Thursday, September 6, 2012

La Foresta

I thought before the next adventure comes, I should take the opportunity and share about our church retreat, which took place last weekend.

We were guests in a former monastery near Leuven, which is about 30 km outside Brussels in the Flemish part of Belgium. The venue was quite impressive. They have lots of guest rooms there, in which the monks used to live. However, there seems to be only one monk left in this place. I even met him, but couldn't communicate with him much, since I don't speak Dutch.

Anyway, we had beautiful weather and the spiritual meetings with our Pastor were really blessed. Only the food needed some improvement (to put it politely), but this can certainly be fixed for next time. There was also another group present while we were there. Interestingly, this turned out to be a weekend seminar on how to find God within yourself, or something like that. At least this is what I understood during the conversation I had with one of the participants. They didn't think that God can be found somewhere outside themselves, and thus, they endeavored to learn looking within. Very weired. I wanted to give this lady a GLOW tract on health, but she refused (the monk gladly accepted it though).

Anyway, I have lots of good memories from this weekend retreat, and I look forward to the next one!

The main entrance of "La Foresta"

Lunch time: French Fries (yuck)

family time

Discussion group

Relaxing outside
The meeting hall
Play time on Sunday morning
Can I hold the little doll?

On Saturday morning, somebody slipped a piece of paper under each door. It was a paper with a spiritual message. We were wondering whether somebody of our group had this bright idea, but we came to the conclusion that the monk of the monastery might have provided us with it. It said the following:

The Difference
I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day. I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task. "Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, You didn't ask," 
I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak. I wondered why God didn't show me. He said, "But you didn't seek."
I tried to come into God's presence. I used all my keys at the lock. God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock."
I woke up early this morning and paused before enter the day. I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

I guess every guest in this house receives such a flyer in their respective language. What a beautiful ministry. The monk might be "out of the loop" at this place, but he can definitely not be blamed for not doing the Lord's work.

On Sabbath after lunch, I took some time to stroll around a bit around this monastery. There is something special about this place, and I'm definitely planning to come back. But there was more that the Holy Spirit put on my mind when I was walking around this stately building, glancing through the beautiful and quiet surroundings. It's this burden that has become heavier and heavier on my heart lately. This burden for the ten million people in this little country, which is not bigger than the State of Maryland. I didn't say a long prayer while I was strolling there - I just said:
Lord - give me Belgium!

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