When we arrived into Portland, we were picked up by a friendly YWAM Salem staff member named Bob. After a 90 minute drive he delivered us to the Christian Renewal Centre. We were told that it was going to be a bit remote and it is! There is no cell coverage here and internet is very scarce. There is a small town called Silverton that is a 20 minute drive from here (which is how I'm uploading this blog). Before we arrived the owner of the retreat centre had increased their data plan to 50 GB for the month of September just for our group. However, after a single day we had already used up 30 GB (oops). Increasing the data from there would be an increment of $1,000. So that's not happening. Believe it or not, we felt a tremendous burden lifted off our family. It means we can focus on receiving and developing in all that we can in these next 6 weeks without time logging into our work emails and working remotely.
We didn't really know what to expect even though we came with some goals in mind. We had no idea what the lectures and class work would entail or who any of the other delegates and staff for the course would be. During our first session we had a "creative meditation" time over the passage of Luke 5:1-11. The staff team for this course said that the theme of our 6 weeks is to, "go deeper," with God. We can say that so far in every area of our life, this is what is starting to happen! More on that below!
After the first couple days being here we could really see that this was totally what God had planned for our family! We have more joy and love in our family! There are more families and children here close to Mateo's age than we realized. And so far they all like playing with each other! We're surrounded by a beautiful forest on a 40 acre property. Our cabin is a 5 minute walk up a hill from the dining hall and our classroom. Jevon, Mateo's "manny," met us here and is staying in one of the two rooms of our cabin. Although we don't have a bathroom in the cabin, there is a very nice bathhouse located up the hill just 20 yards away. We definitely could not do this if we didn't have Jevon with us. And for any one of us to have to miss the sessions would have been such a huge bummer. We are mega thankful for Jevon!
The first thing we noticed about the staff team was how incredibly warm and hospitable they all were. They are very sincere and relational. They did an amazing job making us feel at home. As a matter of fact, after our meal times Mateo asks us if we're walking up to our home! The staff team is culturally diverse. Other than the US they hail from Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, Ukraine, Armenia, Australia, and England. They all have incredible wisdom and experience to share with us. Here's something interesting, it actually took a couple days for Tessa and I to realize who was leading the course. Not because it didn't seem like anyone wasn't leading but rather the whole team was equally sharing and carrying responsibility from "up front" during the sessions. That's very impressive to us and gives us such a good model to go off of for our Vancouver Island team. We eventually realized it was Stephe Mayer when he was mentioned as the founder of LDC.
Something else that's very special for us is being able to reunite with Kevin and Mary Jane! After each session, we share little tidbits with each other about what we can adopt into our team and future base plant on Vancouver Island. We've been encouraged by all the staff that we've shared with that doing this course as a core team is a great way to start our pioneering effort. And Mateo just LOVES Kevin and Mary Jane!
This week we covered a lot of material in so many diverse ways. The sessions are very participatory. They're challenging and a little uncomfortable but not so much that we peace out. For example, we all had to describe in front of our class a type of boat/ship that summarized the 6 months leading up to the course, and what Jesus would have to say about that. I'll type up a separate blog about that next week. Then we each prayed and received prayer as we all shared.
There is a lot of homework to do. Just to give you an idea, we were given four workbooks in this first week. One of the workbooks was called "Teamwork" and it followed a series of sessions and workshops designed to sharpen our people skills. It included an in depth personality test and coaching sessions using DiSC. This is so rad and the staff had shared with us that a previous married couple that attended the course had felt that this test saved their marriage. After 30 years of being married, they finally understood each other and knew how to relate to each other. Isn't that cool??
We were given two more workbooks over the weekend for week 2 of the course. I'm looking forward with much anticipation because one of them is titled "Discovering Your Timeline." Some of you know that when I teach on "Calling and Vision" that I have a timeline workshop for people to plan their life with God. Some material is familiar but there's a whole bunch that's new and fresh to me and is incredibly timely after my trip to Costa Rica. The other topic is called "Team Leadership" and this is getting into some nuts and bolts that our Vancouver Island team can use.
Just to finish off, Tessa is incredibly happy! We're receiving coaching and mentoring that we haven't had since we left Australia. Our expectations are already blown out of the water! We can already see lifelong friendships that will come out of this time. Spiritual fathers and mothers that we will still be in contact with. Other leaders that we can see a ministry partnership forming.