Bethel Encounter Retreat Center Kiln, MS
I was blessed with the opportunity to for an all expense paid visit to the Bethel Encounter Retreat Center last month in Kiln, Mississippi and let me tell you, it was definitely needed! According to their mission, “The retreat center offers a peaceful and serene, family friendly environment where people can set aside the hurried pace of everyday life and experience vibrant and profound encounters with God and nature.”
Unplug and Reset
I was able to not only encounter God, but I was also fellowship with others in a way that I would not have done normally. I stripped away the typical distractions of television and the constant “ding” of my cell phone once I set foot on the facility. I had little to no cell service and there was hardly any form of technology available. This was the perfect way to reset my mind on the pure experience before me. I was able to enjoy all of God’s creations between the fresh air, the beautiful pond, and abundance of greenery surrounding us. I went from worrying about missed notifications on my phone to enjoying the rare silence and disconnect from the outside world.
This experience taught me that I should become more intentional about disconnecting from technology and enjoy life in abundance. I didn’t take many pictures on this trip because I took the time to live in the moment and capture my experiences in the form of memories rather than in the form posting on the gram.
11:00 am Check in begins
6:00 pm Dinner is served
7:00 pm Gathering
8:30 pm Bonfire
9:30 pm Game night/free time
11:00 pm Curfew/Quiet
6:30 am Prayer
9:00 am Breakfast
10:00 am Presentation
10:45 am Tour of facility/Tour of walking trails
12:15 pm BBQ Lunch/Free time
2:00 pm Feedback/Q & A session
4:00 pm Checkout
Fresh home cooked meals were provided for dinner, breakfast, and lunch buffet style for us. Because of my lack of navigational skills and lack of planning, we missed out on some of the scheduled festivities for the first night. I was a little bummed, but it just gives me all the more reason to go back and enjoy the full experience.
My first experience was our room, which was definitely the first thing I wanted to see after a long day. Each room is able to hold up to 5 to 6 people depending on your sleeping preferences. There are two sets of bunk beds and one queen bed. Unlike some retreat centers in the great outdoors, each room included it’s own bathroom. If you’re expecting a five star room, you’re in the wrong place. This retreat center isn’t meant to be fancy by any means. It’s perfect for the unforeseen spills of a toddler, tracking in dirt from your morning walk on the trails, or stripping away soaking wet clothes after some fun in the water. Besides, there’s too many activities to take part in to be stuck in the room.
One thing you should know about living in the deep south is that it’s pretty humid in the summer, so the shower’s water pressure and the cool air in the room was so perfect after the drive I had that day.
Even with all of the many mattresses to choose from, I ended up sharing the queen bed with my girls. This was expected anyway with them being in an unfamiliar place. We slept like logs and didn’t want to get up.
6 AM Fellowship and Prayer
We had the option of joining other guests for some quiet reflection time and prayer at 6 am. Although I’m no where near a morning person, after a few hits to the snooze button I was happy to join my sisters in Christ, Kimberly and Arion, who also took the ride out for the weekend to encounter God. I can say that I now have a new found love for early rising to seek God’s face. It’s a better feeling than morning coffee in my opinion. We watched the sun rise as we shared scripture and prayed for one another. The day could have ended here and I would have been completely satisfied.
The girls thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip from the drive out down to splashing in the water slide at the end! I can admit that I was a little less of a “helicopter” mom that weekend. It was great to watch them be free and explore things outside of their element. This tree swing had to be the highlight of their experience. I had the hardest time pulling them away from it unless it was time to eat. lol! It’s safe to say the retreat center is definitely kid friendly.
The small group of us that visited that weekend were guided through an exploration of the many walking trails on the 62 acres of land. Although the Mississippi weather was pretty warm that day, the heat wasn’t going to get in the way of a good time. I threw on my over sized straw hat and switched out my slides for some walking shoes to fully enjoy the experience. I look forward to returning soon to experience God’s presence on morning walks as the sun rises.
I enjoyed my overall experience and I look forward to visiting again. If you’re ever on the hunt for an affordable, life changing experience on holy ground, be sure to check out the Bethel Encounter Retreat Center. The center is designed to serve both large and small groups for overnight stays and day trips. Follow @thebercorg on both Instagram and Facebook to keep up with the latest activities and events. If you have any questions or would like to book your next trip head over to www.theberc.org.