October 24, 2011

Retreat? No! Go FORWARD!

This weekend I had the privilege of hitching a ride to Brazil with some fellow missionary ladies from Asuncion.  We enjoyed the five-hour drive, sharing about life in general and getting to know each other.  Why?  Women of the Harvest, "a ministry of support and encouragement for women serving cross-culturally," invited us to a retreat they were hosting for South and Central American gals just like us.  I've been to more youth retreats, couples' retreats, and women's retreats than I can count, but this was my first time to go to a missionary retreat.  I expected that it would be a time of refreshing, rest, fellowship, and Bible study.  Kinda like a cold glass of water on a hot day.  I totally underestimated this weekend.  It was more like riding a barrel over Niagara Falls!

From the moment we arrived at the hotel in a city just over the border in Brazil, there were women waiting to greet us with hugs and help us get settled.  The hugs never stopped.  They showered us with care and love and concern, and nurtured us mentally, physically, and spiritually.

We were ushered as soon as we checked-in, to tables where we could register for pampering options, which included massage, a haircut from a makeover specialist, a color consultation to determine your best choices in clothes and makeup colors, and pedicures.  Then we were also offered the opportunity to sign up for an appointment with a counselor for a private consultation, and with prayer partners for a time of intercession.

Devotion in the hammock
There were Bible classes in the morning, devotions within small groups, and worship time as a big group.  I have to tell you that this was a time when God did great things in my spirit.  I literally felt like He opened me up, cleaned out a whole lot of junk, and then started refilling me with good stuff.  I can't say that I left full, because I feel like He began something in me that will continue--that He showed me some areas inside that were filled with the wrong stuff.  But I did feel like I weighed about 100 lbs less than when I came!  And I know that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to finish it, just like He promised.

I REALLY enjoyed the massage, the time getting to know women who "get it" because they, too, are missionary women, and finding out that I am a "spring" and should wear warm, yellow-toned shirts.  And by the time my haircut came along, I'd decided that I wanted it to reflect the change I'd gone through in my spirit, to be light and free and fun, and not so worn down by the lies I'd begun to believe about myself.

Well, you fellow curly-q's know that not just anybody can cut our hair.  So I arrived a couple of hours early to watch Shirley, the WonderGirl of makeovers, cutting the other ladies' hair.  This gal has a talent like nothing I've ever seen.  She was able to look at each lady, analyze her face shape, her body, and her hair, and determine what cuts would look best.  During this observation time, we talked about the experiences she's had as a volunteer with WOTH Retreats.  She explained that God often tells her what to pack because He wants her to give away her clothes during the retreat.  After telling several stories of giving away stuff, she said, "And this morning, God told me to bring this shirt with me while I was cutting hair because I'd need to give it to someone, and I'm sure that's you." I'm sporting that shirt in the picture below, which showed up on the WOTH blog.  Later Shirley came up to me to give me a beautiful necklace.  What a heart!  All the volunteers were like this, just full of love spilling over onto us, and sharing their warmth and care with us every minute we were there.

after my makeover, with my small group leader, Mary Ellen
And every time we got together as a group, there were little gifts waiting for us.  Food items that can't be purchased here, books, mugs, CD's, stationery--lots of things to make us feel like we are God's beloved daughters, and that we're not forgotten out here in the field.  I've tried to share with you a smidgen of what happened, but the truth is that it was a weekend like no other, and I'm sure I could never put into words how much it meant to me.  God bless the volunteers who loved on us, the sponsors who provided us with this FREE retreat, the hotel who served us really yummy buffet meals, and my fellow missionary ladies who opened their hearts this weekend and touched me deeply.


  1. Hey, I like your blog header! I usually just read in Google Reader so I hadn't seen it before.
    I had tears in my eyes as I read about your retreat experience. It was so similar to mine.
    And I hadn't realized from the picture that you had cut your hair, but WOW, it looks so great!
    Happy for you to have had that experience...our God LOVES us so crazy much...it's beyond comprehension!!
    Un abrazo!

  2. That's one thing we were reminded of constantly, that we are daughters of the King and He loves us way big! I enjoyed getting to know Char in my small group, and I met your aunt, too. Hope to get some "hang time" with you one day....

  3. You are so stinkin' gorgeous, girl!!! I love seeing God reflecting on the outside what He's doing on the inside.

  4. The blog does look great and you were shining when I saw you, girl! I was so surprised when Linda Swanson started talking about all my places in Venezuela , villages and towns and airstrips. It was like God patted me on the shoulder and winked, "She knows!" You better believe I sat up and listened! The only think that would have made it better would have been to share it with you, but we know God even had that all sorted out ahead of time.

  5. God really did line it up right, because I don't think she mentioned her time in Venezuela to us. Go figure! I would have liked to hang with you, though... maybe later!

  6. Wow! What a wonderful experience and timely too, to buoy you up for your surgery! LOVE your hair! Does the girl who cut it live in Asuncion??? Maybe when I'm there next..... :) Have a good week and know we're praying!!!


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