Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rejoicing for some R's

Photo credit: Thrive
In early February, I had the great privilege of attending the Thrive Retreat in Paphos, Cyprus. This retreat is an all expense paid getaway (minus travel expenses) funded by generous supporters as a ministry to global women from North America. This was a one time gift up until this year when there was a change in policy, where now you can attend every five years. I have known about this ministry and retreat opportunity for a long time but was waiting for that perfect time to "play my card". With the change in policy, in addition to the location and date announcement it seemed opportune and I was hoping that a friend would be able to go with me. Low and behold, God provided not just one friend but four whom would be attending the conference with me.

Angela, Noella, Leah, Michelle, Diane

At first, I was hesitant to ask Jonathan if I could go but in the end all I had to do was mention the conference details and he was practically pushing me out the door to go with or without a friend. What a blessing to have a healthier husband so that this could even be a consideration. 

The past couple of years have been heavy for me with chronic health issues for Jonathan and the weight of carrying much of the load during those times with home and kids, in addition to ministry. This school year has also taken a lot of energy out of me as I work with Luca through his first year of middle school. I was so ready to trade my R's of reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic for some R's like rest, refreshment, and relaxation.  

Photo credit: Thrive
There were some bumps along the way: like finding out that my registration had gotten deleted from the system and the last minute scrambling that must have given the Thrive staff when we discovered it a little over a week out from the conference start -- to Emma coming down with the flu the day before I left and other family members feeling like it was coming on -- to missing my connecting flight that then required rerouting and a significant delay in arrival on the way to the conference and missing the first half day -- to getting sick myself midway through the conference.

Sunrise with the Alps in the distance from my airplane window
However, the joys of seeing God's hand work through each of those situations for my good was yet another testament to his faithfulness. I was loved upon and pampered to no end over the course of three days as there was no detail or person overlooked. There were 91 attendees from 27 countries and over 40 volunteer staff ministering to us. We received solid biblical teaching on the topic of prayer, we worshiped together, we laughed, we cried, we ate lavishly and just were able to detach and retreat from it all.

Photo credit: Thrive
The hotel was out of this world! The original hotel contract in a different city got switched as they decided to renovate during the off season. Consequently, they booked us in a sister hotel (this one in Paphos) for the same price even though it was like 2 stars higher. It was lavish, getting your bed turned down each night, being able to select a different scented pillow each night if you wanted and basically having the hotel to ourselves with it being off season. What an unexpected blessing and delight for the high end accommodations for this retreat.

Photo credit: Thrive
Angela was my roommate and thankfully she arrived a day early and took care of so many details for me while I was stuck in the airport on travel day. She even got our room switched to a sea view room at no additional cost. Without her I might have missed out on the sign up for special personal care appointments. She rocks! I am so thankful for her friendship over the last three years and for the time we were able to spend together in Cyprus.

View from our bedroom balcony
I had the amazing privilege of spending one afternoon with Diane and Miriam taking in the sites at the Archeological Park in Paphos. If ever I needed a knowledgable substitute for Jonathan on Greek and Biblical history these two were the best, especially with Miriam being married to a Greek. We walked a good 30 minutes along the coastal path to reach the port location where Paul visited on his first missionary journey. Read Acts 13 for context.

We did not have a ton of time to view all that the park had to see, so chose to focus on the amazingly preserved and beautiful mosaics dating from the first and second centuries.

Orthodox church in Paphos
The second full day, I spent the afternoon getting pampered with a pedicure, colors/makeup, a mini-lesson on how to take better pictures and then some rest time. The meals were a highlight of the day with utterly delicious spreads of food with no worries of who I needed to find "safe" food for, nor dishes to wash! Asian and Tex-Mex Nights - seemed to hit the spot with so many of us. You could hear the squeals of delight as some of these cuisines are hard to come by in our countries.

Photo credit: Thrive
Photo credit: Thrive

I came home with a suitcase full of goodies, a full and refreshed heart, new friends and, oh so grateful for the short but needed time to get away. I may not have gotten the physical refreshment I needed, but that is okay, it was enough to come back more mentally refreshed to better serve my family and others.

Day of departure we woke to a rainbow, beauty a camera can't fully capture
Photo credit: Thrive
Photo credit: Thrive
Photo credit: Thrive
Jonathan and the kids held down the fort without too much incident. Emma missed three days of school for illness, and everyone else seemed to resist catching the bug. Emma filled my shoes even when sick (a mamma in the making!) and took care of the meal planning and preparation and assigning house chores. I even came home to a special welcome home tray of blondies cut into the shape of a heart that she made! It was enough for me that I came home to living beings, and yet this special thought was over the top. I do have a pretty awesome family!


Jay said...

Wow! That place hasn't had that much excitement since Paul was there! What a wonderful Blessing for you to be there. Thank you to those who made it possible I'm glad you can go back in only 5 more years! You deserve it. Love Mom and Dad

Stephanie said...

I experienced one of these retreats about a decade ago and it was lovely. So happy you were able to have this beautiful time with special friends!