We are back at retreats up here in the cold north!  After a vacation over Christmas and some sickness upon returning home, January found us playing catch up as retreats kicked off promptly on New Year’s Day.

That first retreat ran Saturday-Monday and was our College/Career Retreat.  We welcomed young adults for the first retreat of the season.  They are always a fun bunch.  Since some of them have been on summer staff in the past, many know each other and are glad to reconnect.  It is also a great time for these former summer staff to begin thinking about returning for another summer or to bring friends who are possibly interested in serving here as well.  

The next three weekends, including this past one, we have hosted Fathers and Sons on the East Side and Teens on the West Side. We have been thankful for some great winter weather that keeps the tubing hill and ice rinks running!  And yes, it is a sacrifice of praise for me to say “great winter weather,” since I find more and more that winters are not my thing!  Jim?  He’s as happy as can be with snow falling and cold temperatures.  But after a warm weather vacation over Christmas, it was a cold, hard reality for me to come back to single digit temps!  But praise the Lord for it we must, as our winter camping activities depend on it!

A big day coming soon is February 2 – the day summer camp registration opens!  Mark your calendars and set your alarms for 8am if you have campers to sign up, especially if you have high school campers.  High school weeks fill VERY fast, some within the first hour.  The countdown to that day is keeping Jim very busy and we’re praying for everything to go smoothly. 

Jim and I are taking on a new role this summer: the YAPS coordinators.  YAPS?  If you aren’t familiar with this acronym, it stands for Young Adult Program Staff.  They are a group of our summer staff made up mostly of those who have just graduated form high school.  They come for a portion or all of the summer and fill MANY roles around camp.  Most that are straight out of high school don’t step right into counseling, so we instead plug them into a whole variety of program jobs.  Archery range, riflery range, handcrafts, camp store, piano, kitchen, laundry, zipline, media, bike shop, office, waterfront…..it is a long list of places that these workers are needed.  Then you add to that countless other tasks that they fill their week with around their main roles.  I’m new at this, so I can’t even tell you all the tasks the YAPS take care of in a week!  All that to say, someone needs to oversee them, and this year that is Jim and I.  Applications are already coming in and interviews have started.  Over the next four months we will watch the Lord assemble this group of servants and we will prepare to coordinate them once they all arrive for summer.  Know a high school graduate this year?  Send them our way if they are looking for a place to serve the Lord this summer and grow amazingly in the process.

Some praises and prayer requests for our family:

  • We have settled back into a retreat rhythm and are again thankful for our flexible school schedule that allows us to have Saturday as a school day and Monday off.
  • Praise the Lord for Mary Emma’s safety as she drives frequently back and forth to Oscoda where she does her ballet training.  We are also very thankful for the provision of a place for her to stay in Oscoda two nights each week with someone we know from church up here.  It really has been amazing to see Him put together a plan for her this year even as we live and work in such a nuanced place.  Which brings me to a request….
  • Pray for Mary Emma over the next few months as she explores her options for next year.  She has several auditions in February and is considering locations in many places to continue her ballet training next year, including one place overseas.  So many decisions and thoughts to navigate!  Pray first and foremost that she would seek the Lord first, and all the rest will fall into place.
  • Pray for Grace as she finishes her last semester at Hillsdale.  She, too, is in a position of seeking what God has next for her, both this summer and after.
  • Pray for Lydia as she homeschools for 9th grade.  It is an isolated place up here for a homeschooler, and she spends quite a lot of time at home.  Pray that her heart would be open to the limited group of friends that are in the area, and that she would continue being content in this circumstance, which, praise the Lord, she really is most of the time. 
  • Pray for the next 5 weekends of retreats. For the teens that come, the speakers who proclaim God’s Word, and the many volunteer staff who make the weekends possible.
  • Pray for us as we really get rolling with the YAPS coordinator position.
  • Pray that the Lord would continue to send young adults interested in serving here for the summer. 

The Lord continues to use this place for His glory and we are so glad to be a part of it.

Rachel, for the Bennetts