Saturday, February 12, 2011

PEF/Manna winter retreat 2011!

[Watch out -- here comes another big blog burst!  Complete with storyboards -- I've been having too much fun creating storyboards lately, and I think this will also help with formatting the blog books we create each year.  Which is good, since I'm still only halfway through formatting our 2010 blog book...]

The last week of January, our whole family went up to New Hampshire for the annual joint PEF/Manna winter retreat!  It's actually been several years since I've been able to go on this retreat -- I haven't wanted to take the week's vacation in the past, since it's one of David's busiest weeks of the year, and therefore not much of a vacation for him.  And of course, last year, neither of us went on the retreat because Joshua was due to be born that Monday, and was actually born early that Wednesday morning.  :)  But now, with our fun little toddler in the picture, we decided that making a family trip of it would be worthwhile.  And oh, boy, was it!

This retreat has always been one of our favorite weeks of the year.  It helps, of course, that David and I met for the first time on this retreat...  :)  Intersession break is the one true break during the school year, since Princeton has its fall semester exams after winter break.  So this week between the semesters is about the only time that students really have time off, which changes the whole tenor of the fellowship.  And it was so much fun bringing Joshua this year -- we were worried that he might have stranger anxiety the whole time, but he rose to the occasion, and then some.  He was so excited to have so many new friends to play with!  It was a wonderful place to celebrate his first birthday.  :)

And it was a wonderful week of refocusing for all of us.  The theme of the retreat this year was the beatitudes, with a mini-message on each individual beatitude.  It was a simple but powerful theme, focusing on the character traits of the Kingdom.  At the very end of the retreat, before we packed up the vans and headed back home, the entire group recited the beatitudes by memory -- and I was moved by how heartfelt the students' response to the message was.  As we're all caught up in the busyness of the semester again, I pray that we will still be clinging to this vision of the Kingdom, and seeking to live it out daily here.

So... pictures or it didn't happen, right?  :)  I took hundreds of photos that week, all of which are archived in our SmugMug galleries (click the "photographs" link in our header above), but here are a few of our favorites!

Joshua's first experience of the winter retreat!  Complete with ridiculously cute bear hat.  :)

Indoor fun and games in the chalet, where Joshua and I spent pretty much all of our non-napping time.

The annual (friendly!) PEF vs. Manna basketball game!

"Snow Bowl" 2011!  That is, snow tackle and ice-throwing -- conditions were too rough for the full tag football game this year, so they just spent time running and tackling each other.  Because, you know, that's much safer...

And the big huge group shot at the end of the trip!  (Minus one car, which had to leave early.)

We're so thankful for the opportunity to spend the week with so many dear friends.  What a wonderful break from our normal lives!  And Joshua is very much looking forward to the next retreat.  :)