[leaders’ bootcamp: epic fail… or not?]
Writer’s block is a scary thing. Yes, I know I have been whining about how I want to turn my thoughts off, but once my wish was granted, I realized that it’s a very discomforting feeling. Thankfully the mind is recovering slowly (God, please don’t listen to that particular prayer of mine ever again).
I remembered one thing that I haven’t shared yet from the Leaders’ Boot Camp, one of the best experiences from that training. It’s a long post, I am sorry, but I just couldn’t really throw the details out.
We were told that we would have a “quiet time with God.” We were asked to wear something white or light because we were going to go through the woods and we would have to see each other in the darkness (the camp is in a tiny little village that doesn’t have too many street lights… especially in the forest).
The task was fairly simple. There were 32 of us, the trainees, and 4 trainers. Two of the trainers were walking in front of everyone, with a lamp. We were to go one after another, about 5 meters (roughly 16 feet) distance between the person in front and the person behind. The time in the woods was supposed to be our time with God – to pray, to enjoy the magnificent sky, to inhale the clear forest air, and just to be with Him.
In front of me, there were about a dozen people. I waited for my turn to go, and after one of the coaches who stayed behind whispered a Bible verse to me, I stepped through the gate and found myself in the darkness, lit only by the stars above my head and a feeble light from the camp behind me. My eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the scenery and I found the silhouette of the lady whom I was supposed to follow. Behind me, I heard the crunch of the leaves under the feet of my friend Tonya who was walking behind me.
I looked up and stopped for a second. It was just way too amazing. In Kyiv, we get too much light and there, in a little village of Kiylov, I could see the stars in all their glory. The moon was shining as well and I found myself grinning widely at the display of His intricate design. “The skies declare Your glory,” I whispered, and then moved on after the gal in front of me.
The day before this was hectic. I experienced the full range of emotions: I laughed in the morning, cried in depression / anger during lunchtime, and during dinner I was not a happy camper. Finally in the evening, the cardiogram of my moods settled (not dead, but at least not arrhythmic either) and I decided to enjoy whatever lessons God wanted me to learn.
I pondered on all this as I was walking through the woods, thanking Him for keeping me sane and giving me peace. Even taking into account the day’s experiences, I was oddly at peace. As I looked around once again, I saw a fire on one of the hills of the forest. “Cool, we probably would go there after the trip around the forest and enjoy worship time around the bonfire,” I assumed.
Later I would remember the words of my Bible teacher from university who said, “Never assume because you make an A** of you and me.” (He was quite liberal.) But I didn’t suspect a thing yet.
As my eyes got more and more adjusted to the light (or absence of thereof), I realized that I can see the person who is walking in front of the gal I followed. At one point of time, I saw that black shape in front of the gal I followed go one way, and the gal went another way. I stopped for a minute, trying to decide what to do. The rules said to go after the person in front of you. But the person in front of you had the same set of rules! Why did she go another way?
Well, I decided to stick to the rules and soon I realized that the gal in front of me was aiming for that bonfire. “Hmm, I guess I am not the only one who thought that it’s where we are supposed to go.”
The forest behind our camp is a hilly one and in the darkness it was a treat to walk up and down the hills trying to keep the balance and keeping in mind that there are 20 more people behind me who are following my direction.
Still arguing about something with God, I climbed the final hill. The gal who walked in front of me already stood in front of the fire. Something stopped me, I listened. Music. Wrong kind of music – it was some down-to-earth pop music, definitely not something I would’ve expected at the end of a prayer trail.
“Help yourselves to the meat,” a male voice from the left said, and I realized that we just crashed someone’s party.
Laughing internally at myself with God, I whispered to Oksana, the gal who walked in front of me, “Let’s go, these aren’t our people,” and nonchalantly walked down the hill as if nothing happened. Tonya who walked behind me later said that she did not even know that anything happened on the hill because we just continued the walk.
Since I was now the leader of the group, I needed to decide where we will go. There was an opening not far from where we were and so I led us that way. It was hilarious to look back and see the entire team (well, minus those who actually followed the real leader) hike the hill and walk by that party.
Once in the opening, we got together and realized that something went wrong. The questions “What to do?” and “Where are the others?” and general panic arose. But I was still enjoying the time with Him, that’s why I went on the hike in the first place. The peace and quietness still filled me despite the beginnings of a chaos around me. I found my pastor who was surrounded by a group of people. They were worried about those who were lost, who walked in front. His son was one of those who were in the front.
“We need to pray,” I said quietly, but was ignored at first. I repeated my statement. No reaction. I lifted up my eyes and stared at the sky.
Tonya wasn’t comfortable with this panic thing either. “We came here to have quiet time with God. Why can’t we just have it together right now right here?”
Finally, when i said “we need to pray” for the third time, someone heard me. “She is right.”
We stood in a circle, held hands, and prayed. Then we heard music and songs coming from our camp. One of the coaches who remained behind got his guitar and together we stood on the hills of the forest and worshipped Him. Then we returned to the camp and about 30 minutes later, the guys with the coach returned too.