Here, Shahla Ghodrat, Upper IVA, reports on Upper IVA’s recent Retreat, held at SPEC, the residential retreat centre for children and young people in the Diocese of Westminster.
‘On 26th April, Upper IVA visited SPEC where we explored the nature of God. SPEC is the residential retreat centre for children and young people in the Diocese of Westminster. During our retreat we took part in many activities which helped us understand more about God, his loving nature, and how we can challenge and push ourselves with acts of mercy.
When we arrived at SPEC, our hosts very kindly welcomed us into their home and made us feel comfortable. We were told that the staff and the volunteer missionary team not only worked there but they also lived there. This alone was enough to inspire us to dedicate more time for God because the staff and volunteer missionary team were dedicating all their time and effort for God and to guide people like us to find and understand God in a deeper way.
Then, after having met some of the staff and volunteer missionary team, we were split into groups for our first activity. We were all given a card and on the card was a character and their description (age, job and personality). We were told that it was the year 2230 and there was a large meteor heading towards earth and that most of the human population had gone to another planet. However, there were nine of us still left on earth waiting to travel to the other planet. However, on the last rocket there were only three seats. So, as a group, we had to decide who would go. Everyone had a chance to explain why they should go and then we voted for whoever we thought deserved to go to the new planet.
After our first activity we went to the library and we watched a video about Nick Vujicic, a young man born without arms or legs. He talked about his struggles and how God gave them because he had planned out his life. He talked about how we needed to trust God and know that he loves us. I think everyone should watch the video because it is truly inspiring and it makes us appreciate everything God has given us. Then Ellie, one of the volunteers from the missionary team, gave us an amazing speech about how much God loves us and appreciates everything we do.
After lunch, which we spent in SPEC’s gorgeous garden, we did our second activity. We had to link images with acts of mercy. This was quite difficult because everyone interpreted the images differently but it was an interesting activity because we learnt about different acts of mercy. Personally, I learnt that offering and giving a cup of tea can count as giving drink to the thirsty. We then listened to a speech by Tom, one of SPEC’s staff, which was eye opening because he explained how he eventually found God and that it was God who made him a better person. My favourite part of the day was when we saw the Chapel where we spent time in silent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This was very relaxing and we were able to put all our focus and energy for God. Dominic, our leader for the day, sang a beautiful song which we all really enjoyed and appreciated.
All in all, this was a fantastic experience and it really made us all think about what we could do to make our day and someone else’s day better. We learnt that we shouldn’t just talk to God when we need him the most but that we should also just talk to him about our happy moments of the day and our feelings, etc. We would like to thank Mrs McDermott for organising the visit and the people from SPEC who helped us to understand more about the loving nature of God.’Categories: Faith Life Senior Whole School