Friday, December 08, 2023


We all met together along with friends and family to finish out EL RETO 2023 "The Return" at the church starting with Worship and the Word. Caleb did an excellent job leading us in very meaningful worship and Pastor Amado hit a home run with his message. We had all the students come forward for prayer and you could see that some were touched and it made an impact on their lives as tears rolled down their cheeks. It was a pleasure and great opportunity to be able to connect with these kids.

We continued with the "competition" part of EL RETO. Each team had to present a project that related to their team's name and the theme of EL RETO. All but one team presented a video. The first team up was the red team, "The Raptured Ones", and they shared a quick live sketch/drama for their team. Then, we proceeded with the other three and showed their videos.

After the presentation of projects, we proceeded to share with everyone the results of the "Coin War" and "Hidden Treasure". Goyito did a great job presenting these.

The "Coin War" gives a chance for teams to receive points according to the different coins they put in their prospective jars. Each coin has a different point value and a couple of them even take points away from other teams. The White Team won this one hands down with over 11,000 points ahead of second place Blue with a little over 6,000 points. For winning this "Coin War" the first place team added 5,000 points to their general score while second place got 2,500 points. This caused some confusion in the end as the White Team didn't realize they'd only be getting 5,000 points (more about this later).

The "Hidden Treasure" is something we integrated in EL RETO since 2007. This Hidden Treasure allows the team who finds it an opportunity to Challenge the team with most points in a Final Challenge for the Championship. EL RETO FINAL is like the Super Bowl of the event. The White Team found the treasure and made it to the RETO FINAL to challenge the team with most points...unless they had the most points, then there would be no Final Challenge.

While we waited for the final results to come in, we played a clip of the very first RETO that we did in 2005 that has some of the leaders in it since the theme was "The Return"...

In the end, when the final scores were announced, it was the Red Team and Blue Team who led the others with the two highest scores. The Blue team came out ahead with 3,000 more points than the Red Team.

So, there was a RETO FINAL between the White Team and the Blue Team!

After answering a series of questions that reflected what they had experienced the past three weeks, they received points for each question answered correctly. Each point represented one meter of distance for the opposite team (hang on and I'll explain). They were to open a locked box (something they'd been doing since before the event started) that contained a ball that they would roll down a pieced-together channel of  ½ cut PVC into a bucket as they worked as a team. Because the White Team was challenging, we added a "Speed Bump" which was 3 meters of distance. The White Team never learned the instructions on how to open the lock, so we GRACIOUSLY allowed them to look at the instructions and have one team member learn how to do it as we added one more meter for penalty. In the end, the Blue Team had 16 points and the White Team had 8 points. That means, The White Team's channel was 16 meters long (because of Blue Team's 16 points) and the Blue Team's channel was 8 meters long (because of the White Team's 8 points).

A twist...instead of having the three numbers to the locks available, they had to count different figures amongst a plethora of others on sheets of paper at the other end of the church to get the numbers. If the number was 16, there were 16 of the figures they had to find. Each figure was a letter of the greek alphabet plus a few fake ones, some look very close to others. 

An example of what they had to count...

After all three team members one by one raced off to count the figures, both teams were wrong and had to recount them. The Blue Team was very close on the second try and the lock opened while the White Team was off enough that the lock did not open. So, I GRACIOUSLY told them which of the three numbers that was incorrect. So, that person raced back to the other side of the church to count again while the Blue Team was rolling their ball down the channel. The Blue Team struggled quite a bit as the ball kept falling which gave time for the White Team to catch up and try the lock again...nothing. As the White Team was trying to open the box, the Blue Team's ball fell into the bucket and they won...

The WINNERS of EL RETO 2023!!
"The Elect"

TEACHABLE MOMENT: The White Team presented us with a perfect example of the importance of Reading the Instructions. Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death." If we do not read the instructions we will not know how things actually work. If the White Team would have read the instructions on two occasions, they would not have left that night disappointed which unfortunately is what happened. Before EL RETO, each captain was given instructions on how to open the lock and the White Team's captain never tried it. There were numerous opportunities to learn how to do it and some did learn it, but no one on the white team bothered to learn. That is why we GRACIOUSLY gave them the instructions, but penalized them one meter which the Blue Team did not agree with.

In the end, they were more upset because they thought their 11,000+ points were "reduced" to 5,000 in the "Coin War". But, the Rules from the beginning stated that the team with most points in the "Coin War" would receive 5,000 points and it is completely separate from the general score. 

What can we learn from this? (1) You cannot buy your way into a Victorious Life. (2) You cannot enter into a Victorious Life without knowing and following the instructions.

The true winners of EL RETO are those who are able to walk away from the event having learned something about God and Life. This was a huge lesson to learn and our prayer is that hearts would be open to see it and receive it.

Here is a short video of the whole evening...


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