Oak Tree Project 2nd Annual Retreat

Post 12 of 778

On the evening of Friday, February 4th, 17 students and 16 mentors gathered together at a home in Seoul (rented via airbnb) for our 2nd annual retreat. The purposes of this retreat are to grow closer with the students, to give them a chance to open up and share and receive prayer, and to have a fun time together. This retreat was indeed all of that and more! Below is a photo blog of the retreat, but first I wanted to share a few highlights…

  1. Our 17 students are from a number of different children’s homes and most of them did not know each other before joining our program. It was beautiful watching the students gradually relax and open up more as the night progressed. There was a strong family atmosphere as all 33 of us were in the small home together. The home had bedding for 24 (5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms), but by sleep time most of the kids and mentors had no problem crowding in a bit with three and even four of them sleeping on queen beds together (girls on the 1st and 2nd floors, guys all in the basement room). We really felt like family and no one complained at all.
  2. The children’s home I have served at for over 11 years now has by far the biggest representation in Oak Tree Project with 7 of the 17 students having grown up in my children’s home. I’ve known these kids since they were as young as 3rd grade. It’s such a joy for me to see them again at our group gatherings and it was an even greater joy for me to see them all happily interacting with each other, sharing memories, and also connecting with other students and mentors. One of my older students, after seeing the great condition of the other students from the children’s home, expressed how thankful she is for Oak Tree Project for taking care of them and building them up so well. I am also so thankful for how these students have grown and for our mentors who have been so faithful in loving them and speaking into them!
  3. During small group time at night we had the students share some of their favorite memories from the children’s home. Some of them confessed they didn’t have any great memories but instead just had a lot of memories of hurt and bitterness. But thankfully as we continued to talk and share the kids began to remember sweet things while also sharing and processing some of the harder things. Their sharing and processing is so important! We don’t want our students to run from their past. We want them to rise up out of the storms as mighty oaks! After the retreat a number of students, including some of the quieter ones, shared how the small group sharing time was their favorite time of the retreat. It was a special time!
  4. For my small group I was so blessed by one boy’s genuine prayer request: “I want to know God more. I want to grow closer to him.” For Young Suk, our 4th year student that Sky and I have mentored since 2013, his prayer request was for clear guidance from God as he is about to graduate and begin working. He wants to obey God’s will. Another boy who isn’t as close to God yet, shared how he has been inspired by me and that he wants to also do work to help others.
  5. Game time with the students was so much fun! We taught them Mexican dominoes which is a relaxed team game. The students loved it! I was so happy to be with all of them, especially our student Young Suk and the 7 from my children’s home. I was so happy to be with them that I stayed up until 6am playing games with some of them. No regrets! I love these kids! And I love that they are experiencing family through our program!

Now on to the photo blog!

Here is the airbnb we stayed at. 2 floors with a small basement. It had enough beds for 24 people, so a bunch of the students and mentors crowded in together on the beds. It was definitely a family atmosphere and everyone enjoyed it. =)

As the students arrived we taught them Mexican dominoes and they caught on quickly. It was a fun game to help them relax and connect with each other.

After some initial games/relaxed time together, we served dinner for everyone

Here is staff member Mijeong addressing everyone.

After dinner we broke up into two groups and played group games. Here is one of the group games: The Couch Game

Our staff member Jee led this game and it was a lot of fun!

The winning team!

We also had a photo scavenger hunt for the teams led by Mijeong.

After the group games we gathered all together and our 4th year student Young Suk shared his testimony. Some of the students expressed after the retreat how they were inspired by Young Suk’s faith and by the way he has grown. Young Suk graduates this week from college. We’re so proud of him!

Here is a wide shot of the testimony sharing time

Staff member Jee talking with some of our amazing mentors during a snack break after Young Suk’s sharing

After the snack break I taught a seminar titled: Overcoming Fear. During the seminar the students wrote down some of their fears and some of the identities they’ve received from growing up in the children’s home. I shared how most fears are from weak identities: “I might get rejected because I’m not good enough.” “I might fail because I’m not smart enough.” “I might be alone because I’m not lovable enough.” After the seminar we split the students into small groups with their mentors and had a really good sharing time together. We talked about the seminar, about their fears, and also about their time growing up in the children’s homes including their better memories. We closed the small group times by praying for the students.

After the small group time (ended at 12:30am) some of the students and mentors talked for a bit before sleeping while many other students and mentors stayed up late playing games together.

In the morning we gathered all the students on the 2nd floor. My staff members Jee and Mijeong went over the program requirements with the students and then they signed their contracts for 2017 and also wrote reflections about their experiences with Oak Tree Project from this past year.

On the 1st floor our mentors prepared breakfast for the students while they were writing their reflections

After breakfast we let the mentors of our three students who are about to graduate share a bit about their experience. We then had some prayer time for our soon to be graduates. We’re so proud of them!

Here is a group shot of us before saying goodbye. It was a wonderful time!

If you would like to get monthly updates about Oak Tree Project then please e-mail us at otpkorea@gmail.com and put “newsletter” on the e-mail header. You will get an e-mail at the end of each month with stories from our program. =)

1 comment:

ToddFebruary 26, 2017 at 2:14 pmReply

BEAUTIFUL! Looking at these photos, I have this holy jealousy in me! So wish I can participate in this wonderful program some day. Thank you, Father, for putting your heart in JM, Sky, and the whole Oak Tree Project team!