Today was our last full day serving in Pachacutec with a mission team of ladies from Wisconsin. We put on three days of VBS for kids and 4 days of workshops for women in the community, and we also spent some time visiting homes, painting the church, and working in an orphanage. It was a great week, and we had amazing turn-out for both VBS and the workshops. We were expecting maybe 60-80 kids to show up for VBS, and we think we counted 100 or more every day. For the workshops, we were expecting maybe around 30 women, including the 10 or so that regularly attend the church. We had a total of 59 women attend at least one day of the conference, and somewhere between 30 and 40 women came all four days. Praise the Lord!
Each day, our workshops looked something like this:
Game: We did some fun ice breakers to mix things up a bit. Seeing the women running around playing, laughing, and having fun together was priceless. These are women who work so hard, and you could tell it was nice for them to have a break. As one of the ladies on the team pointed out, playing together was a great way to forget about the language barrier and just have fun together.
Songs: The ladies from the group taught the Peruvian ladies a fun song about joy in English, and then we all sang a great praise song by Hillsong in Spanish. The second song sort of helped us wind down from the games and get ready for the talk.
Lesson: Melissa, the leader of the group, did a great job preparing lessons for topics about what it looks like to be a woman of Christ, and what it takes to be a godly wife, mother, and friend. Each day, two ladies from the group shared a testimony or a story that went along with the lesson. Afterward, we split up into smaller groups, talked through some discussion questions, and prayed together.
Treats: The ladies in the group came up with some great little prizes and things for the Peruvian ladies to take home with them -- cards with Bible verses on them, little chocolates, and small bottles of shampoo, lotion, and nail polish. In honor of the last day together today, they also gave prizes out for the oldest and youngest women there, the woman with the most children, and the woman who had traveled the furthest to get to the church. They also drew names and gave prizes to some of the women that had attended all four days. It was fun to see the Peruvian ladies being pampered and showered with gifts.
I will certainly take away a lot of special memories from this week. But a few special moments stand out in my mind above the others.
During one of the talks, Melissa was sharing about God's grace, and how grace is an undeserved gift. She asked the women to raise their hands if they had ever received a gift "just because." All of the women in the group raised their hands, but only one or two of the Peruvian women raised their hands. Melissa asked the question again to make sure they were understanding correctly, and yet no other women raised their hands. In fact, many of them looked at each other and sort of shook their heads "no." Let that sink in for a minute. They don't remember ever having received a gift "just because" -- we're not talking birthdays, or Christmas or Mother's Day -- just because someone thought of them. Wow. I would venture to say that most of you reading this have...and probably more times than you can count. How blessed are we?
Today a woman stopped by the church in the morning to come and say good-bye to us. She came to the first three days of the workshop, but she explained that due to some family issues, she wasn't going to be able to come to the last session this afternoon. First of all, the fact that she stopped by during her morning errands to explain her absence was really awesome, and it showed that the workshops meant something to her. I chatted with her for a minute, and I asked her if this was her first time coming to church. She hesitated a bit, and then said, "Well, no, but it's the first time that I have enjoyed it." She went on to recount her experiences of going to a church service or two where she found it hard to follow the long message, and she was lost during the worship songs. She said that this week had been different -- that she had been able to really connect with people, and she had actually enjoyed herself. That right there made it all worth it! The goal of this week was to reach women and get them plugged into the women's group at the church; to help them to get beyond the fear of entering a church and really see the community and fellowship that are inside. There are so many women in Pachacutec who are craving community and fellowship, and many of them may not normally seek these things at the church.
From here, the women at the church will take over. They already have their first "women's meeting" next Saturday, and they plan on having a meeting similar to the ones we've had this week: songs, crafts, games, a brief message or Bible study, and prayer. The ladies from the church will also be spending time visiting the homes of each of the women who attended the workshops this week. We'll be praying that this follow-up would bring fruits for the women's fellowship at the church. Their women's Bible study will start up again in March, and they would love to be able to invite more women to join them.
Thank you for all of your prayers this week -- we are so excited and thankful for everything that has happened. Please continue to pray for the 10-12 ladies at the church who will be doing the follow-up work, as well as for the ladies in the community who are in need of the Lord.
I'll leave you with a picture of nosotras.