Melatonin has to be one of the most wonderful pills in the world, next to ibuprofen. Now having my tonsils out, I sleep better camping and/or in the mountains, but I still tend to wake up a few times in the night, but it’s easier to fall back asleep now. Now that I’ve figured out melatonin will work for me (it didn’t as a teenager), it just helps keep me asleep through most of the night. Six glorious hours of sleep.
We woke up to a beautiful thick blanket of snow. Absolutely breathtaking. I was glad I remembered to put a towel over my windshield to make the car that much more ready to get started in the morning. I love having a vehicle up here. I know the exercise is good for me, but I just enjoy the freedom of being able to drive back and forth from all the location changes we make throughout the weekend.
Saturday morning we have small group devotions over breakfast. I was a little disappointed in the breakfast though, which shocked me because I have never had unpleasant food or insufficient food options at men’s retreat. The egg bake was vegetarian (apparently there was a meat one that went early), and the pancakes and monkey bread were both pretty dry. But the bacon, the fruit and yogurt were all pretty decent. It just surprised me to need to depend on the fruit and yogurt bar.
I don’t typically enjoy the small group devotions we have at retreat, but it feels somewhat heathenish to say so. We’re matched in deliberately random groups for the weekend, and it’s nice to bring a variety of viewpoints to a Scripture passage, but it’s difficult when we haven’t had any significant bonding time to have a trust in sharing with the group. Some guys I would know very well, but there are always a few new faces.
The morning message from Justin continued in Job and discussed the wager between God and Satan. Job’s trial went through the fingers of a loving God. It was not out of God’s control. God didn’t and never doesn’t see something happen in our lives and say, “Oops, sorry, my bad, wasn’t watching on that one.” We were challenged with the question Who/what do I worship in the midst of adversity? After a rotten day at work, do I come home and read my Bible and spend time with God, or do I veg in front the TV to unwind? Also Is there anything about which I pray, “God, please just don’t take ______?” My home, my job, my car, my intellect, my health, my reputation, my friends?
After the morning session we went to the small group challenge. In the past we’ve created BBQ sauce recipes, built birdhouses, geocached, etc. This year it was a series of circuit obstacles. Marc is blind, so they added the element that during each phase of the challenge, a different member of every other team had to be blindfolded. The first challenge was a relay race across the room to spin around a baseball bat four times and tag the next teammate. I decided to get my blindfolded turn over with. I went second in the relay because the first person had to carry the bat across the room (not a good job for a blind person). I couldn’t spot, so I was depending on someone else physically stopping me or yelling at me to stop when I had turned four times. I was SO dizzy afterward. Other challenges included eating a lemon, flying paper airplanes, lighting a fire and frying an egg on top of a coffee can, making a three-man pyramid to reach the highest point as possible inside the Ponderosa dining hall sans furniture (two guys climbed up the support beams however), chugging contents from a random grocery store jar (ours was nacho jalapenos—I was no help), hot dog eating contest (I gave up after three because Daniel Y. was already on eight, and I didn’t see the point in making myself sick), and Pictionary. Our team wasn’t dead last, but somewhere in the bottom half of the twelve groups.
Lunch was a remedy from breakfast: hamburgers with bacon, mushrooms, and chili for topping options.
The snow had wiped out two of our optional afternoon activities of Suzuki four-wheeling and the Screamer, but we still had the giant swing option. It didn’t start until a little later, so Dave A. and I sat and talked at lunch for quite awhile. He’s in my Sunday School class, but I really hadn’t gotten to know him that well yet. He and his wife Lisa have a 16yo son, and they came back to Campus because they weren’t feeling connected in their former church and they wanted a youth group for their son to get connected in.
I had some trepidations about this swing, but I knew that I had passed on a few activities over the years at Hume that I usually regret not doing. So I went to check it out. A cable connects two trees, probably 50 feet up. Two cables descend from the original cable and merge into one, which is strapped to your harness. You have to climb up five rungs on a ladder to get strapped in, and then they remove the ladder to suspend you in air. Another cable is attached, and that feeds through two pulleys, up to the height of the first cable and then down to the other participants, who run out to ratchet you up. There’s a rip cord on that last cable, and you have to pull it to release yourself into the swing. Absolutely terrifying to start, but awesome by the second swing when centripetal force takes over. My biggest fear is falling, not that I would actually be harmed, but the actually feeling of falling. So I know I have to push myself, and I’m so glad I did.
The really nice part of this activity is that it was very quick and done. I stayed to help ratchet up other guys, but it didn’t absorb the whole free time like other activities have in the past, like paintball. I went back the cabin and talked with Sam and Chapman for awhile. Chapman left to study, and Sam and I were reading, but then we each dozed off into some nice naps before dinner.
Dinner did not disappoint. Seasoned broccoli, mashed potatoes & gravy, roast beef & carrots, and chicken. Dessert was chocolate brownies with caramel baked in. I sat with a few guys in our church’s Men in Action class, and we talked about their hypothetical elder assignments, their case studies of the “messy” situations that can come up in a church that the elders need to address. Jeff’s was being the only elder who knows something significant about a potential future elder, and Lee W.’s was being the lone dissenter on an elder decision that went horribly wrong, and having church members come up to question him about it.
We started off the evening meeting with some video footage of the giant swing. My screams were the star of the show at the evening session, along with a few of the other guys they taped. We’ve also had this four-part YouTube video series they’ve been playing just for laughs: “Guy on a Buffalo.” Tonight they showed part 3 and we were left with a cliffhanger. Short ridiculous video segments. The evening meeting was about when Job’s friends came on the scene, and was entitled “How to Be a Lame Friend.” Justin touched on some what-not-to-do’s, particularly with someone grieving.
Pastor Mike came up afterward and asked us to get in groups of 2-3 and pray over some specific needs. I grouped up with Daniel T. and his brother-in-law Vadim. Two really great guys it was a pleasure to pray with.
Afterward most of us headed over to the Ponderosa Dining Hall for our evening snack. Last night’s had been some coconut dessert bars, which I even tried just to make sure I still didn’t like coconut. Very disappointing considering the variety of snacks they’ve usually had for our evening hang-out time. There were eight pies awaiting us when we arrived. All banana cream. I like banana cream pie, but I was bummed not to have some other choices, especially for the guys who don’t like that type of pie. They brought out a plate of chocolate chip cookies later, but they weren’t warm and fresh like in years past where they keep them under heat lamps all evening for us. Yes, we’re spoiled up here.
Lee S. got a game of Spades going, and we all taught Kyle how to play. Kyle was my partner, and I was grateful when Dave A. came over to watch and ended up coaching Kyle. We played three games of four hands each. Kyle and I lost pretty miserably on the first game, but came back strong in the second and third. Other groups had other games going too, but we were the last ones standing. I’ve never been the one to turn out the lights in the dining hall.