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Retreats feature power of stories

With midterms around the corner, and spring break only 15 days away, the men and women’s retreats offer a chance to get off campus and take a break before the final push of the semester.

Last year, Christian Smith, senior construction management major, made several good friends while on men’s retreat.

“Men’s retreat pulls a very diverse set of guys together, and it is really fun to be able to experience people I would usually have no reason to be sharing life with,” Smith said.

Liz Meyer, junior outdoor leadership ministry major, said she’s excited to have a chance to get away from all her work and rest.

“It’s just that time in the semester when I’m needing a break,” Meyer said.

The men will be going to Ponca, Ark. and the women will be going to Spring Valley Ranch in Okla. This year the speakers will be Scott Schochler and Aminta Arrington, for the men and women respectively. The theme will be “Stories,” and each retreat is expected to be a time of rest, spiritual rejuvenation and fellowship.

Arrington and Schochler will be sharing personal stories that share how God shaped or worked in their lives.

Arrington wanted to maintain the surprise of her speech, but said, “One of the stories I’ll be sharing is about a day when interacted with a strange man,” but she learned a bigger lesson from the interesting interaction.

Avoiding any more clues to give away, Arrington said sometimes we hear stories yet they, “completely change the meaning of my story,” sometimes stories end up being completely different than how they began.

Arrington pointed out that if she had not heard the second story she never would have known the true meaning of what had happened, and said this is one of the reasons why it is important to share stories from our lives.

Arrington also hopes to empower the women who are going to tell their own stories.

Schochler said he hopes the men on campus will begin to see how God is working through their own experiences after this retreat. He said he will share about miraculous and difficult situations God has worked through in his own life.

“Your voice is really important,” Arrington said, giving the example of the novel “What is the What” by Dave Eggers.

“Even though the ending isn’t great, the important thing is that he got to tell his story,” Arrington said about the main character, Valentino Achak Deng. “There’s a satisfaction that comes from telling stories. It’s a part of hospitality, acknowledging history, identity and complexity. It’s a way for everyone to relate.”

“I see so much potential in our stories,” Arrington said, “They’re empowering and affirming to who you are.”

Schochler echoed Arrington’s sentiment.

“Most of what we remember is in story form,” Schochler said. “Historically stories are how we’ve transmitted culture and values,” Schochler said.

Schochler said he grew up hearing stories from his dad about his grandfather time as a pastor. His grandfather worked in the swamps of Louisiana, and Schochler spoke of one time when his grandparents needed a boat to use and were given a houseboat. “It just shows that God’s called you here and He’ll take care of you.”

“I have some crazy stories,” Schochler said, not hinting about the other stories. He expressed that those stories have showed him the way God’s worked in the past and gave him confidence in God’s faithfulness.

Arrington also said she would like to get to know more students personally and is looking forward to talking to them and hanging out with them outside of the sessions. Arrington said getting to know college women is what she looks forward to most.

Schochler echoed Arrington’s desire to connect with students and added, “I’m honored to do this.