The 2014 annual Makarios staff retreat was nothing short of a fantastic time. The purpose of the retreat is to rest, spend time with the Lord, and bond as a whole staff. It is the only time of the year the Austin staff and Dominican Republic staff are all in one place, for the most part. The Austin staff flies down for the week and we all pile into some gua-guas and head to the beautiful mountain town, Jarabacoa, where the temperature is cooler and the air is fresher. Just as our leadership had prayed and planned, I rested, I spent time with the Lord, and I bonded. It’s not like I had deep, life changing conversations with each individual on our staff, but there is something to be said about spending a weekend away with a group of people that makes you feel like you’ve known someone forever. Or maybe it was the shared rafting experience of flying/falling down rapids in a boat full of laughing and screaming Makarianos who, for some, were one hundred percent terrified. Either way, bonding definitely happened amongst the Mak staff.
I can be sure that each person experienced something different that weekend and experienced God in his or her own way. For some it was restful. Honestly restful without the daily distractions or responsibilities their life back in Montellano demands from them every day. For others it may not have been as restful, as there were different responsibilities for different people, but instead maybe they were being blessed by the chance to see a new place, to be in fresh air surrounded by a thousand trees, to be fed three delicious meals each day at no cost, to cry after fits of laughter at who even remembers what, to be poured into by the amazing leadership team we have. Whatever it may have been, I have no doubt that God blessed each staff member in His own perfect way.
For me it was getting to sit/stand/snuggle alongside my Mak family and spend the nights and mornings worshipping our Lord and Savior. Haitian, Dominican, American, all worshipping and praying in our preferred language and all worshipping our same God, just like Psalm 86:9 describes. While I absolutely love worshipping in Spanish now, I still deeply miss worshipping at my Austin church the Austin Stone. So when Sharla informed us that she was bringing one of the worship residents from the Stone with her to come lead bilingual worship for the retreat I was PUMPED. How sweet is our God to give us the desires of our heart! One night in particular stood out to me. We were all piled into one of the lodges and were singing, “Set a Fire”, which consists of very simple lyrics that our Dominican Republic staff picked up pretty quickly. As I looked around the room at the mixture of wonderful people I get the pleasure of serving alongside and as the words “There is no place I’d rather be than here in Your Love” were being belted whole heartedly, I thought man if this isn’t a teeny slice of what Heaven will be like I don’t know what is! All I knew was as long as I am on this side of Heaven there was no place I’d rather have been in that moment than worshipping my Savior with my Makarios family.
Written by Kelly Case