I attended a Family Camp Retreat in Hungry Horse, MT from August 13th- 17th with Outfitters for Adventure. The folks from my local church that went were: Neil Thielke (overseer), David George (from Harvest Community Church in Fargo, ND), Nieland family (only Ron, Jan, JoAnna, and ), and Wayne and Julie Maanuum. This camp retreat trip report includes the encouraging messages and activities God did during the 5 days. Also, this includes the adventurous story to and from with the people I went on the trip with; especially, how God was with us after our car got stranded in a small town of Montana on our way home! Be encouraged on what God can do with you daily from this unforgettable experience!
Sunday, August 11th- Our road trip to Hungry Horse, MT started around 8:40am as we left from Morris, MN to Fargo, ND. Wayne decided to leave this early to get an early jump on the long road trip (17-20 hour estimated road trip) by visiting our church plant-Harvest Community Church in Fargo, ND (Nathan Rooney, Pastor). We arrived 15 minutes later into the service (10:45am). They meet at Elm Tree Square Conference Center (a shopping mall), which was my first time to attend a service there. It was encouraging to see what God is doing here through this less than 1-year young church. Church service ended around 12:15am, which Neil gave a sermon on some scripture foundations on “How Churches Separated (Catholicsm, Protestant, etc..)” and “End Times”. After service, I hanged out with the Specht family, who hosted me till the next day when we actually began our full road trip to Hungry Horse, MT
Monday, August 12th-Wayne, Julie, and I rode together and left around 7am from Fargo, ND. We headed west on the flat prairie I-94 highway and reached the beautiful hilly “badlands” of the western side of the state by evening. However, we stopped many times along the way to drop off some letters of Wayne’s 9/11 Testimony: Are you going to Heaven? The first place we dropped a letter was at the Hardees in Fargo, which we gave one to a guy at the register counter. Then, I volunteered to come out the car and give it to 4 old men that were sitting down in the lounge in the early morning hours. We left that fastfood restaurant praying for them. The next stop was a bunch of motels in the Bismark area, which we were picking some brochures of nationwide hotel directories: Days Inn, etc… We then went to eat lunch at the very popular road stop family restaurant “Crackle Barrel”, where we had an opportunity to give a letter after a waitress-customer relationship. Down the highway, we stopped at this town of Hebron, SD. We accidentally got off this exit as we were suppose to exit the next town along I-94. Anyways, we stopped at this town and had a chance to share a letter with a friendly open gas station employee. We went to the next town, but weren't able to reach a family the Maanuum's hoped to reach. The last town we stopped and had a chance to share the letter in South Dakota was Dickson. Wayne gave a letter to another gas station employee at Cenex. We then headed out of South Dakota aweing the beautiful "badlands" near the border. We stopped at a tourist information booth as we crossed the border to Montana for hotel/motel information. Wayne had a chance to give the letter to the employee at this booth in Wilbaux, MT. Wayne and Julie were getting tired, so we stayed overnight at the Days Inn at Glendive, MT. I got this interesting brochure for a pottery fan from my local church-Prairie Fire Pottery. We ate at a small-town like country kitchen. I wasn't ready for bed, so I decided to walk over to the fairgrounds overlooking a beautiful river. I did my quiet time with God as I admired the beautiful sunset over the hills and the quiet-calm natural river valley. I then headed towards the motel where I continued reading a book I started back in Morris. I was very distracted from a Little League Northwest Region Baseball game in ESPN2 (Hawaii vs. Idaho). I flipped through the channels on what the current news has been since we've been on the road. It was getting late, so I called it a night around 11:30pm!
Tuesday, August 13th We got up early, so we can get on the road for a tight schedule road trip across the "Big Sky" state of Montana. However, the trip was a little delayed by another Gospel sharing opportunity. Wayne felt led to give a letter to the Day's Inn desk employee, whom he talk long enough to get very personal. We then left close to 7am for the road trip until Wayne felt he needed to give a salvation prayer invitation with that guy he talked with. We turned back before going to Circle, MT on Hwy 2, so we went back on Hwy I-90 to the Days Inn. That employee was too busy for Wayne to talk with him, so we headed again down the highway. However, we feverently prayed for this guy as we headed out. When we reached Circle, MT-we stopped for a restroom break at this small-town morning cafe style hangout. We felt not welcomed, so we just dropped a letter and pray that someone will read it. The drive from there on was very prairie like and long. As we were heading west on Hwy 2, we had to stop for a one lane paved construction route. While waiting, we offered 2 construction women some packaged cookies that I haven't ate yet. Wayne decided to get out of the car and talked with one of them. I stayed in the back car seat with the window open talking to the other lady. They were both from Ft. Belknap, who were very open to have a good conversation. It was finally our turn to follow a construction pick-up down the one-lane paved route. However, we didn't leave them empty handed-we gave them the letter! Along Hwy 2, we stopped over at Havre, MT for lunch at Wendys. We then had to drop some letters at the postal office in town before leaving that town. We passed through Flathead, MT (Indian Reservation) and went through the beautiful Glacier National Park. It was already past 7pm, which we missed the supper meal. We decided to get some munchies at this gas station by West Glacier, MT. We had a chance to give a letter to the gas station clerk before heading to Hungry Horse, MT. It was around 7:30pm when we finally reached our destination! The service already started, which it was also getting dark. While Wayne and Julie headed to the service, I went to put my tent up (first time!). When I finally put the tent up after a lot of patience and critical thinking, I headed to the service. The service was ending, which I watched and prayed during the ending prayer time. Following the service, it was time for an evening snack and fellowship at the camp's cafeteria. I took a long nap during the road trip, so I wasn't ready for bed after snack-fellowship time. At this table I was sitting outside of the cafeteria, I met some friendly folks: Zack, Jordan, and Sara. They were all from a youth group in Lewiston, Idaho-where Hugh Laybourn is from! I told them I knew Hugh from our annual Summer Institute of Ministry Training School at my local church in Morris, Minnesota. We then headed to play some night volleyball, which was getting too dark to see the ball. By the sand volleyball court, we walked to the nearby basketball stands and got to know one another more. A couple of young ladies: Melody & Teresa (?) from Haywood, CA came to join us. It was past the camps curfew-midnight, so we all departed back to our tents. I went to sleep and found out I didn't have a sleeping bag. It was very cold, so I asked God to pour out His fire on me to keep warm!
Wednesday, August 14th God did answer my prayer last night, as I was kept warm by having this dream to keep me mentally distracted from the cold. Breakfast was served at 7:30a-8:30a, which prayer started from 8-9am. I had a chance to come to prayer for the last 30 minutes. Then we were sent out throughout the sanctuary to pray/interecede for the morning service. The worship time was very powerful and prophetic: God personally showed me a window in the roof of the sancturary (eyes closed), which I could see the blue-cloudy sky and see Jesus looking down on us (this happened when someone shouted "show us Jesus"). God ministered to me that I should look up to Him not matter what the circumstances I face. Also, we need to look for that "window of opportunity" to be used by God. We need to give up our selfish desires/dreams for God's will/dreams/plans He has in our life to be used more effectively. Worship Music: "More of You", "I'm Desperate for you". Message: That morning, the main speaker-Benito Paz (from Dominican Republic, but has an all Spanish-speaking church in Manhattan-New York City, NY) shared about "?": Verses: Hebrew 10:15, Ezekial 36, Ephesians 4,..During the afternoon break, I hanged out with the same group of youth I met last night from Lewiston, ID. We ended up playing a volleyball game between girls/boys. The guys lost, so we had to buy each of the ladys a Rasberry Shake (located outside of camp-a walk away). It was hmmm....good! Zack got a good idea for us, which was to do a spontaneous small group prayer/bible study. We ended up sharing verses and our personal struggles. The time ended with us praying for one another. Then we played some basketball before supper. After supper, it was time for another powerful evening service. Prophetic: Need mentors raised up for the youth and weak. There is a need to raise up this next generation of young believer-passing down the torch! The next 2 years of this camp, we will be seeing more youth! Message Topic "Circumcision: Spiritual Surgery": Deut 17, 1 Sammuel 8, Acts 7, Genesis 37:1/45:25, 1 Cor. 2:13, 2 Samuel 16:9, Joshua 5, 1 Chronicles 2. Quotes: "I need to learn how to do it God's way", "We must learn how to fight the enemy in God's territory".
After the message, Benito asked that all the young people of all ages up to 30years old to come up to the alter (up-front) to get prayed for. He asked parents, youth pastors, and any adults that might know anyone of these that didn't have a parent with them to lay their hands on them for prayer. After these particular youth got prayed for, Benito felt led to pray for anyone who "was the first individual in their generation in their family to become a Christian" (something like that). I said to my self, "wow, that's me", so I raised my hands as I was really far from the back of this crowd. I then noticed that I was the only one, which I was unexpectedly surprised. Benito then asked me to come up to the very front top of the stage (alter). I made my way to the front through the large crowd of youth that just got prayed for with a little hesitation. When I got to the front, Benito started to speak in preperation for a group prayer. He said, "being the only Christian in the family is really tough, which this individual needs outside support" (something like that). I then kind of interupted him to "correct" what he was saying, so they people present there will not get the wrong information about me as the "only Christian". I then told Benito that I might of misunderstood because I lead my family to Christ 3 years ago. In my head I said to myself, it is tough though being the "only active Christian" in the family. Benito said that's "ok", so he had everybody stretch their hands towards me and prayed. I felt so much positive attention and love that I totally didn't hear the exact words Benito prayed. I felt sooo.. much love during and after that my eyes started to water. However, I still had too much "manly pride", I didn't want anybody to see me crying. I decided to hold my tears and "take it like a man". I made my way down the alter through the large crowd of young people that were still up front. I was totally felt "high in Heaven" that I can't even remember what happened after during that service. After every service, they would have a late night snack and fellowship at the cafeteria. I was cold, so I went back to my tent to get warm clothing and headed to the cafeteria. Several folks smiled at me as I was go through the cafeteria. There was this guy (name disclosed) I've been talking to earlier started having a conversation with me about what happened this evening. He started opening up to me about his family situation where he is in a somewhat similar situation as me-the only Christian in his family. After our conversation, I decided to lay my hands on him to pray. As I write this (8/24), I felt like God led me to impart what was imparted to me. Since that prayer, I definitely can feel God's work in me to keep persevering and help others along this "race of faith". I slept around 11pm that evening as I wanted to just end that day with a peace and reflection. Wayne and Julie borrowed me their sleeping bag, which I was very warm and cozy that night compared to the other evening.
Thursday, August 15th The next morning, I went to the one hour prayer behind the stage prior to the 9am morning service (pumped up after last night and felt led to do my part after that group prayer). As I read my notes for this day, I noticed one of the songs that made me smile from that morning worship. "All of the days in my life…I'll speak the wonders of your love" speaks for itself on what I want to do everyday. We sometimes forget the awesome wonders God has done in our lives, which I don't want to "backslide" and forget like those mentioned in the Bible (eg. Hebrews in Exodus). That is on of the reasons for writing this "praise follow-up" report and putting it in my website for every readers. Message: "A God of Visions and Dreams"-God has bigger dreams, plans, or a destiny for His children than the "American Dream" (get married, have kids, live in a house with white picketed fence, drive a nice car, retire, and die). Quote: "If I showed your future (the plans He has for us), you'll panic and flipout that you don't want to continue the path I have for you". "Step out in faith". Verses: 2 Cor. 2, Isaiah 54, Numbers 20, James 1:8, Genesis 17:15, Genesis 14, etc…After service, I went to play basketball with this guy from Montana. We then went to lunch, where I asked Wayne and Julie about the plans to drive to Glacier National Park during the afternoon break. After lunch, I sat with Wayne, Julie, and Chris (a missionary to Virac, Catanduanes-Philippines). We ended up praying for one another at the end and exchange contact information. After that encouraging fellowship, we then headed to Whitefish-Big Mountain (about 15-20 minutes west from Hungry Horse) to ride the gondola (a towering transportation for visitors of this ski resort). However, after these windy narrow "scary" road drive, we couldn't find this popular tourist attraction. It was getting late, so we headed back as we wanted to make it back to the camp for supper. There was no sermon type of service, which they had a mid-retreat break by doing a Talent Show. I had a chance to video tape bits of most of each act, which was very entertaining (skits-one was frome "The Edge Team", drama, dances: hip-hop+ Brazil indigenous+etc…, singing, comedy/jokes, etc…). Two friends I met invited me to sleep at the same tent as it was forecasted to be very cold. Prior to sleep we reflected on what God has done so far at this retreat, which we ended by praying that God will do an "unexpected" move tomorrow. We would later found out He does based on Fridays report=>
Friday, August 16th Today was the last full day of the camp retreat, which I was personally hungry to see God move amongst us all before we leave. I wanted to feed as much as I can to impart to others back home. The morning started with breakfast and then prayer at the main sanctuary. I wanted to check out the youth services they have been having, so I sacrificed missing another message by Benito. The youth service was led by the youth leaders of River City Church in Lewiston, Idaho. The youth leader was Josh Leister, who I met earlier during a basketball game with some of his youth group during the week. The service started with an impromptu skit, which I thought was a good idea to start any type of youth gathering. I learned that it's really hard to get young people's attention, so you have to do some type of relaxed ice breaker. They then moved to a praise & worship time, which became very anointing as the presence of God grew in this chapel meeting service area. This provided an atmosphere for words of encouragement and prayer for the youth. Josh then shared a story from the Bible on "Heroes". The service ended around 11am, and everybody was encouraged to pick-up some trash around the camp as part of the last day clean-up. After lunch, I was going with Wayne and Julie to check out Glacier National Park. This plan changed as I got into the volleyball tournament that started at 1pm. I was just going to play one game, but my team couldn't afford to lose another player (David George left after 1 game). Also, I wanted to build some relationships with the people at this camp retreat. As one of the representatives from Minnesota, I wanted to take advantage of his 5-day camp retreat to meet other believers around this part of the country. I ended up playing till 5pm (we had a 30 minute break around 4pm)-4 hours of volleyball! We had people come in and out in each game. There was this guy name Aki, who is from Japan whom I got to know as we were in the same team towards the end of the 4 hours of volleyball. We ended up eating supper together, which I got to know him more. I shared how I became a Christian I found out he wasn't a Christian yet after I asked him when he became a Christian. I then shared some of the "Good News" with some scriptures, including an analogy of an invitation to a wedding to Heaven (I got this from a recent church outreach at the Stevens County Fair a week ago)-isn't it cool how God prepares you! Wayne happened to be right next to me at the cafeteria table. As I remembered Wayne's testimony (delayed on accepting Jesus into his life), I had him talk to Aki. After some prayer for Aki in the cafeteria (custodians really tried to get us out, so they can clean), he finally accepted Jesus prior (prayed with his pastor from Lewiston, ID) to the evening church service. God is good?…All the time! There was a party in Heaven! They announced this during praise & worship, which really encouraged the believers to just praise Him! The praise and worship Friday evening was very powerful! People were just jumping and getting into the praise & worship. Word: Hugh shared how the fire came upon the disciples during Pentecost (Acts 2), which was a confirmation to what I was personally praying for at that time! Someone repeated a message a day ago "God wants us to eat from the banqueting table, and not just be content with the little crumbs that falls from the table". After the prophetic words of encouragement, they had some "church" announcements. One that sticked out was a pastor of a Life Links church in Calgary, Canada asked for prayer for a praise & worship-prophetic type service to be recorded. The pastor is from Harvest Christian Fellowship, and will be do this unique worship style recording service on September 20th-21st. This was be recorded by a professional record label and would be sold all over the world! Another announcement was a school to build on the performing arts-Vertical Design Peforming Arts School-located in Lewiston, Idaho. Message: "Obedience & Rebellion" Verses: Isaiah 43:16-20, Exodus 17, Deuteronomy 25, 1 Samuel 15, 2 Samuel 1, Isaiah 14, Jeremiah 8:1-6, Numbers 16 & 16:49. The message was focussing on the youth to submit to their pastor or parents that God has put in their lives for direction. Also, he shared some stories from the Old Testament on the consequences of the failure of obedience, submission, or rebellion; this leads to missed blessings or generational curses passed down your family. Quotes: "Submit to their heart, and not their theology", "Not hired, but blessed" (pertaining to our tithing/offering on Sunday services for our pastors; For example, Pastor Benito's congregation does a collection for him for the following month, so the amount of giving that month does not reflect his "performance" that month.), "Dream for your children/mentorees/disciples/etc…", "Failure is a process, not a moment". Benito then asked all the pastors to come up to the alter for prayer, which he then asked the "sheep" of them to come and lay hands on them. As music played in the background, each pastor was ministered to by other leaders of Life Links-including my former pastor-Neil Thielke! They continued the prophetic prayer ministry for the pastors in the next building-the chapel, in order for the youth to have their evening of praise. The youth worship band from Lewiston, ID did a praise&worship concert at the main sanctuary. They played from 10:30-11:30p with many songs from Delirious/U2. The youth were just filled with joy as many were dancing and jumping around throughout the concert. They even got their own CD out-
I got this weblinked to as I though about one of our church punk bands, Children 18:3=> Montana Punk Rock Scene
That evening, there was the nightly snack and fellowship, but I sticked around the main sanctuary to hear this youth jam. I hanged out with Zack, Jordan, and others to reflect on some stuff as we layed on the grassy field looking up at the beautiful night sky. It was going to be another cold night, so I huddled up with Zack and Jordan in one tent to keep warm. We prayed and thanked God on answering our prayers-what an awesome last full-day of camp!
Saturday, August 17th I woke up this morning around 6:15am (according to my camcorder after taping the morning campground surrounding-very frosty cold!). I had to get up early to pack and put down me tent to get ready to leave with Neil IMMEDIATELY after AMEN! Breakfast was served, which I wanted to eat good before the long road-trip back home. During breakfast, I ate with my tentmate-Zack, and 2 folks I played volleyball with. They were brothers and sister, Caleb and Jennifer of Helena, MT. Jennifer told me about a mission/christian school (?-name not known at this point) in Vagina, Canada that seem very interesting as they send their students on the mission field to get book-action experience. Morning service was going to start soon, so we headed for the main sanctuary. Due to the short time we have, their was no praise & worship; however, Keith Hazel (leader of Life Links) shared a last minute encouraging message. Message: "Get in the Ship or get out!"-He shares about some stories of the New Testament where disciples couldn't handle what Jesus taught them as followers and how this relates to many of the present-day "backslidden Christians" (finds Jesus and then forgets what God has blessed them with and totally goes back to go through life without God and follow their own selfish desires-getting caught in the wordly ways of sins). He then compared disciples and other great followers of God (eg. Moses) back then with today followers: Burhams in the Philippines, Joe Elliot-South America, and many others (Watchman Kneee of China and David Wilkerson of Southern-Eastern Africa)). The New Testamen followers he used as an example were the discples that were in prision. He shared that we are going to face some hard choices and tough decisions. These decisions we make can impact a nation if we chose right! Verses: Hebrews 11, John 6:60-67, 2 Timothy 4:10, Genesis 3, 26:34, 28:8, Hebrews 11:24 (again), Matthew 16:24, Esther 4, 1 Kings 17, 16:25, Acts 16:40, and 2 Cor 12 Quotes: "I rather be lick in God's will than my own will (fleshly desire, selfish, self-centered, etc...)". "Hard choices might lead to someone salvation. You can reach 1-3 people as a missionary within 20 years, but one of the three can impact a nation". "Ask God for His eyes to see people the way He does". He was overall an inspiring in your face speaker, whom I was glad to finally be blessed to hear from him after hearing about him so much from my local church (He has prophesied and had many encouraging words for our church, which got Morris Community Church to where it's at!).
This 5-day camp retreat was a inspiration, restful, and motivational time for me in this point of my summer vacation and life. My prayers that I had prior to this retreat were answered, which God answers in His way! As a Filipino-American/Minority (labeled by U.S's social standards), it was encouraging to see a very diverse of people that came into the camp; especially the diverse ethncity represented: Chinese, Japanese, Belgium, American, Brithish, and Canadian. I was also inspired by the many conversations with many of God's people in this Northwest region of the United States. One was a little boy during breakfast one-day, who proudly shared about his dad-A pastor now, but a missionary then. At a young age, this pastor was called to the mission-field in the then community tense area of Eastern Europe-Czechoslovakia. His dad smuggled Bibles into this land, which was illegal during the "Cold War/Communist controlled" times. An angel woke him up one night and told him to wake up that it was time to get some Bibles to this particular guarded area. Also, this angel told him that He will become a pastor of a church in the U.S. when he returns back home! As they were sneaking the Bibles, the guards saw them. However, with God's intervention-these guards froze scared as they possible saw these angels that were with them (there are many countless related stories of God using angels to protect his people in situation like these in the New Testament (Book of Act particularly) and today! The mission was accomplished when these missionaries got caught and were sent to jail for a couple of days. This missionary-dad is presently a pastor and hasn't been called to the mission field since then-yet!
Below is the story I sent to the Barsotti family, who God had sent to house us for the 3 days we were stranded in Havere, MT:
Neil, David, and I (Sal) left the camp around 10:45am of Saturday, (people were still in the main sanctuary after the last message of the 5 day camp retreat conference) to get head start on our road-trip to Morris, Minnesota (17-20 hour estimated drive). Neil, the overseer of several churches including-Morris Community Church in Morris, MN; wanted to be home in-time for the Sunday 10 o'clock service and be with his wife the following day. We were cruising down Hwy 2 passing many cars. Around 3:30pm when our hopes were high that we'll be home in our desired time, the car made a very funky jerky noise. Neil had to stop the car in front of a farm (Bob and Martha, whose names we found out after meeting an aquiantance on the Amtrack train back to Morris, MN-small world-huh?). We lift the hood of the white 150,000 mileage Mazda car with some expected disappointment and pretty much found what we expected. Fortunately, there was a farm along the area we got stalled, which Neil look at the yellow pages for potential car mechanics to work on the transmission. This being a Saturday, we know that there was no way this car was going to be fixed anytime soon. Neil pretty much planned on finding a place to stay over the next 3-7 nights. David and I hope to be picked up by the Neilands or Maanuum's anytime soon as we expected them to pass us on Hwy 2. While Neil was on the phone making calls, David and I sat by the stranded car watching carefully and optimistically for our 2 friends. It became 1 hour, 2 hours, and finally 3 hours; it was gettting close to sunset-we didn't want to wait any longer, so Neil called the Barsotti Family (a connection he had through AFI-a stream of churches that was overseed by Pastor Larry in Minot, ND that he happened to know; I happened to be in one of Neil's church plant-Argyle, MN) and that's when God had Casey home to answer our call.
Saturday, August 17th When we got rescued, it was around 7:30pm. It was the son of the Pastor-Casey and his grandpa-Tom. They came in a pick-up, which we hooked a tow rope to Neil’s broke-down vehicle. We then drove west on hwy 2 on our way to their hometown of Havre. As I was sitting in the back seat, I was still looking out for the Manuum’s or Neiland’s car to pass by in the opposite side of up-coming traffic lane. We were also having some small talk conversation as we were trying to know one another as we were still strangers to one another. When we arrived at their house, we were a little tired, weary, and a little hungry (Prior to them picking us up, we gathered the food we got and ate: fritos (chips), tomatoes, green peppers, an apple, and some other quick snacks. David and I quickly said yes to Doris’ question if we were hungry. She was soo…nice to cook us some eggs, bacon, and toasted bread. Neil and Casey went out around town checking out some of the various motels/hotels to look if the Manuum’s or Neiland’s vehicles were parked-no sign! After we ate, we chatted with our “rescuers” and got to know one another. I was getting tired, so Casey and I headed to their house to get ready for bedtime. Casey wanted to prepare his sermon, which would be a first time experience since his dad was on the road for some church business. I had to chance to sleep in a nice bed after 5 nights in the tent-wow-God is good!
Sunday, August 18th “ I woke up around 8:45am without an alarm, which Casey happen to get up the same time. We got up early, so we can head to the church building early. The church’s name is called “The Ark”, which a store-front church located amongst the businesses in downtown Havre. It was around 9:30am, which we saw more people come-in as it was getting close to the 10am service start. The service started with worship, which the first song was very related to what Neil, David, and I were going through (something about stranded-I forgot the exact words!). Casey gave a sermon on “Temptation: Satan’s 3 Tries on Jesus” from the book of Matthew 4. He gave some examples in life, like high school life (he’s a junior). When the service ended, we had a chance to fellowship with the friendly folks of the congretgation. I had a good time meeting the people, especially the youth! From the prophetic word that was shared Thursday evening on “passing the baton to the youth”, I wanted to become a “doer” as a “hearer” of His word. After leaving “The Ark”, Tom and Doris too