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My Michigan trip, part 3 – Encounter ministry weekend

Lake at the Encounter ministry camp

Lake at the Encounter ministry camp

This is part 3 of my Michigan trip blog series, about the Encounter ministry time. Recently I traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to visit my friends Herb and Diane Bishop and for the Encounter ministry weekend. You can read part 1 about the tulips and Lake Michigan here and part 2 about the beautiful RV where I stayed here.

Encounter ministry session

Encounter ministry session

I’d heard before about the Encounter ministry but had never been to one before. Herb recently went and wanted his wife Diane and their ministry Board of Directors to attend, because he thought it was amazing. (I’m on their Board of Directors, so they invited me to go.) I’m so thankful for this trip!

Me, Diane, Cheryl, & Laurie at Encounter

Me, Diane, Cheryl, & Laurie at Encounter

I thought the Encounter weekend was really good, but I actually had much more fun going to see the gorgeous tulips, Lake Michigan, and the coffee shop with Herb and Diane. There’s several reasons for this:

  • I’m an introvert, not an extrovert. I’m a private, independent person and being around new people is out of my comfort zone. I know that I don’t need to be an island and need to broaden my circle. But I do need some alone, quiet time; it refills me;
  • I love God’s beautiful nature (although the camp had a pretty lake and magnificent, tall pine and other flowering trees, too);
  • when I travel, I love shopping for souvenirs for my family and exploring different little stores.

The church where we met to load onto the buses was pretty with stained glass windows and big crosses up front near the altar.

Church where we met for the Encounter to go on the buses

Church where we met for the Encounter to go on the buses

 

A woman sharing her powerful testimony

A woman sharing her powerful testimony

I’d love for our 3 daughters and our grandkids to go to this. I would encourage both men and women, young and old, to attend the Encounter ministry at least once in their lives.

You can also go year after year, and volunteer as a server for the ministry there after your first attendance. I didn’t realize this at first, but even children and teenagers can sign up. I loved seeing teens worshipping Jesus with all their hearts! How awesome!

On the bus to go to the Encounter camp

On the bus to go to the Encounter camp

Diane’s friend Laurie, Diane, their friend Cheryl, and I drove in Laurie’s SUV to the church first where everyone meets and were told a little about the weekend. Then we (and our luggage) were loaded on several school-type buses to be driven to the discreet location by a lake that wasn’t far from the church. I asked questions about this before flying to Michigan. Diane’s friends were so sweet!

Lake by the Christian youth camp

Lake by the Christian youth camp

One important reason for not disclosing the location is because some of the women and the children have been abused, and the staff doesn’t want the perpetrator to show up at the campground, causing trouble. As a childhood abuse and domestic violence survivor, I understood this to be wise.

The camp was peaceful, with a lake and tall, pine and other blooming trees.

Tall pine trees at the campground

Tall pine trees at the campground

 

I was on break, sitting at a table & looking at the beautiful trees and sky

I was on break, sitting at a table & looking at the beautiful trees and sky

 

Flowering tree - a dogwood or crabapple?

Flowering tree – a dogwood or crabapple?

There are short walking trails at the campground, where you can go for a walk in the early morning or evening, which my friend Diane did.

Hiking sign on the main building

Hiking sign on the main building’

 

My name tag

My name tag

The food was good and abundant. You can bring your own snacks and drinks for in between meals or at night for our “cabin talks,” where everyone gathers to discuss a topic or do some type of activity. However, they provided us with plenty of snacks between sessions – chips, chocolate, filtered water, coffee, and lemonade.

The first night, we had herb chicken, green beans, and salad. On Saturday morning, there was egg and spinach quiche, bacon, sausage, and fruit. For lunch, there were tacos, which is right up my alley! On Sunday morning, they served cinnamon buns, bacon, sausage, and fruit. One meal was pulled pork or chicken bbq sandwiches. You don’t leave hungry!

herb chicken, green beans, and salad

herb chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and salad

 

salad

salad

 

cinnamon roll, eggs, and fruit

cinnamon roll, eggs, and fruit

I was amazed that they served this much food for a reasonable price for the weekend. (A friend covered my planes’ fares and the Encounter ministry fee. Thank You, Jesus!) We ate in the large cafeteria with our cabin group. By the time the weekend ends, you’ve grown closer to the people in your cabin and might even make life-long friends! (Our cabin is doing a virtual Bible study soon.)

Cafeteria where we eat the meals; you sit with your cabin group.

Cafeteria where we eat the meals; you sit with your cabin group.

I’m kind of a coffee snob, lol. I was only disappointed in the coffee; I missed Diane’s coconut coffee at the RV. (But I was able to drink another cup when I returned home with her Sunday night, for my Monday morning breakfast before my return flight home. Then I ordered the coconut coffee when I got home!)

The coffee was the only disappointing thing. I missed Diane's coconut coffee!

The coffee was the only disappointing thing. I missed Diane’s coconut coffee!

There were sessions throughout the weekend that were so good. You sensed God’s presence and His unconditional love, peace, and forgiveness there. 

The staff also offers for you to be baptized or re-baptized at the nearby lake, if you wish (I didn’t do this as I’ve been baptized a lot and didn’t feel led to do so this time). A lot of women did this and it was powerful and joyful to witness!

People gathering for baptism at the lake

People gathering for baptism at the lake

 

The Bible says that the angels rejoice at one sinner who repents.

The Bible says that the angels rejoice at one sinner who repents.

 

A beautiful baptism

A beautiful baptism

The staff were so kind, loving, and fun. They made each of us feel welcome in a special way the moment we stepped foot inside the church doors and at the campground! On Sunday before we all left the camp, the leader did a teaching on the filling and the power of the Holy Spirit, which was so good.

Promises in the Dark graphic

Promises in the Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love graphic

I winded up giving her and two other women who prayed for me Saturday night a free copy of my memoir, that I had brought with me in my luggage, just to bless them.

I loved meeting new women of God, hearing powerful testimonies, and the beautiful praise and worship music. 

Jesus' finished work on the cross is emphasized here!

Jesus’ finished work on the cross is emphasized here!

 Jesus Christ was truly lifted up and glorified during this weekend!

I had great cabin leaders (called “servers”)!

Great merch

Great merch

 

They also sold cute merch at tables in the cafeteria. I was able to buy a light-weight, salmon-colored hoodie with the inscription, God has not given us a spirit of fear. It was also on sale, which is even better! This hoodie’s message was timely as our precious daughter Leah had nose surgery this past week, after I returned from the Encounter. She got through the surgery okay and is doing well. Praise You, Jesus! I wore the shirt as I prayed for her with others on the morning of her surgery!

My timely hoodie

My timely hoodie

I’m so thankful that I was able to visit Herb and Diane, see the gorgeous tulips and Lake Michigan, attend the Encounter ministry weekend, and meet new women of God.

Me before the Encounter weekend at the RV - excited!

Me before the Encounter weekend at the RV – excited!

In my next blog post in this Michigan trip blog series, I’ll share some pics from my planes’ flights on Southwest, which is THE best airline ever!

Looking out the plane window at the clouds - love it!

Looking out the plane window at the clouds – love it!

 

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