When I got a call from my high school friend, Christina, to meet her at Starbucks for coffee I had no idea that it would lead me to the rejuvenation of my faith and a transformation of my ministry. We sat there over coffee and she was told me about Azmera. She was explaining that it was a ministry that has been in her heart for some time and was now coming to fruition. She talked about the various ways that someone could be involved in Azmera if they chose. She had no idea that God has been working on my heart to go on a short term mission trip for the first time. She explained the location of the first Azmera haven retreat and the kingdom-minded women who would most likely be served. I wish I could say that I signed up on the spot but it actually took me three more months to decide to do it; it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
The first thing that touched me was during our time as a team before the attendees arrived. There were team building exercises and fun things that we got to participate in. Before the haven retreat even started I felt as if my heart was full! By the time the ladies arrived the hearts of the volunteer team were close to exploding! We were so excited to be here, to serve, and to love on these amazing women! You would think that it would take time for the volunteers and the attendees to bond, but it didn't! The instant we got together the presence of the Lord was thick in the room! After the first praise song, as I looked around the room and saw women of all ages, of all races, and of various kinds of service praising the Lord. I knew God had ordained me to be at this place at this time! Women were sitting, they were standing up praying with tears streaming down their faces, ladies were laying down, and others were kneeling praising the Lord who brought us all together!
I have been blessed enough to go to some amazing places around the world and every time I do I come back and say that the world feels a little bit smaller, meaning that this location doesn't seem as far away anymore. This trip however, made me realize that the world is a big, vast, exciting, glory-filled world! God has his people spread to every inch of this amazing planet on which he allowed us to live and commune with Him.
This world is so, so, so big! And I am so blessed to have been a part of this Azmera Haven Retreat and see the marvelous miracles that He is performing to this very day!
In short, I will never be the same! When you have profoundly experienced the presence of the Lord, how could you not? My personal walk with my Savior is transformed forever and my ministry will never be the same!
I will carry with me this experience and my new dear friends forever. When the haven retreat was over no one wanted to leave. We took time to go around the room to hug our sisters for possibly the last time. All around the room a phrase was whispered and I leave you with love, encouragement and that same phrase...if not on this side of heaven...