We were here at the Magnificat Community Retreat place http://www.magnificat.org.nz/venues.php but staying in Bethlehem (scroll down). It's better now than it was when this pic was taken, the site is halfway ready. We had to feed fifty teenaged girls with no cooking facilities in the place (the kitchen isn't finished) so there was a dishwasher, oven, gas rings, lights, all in the kitchen, but none of them worked LOL! We brought precooked food and heated it up in the retreat house next door (which thankfully was not in use). Still only one pathetic oven there though, to heat lasagne or pizza for fifty. And one 4-slice toaster in the mornings for making toast for 50 girls!
However, those things aside, I had a wonderful time. The girls started out pretty self-centred but, by the end of it all, were a lot more committed as a solid group of leaders of the college. There were very few tensions, quite a few tears, a lot of laughs and not much sleep, especially the first night! I found one working power-point in the centre of the complex, as the bedrooms went down in an L shape in two directions, and so I woke everyone who wasn't up at quarter to seven with loud holy rock music, since they had to be at prayers at 7:15. The next day, at seven, the place was silent. Everyone was exhausted this time! But I put on a loud song again and heads popped out at once, with desperate pleas to have a quick shower!
The girls learned about leadership, about personality types, about seeing themselves as gifts, they did co-operative games that they had to lead for one another, they did a rescue activity in teams, they learned about labyrinths and meditative prayer in motion (that was mine) and they had a session on how to get to be dux, and even information on scholarships! They had to eat together, help with the dishes and look after one another. We had three liturgies as well, feedback sessions and evaluations. There was a section led by the head and deputy head girls as well. It was a very busy three days.
I slept in a room by myself in the centre of the complex, with the other three teachers and the one aide at either end of the place, so we had it covered in terms of adult supervision. My door didn't close as there was a huge temporary power lead running out of the door and down to the dining room but I didn't really care. It was really hot there but the bugs are so prevalent, I didn't want to leave the windows open, chicken that I am!
Anyway, it was a moving and valuable experience, and I'm glad I was asked to go. The family managed to survive without me. Steve said, somewhat mystified, that all he did was drive people places and pay for things. I said, 'welcome to my world'.
And Monday, Finn goes away for five days to the Marlborough Sounds, to a camp with his school. He has a backpack that's almost heavier than him!
And photos? I'll download the whole 200-odd pics that everyone took on my camera later this weekend, and then I can share some visuals with you. For now, I just wanted to say HI!!!