This year I made a bold decision to be part of S.E.E.D. Retreat. Being part of S.E.E.D. meant I had to be committed to the retreat’s goal to encourage the growth of faith and spiritually in the hearts of young people, and to do that I knew I had to put in a lot of time, effort, and love in to everything I do for S.E.E.D. and the retreatants. The whole idea of taking up a leadership role was new for me. It hadn’t occurred to me that getting involved with the S.E.E.D. Retreat planning meant I, too, would become a retreat leader. I had no prior S.E.E.D. Retreat experience to guide me as a road map. However, I joined the S.E.E.D. team because of three reasons. I enjoy working and interacting with the youth and young adults. I wanted to be a helping hand to the team and to have a chance to serve others. Most importantly, I wished to help my younger siblings in Christ to encounter God’s love and encourage them to become living signs of God’s unconditional love. Despite my inexperience with S.E.E.D. retreat, God taught me to have faith in myself and the S.E.E.D. team he has gathered to carry out his message to the retreatants.
SEED Team Leaders
The S.E.E.D. team is a group of people with different set of personalities and skills, but God has called us together to serve and work towards a common purpose in faith. When I joined the team, I had many self-doubts about how I can possibly be a useful member of the team. However, through the weeks and months I have worked together with the S.E.E.D. team, God has made me realize something important. He allowed me to see that we each possessed a different and unique set of skills that come together to make a team. It reminded me of a passage in the Bible, where Saint Paul wrote about the different spiritual gifts and the body with many parts (1 Corinthians 12:4-26). It is a Bible passage; I know and have read many times in the past, but it never struck me so profoundly nor could I realistically relate to it before now. It is a great passage, but I will use a small portion of the passage to show where I am going with all this. Saint Paul had written in that passage:
Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? (1 Corinthians 12: 14-19)
In other words, we each possess a unique gift, but they are all gifts given to us by God. We, as a team, are working together as one body with many parts. If we all had the same ideas and thoughts, where would we find unique and fresh ideas to make the retreat possible? True. We wouldn’t get really far in the brainstorming process, if we all possessed one mind that gave the same idea. God gave us these diverse gifts and graces for us as he intended to work in one team. We are a body made of different parts that is important to one another.
One of the difficulties that we, retreat leaders, constantly faced during our planning process was living miles and miles apart in different states. For months, all the retreat leaders would come together through weekly teleconferences at night, to exchange ideas about topics and activities relating to the retreat theme of “I Will Follow” Jesus. A few of us had such poor cell phone receptions in our homes, some of us would resolve to sit awfully close to the windows or sit in our cars to receive a better phone reception during the teleconferences. Ideally, if we were able to meet face to face weekly, it would allow the retreat leaders to develop a stronger relationship with each other and fulfill our need to have a physical interaction with each other, instead of just hearing each others voices alone. But, somehow, God made things possible for us to drive and meet up on the Thursday before the S.E.E.D. retreat began. With our combined efforts and our main focus on Jesus and the retreatants, we spent the entire Thursday persistently smoothing out the rough edges of our plans, by going through the minute details on all the talks, activities and games to ensure our communication on the retreat theme, and to make the weekend retreat as enjoyable as possible. We were also able to use that short time to bond and feel the unity in our team. I was able to meet and get to know three of the retreat leaders in the group; I never met personally, but know only by voice.
In all our months of endless planning, we had not considered the possibility of Hurricane Irene coming to threaten us with the heavy raining. We had a lot of fun outdoor activities planned, but at the last minute we had to make some hard choices. The bonfire originally meant for Saturday night had to move to the first night. We could not have as many activities as planned like the Scavenger Hunt because of the rain. Hurricane Irene made us reshuffle and take out a lot of our nicely planned activities. Even so, I still enjoyed meeting and seeing the Jellyfishes, Orangutans, Whooping Cranes, Giraffes and Elephant groups. They are the reasons why we willingly and freely chose to stay up late night to reorganize our plans for the rest of the S.E.E.D. retreat. We wished so much to make their experiences at S.E.E.D. retreat fun and for them to grow deeper in faith. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed our five groups’ spontaneous shouting match. Shouting, “We love Jesus. Yes! We do! We love Jesus, how about you?!” I enjoyed hearing the retreatants sing along to the songs and still enjoy the songs after we had returned home. I am happy with the friendships you had all formed during our time together. My only regret is the retreat leaders didn’t have enough time to talk and get to know all of the retreatants.
It is amazing how much time and effort the retreat leaders have invested for such a short weekend. Some might say we are crazy, but we are crazy because we love God and we care for each and every one of the S.E.E.D. retreatants. The retreat leaders and I am happy to have been given a chance to serve and to meet you (retreatants) during the retreat. As much as I hope for ALL the S.E.E.D. retreatants to love every moment and say they all had a great time. I understand we are not going to win over the whole crowd. If the messages of following Jesus in your daily life were able to reach, at least, some of your hearts, then it is all worth it. I have also considered the possibility that all the talks’ message might not reach you immediately or any time soon; but if for some strange reason, later on, you do remember and understand it beyond the level of knowledge? I’ll take it as God’s seeds being sown and it will slowly, but surely bloom when the time is right. Everything happens in its time.