Episode 135 – Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 (7366)
Last weekend, I was so blessed on the overnight event that I involved. For the first time, I finally joined Love Life Retreat of Singles Ministry from Feast SM Santa Rosa (SMSR) where there were lots of single people to have acquaintance and to share our experiences about our love lives – relationship with family, friends, and someone that we love (current girlfriends/boyfriends or exs). It was a great experience for me to join this event where I received more blessings, and God’s love and healing, empowered my personal, social, and spiritual growth, and interacted with single people to become my new friends. This was also the way for me to have forgiveness and to get closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. This may be probably the most memorable Feast event that I ever attended since I started to attend The Feast in 2013.
Before my great and happy experience happened last weekend, I just shared how I did my good decision to join the retreat after months of being convinced and thinking deeply and critically. (I just made my story into summarization or recap about last weekend’s retreat.)
Who convinced me to join?
I still remember when a friend from Feast SMSR encouraged me to join the retreat. Her name is Abby, and she’s my new friend during that time where we exchanged our chat messages on Facebook despite that we had never met at once before. She first started in October 2016 that she convinced me to join the retreat where she belonged to the Batch 3. Within few months, she tried me to join several times, and on early January 2017, she asked me once more. I was thinking about it because she’s a good friend of mine. Finally on January 17, I told her thru FB chat that I decided to join this year’s retreat. She was so glad after my final decision, and she thanked me for her efforts to convince me.
Within few weeks before the retreat, I came at Feast SMSR with her to set for my payment. The registration fee for the retreat was 1,800 Philippine pesos, but because my wallet had not enough cash to pay the full, I decided to pay for an installment which was 1,000. Two weeks later (a week before the retreat), I paid the remained amount of 800 to Sis Claire Corbito, one of my friends from Singles who intentionally called me on my phone on the morning prior to my attending Feast SMSR.
I left home around 5:50 in the morning, and I thought I would be late because the calling time was between 5:30 to 6 in the morning. When I arrived at Jollibee Balibago Highway around 6:10, I went inside and spotted some friends from Feast SMSR, wearing red Love Life T-shirts, together with new single (and pretend to be “single”) people inside that they would be the Batch 4 of this retreat. I first met Abby, Ann and Claire, and they let me to sign up on the list for the registration. Then I just sat on one side, and I felt I was “out of place” because I was just quietly waiting while some new faces were talking and socializing each other. Around 6:45 in the morning, we went to the back of the place where there were four jeeps that we rented for our transportation. Before taking our ride, we formed a big circle to have our prayer for our safe travel. After that, we rode there separately to take our travel going to Dominican House of Prayer in Tagaytay, about 25.5 kilometers (or 15.85 miles) from Jollibee Balibago Highway. I joined with Abby, Ann and Jahmar, who were from Batch 3 and would serve for this year’s retreat, on one jeep going to Tagaytay. I also accompanied with other participants (whom I knew them before) like Shelly from Music Ministry, Jessa, and a new friend named Jie who traveled from Quezon City to attend the retreat. Wow, he went from a far place to join us at the retreat in Tagaytay. About 7:35am, we’re the last to arrive at the retreat house where there were new single people waiting on a small hut.
Sis Claire gave some instructions to the new batch of single people, including me, to introduce ourselves on the front one by one and to pick up a yellow rolled paper from the bottle to answer one simple question. When I came up to introduce myself, I was little bit nervous to speak up in front of new faces surround. Then, I picked up a question where it asked, “I’m still afraid of…”, and I answered, of course, that I was still afraid to speak in front of those new single batch mates sitting. After our introduction, I and other batch mates were given hamburgers with inspirational messages on sticky notes (inspired from a Jollibee commercial) from the servants, and minutes later, we approached to the activity area where other servants (mostly from Batch 3) prepared to start the program playing this year’s retreat theme song, “Love’s Here Now”. I was with my new friends, Jie and Elaine, on the far back of seats (I think it was 4th row). Earl Pascua, Claire, and Ivan, all from Batch 3, were the hosts in this event. Sister Rose of the Dominican House of Prayer guided us about the house rules where we stayed at the retreat house for two days while our Singles Ministry head, Bro. Alex Lucena, presented about this event.
Our first guest speaker was Bro. Jan Silan of Feast Greenbelt where he taught us how to let go from the past. After that, we had some fun activities to play with other single people and to know each other. Our next guest speaker was Sister Kath Carredo where she shared her experiences about finding a love life, and then we had our Light Groups confessions where I joined with Malvin to Sits and Mike as our LG heads. We discussed about the reflection to answer and to share our experiences while we’re taking our lunch. After our lunch, we were assigned to our respective rooms to stay overnight where I was with Marlon on one room (and it was connected to other room with Jahmar and Julius).
In the afternoon, Bro. Bindoy Carredo, the husband of Sis Kath, shared his presentation about encounter with others and 5 Love Languages. Later, Bro. Dreus Cosio of Feast SMSR presented us an activity where we formed a big circle, and whether he asked about the problems that we had, we voluntarily stepped up to form a small circle then the others, including the servants, answered using their sign language either “It’s ok”, “I feel you”, or “I love you”. Most of us felt crying and sorrow while we stepped up on the small circle, and we’re embraced with comfort by other participants and the servants.
During our break time, I had a chance to confess with a priest where I shared about my past experiences especially the happen last year. Some of participants also confessed to the priest which had only his limited time for an hour. After that, I came with Rene, Marlon, and Roland to discuss a story where we would portray a story from a bible verse (Mark 12:1-8) and competed against other 6 groups. We called our group as Team “Ubas” (Grape). On the activity area, when we watched other six, there were mixed with lots of laughter especially the boys who represented their team called “Sagwan” (Paddle).
After our dinner, Bro. Francis Miranda, who composed some worship songs that we mostly heard from the Feast, shared his presentation about loving and his bad experiences where he had a past relationship. He presented a video where we watched a clip from one of Jollibee’s commercial called “Crush” (and indeed, I had watched it over and over again). After that, he let us to close our eyes to have reflection and to think our past experiences to be forgiven. Most of us again cried thinking about our past mistakes, our brokenness, our sins that we had, and our bad experiences with family, friends, and past relationships. We also wrote down on a piece of paper about our mistakes in our past, then we nailed our letters on the cross symbolized the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ (these would be burnt). Then the servants gave us again hamburgers with sticky notes telling “I love you – God.” After our all-day activities, we finally took our good rest and sleep although some others especially the boys had their overnight Light Group bonding.
On the second day of retreat, we woke up in the morning around 5 to 6 and prepared to attend a Sunday mass at the chapel. I wore red love life T-shirts (as symbolizes love) that I bought on the previous day. I barely wore red T-shirt, but I did because it’s mandatory, hehehe. When the mass was begun, I sat with Carlo and Berna along with Sisters from the Dominican House of Prayer. The mass lasted for an hour with a short novena from the Sisters right after the mass. Then, I, my batch mates and the servants proceeded to the canteen where we ate breakfast with some groupie pictures.
Right after our short break, we went to the activity area where Bro. JPaul Hernandez discussed about forgiving where we sat with him quietly and closed our eyes thinking about the people and things that we must forgive. And again, most of us felt down and cried where he and other servants comforted us while we’re crying. When I needed to approach somebody to tell sorry, I supposed to go with Earl to tell sorry (because I had some mistakes on him before), but instead I surprisingly approached to a servant whom I had something “crush” on her before. I felt so awkward that I said to her anything sorry about my mistakes even though I didn’t anything bad on her. But still, she hugged me gently to comfort me even I had no idea why I was telling sorry to her (I guess one of my avid readers knows about this). After our confrontation, I was stunned and thinking “oh my God…” while we’re singing a powerful worship song.
After our short break, Bro. Alex Lucena explained about the facts and the history of Light of Jesus Family, founded by Bro. Bo Sanchez, where The Feast was formed in 2007. Later on, the Sisters from Dominican House of Prayer introduced and shared their lives and experiences about being a nun and serving with God. Later after our lunch, we backed up our personal things from our respective rooms to leave and went back to the activity area where we had our closing ceremonies, groupie pictures, and awarding for this year’s retreat. The hosts, led by Earl and Claire, announced the winner for the acting presentation that our batch mates did last night where Team “BeYouTiful”, composed by all-girl group – Jessa, Jaja, Ivy, Jelly Ann, and Ash, won the first place. Cesar from Team “Sagwan” and Jessa won Best Supporting Actor and Actress respectively where the former came to escort Jessa going to the area to receive the award. Roland from Team “Ubas” and Angel received their Best Actor and Actress respectively. After the awarding, Bro. Alex led the graduation ceremonies to me and other Batch 4 buddies, and the Batch 4 servants transferred their responsibilities to us as we will serve for the Batch 5 of the Retreat next year. At the end, we again heard the theme song, “Love’s Here Now” that we played and danced together with happiness and full of memories.
Before we’re leaving from the Dominican, we took our groupies, selfies, and bonding with other batchmates, and then we ate some snacks at the canteen. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, we departed from the Dominican House of Prayer going back home in Laguna with some bonding moments and sleeping moments because of our tiredness from the retreat.
I felt so blessed, healed, and happy to have bonding with new friends as my batchmates on the retreat. It’s really nice that I socialized with new single people and my faith to God. The activities were so fun especially when I joined with other friends to know each other during our light group discussion. This made me smiled and my boredom, being alone and isolated that I had prior the event were gone away. Acquaintance on the retreat was the best thing that I had to meet them to become my new friends as well as possibly finding the “one true love”. Will it be possible? Let’s find out! And because of this, I gained my friendship thru adding new friends as well as I added them on Facebook (increased by about 12%), and there have been loaded with notifications and group chat messages every time I opened and checked my Facebook account. So, I’m still single but never alone!
During the course of retreat, I was thinking about forgiveness where I must have to move on from the past mistakes and to forgive my former friends (and enemies) who are now no longer connected with me. Because of this, will I be ready to open my “doors” once again to reconnect those who had been my old friends before? Shall I forgive them for what they did to me so badly? And is there possible to restore our friendship that we once had? Hmmm…? Another, I finally met some people whom I had hesitated them because of having their love relationships. I was so skeptic back then when I said that I didn’t want to have friends with them who have already boyfriend or girlfriend because I was loveless. I didn’t understand why even though I had never made anything bad on them.
And finally, this was already the fourth edition of Love Life Retreat which was started in 2014. I now belong to the Batch 4 of the Retreat, but I’ve been attending Feast since 2013 (during Central Mall Biñan days), and I had never joined or attended any retreats from Singles Ministry in the past three editions. I think it was because I had a happy (long distance) relationship back then so that I was unaware about this event. Last year, while I was feeling lonely and alone after months of break-up, the Batch 3 was held where most of my current friends like Earl, Carlo, Abby (who hadn’t met personally until last January) and many others were there attending with fun and full of God’s love and healed. And yet, I missed that event for the third batch. Well, I might regret that I really missed the first three retreats that were held in the past three years. My God! But at least I knew the feelings of being healed and blessed from last weekend’s retreat.
Well, I really appreciated the atmosphere, the presence of having new friends, and the experience that I ever had for the first time with my friends from Feast SM Sta. Rosa. That’s my wonderful story happened last weekend, and I hope other single people, who have been still broken and having problems in their lives, will be interested to join the retreat next year for the fifth batch. See you next year!