A family adventure story about what it's like to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in Sri Lanka.
[Jamie Schreiber] We are here gathered together to observe God's Feast of Tabernacles. We are united by one hope and an incredible promise of an exciting world yet to come. We are one body, united by one spirit. It's the time when all of us from around the world leave our homes and travel to various destinations to worship together in peace and harmony.
This year my wife Kayleen and I are traveling to a beautiful small island known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. We love to travel and see the world, but most of all we enjoy meeting God's people. Come along with us and meet your brothers and sisters as we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, Sri Lankan style.
It's Wednesday. Last Chick-fil-A sandwich for two weeks. Four days before the start of the Feast of Tabernacles. Twenty-four hours later, we arrive in the bustling city of Colombo, Sri Lanka. After checking in and a cup of coffee, we set out to explore.
This is Grace Stephens. She lives here in Colombo, and has her whole life. Grace has been a member of the Church of God for many years. She remembers walking to a friend's house with her father every Sunday evening to listen to the old World Tomorrow radio broadcast. Their family didn't have a radio.
[Grace] Daddy, my two sisters, we three start and we three started going to Mr. Kaurnatileke's house to listen to the radio message. A long distance we have to go in the night.
[Jolinda Schreiber] What time?
[Grace] From 8:30 to 12 am. Not clear but even that we listened to the message.
[Dave Schreiber] So what did you think when you when to your first Feast of Tabernacles? What was on your mind? What did you see and think and feel?
[Grace] All of us were there. It was like a paradise.
[Jamie Schreiber] It's 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning. We're taking a coach bus to the complete opposite side of the island, where the Feast of Tabernacles is being held. We make several stops along the way to pick up brethren whose homes are on the route.
And once the sun started to rise the bus came alive with music and chatter.
I've never seen a group of people more excited to go to the Feast.
[Natalie Reckerman]: This is my 20th Feast of Tabernacles. What's really exciting about it is we are just one step closer to God's kingdom, and definitely looking forward to celebrating the Feast with all of the brethren around the world.
[Marina Kumar] : And this is my 14th year at the Feast. And we are looking forward every year.
[Dave Schreiber] We're just beginning the Feast here in Sri Lanka. We are really, really looking forward to a foretaste of God's coming kingdom, and the brethren in Sri Lanka, wow, are they excited.
[Frank Reckerman] Good evening. Welcome to the Feast of Tabernacles, Amaya Beach, Passikuda.
[Jamie Schreiber] Our Sri Lankan brethren have been counting down the days to the start of the Feast, since the end of the final service of the Feast last year.
[Jamie Schreiber] The sun rises on the first day of the Feast. The resort has an extensive spread for breakfast, and we all enjoy a slow paced morning with family and new friends.
Hey, Rohan good morning.
[Rohan De Silva]: Hey, it's been a while since I've seen you.
I think what everyone looks forward to above all things is a foretaste of God's Kingdom. We live in a world that is confused, we have to, you know, carry on with day-to-day life as well as, you know, doing day jobs and making a living is sometimes it's tough. I think, you know, what brethren look forward to is a time of refreshing from that. It's a world of confusion, a world of hopelessness, and what we have is real hope.
[Jamie Schreiber] Each day the Sri Lankans decorate the backdrop behind the podium with a different theme. We have two services on the first day of the Feast, and the Sri Lankans are excited to hear the messages of God's coming Kingdom.
[Keith Tomes] It's the beginning of something marvelous that our Father has planned, not just for us but for all of mankind.
[Jamie Schreiber] Special music is a real treat. Although it's a smaller Feast site, there is no lack of music to praise God each day.
Here we go.
Calls is tails, it's a head.
[Jamie Schreiber] Today is youth day, which means an afternoon of cricket.
One, two, three, four.
They appointed my dad and me to be captains, and we gathered our squads.
[Frank Reckerman] Cricket is fun. Cricket is fun, so we have the ladies and the gents, the children included also. And if we want to get some opportunity to play cricket. The fun part is when the brethren who has never touched a bat, suddenly has been given on the job training, within minutes, and he are sometimes playing better than the locals.
So, it's advisable to bounce the ball once. Hopefully closer to the batsman's legs. That's the best way you can pitch, or we call it bowling.
[Jamie Schreiber] It was a quick explanation of the rules, and we're off.
[Wayne Topping]: You'll notice if you keep your eyes focused on the goal, your life is going to be a lot smoother, a lot more peaceful. Because if I'm down here, and I'm into reaction, and this is how most people are living their lives, in reaction.
[Jamie Schreiber] After services today, we are headed to one of the most famous sites in the land. Sigiriya, or Lion Rock. It's an ancient rock fortress located in Central Province, Sri Lanka.
[David Schreiber] Yeah so, we want to try to be back at the buses by 1:15, that's about two hours from now.
[Jamie Schreiber] On a small plateau about halfway up the side is a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. This is where the fortress gets its name. There was a king who built his palace on top of this rock and decorated its sides with beautiful watercolors. It's quite a challenging trek to get to the top to see these ruins. A real test for those with a fear of heights...or snakes.
[Jamie Schreiber] The Sri Lankans have a love for their international brethren. Many do not have the opportunities to travel outside of Sri Lanka, so the Feast is a blessing of friendship.
[Rohan De Silva] Being Sri Lankans, we live on an island, we don't often get to visit other brethren in different parts of the world, and having them come over to the Feast is often an encouragement. Hearing of the trials that they go through, circumstances they have had to face, hearing their stories and understanding, you know, things that have gone on in the church. Their point of view is often something that we look forward to hearing.
[Frank Reckerman] The great blessing is that we meet each other for every single meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a great blessing is to have the activities that are lined up. Every day is special. The talent show is special, and of course with that comes the richness of God's spiritual word, explained to us by the speakers, the ministry that we hold more valuable than physical blessings we have here.
[Virgiania Thamel]: I really enjoy having the internationals with us at the Feast. So we are happy about it.
[Rohan De Silva] Okay, good afternoon, we are just about to leave for an elephant safari at Minneriya National Park. Now Minneriya is known for its high population of wild elephants, so you are in for a treat, lets get on board.
[David Schreiber] We've been encouraged at this Feast to go onward. As Christian soldiers and to fight that battle, and to be a light, to be able to share the truth of God. We have been rejuvenated with the vision that God has given us at this Feast. We have had a foretaste of that coming Kingdom of peace and of working together. And so we're really moved and inspired as we leave this place to go back to our homes and begin to be that light that God wants us to be, and to proclaim that gospel of His coming kingdom, which is really the hope for all mankind.
[Child] Thank you for this Feast of Tabernacles, and we are so thankful to be here. Thank you for all our blessings, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.
[Jamie Schreiber] The brethren in Sri Lanka are some of the warmest people we have ever met. The pure joy they have about the coming kingdom is infectious. They remind me that we are truly one. God is working with people from all over the world. On this tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, He has set apart a group of people who are amazing representatives of the Kingdom we are anticipating and celebrating, here at the Feast of Tabernacles.
[Jamie Schreiber] What happens when you drink the chocolate milk?
[Child] If you drink it, then you can pedal the bike.
[Jamie Schreiber] Then you can pedal the bike. So, drink chocolate milk and you can pedal the bike.