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It seemed curious, but I observed that the staff and volunteers who joined the retreat and team-building of Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro shared a common theme in their assessment of the recent activity—GRATITUDE.

Literally all of them were in the thanksgiving mode—expressing their gratitude to God, to KKFI and to their respective families.

In that respect along, the May 25-27 retreat was a success, although the event did not start with flying colors. The venue on the first day was a trial, to say the least. The original venue was not as beautiful as depicted in its website. And that is an understatement.

Despite the initial disappointment, we trudged on and conducted the planned activities. We are reminded that God is with us.

We started with the retreat by reading the Bible text:

22Because of theLord’s great lovewe are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, “TheLordis my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

25 TheLordis good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

Lamentations 3:22-25

The first activity was writing in “Post-it” papers and discussing in groups the things we were thankful for. We had a good discussion on how grateful we are to God and His daily provisions. We had long lists in our Praise List.

Then we placed our lists in a paper heart on the floor. As we sang songs of thanksgiving, we felt God’s faithfulness and that His love is not consumed, it new every morning, great is His faithfulness.

Later, the Rev. Olympia “Oly” Hidalgo requested some of us to pick a list each that were read aloud. Definitely, we have a lot to be thankful for.

Then Pastor Oly reminded us the hurt caused by life’s challenges become bearable if we learn to appreciate the things done for or given to us. She tore the paper heart containing the list. Indeed, we should be thankful and hope in God.

The next activity, is the Wailing Cross, inspired by the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem. We wrote on pieces of papers the list of those who have hurt us and on the back are the things and people we have wronged. We rolled these papers and slipped them in the holes of the cross.

Pastor Oly burned the slips of paper to symbolize the cleansing of our sins. Jesus died in exchange for the latter. Truly, though we have been broken by our sins. It is about time to let God make us whole again.

The last activity is the “Flower Garden.” We wrote in paper flowers the things we do in order to uplift others. We placed the flowers in pots of soil. Most of us say we uplift others by saying “thank you” and by helping each other in various tasks. Indeed, what we do at KKFI are uplifting each other.

Kuya Virgilio Gador, a volunteer, gushed, “I enjoyed the retreat, and it was fun bonding with the staff and other volunteers. Each came from different departments and it was a time to get to know each other.”

Charm Alcantara, Administrative Assistant, has a lot to share about the experience during the Monday morning devotion last May 29, 2017. This is was she said:

“This is my first time to join the retreat and team building. I must say that I really enjoyed it. I learned a lot not only about myself but also about my co-workers. Though there are some unforeseen circumstances, eventually everything went well. Being able to spend time, talk and relax with my co-workers was such a breather from the tedious and busy life we have in the city.

I was able to reflect on the status of my relationship with God and on the things that I should be thankful for and how He can be faithful despite and in spite of my shortcomings. I am blessed that I was able to deepen my knowledge of who and what God is in my life.

I praise the Lord for the difficulties we experienced during the first day because it made us realize that it's not all about the problem at hand but how you would react and respond to the difficulty you are facing. Being able to make a bad situation a challenge that can be solved shows how resilient we are when faced with a difficult situation. I look forward to our next team building and retreat next year. I pray that everything that we have experienced will not only start and end there but will become workstyle for all of us. Thank you KKFI and to God be the glory!

Indeed, the retreat allowed us to commune with God and His creation. It was a time to recollect and know one’s self. More importantly, it was a time to become the “Team Kapatiran” because, as our theme puts it so eloquently, “we rise by lifting others.” 

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