ROSCOMMON, MI – The tables were set for dinner and the chicken was in the smoker as women began arriving at the first Titus 2 Women’s Retreat. The women and girls, ages 8 and up, were anticipating the unknown as they approached the lodge. More than half of the women attending were first timers at Bambi Lake.
Unlike many retreats, most of the women arrived at the earliest check-in time. Taking advantage of the free time, they explored the camp. They climbed on Noah’s Ark, enjoyed the swings, and played Family Feud in the Lodge Family Room. Others made new friends in the newly remodeled lobby or relaxed in their rooms while last minute details were finished in the workstations, and readied for dining room.
At dinner time, the salad bar was plentiful. As salad bowls were filled, smoked barbecue chicken, roasted red potatoes, and a blend of vegetables were served to the tables. Then, dessert was served, key lime or tiramisu.
A time of worship began with camp director, Mick Schatz, leading in a few worship songs before Sharon Hessling shared scriptures and life stories to encourage and challenge. Sharon served as an IMB missionary for many years and, now retired, serves the Lord in Port Huron and also makes fabulous pies! In later sessions, she shared stories of women through the Bible, leading from Eve and the first sin, to the cross where our redemption from sin was paid by Christ. She also shared stories of women impacted by expectations and culture, and how women impact women working and sharing life side by side.
Activities planned for the weekend? First, lunch preparations were on the agenda, with several opportunities to participate. Karen Villalpando guided a group making four delicious salads and soups including Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana Soup. Tablecloths and flower arrangements were added to the tales as they shared about hospitality. Katie Nettle worked with a group making bread dough. After the dough had risen overnight, it was baked in 15 mini-loaves. Sharon Hessling taught her special techniques for making flaky crust, making apple and blackberry pies. These pies were served for dessert. She even blessed those who follow a gluten free diet with heavenly apple pie.
While lunch preparations were proceeding in the kitchen and eating area, craft activities were taking place on the other side of the room. “I really like the vast amount of choices of things to do” said Abigail, age 15.
Elaine Hill encouraged women to show appreciation through the special gift of a handmade, unique card. She also offered opportunity to work on scrapbooking pages. First time crafters in this area were delighted with the use of an embosser and a cricut. As a leader of a break-out session, Elaine reflected on one meaningful encounter at the retreat. “As the ladies went from project to project learning different crafts, I noticed a young woman sitting at my table. She looked miles away in her thoughts. As I walked over, she smiled and apologized for not having started her card. I told her I could help her, but she asked to “just talk”. I sat down by her, and she began to share about her family and things that were burdening her heart. I learned that she was a new Christian, but struggling. She had so many things she didn’t understand. After sharing some verses with her, I asked if I could pray for her. We prayed for wisdom, and thanked God for our new friendship. After that session, as I walked back to the lodge, I realized, sometimes we need to bend with the plans, and sometimes women need to be allowed to “just talk.” Sometimes God has a whole different purpose for a retreat. I’m glad I listened.”
Christine Witt led groups of women, step by step, through a flower arranging experience. Beautiful creative arrangements were taken home by their creators. Denise Smiley patiently worked with knitting and crochet. Hot pads and dishcloths were the featured projects, and others joined in with projects of their own. “It was kind of making me mad at first,” said Emily, age 13, “but once I could get it, it was OK!” Although it looks easy, it is harder than it looks. Yarn and needles or hooks were taken home to continue developing the skills learned. “It looked like a scarf for a ceramic dog,” Katie began, “but now it looks like a half of a washcloth.” Katie continued, “It made me think of the things that I do that I could teach.”
Would they come again? Was it a great experience? Resounding YES!!! Hannah, age 11, says "It was fun. It was really good. I liked it. I enjoyed the crafts, and just everything!" Theresa attended with her daughter. “I enjoyed the fellowship with Godly women, the light flexible schedule and the side by side mentoring. It is a must for women of all ages to attend.”
“We were very excited for the opportunity to partner with Bambi Lake to offer the multi-generational retreat for ladies. It surpassed our expectations! A huge thank you to Nancy Spears and Karen Villalpando for directing this event. We look forward to offering the Titus 2 retreat again next spring,” says Sue Hodnett, Women’s Ministry Director.
The next Titus 2 Retreat is scheduled for April 26-27, 2019. Reserve that date on your calendar today! You will want to be a part of this event. Then invite friends and family to join in. Go online, make your reservation and pay your deposit. Women of all ages having side by side experiences - there isn’t anything like it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy Spears serves as administrative assistant to Mick Schatz, director of Bambi Lake Camp and Conference Center. She coordinates communications efforts for the camp as well as participating in many of the camps and activities throughout the year.