MICHIGAN – Joni and Friends Family Retreat specifically focus on families navigating the challenges of disability. They strive to create a rich, Christ-centered environment at each Family Retreat that is safe and accepting for each member of the family. Find out how life-transforming this was recently for the Rojas family.
Our idea of a family was always having children, but you never expect these kind of things to happen. In your heart you feel that this is a different road, that there’s something about Alex that isn’t a part of a typical child’s development. And from then on, it was a bit. It radically changed our way of life, as a couple and as a family.
We want to do what’s best for him and take care of him because we know nobody has a guide to help our children with conditions like autism.
We didn’t know what we were facing. We just knew that Alex wasn’t going to be like other kids. His development wasn’t going to be normal. We have to keep an eye on the doors at all times. He really likes turning on the faucets in the sink. It’s a cascade of what we have to run because we already have some ceiling damage in the kitchen. And we lock the entrance door too because if we get distracted, Alex likes to go out. We even put a lock in the top part so he can’t get to it. We normally lock the door and we lock it on the top as well. We also do that with the door that goes to the backyard. We always keep it locked because he always finds a way to get out.
I didn’t have time to cut my hair or do my nails this year. My husband and I, we only have a romantic date on our anniversary.
Our family is always like, if you want to go out, I can go out, I can take care of Andrea, Mia and the baby, but no one ever offers to take care of Alex. That’s the one we need the most help with.
I heard about the family retreat from a friend. The truth is I hesitated because she told me that everybody spoke English only, but I did it anyway. I had no idea how wonderful it was going to be there.
A family retreat, especially for our family, means, first of all, to leave the daily routine from the house, as well as from work.
It’s a moment for all the family to have a leisure time and lots of activities, but most of all to rest and the moments to learn from God.
And we know that God is working because it’s the only place where we feel at ease and confident, knowing that our kids, although we don’t have visual contact with them, they are in safe hands in a good place.
When we’re at home, we can’t sit down like this, holding hands, because we don’t have the time, and I’ve always got things to do.
To have a moment on our own as a couple, it felt really nice to go out as if we were dating again. To have a moment just for us two.
For me, this mental time is very important. It’s the most relaxing thing I’ve got in here.
Sometimes you don’t have the words to describe how wonderful and exciting it is to be here. You especially feel it when you go back home to the daily routine, but you feel like your energy is recharged.
About Joni and Friends
For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided the hope of the Gospel and practical resources to people affected by disability around the globe. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on Disability, and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also delivers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio program and podcasts. To find out more, please visit www.joniandfriends.org.
- Global News Alliance, Family Retreat: An Oasis of Hope for The Rojas Family Living with Disability
- Joni and Friends, Official Website