Joni and Friends Family Retreats offer a safe and welcoming Christ-centered environment for families living with disability. Each and every member of the family is cared for, encouraged and refreshed through fun activities, powerful times of worship and Bible-based teachings. A thoroughly trained volunteer accompanies each child throughout the day to ensure that every activity is completely accessible and to also allow every parent and caregiver to attend their own activities worry-free.
No wonder Family Retreat is often called “a little slice of heaven on earth!”
While Krista was volunteering at Family Retreat, she heard God’s call to adopt Kynslee, who has Down syndrome. Krista explains, “Predominantly, Family Retreat is where I came to serve, yet God spoke to me there and changed the direction of my life.” And in so doing, he also revealed his plan for taking care of Kynslee from the moment of her conception and every day since.
While at Family Retreat, Krista knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she heard God’s voice saying, “Adopt a child with Down syndrome.” She immediately stepped out in faith and obedience, knowing exactly what she was supposed to do.
Adopted as a newborn, Kynslee is now a spunky six-year-old. She loves Minnie Mouse, taking care of her baby dolls, and playing outside.
Family Retreat was the first time Krista and Kynslee had been served as a family since Kynslee’s birth.
“Family Retreat allowed me time to relax and be filled up spiritually and to find some much needed rest. Kynslee is very active and requires constant supervision. Not only did Kynslee’s volunteer buddy provide great care for Kynslee, but she also supported me. She was the best part of Family Retreat.”
Kynslee’s buddy during Family Retreat, Jen, shared what it was like serving Krista and Kynslee, too. “It was such a pleasure! I was in awe of Krista’s compassion and faith. Despite her need for rest, she was really focused on others. It was humbling to serve her.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Krista and Kynslee came to Family Retreat looking for rest for their souls and they found it.
Family Retreat provided Krista with time to rest, which has been sparse over the last six years. But she also found new friendships and an additional loving community in Christ!
Krista’s Family Retreat story has certainly come full circle – from serving as a volunteer to being one of the families served, to inspiring other volunteers in the process! And it all began with God’s voice.
As a volunteer at her first Family Retreat, Krista knew that God was calling her to open her heart and home to her beautiful daughter, Kynslee.
“It hasn’t been the easy road, but God has done the impossible, and his blessings have been immeasurable.”
Perhaps God is calling you to volunteer with Joni and Friends in this new year. As one of the other Retreat families shared, “Volunteering with Joni and Friends is quite possibly the best thing you could ever do for a family. It is a life-changing, God-honoring experience, and your volunteering will help families be more than they thought they could be.”