It was a sweltry Saturday morning when we were welcomed by the familiar warmth of the Bataan brethren at the start of the Sabbath assembly. The first service message was about the hope and joy of having a youth and singles camp while the main sermon expounded deeper truths about God’s laws and statutes. Afterwards, a scrumptious lunch of chicken pastel, fish, and bananas was shared and enjoyed together.
That afternoon, after a restful nap, our local church elder conducted a different kind of Bible study in which every camper shared his or her insights about a certain scripture. At sundown, we had a very exciting game where certain tasks have to be accomplished a la Minute to Win It. After a nice dinner of sweet beans and peaches, we watched a moving and cathartic film, Tuesdays With Morrie, based on Mitch Albom’s best-selling book of the same title. Immediately after that, everyone shared enlightening and valuable lessons about life, forgiveness, positivity, gratitude, and love.
The next day, everyone rose early to prepare for a day of nature adventure. Tinapa and ampalaya allowed us to gear up for a hike going to a secluded stream of cool, gushing waters. We set off at nine o’clock and trod the path under the scorching sun.
When a young girl is out in an unfamiliar place to hike, one of the most unfortunate things that could happen to her is to have her footwear broken. Well, circumstances had it that a camper broke her flip-flops along the way. Without thinking twice, one of the young leaders offered his pair of slippers, opting to walk barefooted — talk about out-flowing concern in action! Not long after, one of the campers felt dizzy due to the extreme heat that we asked the older men to carry her. However, there might have been some miscommunication as our group leaders weren’t able to meet the elders at the designated spot. To save time, we decided to proceed to the destination without them.
Reaching the mountainous area proved to be a challenge especially when the weather started showing signs of an impending rain. The neophyte hikers were made aware of the dangers lurking behind the slippery slopes. After almost half an hour of climbing the bushy, muddy uphill grounds, we finally reached the river, sighing and leaping jubilantly along the rocky banks. As we trickle into the cold, cascading water one by one, something akin to magical happened.
All I intended to do was to bow down and pray discreetly for guidance and protection as the rain began pounding. I knew trekking back to the safer ground was going to be tough, even dangerous, if the rain will not stop. But when I lifted my head after finishing my little private prayer, I was pleasantly astonished to see that five of my friends were praying too, as if in unison, in their own spots in the stream — one standing and looking up in the sky, another standing and looking down on the ground, another one sitting on a boulder in fervent solitude, while the other two were bowing down while half-submerged in the water. And who knows if everybody else were secretly whispering prayers as well?
After that blissful moment, everyone felt no trace of dampened spirits but rather exuded a relaxed and cheerful faith that God will take care of us. A faith that He didn’t fail. Arriving safely back to the hilltop rest house, everyone cleaned and packed up, feeling physically and spiritually renewed at the close of one suburban weekend get-away.~
Cover photo: File photo of Joseph Dela Cruz