each other during the game, and it was probably the most fun i had all weekend.
it started snowing while we played, giant fluffy flakes. snow in the mountains is so quiet and peaceful. i wish i could live in the feeling of watching the snowflakes dance down from the sky.
there was a competition that day to see which team could build the best structure out of marshmallows and toothpicks (slightly better than last year, which used chewed bubblegum instead of marshmallows). i knew my team was going to lose as soon as one of the members started talking about donald trump.
so i was forced to shape innocent marshmallows into a wall, a giant stick figure of the president, and the words “make america great again.” i hated every second of it, and we got dead last, as i had predicted.
i think i might have wandered around outside with my camera after that, but i can’t be sure. time kind of blends together up there. the lodge director talked to me for a bit, and he remembered my name, which is pretty dang impressive. see, i’d only met him once before, and that was an entire year ago.
sometime in the evening, we played silent football, aka my least favorite game in the world. there are so many ridiculous rules, and breaking any of them will get you disqualified. these rules included no laughing, smiling, covering your mouth/face, pointing, saying someone’s name, etc. i made it pretty far before i was kicked out (for gesturing), but i was actually super relieved when i was. it felt like i’d been sitting there for hours and i was glad to be moving again.
there’s one place in the lodge that should really have stairs, but has ramps instead. unless you’re wearing shoes and taking huge steps, it’s kind of impossible to climb. anyway, these ramps are perfect for sliding down on in your socks. so some of us took advantage of this and did tricks while sliding down, like spinning, doing splits, dabbing, and going down on your stomach like a penguin. it was fun, but also kind of painful.
one of the staffers got a chance to preach that night. he talked about zechariah 9:1-13, and how God is basically our dad, and he won’t let people pick on his kids.
some of the girls chilled in the dorm after that. we talked about suffocation, abusive siblings, who has the best calves, clinical waterboarding — you know, normal girl things.
they organized a game of murder in the dark later. i used to play it all the time with my brother’s friends, but it was much different playing with so many people. i got killed in probably the third round, which is honestly better than i expected?? anyway, i was killed at the bottom of the stairs, so i had to lay there while people stepped over me. one guy tripped on my legs and we both got hurt, so that was fun.
there are these nooks above the stairs that are only accessible by climbing up on the railing. i suggested that johnny hide in one and grab people’s heads as they walked under him. there were more screams that round. >:)
« day three »
on saturday night, someone started recruiting people for a sunrise hike the next morning. for some reason, my dumb self thought that sounded great! so i was woken up at 5:30 on sunday and shoved out into the disgustingly cold world with damp hair.
i’ll talk about the sunrise hike more in a different post. just know that in the end, i was really glad i did it. :)
they scheduled another “time alone with God” session after breakfast. i was so exhausted that i fell asleep in the hallway with my bible in my lap. hopefully it looked like i was deep in prayer, but who knows. i would have slept all the way through the midday service if a girl (she’s an aesthetic q u e e n) hadn’t woken me up.
instead of preaching, the lodge director asked what we had learned that weekend. people said things like, “i should read my bible more,” “i shouldn’t be ashamed to stand up for Jesus,” “God wants to know me; all that’s standing in the way is me.”
i didn’t say it, but i think i learned a lot about family. youth leaders, even ones who know nothing more than my name, have been some of the most helpful and caring people in my life. they’ve calmed me down after anxiety attacks, made sure i ate, driven to my house at midnight when i was super freaked out and needed someone to talk to. and maybe i’ve felt more at home with kind christians with soft voices than i’ve ever felt with my own kin.
everyone got packed back into the buses afterward. i got a seat all the way in the back, and it felt like i was on a roller coaster, but that’s cool with me.
one of the youth leaders sat with me, and she flat out asked for my life story. i can’t keep eye contact when i’m talking about myself, so i was basically having a conversation with the window instead of her.
the whole thing left me absolutely exhausted. i’ve been home for over a week and it still feels like i haven’t gotten my energy back. i’ve just been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping.
last year, i went on the retreat with my friend n. he wasn’t there this time, and it was kind of boring without him. i didn’t have anyone to talk to. i’m still glad i went, though; i think i learned more about being a christian, and it was definitely better than being at home all weekend.
i am not my own, for i have been made new. please don’t let me go, i desperately need you. (meteor shower // owl city)