Last September 20-21, 2008, a wonderful joyride with the Lord was experienced by the YFL ministry of CFC FFL in Hong Kong. The much awaited Youth Camp finally happened at the Salesian Retreat House located in Cheung Chau Island . The theme of the Youth Camp was “Joyride” with the anchor verse from Zephaniah 3:17 that speaks of our joy in Christ. Everything that had happened was related to each participant’s joyride with the Lord, further relating it to their own personal lives driven by our one and only driver – Jesus Christ.
The Team Leader of the said Youth Camp was Jeff Suaverdez while the Assistant Team Leader was Pauline Mangente. They were the ones who made sure the Youth Camp was smooth-flowing all throughout and were the energetic emcees for the whole duration of the Youth Camp. The other important people who made this event possible were AB Isip and Eryn Aniana, the Camp Servants, and Noel and Miriam Soliva, and Ian and Therese Bautista, the ever-supportive Couple Coordinators of YFL Hong Kong.
The participants together with the service team literally stepped off from the shore (by taking the ferry ride) and climbed the mountain (walked all the way to the retreat house under the scorching heat of the sun) on their way to the Youth Camp venue, just like what is found in the lyrics of the song “By Your Side.” Everyone was sweating on their way to the Salesian Retreat House but the spirit of excitement couldn’t be discounted. Upon arrival, the paricipants were given time to rest for a while then a getting-to-you game was conducted afterwards. After breaking the ice, Jeff Suaverdez led the group into an opening prayer. A youth camp orientation followed right after. He explained the Joyride theme to the participants and he also presented the Joyride bag that symbolized the important things that the participants should bring inside their systems while they are in the youth camp. The house rules were then presented by AB Isip and Eryn Aniana. After which, the song “By Your Side” was taught with matching dance steps. The song’s message was further related to the Joyride where the participants were in that time.
It was then time for the first pit stop. The team head explained that just like in a typical road trip, a pit stop is important because it is where we can have some rest and where we can get refreshed, and the same concept was related to each session or talk that the participants would be listening to in the youth camp. For the first pit stop, the speaker was Eunice Damulo. She gave the session entitled “God’s Love and His Plans for Us.” Before she proceeded with the talk proper, a short role-playing was presented that included the interrelated relationships of God, Man, Sin and Jesus Christ. Eunice then gave the talk which was followed by a personal testimony given by AB Isip. Afterwards, a video presentation was shown to further process the message of the talk. After watching the video, it was time for the participants to be divided into discussion groups that were headed by the facilitators. The facilitators of the brother participants were EJ Aguila, Paul Arinzol, AB Isip and Jeff Suaverdez. On the other hand, the facilitators of the sister participants were Eryn Aniana, Eunice Damulo, Vallery Fabilla, Jozelle Gabriel and Pauline Mangente. Each group talked about how they have felt God’s love in their lives and their responses to that immense love.
After the first pit stop, everyone had a lunch break. They were also given time to go to their assigned rooms and put their stuff there. After eating lunch, the participants were gathered in the session hall for the next segment. New songs like “Redeeming Love” and “Mighty to Save” were taught to them. After the teaching of songs, a Brand Guessing Game was facilitated by Raine Eguico. It was the activity that would be processed later on through the session given in the second pit stop. The session proper was then given by Jozelle Gabriel. The title of her talk was “Who Jesus Christ is to Me.” A personal testimony was given by Eryn Aniana after the session. A video presentation that processed the whole talk was then presented which was followed by a group discussion headed again by the facilitators. Each group talked about how their relationship with Christ was going.
After the second pit stop, a game was conducted to again break the ice. Then the third pit stop followed. It was Vallery Fabilla who gave the session entitled “Repentance, Faith, Forgiveness and Healing.” A personal testimony was then given by Paul Arinzol. After which, the participants were asked to write on paper the names of the people who have hurt them and whom they have hurt. In this session, the importance of confession was highlighted. The solemn mood was sustained through the video that showed clips from the “Passion of the Christ.”
After the third pit stop, the participants were given time to have one-to-one sessions with their facilitators. They were then asked to go to the Chapel upstairs for the sacrament of confession. Fr. Emil was there to give a short orientation about confession and give the sacrament to the interested participants. The celebration of the Holy Mass came afterwards which was followed by dinner at the mess hall.
After eating dinner, a new song entitled “Heart of Worship” was taught to the participants. Some participants who did not get the chance to confess earlier finally had their confession with Fr. Emil. After settling down, it was time for the fourth pit stop. The session entitled “Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit” was given by EJ Aguila. A commitment ceremony was conducted afterwards. All of the participants had stood up as a sign of commiting their lives to Christ. This symbolized 21 new souls deciding to have a personal relationship with Him. After the commitment ceremony, a pray-over ceremony was conducted. The facilitators prayed over each participant citing their prayer concerns and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that they wanted to receive.
When everyone had settled down after the pray-over ceremony, EJ, the speaker, asked some participants how they were feeling after the pray-over ceremony. There was a mixture of emotions that the participants experienced, but it was indeed God’s unique ways to make His power felt through the Holy Spirit. A worship then followed. It was definitely a blessed sight to see such young people worshipping and giving praise to God. After the worship, it was time for fellowship. The participants played random games facilitated by Jeffrey and Pauline. Lights out followed at 11:30 p.m.
After a night’s rest came the second day of the Youth Camp. Wake-up call was at 7:00 a.m. Everyone had breakfast at 8:15 p.m. and the new song “Now that You’re Near” was then taught at the session hall. After teaching the said song, a morning worship was then led by Jeffrey Suaverdez. It was followed by a Prayer Time Workshop given by EJ Aguila. During this time, the ever-loving and ever-supportive parents of the participants had already arrived and were gathered by Noel Soliva and Raine Eguico. A parents’ orientation talk was given to them to keep them updated about what had been happening in the Youth Camp. The participants who were still in the session hall finally had their last pit stop with a session entitled “Growing in the Spirit” that was given by Pauline Mangente. After the said session was given, Jeffrey Suaverdez led the group to a commitment ceremony wherein they recited the statements found in the YFL covenant. After which, the parents and other family members of the participants entered the session hall. The participants were given the chance to have dialogues with their parents which was then followed by a pray-over ceremony. The parents were the first ones to pray over their children and the children prayed over their parents afterwards.
A sharing segment then followed this heart-felt pray over ceremony. Everyone from the participants and from the service team including the YFL coordinators were given the chance to give their short testimonies about their youth camp experiences. When everyone had shared, a praisefest was led by Jeffrey Suaverdez. It was indeed a nice sight to see everyone worshipping the Lord – the participants, the parents of the participants, the service team and the rest of the people inside the session hall.
The Youth Camp ended with joyful people eating lunch at the mess hall. When everyone had eaten, it was time for them to go down the hill they once climbed. It was time to go home. It was time to go back to their homes, schools and their group of friends.
Yes, the victorious Joyride Youth Camp might have ended there, but it also set the mark of the beginning of each participant’s wonderful Joyride with the Lord. With all these, may God be praised!