a week in paradise... kind of
Written by
Amy Etrheim
Posted In
Ecuador

Mmmm I’ve always loved the beach. 

When we first stepped foot onto our place of lodging for the week, my breath nearly caught in my throat.

It was gorgeous.

The roaring ocean rushing to the shore, the palm trees flittering in the wind, the fine sand, everything. It was better than you can imagine, a rip-this-picture-out-of-the-magazine-and-put-it-in-your-fridge kind of view.

And we got to wake up to it every day.

However, this beach trip was a little bittersweet, twinged with sadness. It was our last week together as a group, the last couple days of the semester.

It’s hard to face the reality that you might never see some of these faces again.

We came to the beach for debrief – to get away, process, spend time with God and each other. No cell phones, no internet, just you, God, and each other (and a beautiful view.) 

We swam, played in the ocean, ran on the shore, ate every meal together, drank smoothies, got some much-needed rest. We sang worship and played games and came together for multiple devotions and sessions together.

One that stood out was about raising an Ebenezeer.

We walked through 1 Samuel 3-7, where the Israelites were fighting against the Philistines. 

The people raised an “Ebeneezer,” a stone to remind them what God had done.

Ebeneezer means “Thus far the LORD has brought us.”

We spent some time finding a stone for each of us and taking a picture of our Ebeneezers, while reflecting on where God has brought us.

Thus far.

A whole semester of journey, of challenge, of laughter, of tears. Of friendship and memories and crazy amazing experiences. Of classes and learning, struggling with doubts and learning to be vulnerable and embrace community as the body of Christ.

And it’s over. This season is over.

Thus far the Lord has brought us.

We’ve shared something special, and it has been from God. We’ve changed.

And thankfully we have a good, faithful Father who will continue to bring us farther.

Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."