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Sunday, May 4, 2008


Twice a year we take a group from our church on a 24 hour getaway to a lovely place on the Baltic Sea called Stensnas. We depart from church on Friday at 6.00 p.m. and are back at church by 6.00 p.m. on Saturday. It is always a fantastic way to spend 24 hours. We sing silly songs. We play silly games. We eat great food. We listen to God's word. We learn to know one another. We take in the beauty of God's creation. We sing around the campfire until we're hoarse. We laugh. Sometimes we cry. Always we rejoice.
This week-end we explored our spiritual gifts. My shepherding gift comes out strong again. I am thankful. I love the sheep of Immanuel International. There is truly no greater privilege than to lead this wonderfully diverse, gifted, enthusiastic, amazing group. They are grateful. They are hungry to learn. They are fun! They participate with joy. They willingly, even eagerly, participate in the crazy schemes we come up finding demented moose who have escaped from a wildlife preserve in Northern Sweden. (My husband has a very active imagination! See photo of said moose below!). They play Maria Goes to Town, a brainchild of our Philippina corps! Each team gets several articles of clothing that they have to don, then they have to walk "into town" swaggering all the way, and return to their team where the next person takes on the persona of Maria. The men are hilarious...they don't know how to carry the handbag! But they like to strut their stuff on the catwalk! Everyone does it. Everyone laughs. We grow closer through silliness.

We are a diverse group at Immanuel International Church. People from Tanzania, Malawi, Singapore, England, South Korea, Scotland, Taiwan, the US, Canada, Sweden, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Ukraine, the Philipines, Eritrea, Ghana, Japan, Uganda and Ecuador were present on this outing. And I marvel at how the walls come down between people as we relax, and share and find our center in Christ. We bring different spiritual journeys to the table. We come from diverse cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. And yet, all of us are trying to know God and his Son Jesus with greater fevor. It is a gift. It is a retreat from the tensions between people that are all too present in the world around us. I feel blessed beyond expression.