The convention. It was the event that I had looked forward to for as long as I can remember. Year after year I have watched my older siblings eagerly go off for a week of fun and fellowship, and year after year I longed for the summer when I could take my turn as a conventioneer. Well, the convention this past summer was all that I had hoped for and much, much more.
The fun began on Thursday, August 14. My sister and I flew with a group of young people out of Grand Rapids, and we were met at Denver International Airport by chaperones from the Loveland congregation. We then boarded charter buses to take us up to the YMCA. For many of us young people, the trip up the mountains was a first-time experience, and we were all in awe over the beauty and majesty of the mountains.
We arrived at the camp and registered right away. We were given water bottles with the warning to “Drink plenty of water!” Also, wristbands were assigned for identification, and they gave information regarding activities throughout the week. Meal tags were distributed, room assignments given and the convention was under way!
After settling into the lodges, everyone gathered in the dining hall for a dinner of pork and gravy. We gathered at the hall three times a day for meals it became a pretty familiar place. The food was decent and filling which was a special treat.
No time was wasted in getting the ball rolling. We all met at the Longhouse Gym at 7:00 sharp for a “Maverick Mixer.” The chaperones did an excellent job in leading the games such as Duck, Duck, Goose and Leap Frog. Everybody had a great time getting to know each other. It was a great way to kick off the weekend.
We were awakened bright and early every morning for devotions. After breakfast on Friday, we all headed into the auditorium for Prof. Dykstra’s speech on “God As Our Protector.” We were reminded of how the mountains resemble God, and how God is immovable and unchanging. He always stands firm and secure, the ultimate protection from all our enemies. We were consistently reminded of this every time we took in the view of the Rockies. We were truly surrounded by God.
The traditional group picture was taken, lunch was eaten, and the afternoon was under way. We started the afternoon with group discussions on “Is it Cool to be a Christian?” This discussion was a major highlight for lots of the conventioneers. The topic is so easily applied to everyone’s lives as God’s children. Many different points were brought up, things I had never even thought about before) such as how our culture today affects our mission work. This discussion really got our minds working as we examined how we as Christians in the world today must still set ourselves apart from the world.
After discussion groups, we all headed to the open field for a few hours of organized activities called the “Rocky Top Rodeo.” We were split into 20 teams to compete against each other in western-themed games. For example, we had barrel races with bikes around 5-gallon buckets and wheelbarrow races. We tied hangman’s knots and played tug of war. We had an obstacle course called the “Pony Express.” Despite the warm weather, everybody had a good time with lots of laughs.
That evening after supper, we were again divided into groups. Half of us went to play games in the Longhouse Gym, and the other half went to play Capture the Hat. Then on Saturday night, the groups switched. We played Capture the Hat and when it got dark there was a campfire, and Mr. Jim Huizinga led a sing-along with his guitar. It was a great way to end the night.
Saturday morning came quickly and the activities started all over again. We gathered for Rev. Terpstra’s speech on “The Character and Responsibility of God’s People.” Here we were taught our responsibility to God as our Father and our Savior. We are called to be strong in our faith, trusting not in ourselves, but depending on God’s strength and love to carry us through. Rev. Terpstra pointed out that our life is a continuous, uphill mountain hike; there are always slips and falls, bruises and tragedies but God carries us through!
After the first-ever convention satellite photo was taken and lunch was eaten, we organized into groups for a discussion on “Taming the Tongue.” We discussed how the tongue was an extension of our hearts and minds, and how important it is to remember that at all times. We alto discussed how we sin with just our thoughts or things we don’t say. Considering the world we live in today with all its temptations, this discussion was of a very practical matter, easily applying to every one of us.
Due to the long day on Friday, Saturday’s “Country Fair” was optional. Inflatable games such as human foosball, one-on-one tug-of-war, etc. were brought in and set up in the open field. They also had a climbing wall and a bucking bull for those rodeo heroes! The dunk tank was a favorite, with the ministers and chaperones taking their turns in the hot seat!
Free time before and after supper each day was spent in many different ways. Basketballs, volleyballs, and tennis rackets could be taken out. Also, there was a miniature golf course, a swimming pool, and a game room to fill up our free time. A favorite pastime was just playing card games on the porch of the main lodge. There was never a dull moment!
On Sunday we gathered at the auditorium for a day of worship. The morning worship service was led by Rev. Eriks, on the topic “Letting Your Light So Shine,” and Prof. Dykstra led the afternoon service on the topic “Resisting the Roaring Lion.”
After the second service, we worshiped God by way of a singspiration. The evening was spent in a challenging game of Bible Trivia, the winners of which got to ride in a limo to the banquet on Monday night.
Monday began as all the rest, with devotions, breakfast and a speech; this time by Rev. Hanko on “The Preservation of God’s People.” He showed us how strongly Psalm 125 (the theme of the convention) taught the doctrine of preservation. Just as the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord provides protection for us, preserving and keeping us as His own. The reassurance of God’s abiding faithfulness was a great way to conclude the convention.
The rest of the morning was spent in free time, and after lunch we gathered for our final discussion on “Dressing Modestly.” Most groups had great discussions on how much of an issue dressing modestly has become. It is sad to think that we have come to the point where it is an issue at all. With all the temptations out there, it is so important to remember that we belong to the body of Christ. We must reflect that in how we dress.
The rest of the afternoon was spent doing “Spur-of-the-Moment” activities. We could sign up for an easy or moderate hike, archery or horseback riding. The afternoon was a little rainy so some people stayed inside and played games or talked. Those who did the activities were pretty wet when they returned.
Just as we were boarding buses to head off to banquet the sun came out. Banquet was at the Lazy B Ranch. The dude ranch was perfect for the western-themed banquet. There were horseshoes and volleyball nets, a souvenir shop, punch and candy. After much talking and picture-taking, we moved into the dining hall for an authentic chuck wagon dinner of beans, biscuits, beef, chicken, and potatoes. The Ranch provided a western band for entertainment, and the hours flew by! The evening at the Ranch closed with a slide show of pictures taken throughout the weekend. We then boarded buses and headed back to the YMCA for our last night.
The original plan for after the banquet was to hold everybody in the Longhouse Gym for the entire night. Many people, however, had a long way to travel on Tuesday so they allowed whoever wanted to go back to their own rooms leave at 11:30. Those who stayed at the Longhouse were locked up for the night and it was said that basketballs never once stopped bouncing!
Tuesday morning was filled with good-bye hugs, tears, picture-taking, and luggage, lots of luggage. After breakfast, we were free to do whatever last minute things we wanted and at 10:00 we began loading buses bound for the airport, train station and Loveland.
The flight back to Grand Rapids gave us lots of time to reflect on all that had happened that weekend. Everything had gone so much better than anticipated and that made the weekend much more enjoyable. This convention is truly one that will never be forgotten. For this we would like to thank the congregation of Loveland who made this convention possible. Also, we would like to thank the chaperones for the great job in leading devotions, activities, and taking care of us. Finally, we give our thanks to God for giving us the opportunity to gather as fellow saints, to interact with one another as believers, praising and glorifying His most holy name.