Tuesday, September 22, 2015



The race is on!  Week three started right away with a race to the Refuge.  A simple activity at the church allowed other staff members to leave and set up their activities in the other towns. 

This simple activity was to balance a ball on a table while eight team members carried the table from one side of the church to the other and drop the ball into a bucket.  They were not allowed to touch or blow on the ball; if the ball fell or missed the bucket, they had to start again.  

Most of the teams accomplished this on the first try.  In a surprisingly quick one minute, The Brave of Heart team finished first.  Along with first place also came a secret prize!  They were to detain another team for five minutes once that team showed up at the final activity of the day--which turned out to be the perfect teachable moment for which it was intended (I have placed an asterisk* at the beginning of the paragraphs that expound on the teachable moment).

Once they finished that task, they got a not that led them to find Martin in the town of Las Pilas.  He was waiting for the teams at the small lake where they were to fill up a bucket of water on a teeter-totter that had metal bucket on the other end where they were to make a fire.  As the water bucket got heavier, it lifted the fire bucket up.  

Once they caught on fire a bag hanging on a tree, they were finished with their task.  Their next clue was waiting for them inside an anchored balloon in the lake.

That message sent them to the town of Santa Fe and contained instructions for their next activity.  This activity was a revision of kickball where the base paths were plastic covered with soap and water and the bases were swimming pools.  Someone posted this of Facebook.  We liked it and tried it.  If you are a youth pastor, YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!  The students who participated loved it!  Here are a bunch of pictures...
1st Base

Returning to 2nd base

Sliding into Home!

3rd Base!

After they scored three runs, their team was to distribute care packages to families who had been affected in the recent flooding.  The river grew over its edges and some homes had three feet of water in them; the baseball field where they played kickball had been under water a week earlier.

As they left Santa Fe, they headed back to the mission base in Cofradia where there were a plethora of activities for them to do.  They divided their team into five small groups for five activities: Puzzle, Accounting, Sports, Couples, and Remembering.  The Puzzle group put together a 300-piece puzzle, which was the longest of the activities.  The Accounting group counted all the bricks in the south wall of the mission base (1,497).  The Sports group had to take turns at trying to make a difficult basket, The Couples group had to match two designs that were facedown (see picture), The Remembering team had to memorize the RETO theme verses (Psalm 139:13,16) and tell them to someone who lives about four blocks away.  If one of the five groups finished, they could help the other groups who were still working.  
The Puzzle
The Accounting
The Couples
*This was the final activity location of the day where The Recognized by God team was detained for five minutes.  This was a teachable moment that we took advantage of in order to bring to light the fact that the world rejects Christianity and tries to discredit our beliefs.  What does it feel like to be rejected?  What does it feel like when someone does something wrong to you when you didn't deserve it?  How do we respond as Christians?  Is it important for us to know who hurt us? (I did not tell them which team detained them).  Our reaction should be love and forgiveness.  In the end, there is a prize waiting for us in heaven.  We need to try our best to let Christ live through us to love and forgive others just like he has loved and forgiven us.

The Brave of Heart, The Christ-Sent, and The Recognized by God teams all finished before the allotted time while the other three teams came very close.  We sent everyone to the Refuge at the church at 7pm.

Pastor Luis did an excellent job of integrating these activities in his message to the students that night.  Using the story of the Prodigal Son, he related that family to a puzzle and the son that left was a missing piece to the puzzle of that family.  When the son came back, the Father was extremely happy, for that missing piece to the puzzle had been found and now they were complete once again!

We are all important to God the Father.  When we stumble and mess up, God is always willing to forgive.  He gets excited that we, as missing puzzle pieces, are found.

*During the reading of the votes for chores, it was revealed that the team that was detained was to receive a prize--Immunity to Chores plus all the clues to the Hidden Treasures.  As the captain was walking back to his team after receiving the prize, I stopped him and let him know that this is the principal that we wanted to get across to his team.  It could have been any team, but God chose his team to receive this message.  The message was to know that God rewards us for obeying him.  In this case, forgiving others for wrongs done against us.

There were a number of different teachable moments in this third week.   This is one of the exciting things that happen during EL RETO.  We get an opportunity to speak into students' lives that we normally don't have.  So many of these students don't know Jesus.  Please continue to pray for soft, open, and receptive hearts as we share God's love with them.

Enjoy the video recap...

You can be part of this great event by making a special donation to EL RETO online here.  Your gifts provide the resources, preparation, promotion, transportation, prizes, and the opportunity for the young people to come to this event.  NOT ONE of the students is charged any kind of admission fee because we want them to come.  We thank you in advance for participating with us!

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