After months of prayer and preparation, the women’s retreat was finally upon us, and we all were filled with excitement and anticipation of how God would move in and through us. Well, let’s just say God surpassed our hopes and expectations with His amazing love and grace at work among us! After the retreat was over, we had a time of evaluation and sharing among the women’s leadership group and here are a few things that were the most meaningful and where we saw God at work, including quotes from the women who helped plan and lead the retreat.
Theme and Workshops – “I felt affirmed in who I am as a woman”. Eva Martinez, a dear friend and the pastor’s wife from Jireh Baptist Church that we attended in Monterrey, led us in many fun, dynamic and reflective exercises on ways we can be women of hope in all aspects of our lives!
Worship – “God touched my heart through the worship, especially hearing all the women sing in unison Perfume a tus Pies (Perfume at your feet)”. Lucy Bueno, also a friend from Monterrey and the Family Development Foundation, came to help lead worship together with Russell Flores, a young leader in the Oaxacan Covenant Church.
Fellowship and friendship “I reconnected with a friend that I hadn’t seen in years!” “I loved meeting women from other churches!”
Personal Devotions “Time alone with God was refreshing for my soul and I could hear God speak to me”.
Men’s Group of Chefs! “Their service of love toward us was beautiful to witness”. This team of 8 men prepared healthy and delicious meals and snacks for us with so much love and attention. Oaxaca is a very traditional culture and many women were surprised to see men serving in this way and even more shocked that the food tasted so good. Many women took pictures of this group to take back and show the men from their church! On Saturday they spent 16 hours straight in the kitchen! Not surprisingly, the men also shared their gratitude for this opportunity to serve women in this way, expressing how fun it was to serve together with other men. They also shared how this experience helps them appreciate the women in their lives who spend so much time cooking for them.
Games “We let go and enjoyed ourselves, we got over our fears and shame and felt confident.” “I laughed harder than I have laughed in a long time”.
Exercise and Meditation on God’s Word “I was able to relax and connect with my God-given breath and body”. This was a new activity in our retreat, and it was something I had never lead before, but it was an opportunity for us to experience God’s love in a new way and His acceptance of our whole selves, including our bodies.
The Lord’s Supper – “God spoke to my heart and encouraged me in my faith”. “This was the culmination of the retreat, where we were able to meet Jesus, receive forgiveness, healing and love.”. This is always a special time for the women because in many of their churches they may only celebrate communion one time during the whole year. The team of women in charge of preparing the table did a beautiful job including different symbols representing Christ’s work in our lives this past year.
Service “I had the opportunity to listen to another woman share her story with me and to pray with her.” “We worked together as a team, each person using her gift in service to others.” “We experienced the love of God and the leading of the Spirit in the leadership team, in the planning, preparation and implementation of the retreat.” All of the women from the leadership team were involved in one or more teams including: welcome committee, registration, prayer, symbols for the Lord’s Table, sharing Communion, games, leading devotions, sharing testimonies and Bible reflections and more.
In our first retreat, Covenant missionary Patty Restrepo, President of the Oaxacan women’s ministry Ada Rios and myself planned and led almost the whole retreat since many had never participated in a retreat and none had organized one before. One of our main goals is helping people discover their identity and worth in Christ as well as the gifts God has given them. We always seek to equip and empower those we are serving so that they may continue the ministry even when the current leaders are no longer around. Now, on our third retreat, the women were serving in a variety of ways, with excellence and joy and with appreciation for the parts that everyone else was doing. As Paul said, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). This is truly one of our greatest joys as missionaries, seeing disciples grow and flourish!
Finally, we marvel at how the Holy Spirit wove together every detail and thread of each participation to create this beautiful tapestry, giving all the glory to Christ!
I also want to add that since both moms and dads were busy serving in the retreat, we had wonderful helpers that were with our kids and they had a great time enjoying God’s nature and time to play together! Thank you all for joining us in prayer for this event! Thank you to Women’s Ministries in the US, who, through their SIM money given to missionaries in Mexico helped pay for some of the expenses of the retreat!