I’m writing this post early on Sunday morning. The women’s retreat went well yesterday. However, six villages backed out at the last minute. They wanted to come, but their husbands did not allow them to attend. This is indicative of why this women’s retreat is so important. The rural culture of Guatemala is very patriarchal. Women are given away to marry older men as soon as they reach puberty. The girls do not get a chance to go to school or ever know that there may be more to life than making babies and tortillas.
The retreat brings women from many villages together to find encouragement in God’s Word and in each other. We did many activities that encouraged them to interact and break out of their shell. The first activities were purely fun. We played a name game, and then we divided into three teams and had a fashion show. Each team was given a picture of a Disney princess, a stack of newspapers, scissors, and a roll of tape. They had to dress one person on the team as the princess and then we had to guess what character is was.
Our team got a photo of Fiona from Shrek. Guess who got dressed up as Fiona. Yep, yours truly. I have to say that I make a pretty awesome Fiona! It was so fun to have my team working together, taping newspaper all over me and giggling the whole time. The indigenous people of Guatemala are very small in stature. At one point they asked me to get on my knees so they could put on a headdress. That’s when I was almost the same height as my decorators.
Deb and Denise, the two women from Easter, led a lesson on a strong woman of the reformation. This led into an object lesson about shining the light. Denise lit two different candles, one larger than the other, and pointed out that, even though the candles were different sizes, the flame was the same. She encouraged the women to believe that God’s light was shining in them through the various talents God had given them. “Don’t hide your light under a bushel,” she said. “Let your light shine.” I broke out the guitar at that point and we taught the women to sing This Little Light of Mine.
Later in the day we engaged in a community art project. I printed out 30 pieces of paper that had a color-by-number schematic on it. Each woman was encouraged to color in their panel while they discussed various scriptures. We hung the finished panels on the wall and, together, they formed an image of The Word Became Flesh. We gathered around the finished piece and discussed how each of us is a part of the big picture of what God is doing in the world. Just like they felt confused or frustrated while they were working on their panel, they should not get discouraged as they work in their villages to proclaim the Gospel. Remember that they are part of God’s bigger picture and that every part counts.
Denise and Pastor Karen commented that each year the women seem to gain more confidence and are more comfortable to laugh and share in public. It was a good day.
Today, we will begin with devotions and communion, and then continue in the afternoon.