As you well know that we started the trip off with a beach party. What most of you didn't know was that we went through a not so fun process of getting from LAX to our rental car company. After a very long wait at the rental bus depot, and a few phone calls we finally see our bus. We pile on to a extremely full bus and then make a few more stops for even more people. We finally get to our rental place and rent the two vans. Now each driver has a GPS with the addresses to the hotel and we drive the 40 miles to our hotel. The hotel graciously lets us check in early and then we decide on a place to eat. It takes us a while to decide where to eat with 12 different opinions. We settle on Del Taco for it is almost 1:00. After a quick meal we decide that some of us want to go to the hotel and rest and some want to go to walmart for supplies. In the hustle, we end up leaving one poor lady there at Del taco. We didn't find out until we got back to the hotel. So the driver goes back and gets her. After a nice siesta we all get on our swimsuits and head to the beach. With Van 1 leading and Van 2 trying to keep up, we kind of got lost in the shuffle. We ended up in the Newport Beach area, which was so full of tourists that it took ten dollars and 25 minutes to park. But once at the beach it was a dream. Hot sand that burnt your toes, freezing water with crashing waves, sand crabs, seashells, and of coarse corn dogs!!!
We heard a quick sermon from pastor Rick Warren himself and then from different members of the Celebrate Recovery Team. Each day we had guest speakers and testimonies that knocked our socks off. I cried so much from hearing the stories that echoed hurt, betrayal, abuse, drugs, alcohol, and so much more. Each story always ended up with praises and blessings and hearts and souls changed. God worked through each one of these people, to bring their struggles and character defects into His Story. And once they were in His story the past was history and the future is legendary. All for His glory! We got to hear many skits from the also famous Skit Guys! Each skit left us rolling in the aisles and some of them touched our hearts so much. They are proof that there can be really funny comedy without vulgar content and bad language. If you haven't seen the Adam and Eve skit I advise you check it out!
After large group time and a quick lunch we split to our different workshops where the real deep meat of the information was given. This was where we could learn about the different aspects of CR and ask questions. Some of the classes I took were How to be a sponsor, The Landing(the teen version of CR), Leading Worship, Helping offenders once they are out of prision, and many more. I got so much info my head was swimming. We all went to different classes to gather as much info as possible and combine later. It's designed to enhance our CR and fix any issues we might have. Once our class was over it was dinner time and we decided to eat at the famous IN N OUT!
When the workshops were over we all moved into the Sanctuary for the closing ceremony. What is so different about CR conferences as opposed to others is our willingness to be open. How often have you been in a church where someone can stand up and say they struggle with a pornography addiction and be accepted and loved. No one whispering in the pews about how awful they are for having a bad habit. In God's eyes Pride and boastfulness is just as awful. Yet CR brings down the prideful and elevates "those people" into the same group that says none of us are good enough on our own. But because of the love of Jesus Christ we can be set free and live in the light with self worth. All of us. So the closing ceremonies were about surrendering any last hurt, hang-up or habit to the Lord and having communion. We took those hurts and wrote them down and nailed them to the cross. Nearly everyone in that room nailed something to the cross. And while we did that a painter (I don't know his name) took a blank canvas and turned it into a masterpiece.
It was so moving! After that we took communion and it was over. Many people stayed to be baptized. And some stayed to visit their CR that happens every Friday night without fail. But we went to a nice restaurant and ate dinner. We enjoyed talking over the whole week with each other, the highlights and the funny moments. Some of the team went to Disney afterwards to get souvenirs, but I went back to the hotel and packed and rested. I really missed my family and was so excited to share with them the memories I had made.