Contributed by Junta Naito, Photos by Gabriela Von Euw
On November 16th to 18th, CARP Bay Area held a weekend Unification Principles (UP) Retreat in Arnold, CA. The beautiful, mountain town of Arnold was a great location to be immersed in nature and take time for self-reflection and study of the Unification Principles. The theme of the retreat was “Growth”-- growing in our love for God, love for others, and understanding the power of prayer.
The first evening started off with time to bond together as a family through simple card and word games. We were blessed to have CARP Mentor, Hisae Mori, cook for us for the weekend. Afterwards, we watched Alex Kendrick’s film War Room, a movie about prayer, that helped us recognize power of prayer to garner the strength to love and heal relationships.
The main presentations of the retreat were given by CARP Mentor, Markus Von Euw. He explained the importance of prayer and the steps we can take to grow by strengthening and deepening our faith and connection with God. He emphasized that with that foundation, we can strengthen our love towards those around us.
In the afternoon, we visited the nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park, which is home to some of the largest trees in the world. Everyone was awed by the magnificence of the trees. One participant said he felt like he was in “God’s playground.”
During this retreat, we were fortunate to have CARP’s National Program Coordinator, Jinil Fleischman. His presentation focused on the wider vision of CARP. By sharing about all the inspiring activities happening across the nation, he reminded us that we are part of a greater movement. He asked us to reflect on and share with each other our own vision for CARP.
In the evening, the participants engaged in two activities to deepen our understanding of prayer through practice. The first activity was called “Letter to God”; in it, we wrote a letter to God expressing gratitude, forgiveness, and determination. In the second activity, we shared what points we wanted to be prayed for and prayed for each person out loud in a circle to support and give strength to each individual.
We concluded with a presentation by CARP Mentor, Kazuya Morita, who reminded us how we can grow in our love for God and love for others. Overall, the retreat helped us to connect as a family and renew our commitments to grow through the guidance of the Unification Principles.