Dear Cedars Family,
Sami Seeds here, your Middle School Director! I wanted to take this time to give you an update about how our Winter Retreat went! First off, I want to thank all of you for helping us get there, whether you participated in our Duffin Fundraiser, donated, or prayed over us. I knew going into it that God had big plans for this weekend because He was so faithful in providing for us (financially, logistically, and in our sign-ups) before we even got into cars. Even though I had full confidence in this, it was so sweet seeing everything come to fruition, and ended up beyond far beyond what I had planned or imagined, as it so often does.
On our trip, we had a total of 3 leaders and 8 students. This student to leader ratio was perfect for us because it gave our leadership team the space to be intentional with each student and make sure they felt well loved and cared for. We spent the weekend outside in creation snowboarding and hiking. Most of the students had never been on a ski slope before, let alone snowboarded, but each of them rose above the occasion in their abilities, patience, and encouragement to one another. The leaders were so impressed with their positivity, contentment, and perseverance even though all their butts were sore the next day (all part of the master plan, wink wink). The cabin we stayed in acted as our perfect home base where we broke bread, played together, shared stories and jokes, and stayed up way too late, all of which helped us further develop a deeper sense of community and fellowship amongst the students and leaders. Shared experiences and food are some of the absolute best ways to bring people together.
Though adventure and fun were very much on the to-do list for the weekend, our leadership team had a deep desire to help facilitate not only a growth in community, but in their walk with Jesus as well. We prayed and prayed that each student would have a personal encounter with the Lord and would leave the weekend feeling well equipped for coming back down the mountain (literally and figuratively). Our focus word for the weekend was identity. As middle school students, we ourselves had experienced how difficult it was to not only figure out who you are, but to root your identity in the Lord. Each day, we had a leader testimonial, main talk, and devotional time. We talked about how to overcome the other voices that try give us our identity, were honest about the earthly things we were putting our identity in, and gave them examples of what it looks like to fully embrace who the Lord has created us to be and how to use our gifts for His kingdom. Upon the end of the weekend, we asked the students where they experienced God. It became very clear that each of them had intimate moments with the Lord in creation, scripture, and in their one-on-one devotional times with Him. This answered prayer was the sweetest for me personally, because I fully know that those three things will always be within reach for the students throughout the remainder of their lives. Circumstances, leaders, group, and living situations could all change so quickly and easily, but the Lord always is faithful in showing himself to us. Our leaders were exhausted for the next month, but would do it all over again.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers, encouragement, and support for our group. It is so humbling and exciting to see what the Father is doing in this group and through the students and our selfless, God-fearing leaders. Onto the next adventure!
Middle School Director