I would begin this story with “once upon a time,” but this is more of a mess than a fairytale.

This story begins with our team travelling from Sacramento, California to Reno, Nevada for a retreat, only to return to Sacramento the next day. Our team was really excited to go to Nevada, but even more excited to travel back because we had left our team leader in California for his personal retreat.

As we got ready to leave Reno for a late three hour drive back to California, we ran into our first problem. The lights on our trailer were not working, so was illegal for us to drive. Luckily, one guy on the team learned how to rewire the lights and somehow got them working, leaving us only 30 minutes behind schedule.

We finally hit the road and were in a slight hurry because there was a snow storm that predicted, and we were worried it would stop us. As we were driving, we came to a part of the road that had already been hit by the storm; it was along the mountain, and there was no guard rail. All of a sudden our van was sliding and the whole group went silent. We immediately started praying. We safely pulled over and knew we needed to get out our snow chains or we would run the risk of getting stuck there. As the men put the chains on and the women tried to contact people (without cell service), a guy who worked for the roads system pulled over and called his friend who ran a snow plow. We got plowed out and started heading back, only to get pulled over by the police and find out our trailer lights were out. We were forced to stay the night in town, as it was clear that God wanted us to stop at this point.

The experience was rough. We were so tired and panicked that we didn’t know what to do, and we felt like nothing was going right. In some ways, that night was like this past year on the road. There have been many difficulties with tiredness, not knowing if what we were doing was right, and feeling like we were just stuck. This year has brought many situations that have been hard, but beauty came from the trials. When it got tough, our team chose to grow closer. We fought not to be perfect, but to love through our wounds. Ultimately, this proved to be the more difficult route, but through it we learned to lean on God and not on our own strength. These moments are when God showed His graces to us. We learned to trust in Him, and in His kindness He showed us His divine plan.

After staying the night in that town, we hit the road again the next day only to find out that there were mudslides blocking the road. Had we tried to drive the night before, we might have either not seen them in the dark, or may even have been in the mudslide. God had stopped us from making the drive the previous night in order to protect us.

Throughout this year, it has seemed like God has been stopping us when we wanted to do things our own way, but looking back it was a redirection. When we look back, we are able to see how God has worked; God has been showing us the fruit of our ministry on retreats as well as in team life. It has been hard, but we have chosen to fight the good fight and we have seen how much love has resulted from it. We have run the race and fought the good fight.

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