Tuesday, September 16, 2008

EL RETO 2008 (week 3)

Another great week with challenges and rewards. Three more students joined us to make the grand total of participants 71! That breaks last year’s record of 70.

This week we started where we left off the week before, in Arrayanes. The team captains shared with their team a devotion time while we had our staff meeting to explain what everyone was going to do.

After devotions, the staff took off to their stations and the activities began. We had a grid drawn with chalk on the back of the movie screen with 60 squares; 5 squares per team.

The letters for the different teams "M" stands for "Mensengers".
What they had to do was throw a piece of wet toilet paper on a square. Each square had a point value 1-4-7-10-50. Their goal was to hit their own square, but if they hit a square of a different team, that team would receive those points. Each team got to throw, but according to how they arrived in the previous weeks’ race. The last place team got one throw; the 5th place team got two, and so on until the first place team got 6 throws. This determined how they would start the race for this week.
Fermin making his toss.
Yair looks like a real pitcher!
Cecilia took a try for her team.
The Overcomers who only had two throws won by a huge margin—thanks to other teams who hit their squares; so they left first to start the third race of EL RETO 2008.

From the church in Arrayanes, they received a note directing them to the baseball field where they received their next clue. The clue told them that one person was to go to Cofradía by bicycle picking up bags in designated places along the way. They received their first bag at the field and picked up four more on his way to Cofradía.
Off to the baseball field.
Chuy takes his riding serious!
Chuy and Beto running accross the river to the bags hanging on some wood in the middle (you can see them behind the bushes).
Beto is off and cycling!
This is the final location of the bags. Martin is there making sure they take them.
While the cyclist was racing down the dirt road, the rest of the team got in a vehicle and went directly to Cofradía’s town center where they had an activity to do while they waited. They had to bob for beads, trying to get the color of their team’s bead for points amongst others that were negative points as well as beads of the colors of other teams which were points for the other teams.
At the baseball feild, hopping in the trucks.
This is where the beads were; in a tote-box full of water!
Cecilia bobbing for her team!
Julio takes a mouth full!
Once the cyclist arrived in Cofradía, the team stopped bobbing for beads and began to open their bags. The bags contained puzzle pieces which formed their next clue that read, “In order to please God, you must walk in Faith.”
"The Overcomers" trying to put the pieces together.
Finally, the puzzle is solved and they have their clue!
That led them to get in the vehicles and go to the town of Santa Fe (Holy Faith). That was their final destination of the third race. En route, they chose different team members to participate in the next series of challenges as they looked at their menu.

Yes, their menu. We moved the Banquet up to the third week this year to catch them off guard; everyone expects it for the fourth week. This event was the most exciting yet, as everyone was crowded around the fence, cheering their teammates on and laughing as others gagged. This is definitely a challenge, but they did it!
Restaurant Santa Fe
The first two items on the menu were a dish of rice drenched in soy sauce and spaghetti cooked in a lot of Olive Oil and Flaxseed.
Rice and spaghetti.
Wow, Pedro, you make that rice look good!
Charlie (above) and Roger (below) posing for the camera!
Sergio is really trying to get that last bite in his mouth.
Then there was the Jalapeño Pepper! This was a HOT item!
Guille is thinking about it..."Do I really want to do this?"
Let me at 'em!
Gollo's starting to feel it!
Yep, he's feelin' it!
Ruben is too!
Pati got second place, but only by a swallow!
Then they had a drink of some kind of medicinal tea.

And how could we have a meal in Mexico without a taco? Next on the menu was a Bumble Bee Taco covered in Larva salsa. Yum, yum!

Adolfo trying his best.
To finish the menu off before the surprises, the dessert dish was a huge marshmallow covered with chocolate and hidden inside were coffee grounds. Hmmm.

Maira was a great sport!
There were two more items available to repeat diners, but they did not know what they were until we brought them out…

Ewe, a cow eye!?!
Ruben concentrating!
Fermin trying to let is slide down.
It was just too much for Abraham.
And finally, play this video to see what was next…

Down he goes!
I am still amazed that they did this! What an incredible nutritious meal!

To finish the Banquet before heading to “The Valley of Decision,” each team had to down a 3.3 liter bottle of cola. They really liked this one!
"The Chosen" were really thirsty and came in first place.
And the final score of the event had Los Temerosos "The Fearful" coming out on top!

THE VALLEY OF DECISION. This week we decorated the Decision Room with candles which made it even more exciting with the mix of the soundtrack of The Passion of Christ in the background.
This was so much better than last week!
The voting area.
Again, each team, one by one, went into the Decision Room to vote for another team to do chores. Only this time, they knew that the team they would be voting for would also receive another clue to the whereabouts of the Hidden Treasure. Once they were done voting, quietly they left the room and went back outside to their formation. This week, the team that was immune from the vote was the team whose cyclist arrived first in Cofradía’s town center. That team was “The Chosen.” After electing to keep their immunity, no one could vote for them. In the end, the team chosen to do chores was Los Mensajeros “The Messengers”.
"The Chosen" showing their vote for "The Messengers."
The vote was four to one (Overcomers) to one (Eagles).

The chore for this week was to wash the staff vehicles we used in the races. There were four vehicles for the 5 team members that showed up. But, they got their third clue to the Hidden Treasure AND a second clue to a 1,000 point prize. At the Valley of Decision, I mentioned to them that there was a prize of 1,000 points within eyesight hanging from something wooden.

I will not mention the second clue because they’re the only one’s that have it. However, because all six teams ate either the cow eye or the live goldfish, they all have at least the first clue to the Hidden Treasure. The clue says, “A big opportunity awaits you if you find the treasure. If you win the LAST CHALLENGE, you will end up in first place. Search amongst the rocks where the tournaments are held.”

EL RETO UNCOVERED. The week leading up to Saturday was a very rough one emotionally. Mainly with the team who is having problems. I mentioned in the last report that I was able to speak to many of the team members and I tried to encourage the captain of the team to face the Giant and continue with the RETO as leader. I did not know if he was going to participate or not. From what he said at the end of our conversation, it sounded like a no. But, to my delight, he showed up on Saturday and an amazing change had taken place in that team. They seemed united, something they were lacking, and encouraged to continue.

Personally I was encouraged to see more involvement in the staff as far as taking ownership. They are really working hard and this ministry is blessed to have some great people committed to the development of the spiritual lives of these students.

One last thing that happened was pretty intense. A young man who does not come to church, but has participated in EL RETO for the past couple of weeks and was here last year as well, was taunted by an “outsider” to fight, so they started. The outsider is known for fighting, and later I found out that these to guys have a history for this activity. For the young man who had been participating in EL RETO, I had compassion on him. I felt protective of him and amazingly he listened to what I had to say. The outsider ignored me and left the premises. As we left the location for the next activity, the outsider approached once more and I stood between him and the participant showing him the palm of my hand as I said, “In the name of Jesus, step back.” I repeated this a number of times and each time he took a step back until he retreated completely. I kept the RETO participant with me as we left the location and I took him to where his team would be arriving momentarily, and then left him under the pastor’s care who was to be the chofer of this guys’ team. So, if God is orchestrating all these events, why would He allow a fight? Something that I saw was incredible. Normally, I don’t have much patience for fighting; it was amazing that I actually felt a deep concern and compassion for our participant. I believe that God was showing not only me something, but all of us and I’m looking forward to sharing this with the students. What happened that afternoon was a picture of what happens spiritually with each one of us. It’s a picture of a wolf coming into the pen and attacking one of the sheep. God as our Shepherd protects us from the enemy. The enemy may try to come and attempt to devour us, attack us, or distract us from what God has for us. But, God has already won the battle. We can rest assured that He holds us up on His shoulders, protecting us, keeping us safe. God is Love.
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!: https://www.egivingsystems.org/v3.0/index.php

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