“This retreat has changed my life.”

On December 7, 2018, 40 people with HIV from SE DC and beyond gathered together for a rejuvenating retreat. The weekend started with introductions followed by the assignment of prayer buddies. Each participant drew the name of another participant from a hat, and throughout the weekend each participant left notes of encouragement for their buddy, and/or made a special arts/crafts project for their buddy. This is always a highlight of the retreat!

On Saturday, a local physician spent time with the participants talking about two conditions that many of the participants have or are at risk of having: diabetes and high blood pressure. An honest, informative exchange ensued, resulting in the participants learning how to take better care of their health.

Bingo, games, and arts and crafts time was spread throughout the three days, and on Saturday night, a no-talent talent show is held! It is inspiring to see so many people gathering together and just having a good time, leaving the worries of HIV behind them for a night. On Sunday morning there was a healing service: a powerful spiritual gathering where people cried, hugged, and supported each other. One participant stated, “This retreat has changed my life.” Another said, “This is what I look forward to the most every year.”

Throughout the retreat, participants were treated to first-class meals and had ample opportunity to relax, lounge, and enjoy the beautiful landscape. The event was hosted by our friends at Bon Secours Retreat Center in Marriottsville, and the tranquil setting provided participants with a weekend away from the noise and stress of the city.