Men and women of Northwestern traversed off campus during the cold and snowy weekend of Jan. 19 – 20. The women were able to go off campus and out of state to stay at a lake house in Minnesota, while the men stayed in Iowa and went to Okoboji for their retreat.
The women left campus Friday afternoon, packing 18 students and three staff members – Fern Resident Director Natalie Wheeler, Stegenga Resident Director Caylan De Lucia and Director of Discipleship Kristin Brouwer – into two vans.
The main base for the retreat was a lake house owned by Brouwer’s parents. After unpacking, it was time to share the theme: ABIDE. “Abide means to remain in the Lord,” Wheeler said.
After discussing the theme, students were able to ask questions about what it means to abide. “Someone asked what it looks like to abide in a season of waiting, the unknown,” Wheeler said. “Someone else asked us (the resident directors and Brouwer) about our stories, and how the Lord has moved and guided us.”
The rest of the night involved playing games. According to Wheeler, many played card games as well as a game she brought along called “Cover you Assets.” “It was a relaxing and hang out time before bed,” Wheeler said.
On Saturday, Brouwer led a discussion about Sabbath and solitude, and how resting in those ways looks different for everyone. After that session, students were given two hours of solitude time. They read books, read their Bible, did a devotional, went on walks, took a nap and even shoveled snow.
In the afternoon, the women headed to Brookings, South Dakota. The students were separated into groups of three, given five dollars and free reign in a Good Will to purchase any clothing or items to present later in the day. According to Wheeler, some memorable presentations included a statue of a horse head in a onesie and women cut holes into pillowcases and modeled them as dresses. “Wearing leggings, of course,” Wheeler said.
After presenting their Goodwill finds, the women spent a time of recapping the weekend, talking about their take aways. “Someone mentioned what it means to become new wine, which led to us listening to ‘New Wine’ by Hillsong,” Wheeler said.
Jordan Bjork appreciated her time away from campus. “I learned that abiding or having sabbath isn’t what we normally think of when that word is mentioned. It can mean going out to shovel the snow on the lake or taking a nap. We need to have time to fill ourselves with Godly things so that we can give throughout the throughout the week to people, but that is not defined as how we do that, and it will be different for everyone.”
In Okoboji, the men played board games, had lots of food and praised Jesus. “I challenged myself not to play the same game twice,” Hospers Resident Director Dana Van Ostrand said.
Hospers Resident Assistant Collin Verschoor claims that retreats like these are his favorite campus activities. “The people you meet and interact with is not limited to the dorm you are a part of,” Verschoor said.
Wheeler also claims that retreats are a wonderful opportunity to get away from campus, even for a short while. “If you get opportunities to go on things like this, like retreats or events that get you off campus, if your wallet and schedule allows, do it,” Wheeler encourages.