The women’s retreat is now over. Some of the women will leave at 5:00am and travel all day. A couple of them have to take a boat for the final leg of their journey. That is how remote their village is.
Today was full of wonderful learning experiences for me. I am humbled to be in the presence of such courageous women. Our day was a nice mixture of worship, learning, and fun.
We started the day with a devotion and communion. We sang some songs, read the lectionary texts for the day, and then I led a Dwelling in the Word exercise in the 1 Thessalonians text. This was a special experience for me, because it is the first time I have ever led the Dwelling the Word exercise in a cross-cultural context. There were three language groups in the room: Spanish, K’iche’, and English. It was amazing to see how each woman was able to speak publicly. Pastor Karen said that it was very important that they have this opportunity, so she was pleased that I chose to lead the Dwelling exercise. I can’t really describe with words how I felt as I watched the women, dressed in their traditional dresses, sharing their view of the text and connecting it to their own context. It was very cool.
We closed the service with communion. This, too, was a cross-cultural experience for me in two ways. First, Pastor Karen invited me to read the words of institution in Spanish. Hopefully I didn’t butcher it too badly. Second, the custom here is to have the pastor dip the wafer in the wine and place it the communicant’s mouth. I’ve never done that before. Then, pastor Karen and I served each other. Instead of dipping and placing in the mouth, we each got to eat the wafer and then take a drink from the chalice. Interestingly different.
After lunch we all hit the soccer field. The rain had stopped and the field was only partly soaked. That didn’t stop us. The women kicked off their shoes and tore into that ball, traditional dressed flying all over the place. They laughed and ran and had a wonderful time. Pastor Karen told us later that the women never have an opportunity to play like this. They must be very somber and reserved in their villages. It was a privilege to be part of such sacred play.
By the way, a word to the wise. I learned that the word caliente should never be used for a person. Apparently I announced to the world that I was “hot stuff” on the soccer field today. Estuardo, who speaks no English, laughed at me and said, “NO!” Then, in between chuckles, he taught me to say “mucho calor” not “mucho caliente.” So, there you go. I guess I’m not hot stuff after all.
Pastor Karen’s daughter, Carin-sofia and her friend, Amanda, led the women in a memory verse exercise and a craft where they each made a crown. After that, we circled around and Pastor Karen taught us about Katharina von Bora, the woman who married Martin Luther and helped lead the Protestant Reformation. It was amazing to see how much similarity there was between her situation and that of the women on this retreat.
Each woman was invited to share what she learned and what she would take back with her. Each one was so thankful for the opportunity to come and learn. They feel encouraged and want to go back to their villages and teach others about God’s love and how all people are equal in God’s eyes.
It was a great day. Tomorrow we drive over five hours to the village of Maya Itza. To be continued…