February-March 2013

The President's Letter
Greetings in the Name of our Lord,

I have thought long about what I want to say to you in this message.

      In the past 20 years, Tres Dias has expanded into countries all around the world, and we have seen the truth of how the message of Grace and the work of the Holy Spirit sets men and women

Bruce Cato.

free and establishes them as leaders in God's kingdom.

     For many communities, this has been a difficult task, due to high facility costs and low income levels. While the average cost of a weekend can be as low as $65 in some areas, it can be much higher in others. The highest I know of is $250. We receive requests for assistance from struggling communities every few months, and we have poured out what blessings we could with the limited funds available .

     Several years ago we established the Tres Dias Fund as a method for collecting and distributing funds to communities in need. The fund has never reached its hoped-for effectiveness. I have prayed about this, and I am convinced that the issue is a matter of our pescadores not being fully engaged in this effort because they have never been made aware of the fund's importance. While some communities and individuals have invested in this fund, by and large the greater Tres Dias community does not even know this fund exists.

     To engage our people more effectively, I am introducing a new approach.


I am asking every community to consider adding a check-off box to their weekend fee form, which will provide the option of investing $1 in the Tres Dias Fund.. 


     You may be saying to yourself that $1 won't make a difference, but if all team members and all candidates were to participate, well over $10,000 per year would come into the fund.

     The money in the fund is used only for communities that request assistance. The majority of disbursements go to emerging communities in third-world countries where the expense of the weekend, although low by American standards, may be the equivalent of nearly three months pay for many of the candidates.

     I hear appeals for various charities every day on TV and receive requests by mail every week, and this may seem like just another appeal. But, unlike some of these other appeals, we KNOW this ministry is real and is effective and Christ centered.    We KNOW that it makes a difference in people's lives and we KNOW they go home and become leaders in their church and community.

     Is giving $1 a hard thing to do? Not when it can mean so much to people who want to be drawn closer to Christ in order to be his messengers.     

     If your community decides to do this, please email me at so we can get you set up as a contributor to the Tres Dias Fund and properly thank you for your support.


Thank you for hearing my heart.

 Bruce Cato 

President, Tres Dias International Secretariat



Also in this Issue

With this issue, we introduce a new feature series tentatively titled "Miracles from the Weekend." To find out how to contribute, see the Letter from the Editors.

Revelation at the Rollo Table
The Tortoise and the Hare 

We Have to Start Meeting Like This  

Survey: Cell phones on a weekend?


Letter from the Editors

 This stained glass cross, seen on some community websites, has a very special symbolic meaning. Can you figure it out? Look at stainedglass cross the cross and think about what happens on a weekend. Give up?
The answer is at the end of the letter from the editors.
A "Miracles from the Weekend" story

Revelation at the Rollo Table  


By Jan Coleman


When Jerry G. agreed to serve as table leader on a recent Tres Dias weekend, he never expected it would shift the gears of his life. "Going through my first weekend was somewhat mechanical for me," Jerry admits. "I was awed at the way it was all set up, the way hearts moved." Still, there were no epiphany moments for Jerry, no huge revelations, but enough happened to make him want to come back to serve on teams ever since.

      On this weekend, after one of the spiritual director rollos, the table talk zeroed in on God the Father, how he is our example of grace, care, and love. The floodgates suddenly opened, and with uncensored honesty each candidate expressed his difficulty envisioning, much less embracing, God as his Heavenly Father. Linking all their stories was the theme of abuse, rejection, abandonment by the men in their lives. Jerry went suddenly silent. It was his epiphany moment. "I am one of those absent dads."

      Thirty years ago, young Jerry went through a painful divorce. As a church youth leader, he observed so many families torn apart by divorce with the kids used as pawns. It was an agonizing decision, but he felt the best thing for his son was to relinquish his parental rights to his ex-wife and her new husband. Surely, it would be better for the boy to be raised in a loving Christian home, instead of being tossed back and forth. "In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do," he declares. On their last day together, his little boy asked if they could go for ice cream, but time just ran out. "I always regretted that," Jerry says.

     Eventually, Jerry married and started a family. He was up front with his two children. "You have a brother out there, and someday you'll meet him." Jerry felt confident that as soon as his son turned eighteen, he'd look him up. But it never happened. "He must be a contented young man, settled and reconciled to his life with no need to find me," Jerry concluded.

   Fast forward twelve years. Jerry is sitting in the rollo room, wondering what God is up to by placing him with these particular men. During Saturday's table chapel visit, as the guys pray and pass the cross, Jerry's heart hurts. "Here I am, the person who is supposed to be facilitating, guiding these men, and God is working in me!"

     Later that night the Lord pressed on him, "Go and find your son. Set things right." After the weekend, Jerry felt strongly that he must first tell his reunion group. "When God lays something on my heart," Jerry says, "I share it with them. They confirmed what God was prompting me to do, and said they would hold me accountable." While an Internet search came up empty, he found his former wife and mailed her the lengthy letter he'd written to his son, with a request she forward it to him.

    A week later the phone rang. "Dad, it's me." Two hours later father and son were still on the phone. Twenty-six years melted away. "I answered all his questions honestly, and I invited him to be honest with me," Jerry says. "In listening, I recognized the same abandonment issues the men revealed around the table. Those three days with them were the key in helping me understand what my son went through all those years."

     Four tours in Iraq with the Army helped diffuse his son's anger and confusion. Finally stateside, his wife urged her soldier husband: it's time to contact your father and settle your troubled heart. It's no coincidence that this conversation took place just about the time Jerry sat in the rollo room hearing those men tell their stories.

     Father and son were recently reunited. As they took a long walk to catch up and plan ways to become a part of each other's lives, Jerry understood how the Lord readied his heart for that moment. "It took several weekends of serving on teams to get me to the place I needed to be for restoration with my son, but God's timing is perfect."

     Before father and son began their historic walk, Jerry insisted on one thing: that they stop for Ben and Jerry's ice cream first. God's story had come full circle.


Jan Coleman is a member of the Northern California Tres Dias community and a co-editor for this publication.

A "Miracles from the weekend" story
The Tortoise and the Hare
Reflections on the right speed for a spiritual journey

By Gordon Mackenzie

I have no trouble recalling how I felt in the weeks leading up to my Tres Dias weekend. The session actually occurred over ten years ago, but it still seems so vivid and meaningful in my mind that the passage of time has not erased my feelings. In spite of the fact that my pastor had been so strong in her enthusiasm for what this experience would mean to my spiritual development, I still had some deep currents of apprehension.

     These negative feelings had their roots in several areas. First, I felt my Christian "maturity" was barely at the puberty level, and I feared I was about to enter a den of Bible-quoting experts who not only would know all the appropriate passages for every situation but also the correct Chapter and Verse.

     Secondly, my religious upbringing was sketchy at best; my parents were occasional Unitarians (need I say more?), with my younger brother and myself dispatched by bike on Sundays to attend the local church Sunday school. Later, at boarding school, I was required to attend church five designated times a week, which was enough to make my teenage soul rebel against any future religious dogma and conformity.

      Lastly, the apparently intentional secrecy and mystery surrounding the contents of the program ("just wait until you get there, please") was not a happy response to my personality profile, which abhors a vacuum.

     But my soul had grown thirsty for spiritual growth. At age 35 I had married Sally, a Wheaton College (Illinois) graduate with a strong church background who was attending church regularly. As time went by our three children came along and they became involved as well with church programs. I began attending on a regular basis, and then getting more involved with church volunteer activities. And this led to my arrival at the Tres Dias program.

     I could feel the warmth and support of the volunteer staff right from the start. I could see that everything was organized and structured with expertise and prayer. The attendees came from everywhere in the region, and from all walks of life--I was a corporate executive with IBM and my roommate was an ex-con who worked in a frozen-meat locker!

     It was during one of the early rollos that I felt some of my apprehension return. The speaker told of how his young daughter had struggled against an incurable disease and, in spite of the best medical care and prayers from so many, the child passed away. It was not only emotional for him to tell it, but for all of us to hear, as we shared each painful step along the way. There was not a dry eye in the room, including mine. The message was how faith in God had sustained him and his family through this terrible ordeal. In fact, their faith was not only sustained but intensified. I wondered to myself how I would have done in the same situation.

     Another rollo was given by a young man who was a recovering alcoholic, long into his recovery. The nadir of his drinking life, after divorce and job loss, came when he found himself literally lying in a gutter, with his father dragging him away. He told how finding Christ saved him from himself . It was a conversion experience that gave him the will and determination to change his life for the better and to reach a pinnacle in his commitment to Christ and His teachings.

   I asked myself-"I wonder if it's necessary to hit bottom before you can truly attain a conversion-level spiritual experience and rise to the mountain top? Do you have to know deep darkness in order to see the light? Was my comparatively blessed and crisis-free life a hindrance to becoming a good Christian? "

     As the years have passed, I think not. I believe the development of a strong Christian faith can be accomplished one step at a time, while others may reach that destination quickly, perhaps accelerated by the catalyst of tragedy and crisis. I see many others whom I perceive as solid Christians whose life stories are similar to mine--a happy childhood, with modest religious experiences and commitment in early life, followed by a spiritual void that is gradually filled through church service attendance, Bible studies, self-reflection, prayer, small groups and other church community activities, and participation in church leadership.

      And in my own experience, the Tres Dias program was the most important step along this journey.

     Yes, I believe the "tortoise" can reach the mountaintop as well as the "hare."


Gordon Mackenzie is a member of the Fairfield County Tres Dias community.



We Have to Start Meeting Like This
How one community made secretariat meetings work
for members who live significant distances

By Susan Kenna Farkas

Lehigh Valley Tres is a newly charted community, sponsored by Susquehanna Valley TD (just over skype2 100 miles northwest of us) and strongly supported by Northern New Jersey TD (75-100 miles east). Moreover, several of our current secretariat members come from these distant communities.

     Clearly, we needed to find ways to conserve travel time and cost, and insure full participation at board meetings. Electronic communications provided an answer. There are pros and cons to these systems, but overall, we do get the participation and information we need from each member on the board.

     What we learned may be useful to other communities where geography is a handicap. Here are some of the lessons.

     If you are using Skype from a laptop computer camera, the computer needs to be tended by someone at the meeting so that the camera is pointing to the person that has the floor. In addition, the person managing the computer needs to move the cursor now and then to make sure the screen does not go into "sleep" mode. There are limits to the narrow-focused laptop camera, and this problem can be solved by using a wider range camera attached to the computer or channeling the camera through a TV, which shows more of the room space involved. We have used the free version of Skype allowing for a point-to-point communication. More than one person can be connected through group Skyping, a fee-based service.

    And don't overlook the basics: make sure that those that need to use the Skype have good internet connections and fast enough speed so that the Skype connection is not frequently lost.

    If Skyping is not working out, then another way for out-of-town members to connect, is through conference calling. We use "Free Conference" to set up an account, which becomes the standard call-in number and a time for call-in is set. The host (someone at the actual meeting) dials into the call number to activate the conference call; the others dial the number and use their password to be patched in. We put the phone on speaker mode and the handset is passed to the current person speaking. Those that call in can hear what is said, can respond as needed, and everyone can hear the response. This method is particularly convenient when a Board member will not have access to the internet or a computer.

    Could Skyping or conference calling be expanded to actual team meetings? Sure! Would it be skype1 "ideal"? Probably not, simply because building a team for the weekend works best when everyone can be there to learn, give input, and bond as a team. But start-up communities often draw some of their team support from Tres Dias members far and wide. The right "connections" could help those out-of-towners "meet" the rest of the team before the weekend and at least put a face with a name!

   There's probably even more to be done with electronic meetings. Let us know what you've tried and how it's working.

Cell Phones on a Weekend? An Opinion Survey

In the of age of Blackberries, Androids, and iPhones, it's no surprise that some candidates/pilgrims experience "cell-phone separation anxiety" when asked to abandon their phones.

    But the idea of a cloistered weekend is at the heart of the Tres Dias experience. To cloister ourselves is not just to physically remove ourselves from the outside world, but to spiritually consecrate ourselves to the Lord, to set ourselves apart, to allow time to search and examine our hearts and minds, to surrender the hindrances that may keep us from hearing from God.

     Sure, we can give families the contact number at the retreat facility along with full assurance that a message about any emergency will get through. Nonetheless, if we ask that cell phones be left at home, does this give the impression we are "over controlling" or "manipulative"?

     Tell us what your community does. Use the link below to take a short survey. Our next issue will follow up with a report on the responses.


March 8-10, 2013. Tres Dias International Secretariat meeting, hosted by Middle Tennessee Tres Dias, in Gallatin, TN.  This 27-member group, the board of directors for Tres Dias, meets three times a year, and with the help of volunteers on five standing committees carries on the work of Tres Dias throughout the year. Visitors are welcome to attend the meeting as observers and to volunteer for one of the committees.


If you live in the Gallatin, TN, area consider signing up for Essentials training on Friday, March 7. Registration forms are available at


July 12-14. Assembly and Secretariat meeting, hosted by Birmingham Tres Dias, Birmingham, AL. The assembly is the other governing body of Tres Dias. Representatives from communities worldwide meet once a year to approve proposals from the International Secretariat and to elect new officers for that group. The event opens with the parade of banners. In addition to the business meetings, there are workshops on how to make Tres Dias more effective on the local level, as well as plenty of time for singing and praise.


The "communities banner," at right, stands at the front of the hall when the Assembly meets. It lists names of communities, with the earliest communities at the center, and subsequent communities spiraling outward.

Letter from the Editors

We're introducing our series "Miracles from the Weekend" fully aware that most weekend stories can never be told--"What happens on the weekend stays on the weekend." Yet, as our two stores show, events on a weekend can start a life spinning in a new direction. Those stories can be told without violating the "what stays" principle and offered as praise to our Lord for still another miracle of the human heart.

     There are other stories as well-events during team meetings, or in the palanca room or kitchen, or in a reunion group that open our eyes to the Lord's presence. Sometimes a short exchange is so eloquent, so deeply right at that moment, that it was almost like the Holy Spirit was telling you what to say. And afterwards, you realized...well, yes....

     Quite likely, you have stories to tell. Send them to us at  We would like to publish two each issue.

     With this issue, Jan Coleman joins us as associate editor. Jan is a freelance writer and author of three nonfiction books for women based on her spiritual journey. As a featured speaker at women's events and other venues, she is known for blending her zany humor with the message of God's redeeming grace.


In Christ,

Don Bohl

Jan Coleman


About the cross: The cross is made of fifteen pieces of stained glass, representing the fifteen talks on a weekend. The talks, like the pieces of glass, fit together to show us God's grace. The light of that graces shows through both the talks and the stained glass.

The Colors of Tres Dias International is published by the Services Committee of the Tres Dias International Secretariat.  Ned Heffington chairs the commitee and serves as associate editor and proofreader.
Our objective is to publish six issues a year. To read prior issues, use this link:

Don't forget to respond to Bruce Cato's request, made in the President's letter.

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