Sembreak Part 2: ONE Retreat

The following day after my classic vacation in the breathtaking island of Boracay, I went to Tagaytay for another 3-day retreat, this time with more than 400 college and fresh grad students. If Boracay enthralled me with her turquoise-pearl like waves, amber and baby blue sky,  and smooth, granular sand, CCT Tagaytay impressed me with her air-conditioned, blowing winds and pollution-free air which I deeply inhaled every chance I got. (Friends of mine shared this sentiment, too. We immediately missed the cool air of CCT a day after arriving in Manila :D)

As much as I enjoyed the abiotic factors of the retreat, I treasured the spiritual component even more. I was unable to bring home a bag of Tagaytay winds back to Manila, but Spirit-filled, action-compelling memories and insights I was able to.

One of those insights dwelt on the subject of Master–knowing and following your ONE and true Master. On the first night of session 2, Pastor Jonathan Fenix exhorted us wisely:

“Entering into a relationship is entering into a relationship of authority and responsibility.”

Unless a woman willingly submits herself to her boyfriend (and future husband) or a child to his parents, a healthy, growing relationship between the parties cannot exist. No wonder a lot of us fail and give up on our relationships. The problem lies not in people being difficult, but in people resisting submission to authority.

Another of the most memorable insights from the retreat I learned the following day, from Mr. and Mrs. Hans Pe. The beautiful, fit, and Godly couple taught us principles on waiting and preparing for our Mate. “Wait actively, not passively,” they told us. But what I liked the most  about their message (even if it wasn’t my first time to hear it) was when they suggested that we do: create a non-negotiables list or a set of character traits and values our GB (God’s Best) must have. Frankly I haven’t started actually writing down my non-negotiables list, but when asked, I can mention more than 5 qualities in less than 30 seconds. What are those 5 qualities, you may ask? (not that I’m looking for a GB now, but…it’s good guys know what I want HAHA)

God-fearing, filled with the Holy Spirit, loves his family, passionate about the Kingdom, and generous. (I might post an exhaustive Non-Negotiable GB list soon! watch out for it! :D)

I heard a saying: “Lessons are best learned outside the four walls of the classroom.” In ONE retreat, the saying applied, too. By God’s grace, He gave me the opportunity to again lead a group of girls. Eating, sleeping (in the same room), talking, bonding, and sharing stories and secrets with them even for just 3 days taught me things I wouldn’t have learned elsewhere. Listen eagerly. You don’t have to know everything. Every lady reflects beauty uniquely, in a way only she can show and no other. Juzstine, Daisy, Denise, Pauline, and Pat were receptive to God’s message for their lives, and I was thankful to Jesus for their company. 🙂 They endured me singing the Nescafe cliche jingle “Good morning sa inyoooooooo!” while looking out our room’s window. Eh kasi naman yung overlooking scenery mala-haceinda ang dating. 😀

(L-R) Pauline, Denise, Pat, Juzstine, Daisy)

Aside from sharing my time and life with five ladies, I was also privileged to testify before my brothers and sisters in Module 2. Sobrang nakakakaba to the highest level of levels at pinipigilan ko pang umiyak (I was so nervous to the highest level of levels and I kept myself from crying), but God’s grace and hand carried me through my 5-minute, ala-fairytale speech (according to a friend). May I preserve my testimony not by might, but by the Spirit of God! 🙂 Likewise, friends of mine also shared their testimonies and I was also moved to the highest level of levels! What amazed me was that they were far from who they were in their sinful past. I wouldn’t have known Michelle Aquino, a testifier and friend of mine, used to be anti-authority until she shared her sans-Jesus past because when I headed our teaching group last summer, she was so submissive and cooperative! I praised God all the more. 🙂

photo c/o Billie Gonzales Thanks dear!

The retreat was the venue of 2 of my “firsts” (excluding the fact that it was my first time in CCT :D): first time an invited friend actually came (Myvee Lusterio, praise God for you!) and first time to dance to a Christian song with choreograph and lots of people. o_____________o I usually just dance by myself (and you wouldn’t want to see me if I were you) or at home as exercise, but not in public. But God said (through Tin Advincula, superbly talented dancer), “Dance!!!” So I’m like

Haha.

Moving on.

Having organized a largely populated retreat for the first time, the admin team and other committees did a really swell job. Although the retreat was flawed, it served its purpose well: to unite college students in seeking God and His righteousness. When God’s grace fills the hearts of many, you just seem to overlook the imperfections and dwell on the fruits bearing from consistent walks with Jesus. Some of the people in the retreat just started their walk, others have been walking for some time now,  but we enjoyed our Savior right where He brought us. I met new people who made me smile, laugh, think, blush (in a good way hahaha), pray, and even ask God for forgiveness (when  I looked at how they lived their lives and saw my sinfulness). Mas masaya talaga pag madami hindi dahil mas madaming gwapo o maganda (pero totoo talaga yun), kung hindi dahil mas madaming channels of blessing si God. (Ang paghahanap ng GB hindi sa college retreat, kung hindi sa singles. HAHA joke lang #pretendyoudidn’treadthat) Kidding aside, the energy of the 400+ people (a quarter of which are hyper 99.99% of the time) intensified praise and worship as well as competition in the session games and the Amazing Race.

Joe and his evil banana :))with Myvee! 🙂another rainbow! It appeared when we stopped over in Caltex

To summarize the retreat, it was ONEderful and ONE that glorified our Master and touched the lives of many. Our collective prayers were granted to us–not because we pray intensely, but because our God works mightily. I didn’t want to leave CCT Tagaytay so soon, but my Master prepared a Mission for me in Manila. I returned home, and the family I kissed goodbye when I left Friday morning greeted me jubilantly Sunday evening.

Until the next life-changing retreat! 🙂

Thank You so much, Father. :>

Photos courtesy of the talented and beautiful volunteers of Safelight, Jzone’s photo ministry, and my iPhone 🙂

Author: Jenny J. Talam

Storyteller who actually prefers to read and listen to stories. Food fan. Budding events host. Collector and avid user of colorful pens and stack-high notebooks. Media enthusiast. Learner. Adventurer. Introvert. Child and servant of the one true King. Forgiven and loved. Hello, my name is Jennifer Grace. You can call me Jenny. Welcome to my story of grace! :)

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