Well, Jeff wrote his thoughts (below), so I thought I'd write some of mine, too. I was an incredible introvert on this trip. After our evening worship sessions, I would go and read and think in our room while Jeff stayed up with everyone playing games and goofing around. I realized a lot of the same things as Jeff. While I really enjoyed worshipping God with a group of people again, and sharing thoughts and stories, I was really turned off by the "church-type" structure and the "Christian-ese" lingo. I also found I was a lot more sensitive to views that are commonly held by Christians and the church, but are not actually biblically founded. None of these views are necessarily bad, they are just ideas that tend to add to feelings of guilt rather than remembrances of God's grace. (I know some of this is meaningless to a lot of you, but bear with me, we are servicing a wide audience! ;-) )
At the same time, it was a great chance for Jeff and I to get closer and to share a lot of our thoughts. It was also great to meet new people, and to enjoy the area of Minakami, an area famous for its hot springs, (yes, we got naked again), skiing, and rafting. We saw some really beautiful nature. And our hosts made real baking!! I ate a ton of brownies and cookies... wow, so good.
Finally, I was really encouraged in my faith. This year has been a tremendous year of thinking and growing. I've really enjoyed being away from the culture of Canada, as well as church culture. It's given me the freedom to do a lot of sifting. And while many layers have been peeled back, my faith in God has become stronger than ever. And for that, I'm really thankful.