Retreat In A Time Of Covid 19 – Reviews by Alejandra, Karenza, and Linda

The opportunity to attend the retreat was presented to me with such an ease that I had a very accepting attitude once, due to the COVID 19 situation, Lama Mark had to leave the country earlier and it seemed perfectly natural to me that Jonathan offered to lead the retreat and Wangapeka Board generously supported us to going ahead with it. We all were very supportive and proactive at coordinating meals and other community jobs. We established a flexible and organic daily routine and I enjoyed participating in everyday community tasks, it was grounding and complementary to the work we did. The retreat itself was very intense for me since the first day, like knowing that at any time we might have to pack and come back, made me make any second count. It felt like the energetic field of Wangapeka itself, the care of the Board sending updates, and the presence of Lama Mark, were holding space for us to accomplish the purpose of us being there, which in the context of things was enhanced. Being introduced to the Medicine Buddha practice in this particular time is very special and I personally feel the commitment to practice and generate love, kindness and compassion for the good of all beings. Jonathan was a great retreat manager and humbly skillful at delivering teachings. 
I am grateful to all that made possible and supported our adventure in COVID19.

Much love

“Resting in Shelter”

As Lama had to leave in a hurry I felt really disappointed and sad. However…..
… Jonathon rose to the occasion with a steady, calm confidence. The five days we had were very settled and got into retreat mode quickly. It was really valuable.

A huge thanks to the Wangapeka community for keeping us informed and for their quiet non-intrusive presence.


Karenza and I arrived at Wangapeka following a road trip around the East Cape after learning in Wellington that Lama Mark had departed to Canada to avoid getting left in New Zealand during the coronavirus pandemic. At the retreat centre, Jonathan Chambers had a meeting with us and together we all made a plan how to handle the food and cleaning duties and were assigned rooms. There were six of us altogether: Karenza and I from Auckland, Mike from Queenstown, and Zoe, Alejandra, and Jonathan from Nelson. We were all familiar with Lama Mark except for Alejandra but by the time that we finished she had a good picture of him I think. We set up a daily schedule including meeting three times a day in the Gompa and Jonathan took over the teaching… leading the meditations and answering questions. He also led some Tai Chi exercises along with Zoe, who is also a yoga instructor. This worked out quite well as we would do the exercises before sitting down to a talk or meditation. The teaching really concentrated on the medicine Buddha, appropriate for the events that were happening in the outer world. We were all, I think, quite happy in our retreat bubble but after a few of days we learned that the country was moving towards lockdown in 48 hours so we had to quickly leave the retreat centre and go home. I would have been more than happy to have stayed there for the full term of lockdown. Wangapeka is a beautiful place, the weather was good, we had food delivered, a comfortable room, and Jonathan was leading the retreat ( with great skill I might add). What more could one want? Unfortunately, however, the board could not let us remain, so we reluctantly decamped after only 5 days. On the bright side, Lama Webber is giving us twice a week teachings via zoom from Canada, again concentrating on the Medicine Buddha. I have a thangka depicting the Medicine Buddha which I sit in front of during the teachings. I am looking forward to the time when I can see Lama Mark Webber again, probably at next year‘s retreat.

– Linda