Another church retreat weekend for Laws Mennonite Church is history. It feels like I have some perspective on the weekend as I sit in my chair in my air conditioned house after getting some down time.
The weekend felt like it was terribly long — until today when it was suddenly over. There was the usual scramble to divvy up the leftovers, clean the kitchen, and get the dining room/gathering place back in order, the cement floor swept and even mopped in places..
We heard a lot this weekend about this particular church camp and memories of times there through the years. (http://www.campmardela.org/index.htm) We had cooks there from Gateway Fellowship, previously known as Cannon Mennonite Church, where the whole idea of church retreats was first begun in this community back in the late 70’s by John Mishler. We also had people with histories at Tressler Mennonite Church, who used Camp Mardela for Church retreat at some point in time. And there were people there who have memories of family reunions that were held there, and even a family who sent a child there in the late 70’s.
Actually, I never really understood that this Brethren Church campground was something that could be utilized for a church camp, but we found out! For sure! The facilities are great — (but OH! Was it ever HOT!) Our church does plan to go back to Mardella next year, only in late September. For years we’ve used Denton Wesleyan Family Camp but they have increased in price so much that it is cost prohibitive for our church, plus they gave our already “scheduled and deposited for” weekend away last year, and seemed to think that it wouldn’t really matter. Because of how our church members plan their schedules around this event, it really made scheduling extremely difficult for us. In fact, it was enough of a fiasco that we decided to go somewhere else!
Last year we went to Redden Forest State Park, and that was okay on short notice but the facilities were inadequate as far as the lodging space and kitchen provision. So this year, the committee researched our options early on and we were able to get this. We had originally planned for the last weekend in September, but out of consideration for some of our congregation who were planning for a family wedding that weekend, we asked to change it and this was the weekend that there was an opening. Camp Mardela is nice as far as activities for recreation, playground equipment for the children, a well equipped kitchen and space for group activities. It even has some nice lodging accommodations for reasonable prices. The lodging rooms have A/C so that was especially appreciated this weekend. The main gathering hall does not, though, so that was just a little bit hard on us “oldsters.”
We had nice activities planned — the kids decorated t-shirts, played in the sandy dirt, ate snacks, drank copious amounts of liquid, rode on the swings, merry-go-round and played carpet ball, four square and air hockey with the adults. The camp even has a tractor and wagon for “hayrides” and we had made arrangements for that on Saturday evening. Ms. Shirley had made the arrangements with the camp caregiver, and she asked Certain Man to drive the little old John Deere tractor. They went across the lawn to the shed where it was kept and brought it around to the front of Kraybill Hall where we were meeting. (You can check it out here: http://www.campmardela.org/Facility/Facility_Kraybill_Hall.html) I looked up from a park bench in front of the hall to see Daniel driving the tractor with the wagon on behind and the sole occupant was Ms. Shirley.
“Well, look at that,” I said to my friend Loretta, who was sitting beside me. “My husband has taken to hauling around another woman!” But it wasn’t something to belabor or to be jealous about. It was just another example of the kind of working together that made the whole weekend a whole lot easier and memorable. CM brought the tractor to a stop in front of the hall, taking note of where the sand wasn’t as deep, and the people lined up to get on board. The wagon was just big enough for all who wanted to ride, and ride! they did!
So, yes, it was HOT, and yes, the yellow jackets did buzz around, and yes, we had some things that made our hearts exceedingly heavy. But we did have a great time and such a wonderful message from David Yoder (from Dover) this morning to draw our hearts towards things that are Eternal, and principles by which to live.
. . . Church retreat weekend! Ah, me! The memories are wonderful! And the committee this year was stellar. (Shirley Miller, Jesse and Christina Yutzy Bontrager, Tyler and Amy Schrock) Our cooks, Carl and Sue Chupp, did a splendid job, and the food was delicious and adequate, the leftovers were not too abundant, and we were able to bless the Home of the Brave with some supper fixin’s!
There is just so much for which to be thankful!
My heart gives grateful praise.