By Kayla Rinker
MT. VERNON – With bouncy hair, a contagious laugh and plenty of fun in her eyes, it’s no wonder Girls in Action (GA) Retreat Worker Jenni Dill is loved by hundreds of girls (1-6 grades) across southwest Missouri.
She was one of nine Missouri Baptist women who helped put on seven GA Retreats in four locations throughout April including at Baptist Hill in Mt. Vernon, at South Missouri Baptist Assembly in VanBuren, at Bates Creek Baptist Camp in Potosi and at Grand Oaks Baptist Assembly in Chillicothe. The total number of GA’s who attended retreats this year was 1,253.
Dill’s personal GA journey perfectly captures this year’s theme, “2010: Missions Odyssey.” An odyssey is defined as an extended journey, and the theme taught Missouri GA’s that all Christians are called to include missions into their own life journeys.
Dill’s journey with GA began when she attended a GA Retreat in second grade.
“Our church didn’t have GA so my Mom and I did GA at home,” Dill said. (Her mother, Lori Bohannon, managed this year’s retreat at Baptist Hill.) “After we attended our first GA Retreat, a friend of mine and I decided it was so much fun that we wanted to have GA at church. We looked on the back of the leader’s guide to find out how much it would cost and we made up a proposal to present at the church business meeting. And well, after listening to us two little girls, who could say no?”
She stayed in GA throughout her childhood and, as a teenager, Dill became involved in Acteens and started helping with GA Retreats. In 2005, Dill was asked to substitute for another adult volunteer and she has been involved ever since.
She even attended special worker training in 2006 and currently serves as a Missouri Baptist consultant for GA and Children in Action in her area.
“But the number one thing I like to do is GA Retreat,” Dill said.
And it’s a good thing, because the GA girls wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When the girls fill out an evaluation form, many of them highlight Jenni as the best part of the retreat,” said Teri Broeker, newly named Children/Youth Missions Consultant for the Missouri Baptist Convention.
“That’s always one of the first things they ask when they get here … ‘Is Jenny here?’” added Bohannon, who also managed this year’s retreats at Baptist Hill.
Dill’s continuing life journey of service and mission work is a prime example of what GA and its retreats mean in the lives of the young ladies who take part.
“Jenni’s story is proof that we are growing up future leaders right here at GA retreat,” Bohannon said.
Throughout their Retreat weekend, GA’s also attended general sessions that included interviews with missionaries, vignettes of people of all professions and ages and how they incorporate missions into their life journeys and a worship time.
“I love hearing the girls sing praises to God with their sweet, little voices,” Dill said. “That’s probably the best part for me.”
The girls also break out into small group sessions where they learn about everything from the salvation plan and how to share it to the Cooperative Program.
“They also make several crafts and we have them make cards to missionaries that we mail later,” Dill said.
Every year the GA Retreats also have a mission action project. Girls are asked to bring items that will benefit a ministry or a missionary. This year’s project focused on helping the camp locations that host the retreats. The girls collected 4,752 Latex gloves, 194 oven mitts, 996 dish clothes and towels, 124 spray cleaners and 216 sports items (balls, Frisbees, etc.).
GA also has an art contest every year, giving the girls an opportunity to design using the year’s theme. Hope Wolfe, First Baptist Church, Anderson, received first place and her design was put on the T-shirts; second place went to Autumn Bauer, First Baptist Church, Troy, and it was used on the program cover; and Emily Dehner, Durham Baptist Church, received third place, with her design being put on a keepsake bookmark.
Also, three honorable mention designs were placed on this year’s GA Retreat banners. Those winners were: Sarah Nevils, New Hope Baptist Church, Sedalia; Morgan Porta, Northeast Baptist Church, Clinton; and Laura McAndrew, First Baptist Church, St. Peters.
The theme for next year’s GA Retreats is “If the Shoe Fits, Wear It.”