Thursday, September 04, 2008


El RETO (The CHALLENGE) has begun and the students are amped! This year they will “Decide (their) Destiny” through a series of Survivor/Amazing Race/Fear Factor-style challenges throughout September. There are six teams; they receive points for showing up, bringing new students, finishing races faster than other teams, encouragement, and many more ways. Its fun, it’s long, and it’s a CHALLENGE!

The first week we had 56 students show up to start the event. Each team captain had a week to recruit their teams and can still add students throughout the event. After sharing about the theme for this year, we introduced the staff and the teams chose colors.

The Staff

We added a “Ceremony of the Colors” this year instead of asking each team captain what color they would like. We injected paint into an egg shell and they threw it at a piece of plywood that has the words, “EL RETO 2008 DECIDE YOUR DESTINY” on it. One by one, the team Captains grabbed their egg-shell that Mili was holding for them and whatever color splattered on the board, was the color of their team.

The teams are:
Aguilas “Eagles” Leader: Luis Aguilar from Ruiz

Los Elegidos “The Chosen” Leader: Rubén Garzón from Arrayanes

Los Mensajeros “The Messengers” Leader: Cecilia Pérez from Santa Fé
Los Temerosos “The Fearful” (towards God) Leader: Gregorio Hernandez from Cofradía
Los Vencedores “The Overcomers” Leader: Pedro Salaiza from Cofradía
(_________) The green team has been asked to change their name. Leader: Julio Hernández from Cofradía.

After choosing their names and presenting their team flags to everyone, they started a race that required them to make a number of decisions…

The first thing they had to do was to count all of the EXTERIOR doors that are on the mission base (27). Once they came to me with the correct answer, they had to choose one of 6 vehicles to take them to their next destination. However, they needed to find the vehicle first. Each vehicle was located in a different area of the town, some close; some far away and there was a riddle that led them to where their truck was waiting.

At the truck, they had to decide what town they wanted to go to; Las Pilas or Paso Real. In order to get to Cofradía from the Interstate, you have to go through both of these towns first; they’re pretty close.

If they chose the closer town, Las Pilas, they had to get a clue that was in a balloon floating in the water.
(The Eagles running towards the pond to get their balloon)
The clue directed them to find a new member for their team from that town. With their new member, they would receive points and immunity from having to do chores during the week. When they finished, they had to keep their new member with them until the race was finished. Their next stop would be to go to Paso Real and do the same thing that they would do if they would have chosen that town in the beginning. In other words, choosing Las Pilas was a detour that took them off the path to Paso Real. This is much like sin in our life; it takes us off the path of righteousness and distracts us from doing what is right. We loose time. There were three teams that chose Las Pilas and one brought a new member for their team from Las Pilas and was immune from chores.

For the other three teams that chose Paso Real, they just got their before the other teams. At the entrance of the town, they had to decide between something physical and something mental. Again, it was split three-three.
(Mati and Mari waiting at the entrance of Paso Real)
For those who chose something physical, they had to run to the baseball field and as a team walk about 20 yards on two pieces of wood. This required coordination and communication in the team.
("left, right...")
("left, right...")

("left, right...")
When they were done, they were to fill up a garbage bag and take it to the center of town to throw it in the garbage can where they would receive their next clue that took them to their final destination…the new church in Cofradía.
For the three teams who chose something mental, they got a ride to the center of town and had to put together a brain teaser.
("So, what colors go where?")
Once they finished that activity, they also had to fill up a garbage bag and put it in the garbage can to receive their next clue that took them to their final destination…the new church in Cofradía.

As they arrived, the three teams that chose not to go to Las Pilas arrived first, and then the other three came in.

We had everyone wait outside before opening the doors for the Final Challenge of the day. Last year, we called it the Final Challenge, but this year, it is called “The Valley of Decision”. In the Bible (Joel 3), The Valley of Decision is marked as a place of judgment where a decision is made about our destiny based upon who we serve.
Our Valley of Decision in EL RETO, decides what team will do the chores during the week (something they see as punishment). After a series of questions amongst the forced silence on the students and the soundtrack of The Passion of Christ in the background, the team that answered the most questions incorrectly was the team that got chosen to do chores.
(The tention builds as night falls)
(Fermin comes forward as he is the one chosen to answer the question for his team's DESTINY).
Oddly enough, the team chosen was the only team who was immune from chores. As we finished, they received a note that told them to choose two other teams to help them with the chores. Since they were immune, only the two other teams had to work. What was the work? Cleaning the dirty, muddy tents from camp a month ago. Both teams showed up on Sunday afternoon to clean the tents and they lost points for each member who was not there.
(Ruben's team was one of the two chosen)
(Chuy is making sure the inside is clean!)
This year we have something else that is new called EL TESORO, or THE TREASURE. There is a hidden treasure somewhere around these parts and I will not say where because some of the students might read this (some can read English). If you have seen the show Survivor, this is just like the “Hidden Immunity Idol” with clues to its whereabouts. In the end, this treasure will allow them to challenge the team that has the most points at the very end of the event on September 27. There will be a challenge between those two teams to determine the winner of EL RETO 2008. Maybe as the month goes on, I’ll put some clues in these reports!?!?

This is a lot of fun, a lot of work, and filled with opportunities for everyone to grow. I am already being challenged in certain areas of my leadership where I know need to get better. One is DELEGATION. I’m learning and thank you for your prayers.
This event has been funded by generous people from the United States and Canada. If you would like to make a donation and invest in the "Cofradia Youth", please click here, THANK YOU!:

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