I have been helping in the Children’s Ministry in Abbalove English Service (AES) Jakarta for more than a year now and I could see God’s favour and strength upon us. Though sometimes volunteer teachers come and go (and even the kids), with God’s grace there was no shortage of those committed ones. All the volunteer teachers by the way are Filipinos who come from different schools in Jakarta.
To keep the our hearts on fire and for the us to have a closer and deeper relationship with God and with each other, we knew a retreat is a must!After fervent prayers and months of preparation, we head to The Jhon’s Aquatic Resort in Puncak, West Java, Indonesia. We were so grateful for the two-day non-working holiday (Thursday and Friday), so we could enjoy the retreat without worrying about going back to work the next day ( as retreats usually happens on weekends).
There were around 20 of us including kids in a mini-bus. We were so excited when we set out. However, God wanted to test our patience while on the road. The supposedly 4-5 hour travel became 8 hours! Thanks to the ‘one lane closed for maintenance’ that caused the delay. It was a super jam-packed traffic day!!!
We arrived at the resort so late in afternoon and exhausted that we missed our other activities scheduled. Nonetheless, the very long travel was so worth it. It was a different environment for us living in Jakarta where we could only see huge buildings, tall apartments and condominiums, and malls every single day.
The John’s Aquatic Resort is so huge with many amenities and facilities to offer. It was actually a mountain resort so I don’t know where the “aquatic resort” came from. Lol. It is a great venue for a retreat – laidback, relaxing and tranquil. You can even set up your tent a campsite near the river. Although, it wasn’t that well-maintained and they lack staff (the area is so big for such a few staff), it was all in all a great place to spend your weekend.
One of the many good things in the retreat was our not-so-tight schedule. We had a whale of a time communing with nature, wandering around and enjoying the landscape, as well as the Flying Fox screaming session. Yes, it wasn’t only an adventure up in the air; it was also a screaming session for me! Hahaha. It was a stress elixir for the moment.
Another favourite for me was the morning walk as I got a chance to enjoy the area before sunrise, and before people in their villas wake up and flock the resort. It was so calm and serene. Imagine having a lot of pictures without photobombers!!! I enjoyed capturing not just the lagoons and landscape gardens but the insects and other animals around the area as well.
I also like the fact that we stayed in an exotic tropical villas up on the hillside where we could wake up to a wonderful view. Although, there was a beehive in our room and that explained the bees buzzing around, and a cockroach I saw before sleeping, we still had a good night rest.
We enjoyed every moment we spent here, especially the games on our first night which is Pinoy Henyo (guessing game) and the Charade/Pictionary Game in the morning. It was so much fun!!! Too much that I laughed my heart out!
As a summary of the experience, here is what I personally think of it. The retreat was an evidence of God’s grace poured out to all of us – from financial provision, safe travel back and forth, and the whale of a time that we had. I have also seen and experience God’s unifying love among us, in the midst of our differences. As difficult as it is to unite diverse people, the fact that we all blended well together and we were willing to sacrifice our own comfort for others (lunch at the bus, heavy traffic, insect-filled rooms (rooms with ants and bees), and even stopping at anyone’s one when nature calls while on the road, is a manifestation that Christ lives in us.
To God be the glory!