No one calls a year in advance to book a retreat, then follows through promptly with a meticulously completed contract and a check for the full amount of the estimated cost. It was unheard of, at least until I got a call from the American Taekwondo Association. They were looking for a place for prospective instructors to gather for certification training. Men, women, and youth were signed up from all over Texas, and even as far away as Arkansas. Centrally located, Cross Roads was the perfect spot. They quickly snapped up a weekend and wasted no time in nailing down the details.
I regretted it immediately. A Taekwondo retreat? They weren't coming to Cross Roads for a spiritual experience. They were coming to experience the rush of kung fu fighting and the thrill of combat. What was I thinking? This had nothing to do with our mission at Cross Roads and I'd given away a prime Spring weekend. A weekend that several of our regulars might want. But, there was nothing to be done about it at that point. The ATA would be coming to Cross Roads.
Fall began to fade into winter, and the inquires for spring dates started rolling in. I held my breath every time Jenny called to update me on what dates were being considered and by whom. Weekends were being picked like grapes off a vine, except for the ATA weekend. No one even asked about that particular weekend in May. Go figure!
A field of black suited Ninja's with red bandanas greeted me as I drove down the road to the camp. I nearly ran over a pod of them as they posed, stretched, lurched and chopped at imaginary adversaries. And this was before breakfast! I just shook my head again and smiled, wondering just what God was going to do with this "happening" at the Cross Roads.
We watched as they quietly lined up for breakfast without a prayer. It was a disconcerting first for us. It was also obvious that this was the first time these folks had ever met each other, but they were friendly and very appreciative of the good hot 'healthy' food we had prepared at their "masters" request. The line of fifty-five black clad figures snaked all the way around the room. As they passed the serving window we chatted amicably with them, asking them where they were from, what level they had achieved in Taekwondo and whatever else came to mind.
By the time they arrived back at the dining hall for lunch a sense of comaraderie had begun to take shape. The youth, still full of energy after a morning of intense physical activity, jostled each other as they stood in line. The adults turned blind eyes to their shennanigans and continued to talk with their new friends and to us as we served their plates. One woman asked what church or denomination the camp was affiliated with. She looked surprised when we said, "None, we're just a bunch of volunteers who do this because we think it's a good thing." About twenty more folks streamed by before someone else asked the same question and got the same reply.
The dinner bell rang at 6 o'clock and I would have sworn that a different group of people came through those doors. They were laughing and joking like they'd known each other forever and this time lots of them wanted to know who we were and what organization or church ran the camp. Each received the same answer as before. It's just us. We do it because we love it. After dinner we received a standing ovation for the great food, to which we replied, "All glory to God!"
The next morning I could not be there to serve them breakfast. It was Sunday, and one of my granddaughters was being baptized at her church in Austin. I wasn't going to miss that for anything. But, when I got home the phone rang almost immediately. Jenny must have seen me drive up the road. I could hear the emotion in her trembling voice. She said that one of the group was a youth director and was inquiring about bringing his youth to the camp. I said, "Well, great, now I know why they were supposed to come to the Cross Roads!" She said, "No, that was really good, but that's not the best part. When they came in for breakfast this morning they joined hands and prayed."
All glory to God!