Wednesday, August 31, 2011




This year EL RETO started on Monday, August 15 for the Captains as we took them on a Retreat to San Blas, Nayarit where we did some team activities, discussed some important issues about leadership and carried out some activities for them in order that they would decide what story and color they would use for their teams.  Also, we added a "Medallion of Power" to this year's event which gives the team possessing it an advantage in the next activity.  They don't have to use it, but can only obtain it for three activities; then they have to pass it to another team who has not had it yet.  It was a lot of fun!

  • Aidé Garzón (Arrayanes) chose her team to be brown and use the "Parable of the Ten Virgins" (Matthew 25:1-13) as the team's story.
  • Fran Ruíz (Cofradía) chose his team to be red and use the "Parable of the Great Banquet" (Luke 14:15-24) as the team's story.
  •  Chuy Orozco (Cofradía) chose his team to be green and use the "Parable of the Wedding Banquet" (Matthew 22:1-14) as the team's story.
  • Jorge García (Cofradía) chose his team to be blue and use the "Rich Man and Lazarus" (Luke 16:19-31) as the team's story.
  • Guille Orozco (Cofradía) chose his team to be orange and use the "Rich Young Man" (Mark 10:17-31) as the team's story.
  • Alfredo Garzón (Arrayanes) chose his team to be yellow and use the "Parable of the Talents" (Matthew 25:14-30) as the team's story.
  • Aidé found the Medallion of Power and she elected to use it in order to choose the color for her team.  She then passed it on to Guille.

The next Saturday, the Captains were given color-coded tokens to give out to students (maximum 10) in order to form their team.  Each student that showed up with a token on Week One (8/27), received 50 points and was placed on the team of the color of the token they turned in.

  • Aidé-300 pts.
  • Fran-500 pts.
  • Chuy-100 pts.
  • Jorge-250 pts.
  • Guille-500 pts.
  • Alfredo-500 pts.

More students showed up after the allotted time for registration.  We had a total of 66 students for the first week; each team was maxed out.

We proceeded to welcome the students, introduce the Staff, and explain this year's theme, "To Be Continued..."


"To Be Continued..." has to do with our existence.  This is a message that burns inside me and has ever since I was in High School when I began to actively serve God.  Our existence is "To Be Continued...". Jesus said in John 11:25, "I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."  If we believe in Jesus, we will "continue" to live even though we die.  If we don't, we will continue in death; aware of our complete isolation from God's presence--there is nothing good about that.  1 John 5:11,12 says, "...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

We explained to the students the rules of the competition and sent them off to chose a name for their team as well as design a flag, a banner, and a tombstone.  Once they were finished, they were judged on a number of aspects as they presented their work to the judges.

  • Aidé's team is called The Prudent--310 pts.
  • Fran's team is called The Servants of the Lord--255 pts.
  • Chuy's team is called The Chosen--355 pts.
  • Jorge's team is called The Humble--315 pts.
  • Guilles' team is called The Heirs--415 pts.
  • Alfredo's team is called The Faithful--360 pts.

Los Herederos (The Heirs)

Los Humildes (The Humble)

Prudentes (The Prudent)

Los Escogidos (The Chosen)
Once they were finished, their next activity would send them outside the church in order for us to prepare for what was next--the traditional take off from Survivor's Tribal Council.  This year it will be called "Part Two".

In this activity, the teams were sent out in 10-second intervals, as they had to immediately choose between "Suffering" and "Entertainment."  They did not know what either activity would involve; they only knew the title of the activity.  Later, we would use it as our TEACHABLE MOMENT in Part Two.

Suffering: They would have to go all the way to the next town (Santa Fe--3 miles) in the truck driven by their chaperon.  The clue they were given said to look for a Staff member sitting on the porch of a house in Santa Fe.  Once they found the house, they were to search for little tiny bottles with prizes in them hidden throughout the property.  As they finished, they received their reward--the alphabet of the Chinese code language we will use this year.

Entertainment: They would have to run up to the Mission Base (four blocks).  They would immediately receive their reward--a fake alphabet of the Chinese code language.  Then, they would enjoy soda, chips, popcorn, and cookies as they watched a movie (which would be turned off about 15 - 20 minutes into it in order for them to go back to the church for "Part Two"). 
What the students missed out on 
RESULTS:  Without knowing any details, every team chose "Suffering" instead of "Entertainment."  Every team received the correct Chinese code language alphabet plus the points they found inside the little bottles that were hidden.

  • The Prudent--1,500 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord--100 pts.
  • The Chosen--1,850 pts.
  • The Humble--0 pts.
  • The Heirs--3,050 pts.
  • The Faithful--0 pts.
  • Guille's team, The Heirs, elected to use the Medallion of Power to give them a one-minute advantage over the other teams.  Even though they were the second team to arrive at the house, it looks like it helped them.  The first team to arrive at the house to search for the bottles was The Prudent.  The Heirs passed the Medallion of Power to The Chosen.

All the teams returned to the Church for Part Two.  One by one, the teams entered into the church according to how many points they had accumulated up to this point.  The focus of Part Two was that you can choose to suffer now and have life later, or choose to follow your fleshly desires now and suffer later.  We used two main scripture references:  Luke 16:19-31 and Hebrews 11:24-26.
Part Two
Luke 16:19-31 is the Rich Man and Lazarus.  Here, we focused on how the Rich Man cried out in agony from Hell; a place he ended up because of his decisions he made on earth.

In Hebrews 11:24-26 we learn that Moses denied his right to be called the Pharoah's daughter's son.  He chose to be mistreated with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.  He chose Suffering instead of Entertainment because he had his eyes set on his reward.

TEACHABLE MOMENT:  We can choose to give our life to Jesus knowing that we will suffer ridicule and persecution.  But, we know that there will be a reward for us that lasts for eternity in our "Part Two."  OR.  We can choose to live our life the way we want and seek out pleasure and self-gratification.  But, if we choose that life, our "Part Two" will be suffering for eternity. 

I was more than excited when I heard that every team chose "Suffering."  As I waited for the teams to arrive at "Part Two," I could only imagine a glimpse of what God must sense when his creation chooses to serve Him instead of themselves.

In the end, each team would enter into the voting room.  If they found that their name was written in "The Book of Life", they could vote for a team to receive a reward (clues to hidden treasures).  Since all the teams chose "Suffering," they all were written in the Book of Life.  For each vote a team received, they got to choose a clue to one of the three hidden treasures:  Resurrection, Judgment, and Grace.  I would tell you what they mean, but that's a secret (smile).

  • The Prudent-0 votes
  • The Servants of the Lord-1 vote
  • The Chosen-1 vote
  • The Humble-3 votes
  • The Heirs-0 votes
  • The Faithful-1 vote

The voting room this year is our upstairs youth room converted into a graveyard.  The tombstones the teams created have been set in place.  They walk through the graveyard, pass through a dark area (where we had a Staff act out the "Rich Man" from Luke 16), and arrive at a smoke filled voting room.  They voted and exited towards the end door through the smoke (from where I was standing, it looked like they were disappearing).

The Youth Room turned Graveyard
The Book of Life
The Walk
The Vote

  • The Prudent--2,508 pts.
  • The Servants of the Lord--1,500 pts.
  • The Chosen--2,754 pts.
  • The Humble--1,238 pts.
  • The Heirs--4,630 pts.
  • The Faithful--1,397 pts.


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