Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Catching Up: (First) Church Ladies' Retreat

Months of planning and preparation, initiated with the foresight and enthusiasm of missionary colleague Robyn Armijo, led to an unforgettable weekend in the month of October. For the first time ever, our church offered a retreat just for ladies - an overnight getaway with fabulous Bible teaching, fun games, friendly chatter, and fresh meals (that no one had to work for or clean up after!)

It took some doing, as most of the women had no idea what to expect and many struggled with the idea of leaving their children and husbands, even for a mere 24 hours. It took some convincing that this event would be worth their time and the sacrifice of their families. Yet the end result was a group of challenged, changed and motivated women who - I believe - will need no arm twisting to return next year! :)


Of course, no recent post of mine would be complete without a mention of the round tables and what an asset they are to the ministry! Once again we were thankful for the flexibility they offered. The hostal (similar to a Bed & Breakfast) provided a small eating area for breakfast and teatime, with a large open garage at no extra cost for our meeting room. The round tables fit nicely into the garage area and allowed the women to interact in small groups throughout the Bible studies.


Our conference speaker, Crystal Salsman, is an ABWE missionary in Santiago, Chile. She was recruited by Robyn well in advance and this was her first visit to Iquique. The ladies appreciated her warm manner and clear teaching from God's Word. They also enjoyed her bolsa de bendicion (blessing bag) with its fun free gifts for everyone!


One thing I love about ministry in Chile, at least in my experience, is how often I'm reminded that less really can be more. In the States we have so much at our fingertips, so many opportunities to choose from, and sometimes we take things for granted - or we keep our expectations too high. I mean, honestly, would most of us see a retreat held in a garage as a great thing? Maybe so, maybe not. But even our humble accommodations were a thrill to the ladies here. Even staying in a hostal was a new and exciting opportunity for several of them. It was so fun and refreshing to observe.


We truly are blessed with a great group of ladies, of all ages and backgrounds and experiences. This weekend we sang together, prayed together, studied and ate and prayed together. It was definitely a time to remember!


Three meals were provided by the hostal - two "onces" or teatimes, and one breakfast. They were simple but tasteful. The owner's wife served us along with one or two other staff members, and she even listened in to our worship and study times. We appreciated her kindness and interest and hope a seed of Truth was planted through the teaching she observed and heard.


On Saturday afternoon we planned a special outing for all of the ladies. First, we ate lunch at a small restaurant a few blocks away from the hostal. The second floor had been set aside for us and it was a cozy fit as we enjoyed each other's company and a delicious meal.


The big surprise we kept secret until after lunch was an unannounced "field trip" to the harbor of Iquique. As we had guessed, even among the women who have lived here most of their lives, few had ever taken a boat tour of the harbor. It was great to be able to spring this on them and witness the excitement and enjoyment on their faces!


All in all, this first ladies' retreat was everything we could have hoped for and more. I'm thankful to the Lord for His provision and the reminder of His love for each of us. I'm grateful for each of the women who participated and look forward to what God has in store for each one's life!


3 comments:

Anna and David said...

That's great Stephany! It's so hard to get the women out of their routine sometimes. A common excuse we hear from women who don't come to church on Sunday is, "I have to go to the feria," or "I have to iron my kids' clothes for school on Monday." I hope the experience really proved to them how important it is to set aside quality time for God.

Sheila said...

Stephanie,
You can get the link for the Christmas Holiday Helper at my blog:-)
Sheila Carroll
LBC

Sheila said...

Stephanie,
You can get the link for the Christmas Holiday Helper at my blog:-)
Sheila Carroll
LBC