Sunday, October 17, 2010

Retiro de Mujeres

Last weekend, I had the privilege of teaching at a retiro de mujeres (Ladies Retreat) which was hosted by Eagle's Nest. We had almost 100 ladies from the western regions of Guatemala join us for food, fellowship and fun.

We had four North American missionaries who were teaching on various aspects of prayer life. We each taught a workshop four times as the ladies rotated through in group of 20-25. We each had a craft or activity to help reinforce the teaching time.

Getting the ladies registered for the retreat and assigned to room.
(Notice the lady with traditional Mayan dress and her beautiful braids with ribbon)

This was a new experience for me, as I have neither taught at a retreat nor have I taught with a translator before. The first workshop felt a little stilted, not very natural. As we went through the weekend, each time was a little easier and more natural. It really helped to have a great translator. A wonderful missionary named Tammy was my translator. I really enjoyed getting to know her between sessions and playing with her sweet baby Jenette. (Tammy is not only a fabulous translator, but a wonderful mother of seven.)

Together we taught from Matthew 6. Jesus was teaching about prayer in secret - private prayer. He warns against the proud and arrogant prayers of men who like to hear their own voices. The emphasis is on seeking Him in private - when we are humble and honest before Him. We pray because we want to be in relationship with God, because we love him - not because we want to be seen a certain way in the eyes of men. "Prayer doesn't change God, it changes me."- C.S. Lewis

The ladies in my class made secret prayer pillows from fleece blankets. They wrote little prayers on a piece of paper which they inserted in the pillow. When the Lord answers that prayer, they can insert a new prayer. The pillow is meant to remind us to seek Him in prayer for all our needs.

This was my classroom. 

Working on pillows.

I have learned many things about women in Guatemala. Most get up about 4:45 every morning. They start the day by preparing food for breakfast, lunch and snack time (Guatemalans have a mid-morning snack at 10 am because it is a long time from 5:30am to 1:00 pm) Lunch is the large meal of the day, so there is much work to do. Some women have to gather firewood or get water from outside sources for cooking meals. They have children to care for, husbands to send out to the fields, and an endless list of chores like laundry and shopping in the market. Many of them also try to earn an income for the family through small businesses like handicrafts, jewelry making, domestic cleaning or running a tienda (corner shop) I have always wondered if a Proverbs 31 woman really exists. I am realizing they exist all over the world, just not in the US. Women here rarely have time to relax or time alone - forget about time with girlfriends. It simply doesn't exist here.  As North American women we are so spoiled. It was a special treat to see these ladies spending time with one another. They were given an opportunity that most of us not only take for granted but often feel entitled to - uninterrupted time with girlfriends.

What a privilege to serve these ladies and their families. May the Lord bless and keep them, make his face to shine upon them!

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