Lee Abbey Weekend

A group of 24 young people and 11 adults from across the villages in the Cullompton deanery went to Lee Abbey in February 2011 to learn to listen to God.

On the Friday night we were welcomed by the Lee Abbey team and enjoyed supper, playing dodge ball and then went on a night hike. Then we shared together and all got given a journal to write in. We were up early on Saturday to walk up to the top of the hill before breakfast.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge. “
Psalm 19

We were blindfolded for the last part of our walk and found ourselves standing at the foot of three crosses with the most amazing view over the sea and the mountains! Suddenly the suns rays came through the clouds declaring to us all the glory of the Lord!

After breakfast we all had a chance to do rock climbing, archery and made some amazing wooden badges from some yew wood we found on our walk. We learned about setting spiritual goals in archery and trusting others when we were blindfolded. We learned about getting ready to learn a new skill and the importance of having other people to help and practicing lots if we want to get better as we climbed. We learned about God’s creation and our part in it as we made our name badges. After each activity we had some time to write in our journals and talk about where God was in and what he had been saying to us.

We chose what to do in the afternoon and enjoyed photography workshops, finding out about trees and chilling out! We also has time to play table football, pool, table tennis and go round some rally amazing prayer stations that Pauline had put around the site.

In the evening we went on another amazing night walk and spent fifteen minutes sitting in silence listening to God in the woods.

On Sunday we went to the beach chapel and thought about the time Jesus appeared to his friends on the beach and ate fish with them after his death and resurrection. We ate fish on the beach together and experienced God in the wind and the waves.

Then we did an egg challenge in teams and wrote on the back of our badges some words that God spoke to us over the weekend or summed up what we felt the weekend gave us. These included ‘God is in the silence, fun, strength, hope, courage, inspired, reflect, peace, preach to the nation, light, trust, listen, joy, God loves you, Faithful servant, God loves me, Be still, Trinity, Trust in the Lord.

We had a delicious lunch, packed up and then spent some time capturing what we had learned, encouraging each other, giving thanks to God and celebrating together.

To find out what we all thought about the weekend ….

“Going to Lee Abbey for the weekend was a great experience.  On the Saturday we made wooden name badges, went indoor rock climbing and did archery.  We also had chances to have silent times alone with God.  This was good because it gave us a chance to get away from the busyness of everyday life.” Suzie 12

“Walks!  We went on lots of walks morning and evening, they were all very exciting.  Dan liked it when we were wearing a blindfold and we were taken up to top of a hill looking out to sea with three crosses behind you.

“On Saturday night we went on a night walk.  We had to stay still and quiet in 15 minutes and in that time I heard God speaking to me.  He told me to look up at the moon and I saw a happy face and He said that was how He felt about me for being so brave on my own in the dark.” Dan 13

Rock climbing:   For many people this was the best activity of the weekend.  Suzie was very proud of herself as she managed to climb an overhang.

Archery:  We had great fun.  Ryan’s favourite part of it was when we tried to hit the target blindfolded.  Milo managed to get an 8 blindfolded!

Wooding:  in wooding we cut, sanded, and polished a small piece of wood then burnt our name into it.  Chris was amazed at how smooth it was.” Sam 13

“I really enjoyed the badge making as you were quiet working on it and you didn’t need to speak so I had more time thinking about God.  I was thinking about how much He loves us all.”
Danni 14

 “I’ve built up more trust in God doing a lot of things blindfolded.  When I couldn’t see it seemed like He was there – I found it easier climbing blindfolded.  I got lots of help from people and so I got much higher.  My word was Trust.” Chanan 15

 “I have been really encouraged to seek to listen to God and that although I sometimes find this difficult and don’t always hear anything, He does love us to listen to him and can really speak to our hearts, if we let him.”
Heather Lee Abbey Team

“God speaks through actions and at this weekend I learnt how wonderful it was to receive God’s love through another person.” Jilly Age unknown!

“I just really enjoyed the whole of the weekend – no downs.” Jacob 12

“When I first came here I was so excited about it.  The people I was sharing a room with, the people I would meet and the fantastic activities we would be doing.  I also found how great it is being with other Christians who understand you.  It’s a great spiritual experience and I love learning about how amazing God is and his wonderful creation.”

“Spending time with the young people at Lee Abbey this weekend has been a wonderful experience.  They are truly inspirational and watching God work through them and with them has been an incredibly refreshing experience.”

“It was great, we learnt about God and that He is with you everywhere even in the silence.  I thank Selina for organizing it and also Richard for telling Hizone which is my bible study group for young children from the age of 12-15.  Overall an excellent experience.” Rhiannon 13

“The whole experience just taught me to listen in the silence, to just be in awe of the beauty around me and my blessed friends.

“I have learnt that it’s better to listen to God in the silence even if it’s for a short amount of time.  It’s still good to listen out for his voice.” Adele

“Lee Abbey brought me so much closer to God.  It’s been one of the best weekends I’ve had......ever!”
 Ryan 13

“Embracing the silence.  One of the important things that we can do is simply to ‘shut up’ and let God speak to us.  But this can be scary.  What might happen?  We might not be able to focus.  I never have enough time!  Why not try introducing just 5 minutes of silence at one point in your day.  If you struggling for inspiration why not read a Psalm several times over, letting the words become familiar and then noticing particular words or phrases that stand out to you.  Then let those words rest in your mind while you’re silent – and see what God gets up to!

Another way you could do this is reading one of Jesus’ stories and imagining yourself in it – literally being there, noticing the scene, feeling the wind and then imagine how Jesus might come and talk to you.” Martin Diocesan Youth Advisor

Tips to help you be closer to God
(1) sit in a group and talk
(2) when you have time pray
(3) try new things to learn about God
Emma 12

“Listening to God.  “I really wish I could tell you what God says to me.  You see the thing is that when I receive a message from him it’s special to me.  Even when I try to explain to others what He said, it turns into um’s and er’s and a long pause of confusion of how to share the message.  So you must understand I cannot say much, but I know He’s speaking to all of us.” Connor 15

“Journaling is a good idea as sometimes it’s hard to talk about your relationship with God and experience, so write when things come to you so it is more natural as that is when it’s from God.”

“I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in a weekend – a truly joyful experience. I learnt how to appreciate God in other aspects of my life! A great time to reflect alone and with others –a really friendly and welcoming place” Lucy

On our final certificates we recorded our spiritual treasures .. Here are just a few…

  • I really enjoyed going blindfolded through the woods and also the climbing
  • I really enjoyed going into the woods in the dark to try and have some time alone with God
  • I really enjoyed the rock climbing. It was a real challenge and a lot of fun!
  • I really enjoyed the rock climbing. Also the archery as it was a first time experience.
  • I really enjoyed God being at the centre of conversations
  • I really enjoyed going on the night walk and getting soaked on the beach
  • I really enjoyed the chance to stop and be silent. We had several moments in which God clearly moved and spoke to us during this silence.
  • I really enjoyed meeting new people, sharing experiences and finding God in different activities.
  • I really enjoyed making the badges because I had something I was proud of at the end.
  •  I really enjoyed going down to the beach and getting soaked with the rain and sea, skimming stones and building dams!
  • I really enjoyed the whole of the weekend!

I learned that….

  • I learned that God is with you wherever you go even in silence
  • I learned that God is always there and will take care of you no mater what.
  • I learned that you can speak to God in the silence and it’s best to slow down in life to allow room for God’s voice.
  • I learned that I need to slow down, stop and listen to God. I know my past is redeemed, my present makes sense and my future is secure.
  • I learned that God can speak to people in all sorts of different ways and that God the father loves to speak to us –his children
  • I learned that I need to trust God and not be scared of what He might be saying to me
  • I learned that I can be inspired by the smallest things and that trying and failing is better than not trying at all
  • I learned that I can trust more in God and also in my friends
  • I learned that God is happy to surprise us and to turn our expectations upside downI learned that I can trust my friends to guide me and sometimes asking them might be better because they see the bigger picture.
  • I learned that it is easier to do things if you trust others can help you.
  • I learned that we should all try to listen to God in the silence
  • I learned that in receiving I can give a blessing!
  • I learned that you can speak to God in many ways
  • I learned that God can communicate with us; and he is a really powerful God

I now believe …

  • I now believe that God knows what is best for us and only speaks to us if he feels we need it. Sometimes being with God can just be sitting quietly.
  • I now believe that I can now do things that I would not have done and think God is always there
  • I now believe that I have come to find it easier to speak to God! Also I am more confident.
  • I now believe that however much of a challenge life and faith is, I should persevere. Also that I NEVER have to hide or pretend about who I really am.
  • I now believe that I can speak freely to God, anywhere, any time.
  • I now believe that sometimes you just have to sit quietly by yourself and try to listen to God or just tell God how you are feeling
  • I now believe that it is totally possible for young people to embrace contemplative practices – we need more of this! I really enjoyed making new Christian friends including the adults and being in a really cool environment. I likes the fact that all the activities were about Christianity. Like the name badges, climbing wall and archery. I loved the walks too. It just gave you lots of time to unwind.”
  • “I now believe that God is amazing and you can’t waste that. That’s why it’s so important to talk to God, so I want to spend 5 minutes talking to God every night and try to go on peaceful walks”
  • I now believe that God is in complete control of my life
  • I now believe that God makes me who I am and no-one can take him away. He loves me and will help me make the right decisions in life
  • I now believe that God loves me and will guide me on my journey
  • I now believe that God has a plan for my life that I – at least for the moment- don’t need to worry about. I just need to tell the world about him and preach to the nations
  • I now believe that if you ant to talk to God, it is important to have a ‘clear mind’ meaning that we don’t have lots of other things on our mind, we should hand them over to God to deal with. I now believe that you can hear God through different things
  • I now believe that God created the heaven and the earth and he loves me.

Some of the encouragement we shared with each other in our final certificates

  • You’re so kind and gentle a real encourager! Keep going and thank you!
  • A great room mate
  • She’s crazy, friendly and makes me smile.
  • You bring the place alive!
  • A great support – our conversations were great. You’re an amazing friend.
  • Thanks for talking with me, I really needed your reassurance.
  • Good climber
  • Thanks for being so supportive and a great ping pong opponent!
  • Fun to be with
  • Just lovely!
  • A nice person who always looks out for you and always makes you feel better when you’re feeling down
  • Brave and strong
  • You are so special and full of strength in God
  • Patient you waited right until the end to do your badge
  • Thank you for your encouraging words as I tried to climb the wall, you gave me a boost that helped me go that little bit further.
  • A very nice person who always listens to what you say
  • A good leader and very inspirational
  • You are lovely and loved!
  • Really caring.. you have a way with words and explaining things!
  • Thank you for helping me to be honest
  • God is in your calmness
  • Friendly and kind
  • You are so generous, kind and supportive.
  • I see God in you
  • You are beautiful
  • A very caring and loving person who always understands you and listens
  • I’m so happy that you’ve found God, for he truly adores you. I hope we can support each other in our faith.
  • Press on towards the goal Jesus has for you
  • Gadget guy!
  • God loves you and don’t let that go
  • You are an inspiration and a wonderful young man
  • Thank you for encouraging me and helping me become a Christian. You’re great!
  • Your willingness to see God at work in everything is so exciting. Don’t stop looking – be brave, be strong for the lord your God is with you.
  • You’re a great friend. Keep a firm faith in the Lord – He loves you!