Thursday kicked off our actual teaching for the preparation of the teachers and staff. Of course, we began the day with devotions at 7 AM. Today‘s devotion would be from Ephesians 2 and would deal with the actuality of who we are in the flesh and who we are in Christ Jesus. After about 15 minutes of worship, 15 minutes of direction and teaching, each person was instructed to get alone for 20 minutes or so and seek some guided truths from Ephesians 2. This time of introspection was a critical beginning for the retreat. Our theme for the weekend was “Ministers of the New Covenant” and this launching pad was the simple understanding of who we were/are.

Then, of course, came breakfast at 8 AM. This morning saw some of that delicious Colombian cafe and I had to have mine con leche just because that is the way I am used to it there at the retreat center. I Must admit that they produce some of the finest coffee I have had; even Cheri likes their coffee and she is not even remotely a coffee-lover. We also had some delicious fruit juice, jugo de mandarina. Then there was pan y huevos. Then there was a lot of fruit, including passion fruit, mango, and mandarinas. (I need to say upfront that every meal was probably twice as much, if not more, than Cheri and I are used to eating. But its so good and we get it so rarely, why not jump in and take advantage of it.)

My first teaching was at 9 AM. (BTW, each teaching session was to last 90 minutes, including praise and worship.) I taught on the actuality and power of a covenant and entitled it “God’s Relationship: A Relationship of Covenant.” My translator was Diana and she did a marvelous job. It was as if her spirit connected with mine; she had all the voice inflections and animations. I was so proud of her … and she is only the same age as my son, Jamie. I had forgotten how seemingly cold this Colombian bunch was in the first two services and felt somewhat disappointed that I did not get a greater response than I did. (It is a good thing that I am not used to relying on responses during my teachings to enable my forward progress.

Cheri and I mixed the program up a little; I was also supposed to conduct the second section, but to give me a break, she took session number two. Her interpreter was Daniella Orozco. Dani did a good job but did not connect with Cheri like Diana did with me. This left Cheri a little frustrated but she pressed on. Her session was entitled, “Pure Heart” and dealt with getting and keeping a healthy and pure heart through forgiveness and corresponding freedom, etc.  She, too, forgot that  Colombians, at least those from Bogota, do not connect immediately, even if most knew us from last year. She, again, was frustrated but knew that God had brought us there for a great purpose.

Then came lunch. Lunch consisted of much more than either of us should have eaten all of but it came with guanabana leche which is probably our favorite drink in Colombia. Sopa (which is traditional with most meals in Bogota) consisted of a chicken broth, along with huge chucks of chicken, and about every vegetable one can think of. Of course, there were chunks of queso to eat as well. Oh yes, then there was a delicious carrot salad. (They had another name for that too but I can’t remember it … Hey, did I mention that we love Colombian food?)

We did get about 30 minutes to take a break before starting up again.

About 2:30, I led session 3. My message was entitled “Integrity” and dealt with Integrity as the highest quality in the minister of God. I used Dani this time to see if there was a better connection with her and me than there was with her and Cheri. There did seem to be some connection. I did print up all of my scriptures for her in Spanish so that she would not have to struggle to come up with some of those words in a fashion that seemed familiar to our audience. That seemed to be the needed ingredient. The response I received was much greater than earlier as I basically presented three Biblical leaders to them: Saul, David, and Absalom, along with their corresponding character traits. I then asked them which type of leader they wanted to be: one who started out well but left God and thus, was rejected by God; one who started out well, messed up but repented and thus, became known as a person after God’s own heart; or one who started out badly and ended up worse. This produced a great time of introspection as much deep prayer and cleansing, repenting tears were observed.

After a 15 minute break, Cheri was back up for session 4. In that 15 minute break, I was able to type up her scriptures in Spanish. (OK, copied and pasted.) She used Diana as her interpreter and there was a powerful connection between them. Diana was so moved by the message that Cheri was speaking that she she was visibly shaken (through both tears and other emotions.) Although we only had planned for 90 minutes, this session went for about 130-140 minutes. It wasn’t all speaking either; there were prophetic words going forth, people were dropping to their knees in repentance, and others were simply receiving their blessings for the day. It was a super service. Oh yeah, Cheri spoke on “First Love” and touched on Developing a life of intimacy with God in order to bless others. Her primary passage was that from Revelation regarding leaving your first love. I cannot say enough regarding how strong the anointing was in those last two services/sessions.

Of course the day is running long by now, but there is enough time factored in for this very kind of thing.

We are through speaking for the day.

We rested a little and then it was time for a BIG supper. This time our meal was another traditional Colombian meal with arepa (type of bread) and beans and rice with beef flank steak and again, much fruit. One thing I failed to mention in earlier posts, most of the fruit we ate at the retreat was raised there on the grounds of the retreat center. Again, we ate way too much … and then they bring out some custard-like dessert made out of Guanabana and drizzled with a leche-based glaze. I didn’t have room for it … but I ate it anyway and boy, am I glad I did.

After a few late night activities, we headed to bed for some much needed rest. After all, Day 5 starts at 7 AM again. But Julio knocks on our door and says, we can sleep in and that the day will begin at 8 AM. Praise the Lord!