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Trip Report: Men's Retreat -- Part 1 - RonO's Ramblings

Jan. 29th, 2008 02:11 pm Trip Report: Men's Retreat -- Part 1

Last weekend, I attended my fourth Men's Retreat sponsored by the Wheaton Bible Church Men's Ministries. As was the case with the previous three, in addition to attending, I worked as part of the technical crew running (and providing) the computer that provided the graphics.

My trip started on Friday. After dropping The Kid off at daycare, I went home and packed. I then headed down to Wheaton and the Church. It was about 8 degrees (f) at the time, so loading the van didn't promise to be much fun. I got to the church and quickly found the rest of the loading and set-up crew. This crew consisted of the three volunteers working tech for the event, the Minister of Worship and Media Arts (a.k.a Worship Pastor) for the Church and the Church Tech Director and his Assistant. The last two would only be around for loading and setup, not the rest of the weekend.

I quickly learned that, in addition, to the audio and video equipment, and musical instruments -- a keyboard and 2 guitars -- we would be bringing up the church's staging. Apparently, the hotel where the retreat was held (the first time we've used this hotel) wanted to charge a huge fee for the staging and the built in projectors and screens. This was large enough it had to load first, and then we had to fit the rest of the stuff around it. In the end we had filled the back of the church's cargo van to the top, and had to put the guitars and music stands into another vehicle. We then departed in four cars (the van, my car, the car with the equipment in it and the tech director's car) for Lake Geneva.

About an hour and a half later, I arrived at the hotel in Lake Geneva. It turned out I was the first one. The driver with equipment in his car got there a couple of minutes later, and informed me that the other two cars were detained at a Starbuck's along the way.

The two of us met with the hotel and got our first look at the room. The room was decent, but had one flaw, it was one story up from the nearest door -- no loading dock -- and the elevators wouldn't hold the staging. The nearest elevator wasn't working either, so we were forced to load up the stairs. Fortunately, this was a straight shot with no doors or turns until the top.

Once the rest of the party arrived, we quickly unpacked. I only hauled one of the 4 staging pieces up. While I'm in much better shape than I've been most of my life, and probably stronger, I'm still not good a lifting and carrying. I also helped pull one of the two large boxes -- 4'x2.5'x2.5' boxes full of electrical or audio cable -- up the stairs.

We then started setting up. Set up took about 3 hours, including a break for lunch. In the end we had everything going. Our only major last-minute glitches were the broken speaker stand (which had to wait for another pastor to arrive just before the first session started at 7), and discovering that the 50' video (VGA) cable was bad and not delivering Red or sync. After determining that a 50' VGA cable was not to be found for sale in Lake Geneva, we managed to borrow one from the hotel.

In the end we had an audio system set up with 2 wired vocal mics, 2 guitars, a keyboard and an electric bass on direct boxes, a mic for the kick drum, and 3 wireless mics for the speakers. This went to a good sized board, that also had iPod inputs (which were connected to nearly every iPod that was with the setup crew), a connection to the DVD player and possibly other inputs. We also had borrowed the tech director's digital recorder to record the teaching. We also had a video set up including my computer, a DVD player and a VCR, all hooked to two projectors through a brand-new "easy fade" -- an easy to use push button video switch that outputs in VGA instead of TV.

After set-up we had a quick rehearsal for Friday evening, and then ran over to McDonald's for a quick dinner. I had their relatively new (and very good for McDonald's) Southwest chicken Salad. I was apparently in a "Southwest Chicken" mood, since I'd had a Southwest chicken wrap from the Holuhan's at the hotel for lunch.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the teaching, but I'll go over how everything went.

All of the teaching sessions followed pretty much the same format. First there would be some announcements and some sort of a fun discussion. On Friday it was finding out where the Men not from Wheaton were from. We had a number from around the Chicago suburbs, at least one from the Church in Rockford where I was married, one from Ohio and one from Miami Florida. After that we settled into the praise singing. {I'm refraining from calling it "worship" since both our speaker and our music leader, the aforementioned Pastor of Worship and Media Arts, reminded us that "Worship" and "Praise Singing" are not the same thing}.

After that, our speaker for the weekend, Dr. Voddie Baucham, took the floor and told his story of becoming a Christian, a pastor and a teacher. We then followed this with table discussions and ended for the night.

However, unlike the previous retreats, we were eating in the same room where the teaching was taking place. This meant that we could not rehearse for Saturday Morning during breakfast as we've done in the past. So we had to wait until 10:00 for this rehearsal. Unfortunately, the bass player didn't know this, and the phone in his room wasn't working. So our rehearsal didn't include all of the instruments. During this rehearsal, I was noting the verse order of the songs so that I wasn't behind the singing on Saturday. We got to one song that we've done regularly in regular services, and the leader suddenly said "Ron lets see how well you know me." I was then able to correctly jump to the bridge and back to the chorus for the final time. I knew his verse order without any question.

After the rehearsal, I went to bed. Because of my CPAP -- or at least using it as an excuse -- I had gotten a room by my self. It turned out to be 3 doors from the conference room we were using. It was also a very large room for one person and one weekend. The hotel, The Cove, only has housekeeping suites. So in addition to a small bedroom area, I had a small full kitchen and a living room with a sofa bed (I'm sure in rooms with two men, one usually ended up on the sofa. With four in a standard room, they probably ended up in the kitchen or elsewhere in the living room area). The only odd thing about the room, and I understand why, is that the door to the hallway opened almost directly onto the bed, with the living area at the far end -- near the balcony.

I'm going to stop for now and will continue later -- either editing this post, or creating a new one.

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