Monday, September 27, 2010

EL RETO 2010 Week Five


WEEK FIVE: September 25, 2010
Three more students...104! In the past, the fifth week has always been "EL RETO FINAL". We have always finished on the fifth week. This year, in order to make the final with less activities, we added a sixth week. We'll see if it helps LOL!

For the first time, we were ready (students and staff) before the start time. That is very rare here in Mexico! After taking roll call, Mily set up the first activity..."The Cinderella Revolution". They had to find someone on the team that would fit into rollerblades and hang on to a rope behind a scooter that would take them around the auditorium. As they were being pulled, they had to grab a strip of the color of their team from various locations. The winning team was the team that grabbed the most (there were other colors with prizes as well). Geña set the example and made the first round...

From there, the last placed team started a final race. Each clue they would get was in a #2 font again that led them to their next activity and destination. In increments of two minutes, the teams left and went to the small lake in Las Pilas (the town we did the Banquet in) to do a water activity--filling up a bucket.

From there, they went to Paso Real (the first town from the highway on your way to Cofradía). In Paso Real, the team had to walk on boards for 10 meters (30+ feet) in sink.

Once they were done, they had to run to the center of town where they were to run back and for down the speed soccer court in a very strange way.

The team to finish the race first, won. After that, we had our traditional RETO AUCTION!
We had thirteen items up for bid and each team had the opportunity to bid whatever they wanted, as long as it wasn't more points than they had. They did not know what any of the items were, we always keep that a secret. Once they're done bidding and a team buys the item, we bring out another box with the next item in it for them to choose which one they'd like. This year, the items were:

1. All the clues to the hidden treasure "SILVER"--along with a cucumber snack (The Angels).
2. All the clues to the hidden treasure "GOLD"--along with some coffee candies snack (The Disciples).
3. A big tub of Ice Cream (The Explorers).
4. A small box of Tic Tacs (The Detectives).
5. 3 Liter bottle of Pepsi (The Angels).
6. 1000 points (The Angels).
7. All the clues to the hidden treasure "CHRIST"--along with some Milky Way candy bars (The Explorers).
8. Chores-washing trucks (The Angels).
9. A big box of cookies (The Detectives).
10. Divide 1000 points between two teams (The Angels-they included themselves in this one).
11. A sorted box of chips (The Angels).
12. Tacos! (The Explorers).
13. A more detailed clue to the hidden treasure "CHRIST"--the one that everyone is saying hasn't been found yet (The Angels).

Here are some auction expressions...
Mereida is pretty excited about that Pepsi!
Alfredo is opening the clues to the Hidden Treasure "Christ".
Ok, cookies.
220 points!
This one?
Tic Tacs!
1000 points!

This year's Auction was a lot of fun and the teams spent a total of 7,070 points all together. When we finished, we sang a Praise song and I shared with Paso Real the reason for EL RETO and the theme verse, Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart." It was a great time! The students went around and handed out tracts and as soon as we finished, it started to rain.
Worship in the center of town.

We returned to Cofradía for "Under The Scope." We had the teams come in and vote right away for another team to receive 200 points. After that, we had our Under the Scope final with the "Filipos" and "Punishments." Then, we shared a little of the Word with them and encouraged them to keep seeking the Lord.

Finally, they came in to vote again, this time for a team to do chores along with the team who bought Chores in the Auction, The Angels. They would be immune of the vote since they were already going to be washing trucks.

After they were done voting, we read the votes and gave a prize to In Love who received four votes!

This week, Jazmin and I had a staring contest...she's been the one who really makes it hard to keep a straight face. She is always cracking up!

Next week is EL RETO FINAL! We'll have worship, a message, music, videos, games, and a lot of fun! Please keep this event in your prayers as we see many students and adults this Saturday attend who don't come to church. It is going to be great!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

EL RETO 2010 Week Four


WEEK FOUR: September 18, 2010

101 STUDENTS!!! If you would have told me a month ago that we would have over one hundred students this year participate in EL RETO, I would not have believed you. This is something that excites me, not that we have "high" numbers, but that more and more students are being exposed to the Truth! Each week we talk about Biblical Principals that can help us in our life. Most of these students have never been to church, in fact, I more than likely will not be able to recognize them in a month. God recognizes them, he knows their heart and what they are receiving. My prayer is that their hearts would be open to the gospel and they would make the most important decision in their life...decide to live for Jesus! WOW!! This is exciting! The next day during the Sunday service we had baptisms. Along with the 5 adults that were baptized, 8 youth were baptized!! Some of them are fruit of EL RETO! Please continue to pray that the students participating would have open hearts to hear God speak to them about their lives. And, for a strong faith in the 13 people baptized on Sunday.

The activities for week four started with searching for Bible verses (which we used in "Under the Scope" for our message). The first team to find the verse got 50 points.
Diana Garzon

From there, the students had to make a penalty shot. They would start in the order their final verse mentioned, "the last shall be first". So, the first team to kick a penalty shot was The Angels. If you're interested, the order continued with Those Who Believe, The Explorers, In Love, The Detectives, and finally The Disciples.
Gollo Hernández

Once they made their penalty shot, they got a message telling them to go to the small lake in Cofradía where José Luís was waiting for them in the middle on a boogy board. One of their team members had to swim out to him to get their next clue. They got their #2 font message in a small bottle; the message said: "At the bottom of the river, there is a treasure. Under the bridge where the people swim. Tied to a rock in a Holy (Santa) place. Search with Faith (Fe) and we'll see what happens." In Spanish it was cool because the whole thing rhymed really well. With the words "Santa" and "Fe", they knew exactly where to go!
Jesús Orozco

One of the team members dove in for the treasure that contained the message for their next activity. They needed to go around town (Santa Fe), asking for chips just like they did last week. Finally, when they were done, they arrived at the Soccer field where they played a series of Capture the Flag.
Julio Hernández

They had five minutes to capture their flag or the game ended in a tie. When there was a four-way tie for second, we had them run down the field and back...the first complete team to cross the line won second place. The finals were between The Angels and The Disciples, and the winners...
The Disciples!

From there, the teams went back to Cofradía for small group time and debrief the activities of the day while we prepared for "Under the Scope."
Candles in "Under the Scope"

The past couple of weeks, I've been trying to be goofy as they come into the solemn room to vote. It's so serious and I've heard that some of the students really think I'm upset! So, last week I wore a baseball cap sideways and this week I wore a full-face knitted cap with my cowboy hat. Every once in a while when I catch the eye of someone, we'll pull them aside and not tell them why until the team leaves. Then, that person and I have a staring competition (I tell him we're playing before hand). It's fun and creates a connection with the students. We shake hands in the end and we let them go.

Here's a clip...

Finally, there was a tie for most votes...Those Who Believe and The Explorers

Here's a quick video of the activities in week #4...

Thank you so much for your prayers! I believe that God is working in the hearts of these young students. He is also teaching us a number of things!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

EL RETO 2010 Week Three


We had 11 more students arrive for week three making the new record total 98! This year has been very interesting as it includes pretty intense competition.

Last week we left off in Arrayanes after the Gladiator game. So, this week we started in Arrayanes. They were off to another race making fire and searching for 12 foamy chips located in homes and remote places in Arrayanes and Cofradía, asking the homeowners or staff for "Chip Please". Finally, they had to capture a loose chicken and take it to it's owner where in exchange they were given their menu for the famous EL RETO Banquet!

In order to get the map and instructions for searching for the foamy chips, they needed to start a fire scraping magnesium and striking the flint to get sparks. Once the fire started, the flame needed to reach a string attached to a bucket which contained the information they needed. Once the fire burned through the string, the bucket fell and they were off...
There were 6 locations in Arrayanes, 2 along side the road between Arrayanes and Cofradía, and 4 more locations in Cofradía where they had to find chips. When they were done with searching for chips, they had to catch a chicken. The clue said "Guess what! Hugo and Norma's chickens got loose and they are at the church praising God, but it's time for them to go home. Find the chicken with the tag of the color of your team tied to it's foot. Then, your driver will take you to it's home."

When they captured the chicken, they took it to Norma at her house and in exchange, she gave them a menu of the RETO BANQUET!!

The first team to arrive at the Banquet were The Detectives, followed by The Disciples and In Love. All three teams showed up at about the same time.

This year we had 10 items for the banquet and an eleventh one for all participants...
1. "Rebecka's Specialty" This year we let Rebecka choose an item and she chose dog food!
2. "Lemonade" Lemonade with a lot of garlic and salt.
3. "Big Foot" Baby octopus--between two people.
4. "Waterlogged Nemos" A live fish from the river.
5. "RETO Special #1" Chile Jalapeño.
6. "Surprise #1" Tacos--real tacos from Pilas (for those of you who have experienced them!!).
7. "Chocolate Milkshake" (Chocolate Milkshake with onion).
8. "RETO Special #2" Cow Eyeball.
9. "Curd" A 5 inch long piece of greasy cow intestine.
10. "Surprise #2" Raw egg with straw and coke.
11. "Dessert" For the whole team to enjoy...a three liter bottle of coke!

Here's the video...

After the banquet, everyone returned to Cofradía to have their small group time outside the church while we prepared for "Under The Scope."

This week we focused on how dedication to your team will help you win. The banquet was incredibly gross, but most didn't give up and continued to fight for their team. Sometimes, we need to fight for our team of brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to cheer them on as they cheer us on as well! Some may have to experience a situation a little more "gross" than others, but we should be united in helping each other. We should show love and respect towards each other just as we should to our captains, the staff, our pastors and leaders, even our parents. Conflict is resolvable if we are willing to humble ourselves and admit when we're wrong. The biggest problem is when both parties think they're right--most of the time, their "rightness" is made on assumptions and misinterpretations...unfortunately.

We had a really good talk and the evening ended on a very positive note! I was happy to hear later that there were parents outside waiting and got to hear what we were teaching.

Rebecka accompanied me while the teams came in to vote.

Then, when they were all done voting, Rebecka carried the clay pot to where we were to read the votes.

The two teams that tied for most votes were...
Those Who Believe whom The Explorers voted for...
and The Explorers, who Those Who Believe voted for.

Each time a team gets voted for, they get to choose between "Christ, Gold, or Silver." Those are the names of the three hidden treasures. Depending on which one they ask for, is what clue they get. If they get chosen twice, they get to have two of the three. If they win most votes, they get all three plus a video of me talking about treasures...ones the people have found around here from years ago, ones that are mentioned in the Bible, ones that we've hidden in the past, and the ones that are hidden this year. I give them a better clue of each one...but subtitled in the chinese font and chinese gibberish. If they get most votes a second week, they'll get a map to help them determine where to look using the compass. Right now there are three teams who have won most votes two times and one other team that has won once.

Monday, September 06, 2010

EL RETO 2010 Week Two

Week two started out running right from the gate! After taking role and accepting new students (we now have 87 students involved--a new record and only the second week!), we gave them some instructions as to what they were to do. One of the staff was with them on their journey...a race to Arrayanes!

We used #2 font for the clues throughout the race which forced most of them to use the magnifying glass inside the compass we gave them.
They first needed to go outside the church where their chauffeur was waiting for them and tell them where to take them.

In Love is in the truck and ready!
The message led them to the Cofradía baseball field where they were to find their next clue using their compass. That message led them on a journey through the woods and muddy roads to pick up accessories they would need in order to make a shield for the game they were to play once they got to Arrayanes. They crossed through mud, a wooded hill, a field of tall grass, and two rivers...

Once they got to Arrayanes, they began to work on their shields and received points for the first ones finished. Then we started a traditional RETO game called Gladiators. One team is placed in one corner of the speed soccer court while all the other teams run through a path to reach the goal. Along the path were tables for them to hide behind, but they still needed to get through the goal, otherwise their team would lose 50 points per person left behind before the music stopped.

All three barrels were full.
The Disciples were the first in the corral to throw water balloons.
Those Who Believe getting ready to leave the gate.
The Angels start running.
The Explorers made use of their shield.
In Love dodging and racing for the goal.
The Detectives passing the goal.

This year, one of the funnest things was to have the staff run through the course and the students throwing water balloons at us! Everyone loved it!!
Here's a video...

When we were done with this, teams met together for small group time to debrief what we learned while the staff cleaned up and prepared for "Under the Scope" in Cofradía.
All the teams were lined up "Under the Scope" with their torches lit.

This week, the discourse was focused on using the shield to fight off the fiery darts of the enemy just as they were using the shield in Gladiators to fight off the water balloons. Satan will try to convince us to believing a lie about Truth or even about someone else. We need to fight off those deceiving thoughts that lead to death.

The teams once again voted for another team that they thought did really well and had a good attitude...

The Detectives voted for...
In Love.

In Love voted for...
The Detectives.

The Explorers voted for...
In Love.

Those Who Believe voted for...
The Angels.

The Angels voted for...
The Disciples.

The Disciples voted for...
The Angels.

It had begun to rain so we read the votes fast and the two teams (In Love, and The Angels) that tied for the win came up to get their prizes.

A great week and a big challenge for some!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Emma Starts School

Emma started school this year. Here she is on her first day...totally excited!


It's a little late, but here's a pic from Rebecka's birthday party on August 13th. She had some friends over, cake and a piñata.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

EL RETO 2010 Week One


What a great start to this year's RETO! We had 60 students sign up on the first day. Part of winning points is to invite more students, so I expect more. I think our record is 82 from last year.
The back of this year's shirt with the RETO logo.

This year's theme is "EN BUSCA DE...??" ("In Search Of...??"). Many people are in pursuit of searching for something to fill their lives. Something that gives them peace or helps them forget their problems. This is an incredible theme that we could talk forever about!

Our desire is that this year, the students make an effort to search for Christ! Our theme verse is Jeremiah 29:13, "You will search me, and you will find me, when you search me with all your heart." We need to purposefully pursue our Maker! He will give us peace, He will fulfill all our needs. We do not need anything else but Him!

We are all so excited for this year. We expect God to do some awesome things in the lives of the youth in Cofradia, Santa Fe, Arrayanes, and Ruiz (and other towns when they arrive). I really believe that God uses everything this event is about to teach us to trust and grow closer to Him. Many of the things we learn are very practical things like how to deal with conflict, teamwork, and being a leader. One of the things I'm most excited about this year is seeing the adult staff building trust with the students. I think it's going to be a key factor in this year!

Here's the Staff...

The first week of the RETO is always the most laid back. We need to share with everyone the rules...
...then we give them just over an hour to identify their teams using a Bible story and coming up with a name from that story in relation to the theme of EL RETO--"En Busca De...??".

As the students were designing their flags, the staff got together to talk about a few things and pray...
...then, each team presented their flag, name, and story. Here they are in the order of their placing after the judging...
Los Exploradores "The Explorers" from the story of the 12 spies who went into the land of Canaan.
Los Detectives "The Detectives" from the story of Abraham's servant searching for a bride for Isaac.
Los Angeles "The Angels" from Exodus 23:20
Los Ke Creen "Those Who Believe" from the story of Lazarus in John 11.

Los Discipulos "The Disciples" from Mark 14

Los Enamorados "Those Who Are In Love" from Song of Solomon 3.

After the presentation, we started off "the search" having the students look for a very small bottle that had a message in it. The 60 students were all over looking for that tiny bottle that was hidden.
Then, Jazmin, a member of "The Disciples" found the bottle!
The message gave them 500 points and told them there were 48 more bottles hidden at the Mission Base. So, off they went.

While the students were out looking, we got prepared for Bajo La Lupa (Under The Scope). In previous years, this has been called "The Valley of Decision" and last year's "Armageddon". Here, we talk about our life "Under The Scope" as if we took a magnifying glass and looked into their lives. We give out "Filipos" (points for having a good attitude or doing something out of humility) and Punishments (the cheaters). After reading scripture from Revelation 20 and 21 where it talks about the books being opened and God making all things new as well as from 1 John 5:11-12, John 1:12 and Revelation 3:20, the students went into a separate room to vote.

This year, instead of voting for another team to do chores during the week, they were to vote for another team who they thought has had a great attitude and deserves to receive a prize--in a sense a "Filipo".

As they came up the stairs, they entered the door that's past the window you see on the wall. They walk through the lighted area (towards the camera)...
...then around the corner and through the strips of plastic ahead...
...then, they enter the voting room where they gather together, one team at a time, and vote. After voting they leave on the path to the right.
After all the teams had come in, we began to talk about our lives "Under the Scope" and the books that will be opened at the end of time.
Here, the students have to be silent and not talk. So, we had Ruben shooting the students who were talking with a water-gun. He loved it!
Then, the students came in to vote in order of how many points they had accumulated so far from first to last.

The Disciples came in and voted for...
The Angels.

The Explorers came in and voted for...
The Disciples.

In Love came in and voted for...
Those Who Believe.

The Angels came in and voted for...
In Love.

The Detectives came in and voted for...
you'll see in a sec...

Those Who Believe came in and voted for...
The Explorers.

As I read the votes, we gave the first clue to the Hidden Treasure to each team that received a vote. No one knows there are three hidden treasures except now the students who can read English and check out our blog LOL! They were asked a question and depending on their answer, they received the first clue to only one treasure.
The team to receive the most votes received a DVD of some more hints as to where the treasures are. Plus the video the staff put together as an example for this year's team project--a video of the story they chose. The staff video was of the story in 1 Samuel 9 when Saul went out searching for his dad's donkey that got lost and came upon Samuel who eventually anointed Saul as King. Here's the video...

The team that received the most votes was...

THE ANGELS! Congratulations to 14 year old first time RETO captain Mereida from Santa Fe and her team!

Many of the students are anxiously waiting for Saturday to come. This year, the clues to the treasures are in a Chinese font that I found in my computer. We will be selling letters (for points) next week.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support! All of you who pray and have given financially are taking part in reaching the lives of the youth in this area. THANK YOU!

If you would like to send a donation to support EL RETO, click here.