LWNSW Retreat, 2019

Last year marked the 50th Lutheran Women of NSW (LWNSW) Retreat, which brought back memories of retreats in the past.

Since the NSW District Warrambui Retreat and Conference Centre added motel style accommodation in 2008, we no longer had retreats in the Dome. In the new village, it was exciting to be in a room with an ensuite with only four women. The Dome is a round building with dormitory rooms with six bunk beds and had a loft with more beds (we were younger!) and a circular meeting area, which seated all of us facing each other. Some women, in conversation, mentioned that staying in the Dome had been lots of fun, even sharing a room with up to 15 other women (and bunk beds). Some of this year’s Retreat Committee from Culcairn Women’s Fellowship, ably led by Brenda, must have heard our conversations and so we went back to1968 having a Retro Retreat (2019-51 = 1968) For I am the Lord. I change not. Malachi 3:6. When I first realised that we would be in the Dome again, I had a thought of bunk beds and I’m 11 years older! But it was so much fun!

After registering and gathering my nametag and a brown paper retreat bag, it dawned on me that all of this had been decorated or written by hand. A design had been drawn on our retreat program cover and coloured in with pencils. There was no notepad from the LLL for note-taking! It was 1968 after all. Our Limited Edition retro school lunch bag had our Bible verse theme and a note written by hand on it saying ‘More treats will be coming our way’, which we found on our pillow every afternoon.

Our theme song, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and the retreat theme For I am the Lord. I change not, reinforced the love of our Lord for us through all the ages. Pastor Kees Sturm prepared our Bible studies on the book of Malachi, which is very legalistic. Malachi was showing the Israelites how they should be worshipping and living their lives by obeying God and doing what pleases him. In the studies we related this to our lives today. At the end of his letter, Malachi tells about a Saviour who is coming, bringing hope for the future. We are to be in the strength and warmth of Jesus’ hands, living a life worthy of God. Through the years, God has not changed.

Saturday morning, after a delicious cooked breakfast, we heard from a staff member and the interns at Warrambui. Zach, who currently oversees guest services, is a previous Warrambui intern who felt, as a child/teen, that Warrambui was his camping home. (A lot of Lutheran youth in NSW feel that way, as do Lutheran Women.) He explained the programs, presented for school groups who visit Canberra, and mentioned they have a fourteen-day booking for 50 – 100 people in 2019. Last year saw the single largest booking ever of 194 guests. Zach thanked the LWNSW who have provided funds for various projects at Warrambui over the years. Again, our worship offering went to Warrambui.

Saturday evening was a ‘ball of fun’ as we dressed for the 60s and enjoyed more delicious food. The programme started with a 1960s themed quiz. We probably remembered more than we thought we would! (What was the population of Australia in 1968?) Then came the concert. Each of our study groups was given a song from the 60s, which we had to perform karaoke style. Preparing a song in a short time brought out lots of creativity and laughter.

Early Sunday morning, we gathered outside the Dome for our worship service, using the original liturgy from the black Lutheran Hymnbook. As the sun rose through the trees in the East, the beauty of God’s creation at Warrambui was displayed before us. Some of us remembered how barren the landscape was at the beginning and wondered how the people, who found the land, could imagine what Warrambui might become. We thanked God for their vision and their perseverance with continually upgrading Warrambui, planting trees and shrubs, laying pavers, painting, making drapes, coming to working bees every January and building the facilities.

As we left with a Farewell Circle (we got it right this time), we said goodbye for the time being, knowing there is another retreat next year. Wanda will be 95 by that time but is seriously thinking of joining us again! Thank you everyone for a lovely weekend!

We also look forward to the 50th Anniversary celebrations for Warrambui, “where we serve people by living Jesus”. A special weekend event where we can gather at Warrambui to celebrate, will be held on 4-6 October 2019.

Tanna Mackenzie

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