Tuesday 4 April 2017

Women's Retreat

In March I spent a few days in a beautiful little town in Austria with these women - the Josiah Venture second culture women! There were fifty-six of us gathered for our retreat, that happens like this once every three years.

You might be wondering what a second culture woman is? We all serve in a culture outside our home culture (or some of the women who do live in their home culture are married to Americans). There were quite a few nations represented and it was a joy to spend those four days together!

There are a lot of losses in this missionary, cross-cultural life that are absolutely worth it - we are by grace compelled to live our lives in the nations God has called us to, and He and his Gospel are so worth it. But it also means that there are pieces of my life that don't make sense except to those who find themselves in similar places.

And there is so much beauty and depth in these friendships, even though we don't get to see each other very often, because of the loudness with which we can declare "ME TOO" when we talk about the things that we're rejoicing in, finding hard, choosing faith for, and laughing about. And I'm increasingly convinced that a sense of humour is just simply necessary for this cross-cultural life.

I'm so thankful to belong to an organisation, to a family, that believes so strongly in caring for its missionaries well. And this includes this once-every-three years international women's retreat (the other two years we have other retreats specific to our country or marriage retreat or Israel for the singles last year).

And what did we do for those four days? Apart from linger over meals, rest, and nap? Well, the theme of our retreat was prayer. And we didn't really have teaching on prayer - we simply prayed!

This year Josiah Venture has an online prayer room and we found ourselves praying through that hour three times during our time together. And then we prayed in various ways and in various groups.

There was time of confession and time of praying boldly for one another. There was a lot of space for adoration - and we were beautifully led in worship during our time by someone who flew in from the States to serve us in this way. There was time to celebrate and rejoice in what God has done (and we even had balloons!). And we of course had time to individually sit before God and hear from Him.

I am so grateful for this time and retreat - it was a really refreshing time and I returned home from that beautiful place so encouraged and emboldened for this crazy, good life God has called me to.