Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Swaziland Missionaries Retreat

Last weekend, October 5th – 7th, I attended a women’s retreat in Nelsprit, South Africa along with 30 other missionary women in Swaziland. Nelsprit is about 3 hours from Manzini. The women’s bible study I have started attending on Wednesday mornings organized this retreat as a chance for other women serving in Swaziland to fill their cup, meet each other, and get away for a bit of fun and fellowship. We did the Beth Moore retreat study “Loving Well” based on 1John 4:7-8, but continuing through the end of the chapter.

How ironic that I had to go to Africa to finally fit a Beth Moore study into my schedule!!!

I was lucky that one of the original attendees dropped out, so there was room for a newcomer. The weekend came at the perfect time for me. I know this was all part of God’s plan and his perfect timing. The weekend came after going through a week without hot water. Part of that week I had no water at all in the bathroom of my cottage. That was a true test of my perseverance and faith. I had to confess to God that even though there are so many in Swaziland that don’t have water, I wasn’t sure I could last much longer here without water and a shower. The morning before I left for the retreat, water was finally restored.

The road to Nelsprit was beautiful. Nelsprit is not only a different country, but a different world. My travelling partner in the back seat of a SUV was a lovely young woman from Youth With a Mission (YWAM). It was such a pleasure to get to know her. Friday night after we arrived in Nelsprit, we went out to a restaurant for Chinese food. It was the best meal I had eaten in two months! I thought I was going to cry. Saturday afternoon during free time we went to the mall in Nelsprit. I needed to get an anti-virus software package so I could be that much closer to getting my laptop functional. I also needed a few other things. Those of you who know me know that I HATE to go to the mall and go shopping. Not Saturday. I was never so happy in my life to go to the mall, actually get the things I was looking for, visit with my new friends, have lunch in a restaurant and actually order a Café Mocha! The ladies I was with laughed at me because I was so excited to buy a anti-virus package for my laptop! But they truly understood.

Those were the fun material treats of the weekend. The real joy was in getting to know so many of the wonderful Christian women, learning about their ministries, listening to the Beth Moore DVD’s and sharing during the small groups. There were women from Children’s Cup, Adventures in Missions, The Baptist Church, Trans World Radio, YWAM, Missions in Africa, Inc. and more. The women were from the United States, South Africa, the UK, Holland and Zambia. I learned that the struggles I have been going through since being here are very normal and probably won’t go away soon. But it was also affirming to know that others had experienced similar things and also that their observations about the needs of this country were very close to mine. This was probably the biggest blessing of the weekend.

I came back renewed, refreshed and rejoicing in the love that God has for me. I want to keep that renewed focus so that I can keep dipping into the loving well to love (others) well.

1John 4: 7 – 12:

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also out to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

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