I have gone to Massanetta for the past 3 years and after this last one I decided to go to Montreat at the last minute. Montreat is “17 days” said John Weicher, it’s actually 7 days, where Netta is only 4, it is almost twice as long so there bound to be many more god moments, and moments worth talking about. At Netta i usually have a god moment at the last day doing or after vespers but this week at Montreat i have had several already. usually when all of us are singing a song together at worship or keynote. the keynotes have also had some god moments to go with them.
Today like most of my days so far at Montreat have been filled with fun, friends and learning. It is my first year here and so far, it has been some of the most fun I have had. Today we started the day with a meaningful keynote filled with knowledge. It was nice listening, and at the end we meditated. This place has a close feeling to god, and in moments of silence and in noise, you can always make a connection. Afterward we met with our small groups to discuss keynote and many other things related to the topic. After lunch, we met a second time with our small groups. After that we got to have fun with our back-home ground participate in fun and in games with the friends we know. So far, this experience has been like no other and I cannot wait for the time left to come.
My favorite moment at Massanetta was definitely laying in the spring for as long as John let us. It was so cold but well worth it. I also loved the dance. I could just be myself and no one judged me for it. I just got to have fun and be the goof I am!
One of my favorite moments at Massanetta was Thursday night. The dance was an amazing experience in which you could be yourself and let loose. We did not have to worry about what others thought, and we could just have fun. This experience was followed with a heartwarming candle lit ceremony. During vespers, we held up our candles as we looked to the sky to see a beautiful sky full of stars. In that moment, I felt as if the barrier between heaven and earth was rubbed thin.
Massanetta is a very thin place, meaning that it feels like if you reach out you can touch God, and every year I take something knew from my experience here. This year, like always, vespers was a very thin moment. Walking away from it back to our rooms Sam Hartley said, “this is time to listen”. Every year John asks us what are thinest God moment is, and this year it definitely was that moment. I recognized immediately that the silence was a thin moment.
– Robert Johnson
Massanetta is a place in which God is found in the quiet of the spring, the noise of the energizers, and in any moment in-between. Throughout my three years, it has honed my faith and allowed me to embrace piety as well as logic. If I had to explain Massanetta in a single word, it would be thin, as it feels closer to God here.
Today is my third day of my second year at Massanetta. I have had so much fun so far and I can’t wait for this afternoon. Each morning we wake up to breakfast then ENERGIZERS!!!!! Each Keynote focuses on a different part of the week’s theme. Then you go to workshops. Yesterday, my first workshop was the music one. We studied a hymn and made shakers. The workshop was pretty fun. Next my encounter group and I went to the workshop that discussed Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I enjoyed the class because we learned how all three religions are very similar.
After lunch we have free time where we can do almost whatever we want. SPC has an awesome tradition where we go to the spring in the backyard and have water fights. The spring has the coldest water ever, so we fill our water bottles and pour it on each other. This is probably my favorite Netta tradition. Then comes dinner and after dinner, where we do as much stuff as we do in the morning. Each day is packed tight with fun, interesting, exciting, and churchy things to do.
Today at Raleigh my first job for the day was to go and help Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. They are an organization like Meals on Wheels because they both deliver meals to people that need it. We planned to go there and pack meals for them, but as it turned out we were needed to deliver 29 meals exactly to a local elementary school that was year-round, and gave the students that needed it a meal for their break. As the leaders told us we needed to have our flexibility pants on because we were there to help with whatever they needed us to do, so we had to use our flexibility pants for that job. We had planned to stay there longer, but since we didn’t have to we packed socks with charcoal for a tent community to use as an air freshener. After that we ate lunch at Pullen Park and we played a game called “We’re going on a picnic”. The way you played it is someone starts and they made a rule that you had to follow for instance “I’m going on a picnic and I am going to bring a…..”, and the “…..”would be something that followed the rule. For our final job of the day we went to Kirk of Kildaire which is a church in Raleigh. We helped them on their garden with weeding and picking the fruits and veggies, and watering all of the plants since they were very dehydrated. When most of that was done some of us went inside and sorted donated clothes for the people that couldn’t get their own from the store.
Day One: Arrival at Netta! I got out of the car and was immediately swarmed and hugged by the 20+ other people I was to spend the next two weeks with. I unloaded my bags, including the three solely dedicated to food, and entered Hodge Lodge, our humble accommodations. I set up my bunk bed, and then we all headed down to the Hotel for lunch. The rest of the day was filled with group building, introductions and getting to know each other.
Day Two: After a 7 am wake up call, we headed down to breakfast, ready to face our first full day on the leadership team. We split into A-Team, who are in charge of activities and recreation and T-Team, who are in charge of putting together skits for keynote, and got to work! I was on T-Team, so we were introduced to our incredible keynoters, Lindsey and Kate, and began to plan each keynote. We worked smoothly and effectively and in the six hours we spent together that day, we had planned and coordinated each of the skits we hoped to present to the middlers. Later that night, we planned our Intro skits, of which we would perform for the middlers during the first session, when they first arrived. We decided to dance to High School Musical’s “We’re All in this Together,” picked so that it would align nicely with Massanetta’s theme, All Together Now. Bottom line: this was legendary and we schooled A-Team. That night, we began working on the Lord’s Prayer, a sign language match up to the song As it is in Heaven, which is extremely moving and impressive to witness. We also had some prayer partner time, in which we discussed ourselves, who we were, and how we were feeling on the night before the middlers arrived.
Day Three: Today is the day that the middlers come! Before breakfast, the whole leadership circled up prayed and sang a song that gave us the courage to welcome the middlers. After breakfast, we went up to Hudson to do some last minute T-Team rehearsal, and after lunch, we eagerly awaited the middlers on the lawn. When the middlers started to pour in, the enablers shifted into overdrive. The tiredness from tireless rehearsals, late nights and early mornings was wiped away, and what remained was energy, enthusiasm and excitement. After leaders were registered, the fun began. Opening session included an sit-ergizer boot camp, a High School Musical dance, a huddle of all the workshop directors, and a Hamilton themed opening song from the Co-Directors. Later opening worship included a progression to the recurring song, We are Here, by Alicia Keys and an introduction to the week’s theme. We were all a little nervous still, but it was soon replaced by excitement and anticipation for the rest of the week to come. Following Opening Worship, we were at long last split into our encounter groups! I was suddenly responsible for 11 middlers and 3 adults, many of whom were new to Netta and all that it had to offer. Learning names went more smoothly than I expected, with the help of the iconic question ball and spud. After spending some time together, we headed over to the mixer to end the night with a few energizers, games, and ice cream while the back home adults had a meeting. After all the middlers went to their rooms, the leadership team stayed behind and decompressed after our first big day. Dom, a workshop director, lead devotions that let us all take a deep breath, and ready ourselves for the week to come. The enablers headed back to our house, and again, discussed the day and worked on the Lord’s Prayer.
Day Four: First full day of the conference! We hurriedly ate breakfast and headed up to Hudson for soundcheck. Today was the day that I would talk about my experience with diversity, we would build the wall and the divisions it represented, and introduce everyone to the detention skit, basically a blend of Lemonade Mouth and The Breakfast Club. We were all a little antsy to see everyone’s reactions to our skits, but as it turned out, we had no reason to worry. In my encounter group, my middlers liked a variety of different aspects of the first keynote, not just, predictably, the video clips or the energizers. One kid mentioned he even enjoyed when I sat with Kate, one of our keynoters, and discussed our experiences with diversity. After this discussion, our encounter group walked up the hill to our first workshop, with Hiram. Hiram led us in a myriad of different games, which in the end, connected back to faith in ways that I would never have considered. In the afternoon, we had our rec event, a scavenger hunt, which ended up being confusing and a lot of walking, but ultimately fun for everyone. We searched through Massanetta’s property to find six puzzle pieces, that spelled All Together Now. After this, T-Team hustled up to Hudson to run Keynote 2 and 3, of which were quickly approaching. As A-Team rested, we ran skits, worked on a dance, and worked to get these two keynotes ready in time. After dinner we presented Keynote 2, which was again widely enjoyed by both middlers and adults, all of which were excited to see where the detention skit was headed. In encounter groups, my middlers really only wanted to play spud, so I forced them to answer their favorite part of keynote, and one word to describe their feelings going into day three. After this, we headed to our second workshop with Anna, which involved painting, and building off of each others creations to form one banner that incorporated everyone’s different creative works. Following this, we left for Rosser to tie dye and do more energizers. Devotions with the leadership team were led by Skip, who put a lot of what we were doing in perspective, and helped to ground us as we entered our second full day. The enablers headed back to our home base, and again worked on the Lord’s Prayer, and decompressed after our first long day.
Day Five: The enablers woke up, quickly ate, and again ran up to Hudson, because today, our five resident dancers would be dancing around the wall we had build during Keynote 1. As the middlers began to collect outside of Hudson, again, the leadership team prayed for a smooth day. Keynote 2 went very well, and the dancers, who were anxious and nervous, came off surprised and excited about how easily the dance came to them. In encounter groups, not as big a reaction as I would’ve liked to see; they were more distracted by the departure of the basketball player in the detention skit, a difficult choice between basketball and music (cue high school musical). Following this quick discussion, we left to go to our third workshop, with Lynne. We watched a video, and then made journals and colored for the remaining duration of the time. After lunch we had free rec! There were hair don’ts, nails, four square in the air, and, obviously, the huge slip and slide. Everyone had fun, and even the enablers got a chance to go down the slide at the end. Again, during our free time that followed, T-team headed to Hudson to prepare for our last Keynote. We finished early, which left us time to take a twenty minute nap, an invaluable recharge after two tiring days of the conference. After dinner, we presented Keynote 4 which included the wall skit from Keynote 1 coming full circle, the resolution of the detention skit, which featured Brother by Needtobreathe, and an enabler group hug. I could not believe we pulled off four keynotes as smoothly and easily as we did. The group dynamic after finishing these keynotes was incredible. After keynote, we left for small group, and we opted to play elbow tag with Kyle’s group. We headed to our final workshop with Skip, where we played with kinetic sand and made slime, my groups overall favorite workshop. After this, we had the dance! The final energizer of Gypsy caused the middlers to roar with excitement, and everyone was sweaty and tired by the end of the night. After the dance, the enablers had prayer partner time to discuss our weeks, and how we were feeling. Then, we went to Hudson and practiced, for the first time on the stage, the Lord’s Prayer, another minor miracle, which had come together so easily.
Day Six: After breakfast, we had time with our encounter groups to do affirmations: each person receives a piece of paper with their name on it, and it is passed through the group, writing kind things about each member of the group. My encounter group also worked on evaluations of the conference, the workshops, and me as an enabler. From encounter groups, we went to closing worship, which began with the processional to We are Here, the recurring song of the conference, and ended with a flawless Lord’s Prayer. We said goodbye to the middlers, and promptly headed back to Hudson to celebrate and eat the remaining communion bread.
That night, the enablers sat down, and prompted by some questions asked by our peers, shared about our struggles, and how that affected our lives. I was amazed at the people I was surrounded with, how strong and brave each of them were, and how incredibly supportive they all were. So many joyous, funny and smart teenagers, like me, had been through so much, and were still loving and grateful for what they had. They were tenacious and brave, and never at all selfish or self pitying. I was moved by the courage I saw, and these people will forever hold a place in my heart for the fearlessness they showed.
The rest of the week was very similar to the first, with more tears, more hugs, and more love than I knew possible. We had grown into a family, bound by irrevocable love and empathy, in an unparallelled place that fosters faith and joy. Massanetta is such a thin place, where God’s love is omnipresent in everything you do, from discussing keynote with middlers, to being blitzed with a hug backstage, to singing How Great Thou Art as fully as you can, even though your voice is bad, and normally you’re insecure about it. Massanetta changed my life in ways that I am still learning about. I am so much more empathetic, I look beneath, before judging people superficially, and I am so much more aware of how God acts through and among people.
This morning we woke up once again to the lovely sound of Total Eclipse of the Heart blasting through the walls. We enjoyed a devotion about a rag man and his kind ways that resembled Christ. For breakfast we had the usual potatoes and biscuits and sausages with an extra option of cereal. Once again, crew C won the first-out trophy, but for me (Virginia), my group got candy anyway. My group had little work left to do, just put in a few more spindles on our deck and finish up our ramp. After we finished, crew A headed out to a lake where we swam for about an hour. This was a super fun way to end the week of hard work and labor. The water was super cool and refreshing. Birdie, the woman whose house we were working on, was very grateful for our work, and we were very happy to help her out for a week. It felt very accomplishing to finish up the work, and knowing that I have been taught basic construction is fun too.
Tomorrow we are heading back to Pennsylvania and I know that it is going to be very enlightening seeing all of the privileges that I have back home lated out in front of me. For example, most homes here do not have two stores, which is very common back home. I do not really want to go home, because here I have learned so many new things, construction and the culture of West Virginia. Going home to a normal day is going to be hard when you have spent the entire week serving others and god in a space that I have grown to love. This week I have met a lot of really cool people, and I have spent more time with some of the people from our church that I never have before. I think it is really cool how the groups are mixed ages, because I do not think that some of the people in the groups would ever get to sit down and have and honest and open conversation with each other.
This week I have overcome a lot of challenges (including a cold) and the many problems I have faced construction wise. They have taught me to persevere and focus on the task ahead, the more important task of serving the people around me.