It had been a very long day and it would be a much longer night. We had finally finished preparations for the trip and had driven an hour on our way south when I discovered I had left an essential item at home. What?! Could I really be that forgetful? Yes, unfortunately, I could be. We still had about six hours to drive to make it to our destination in Missouri, but first Mom and Dad would graciously make the almost two-hour trip home and back, while Bryan and I did some last minute shopping.
We were excited to be headed down to Kansas City where we would be teaching the third through sixth graders at the 2013 Christian Chinese Retreat. We would be sharing the VBS curriculum we had taught that summer. I felt I knew what to expect. After all, we had done it last year. A lot would happen in the next few days. I was trying not to think about how we would somehow drag ourselves out of bed after ariving in Missouri around 4 a.m. and head for the hotel where the retreat would be held. We planned to meet with others and transform a huge room into a castle-themed classroom, with activity, counseling, and team registration areas. That night the children would arrive and five days of teaching would begin. It would end on Christmas Day and then we would see Kevan, Deana, and Tirzah that night. Bryan and I were happily roaming the store with a giggling doll for Tirzah, when we got the call.
"Who can't come?"
"The first and second grade teachers who live in Arkansas? Oh, that is too bad!"
"The first and second graders are joining us?"
"You mean we will have first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth?!"
"Of course we will do it!"
Suddenly I felt the need to call our helpers and make sure they would be there!
Bryan reminded me that this was a great opportunity and I agreed. It was definitely an opportunity. The Lord was reminding us to rely on His power and not our program. I was feeling a little weak as I tried to adjust things in my mind. More grades meant more children. More children meant more groups and more organization needed to keep snack time, bathroom breaks, etc., from becoming chaos. I wasn't too worried though. I knew the Lord would help Aunt Stacy and me to figure it out. Besides, we had four extra workers coming that I knew would be great.
"You are not sure you can come?"
"The roads are supposed to be covered in ice and snow?"
"I agree. Driving back and forth that distance would be dangerous, but there has to be some way. We need you girls!"
My tired brain was whirling around trying to figure a way for this to work when my brother came up with a logical solution. Now to make calls to several hard-to-get-a-hold-of people and hope they all agreed with our idea.
"Dear Jesus, please help this to all work out for your glory! You know we need these workers!"
Praise God, He answered this prayer and so many more during the week!
Answers to prayer:
* Our extra workers, the Cahill ladies, were able to come.
* Registration went very well the first night and for every session that followed.
* The Lord gave us ideas to keep things organized and ways to improve as the week progressed.
* We were able to set everything up in time for the children that first day. It looked like a castle!
* My computer did not give me awful fits like last year as I adjusted PowerPoint to fit the schedule.
* The staff was unified, prayerful, and had some opportunities to fellowship.
* Bryan and Stan were healthy and strong enough to do their parts in the teaching.
* Susan was able to balance her part in the teaching with the care of her family.
* Jessica was able to stay energetic and do her duties as lead teacher on less sleep than desired.
* The children were attentive and open to the teaching as a whole. Pray for those few hardened hearts.
* The children learned the songs and verses well and participated in the learning and dragon legends.
* Parents were encouraged by the things their children told them from the teaching.
* Only a few children got sick and no child was injured in our care during the week.
* We were able to take 194 children up two stories in the hotel and assemble them on the stage and in the aisles of the huge meeting room for the Parent Program. This was done in record time and order, even though we didn't have all our team leaders. God provided a few extra helpers for this endeavor! Praise the Lord! The children sang three songs and quoted the scripture passage they had learned during the first four days of the retreat.
* We felt the Holy Spirit's presence and saw children drawn to Christ, attitudes change, and God work.
We praise God for increasing our ability to share His Word and way of salvation with more precious souls (194!) by giving us the first and second graders as well as the third through sixth. During the retreat nine children made first-time professions of faith in Christ and fourteen prayed for assurance of salvation. Many others came back to ask questions. One little girl trusted in Christ the second night, after definitely telling me she did not want to be there only a few hours before. It was a blessing for me to get to counsel with her and hear her heartfelt prayer to her Saviour. In the days that followed, she went back during the invitation several times with questions, concern for her friends to be saved, and wanting the Lord to help her do things that were hard for her. This second grader was just one of many who made Christ her King and encouraged me to not be weary in His service. Christ desires to increase our opportunities. May we be willing for them to increase and to allow Him to make us able.
* For those who have yet to bow the knee to Christ as Saviour.
* For some with hard hearts who say they know Christ, but don't seem to be interested in Him or have respect for His word being taught or their authorities.
* For the baby Christians who need to grow.
* For the families these children belong to. May the parents, grandparents, siblings, and others be drawn to Christ and follow Him.
* That the children will remember the things they were taught and allow Christ to continue to work in their hearts.
* That God will increase both our and your opportunities to serve Him.