The Assyrian Church of the East Youth Association – Sydney has held its Annual Retreat for 2012 at Youthworks Watersleigh Campsite in Shoalhaven from Friday 30 November until Sunday 2 December.
104 Youth Association and Ss Peter and Paul Parish members participated along with Rev’d John Kushaba (SPPP parish priest) and Rev’d Narsai Youkhanis (youth chaplain).
The retreat commenced on Friday night with buses departing St Hurmizd Cathedral in the evening and arriving at the campsite following a 2.5 hour journey.
Upon arrival, the retreaters checked in and prepared for dinner. Afterwards, they were divided into 10 groups comprising of 10 members per group with colour coordination. An icebreaker activity was organised to allow the groups to get to know each other by completing a scavenger hunt. The hunt included each group collecting letters and creating a sentence spelling out the theme of the retreat, ‘Journey to God’.
Following breakfast on the second day of the retreat, the participants were once again divided into their allocated physical activities including; abseiling, raft building, billy carting, archery, caving, canoeing.
Lunch was served and followed by an ‘amazing race’ where groups commenced at the dining room receiving their first clue leading to the next station and so forth till the end of the race. To receive the next clue, the racers would need to complete mini games along the way.
In the evening of the second day, Rev’d John Kushaba presented a short sermon in which the theme centered on Christ as the light of the world. Rev’d John’s sermon sought to relate the Christian message to each participant on a personal level.
At the conclusion of the sermon, faithful met in the conference room where worship hymns were sang together in both the English and Assyrian languages.
The third and final day commenced in the early hours of the morning with some of the retreaters watching the preparation of the Holy Qurbana which is otherwise undertaken in the altar. Morning prayers were followed by the consecration of the Holy Qurbana by Rev’d Narsai.
Rev’d Narsai, in his sermon, spoke about being careful in listening and learning teachings in today’s modern churches that have no apostolic link to Christ.
After the service, the retreaters joined in the dining room for brunch. Then, affirmations took place within each group where each member of that group wrote something positive about each other and placed in the corresponding envelope.
After a short break to pack up and ready for departure. The retreaters once again met together in the conference room for one last activity, the ‘fruits of the spirit’ workshops.
There were 5 workshops; love, patience, self-control, faithfulness, joy and goodness, kindness and gentleness.
Each workshop was a practical activity centred on expressing each concept of the ‘fruits of the spirit’.
Before departure, a group photo was taken at the campsite after which the retreaters embarked on their journey back to their homes, filled with Almighty God’s love and spirit.