Our volunteer preparation covers a broad spectrum of what to anticipate and how to prepare your heart for what is ahead in this upcoming retreat. Mary is volunteering with Azmera for the first time on this retreat. This is not her first time in Cambodia or overseas, however! She grew up in Cambodia as a missionary kid with parents who were serving locally. She processed this time beautifully so we'd love to share her thoughts with you!
Words that stand out:
Plenty | Abundance
Lavished: with your love, riches, extravagant care
Worthy: of this love and attention
Receiving Hearts: of the Father’s love and attention
Verses that inspire:
1 John 3:1 (Lavished Love) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children (daughters) of God, And that is what we are! …
Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine- the best of meats and the finest of wines.
Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil (WELCOME), my cup overflows (HOSPITALITY)
(You cover my likeness with perfume and honor)
In the presence of darkness, chaos and evil, you prepare a table for me.
Surely, your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Isaiah 25:7-8 “On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all the peoples, the sheet that covers all the nations; he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces, he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.”
Prayer for each woman to come ready to participate.
Prepare spiritual bodies for the riches at your table; for those who’ve been starving for this, prepare them to receive, to digest, to be filled and not reject it.
Please bring them in hungry and thirsty. Thank you for preparing an endless supply, a time of feasting that will satisfy. That will stand as a reminder of your bounty and the feasts of love, of solid food, of delights in every form you have for your daughters.
Azmera Team Preparing of the Table:
We are the hostesses, we help prepare the bounty God is providing, we set it before these women, we serve it to them and we sit at the table and receive alongside our sisters. There is plenty, there is more than enough.
There is a season for everything.
In excess, in abundance (Thanksgiving Holiday). Vs. Lean times/Scarcity.
This setting, this trip is an example of God’s character and how he works and loves. Most of these women have never experienced the extravagance of a 4-star resort, some wouldn’t give themselves permission to be in that environment because of the disparity between that and normal life, or what they experience. Some may find it a challenge to be there without judging themselves for being there. Some would say it’s unnecessary. The funds and time could have been used for much more in the Kingdom.
Even in my own heart, and a life-long judgemental attitude about short-term missions; that they are often wasteful and self-serving… Well. Jesus is changing my heart and mind about that. I was embarrassed at where the retreat will be held; teetering on the edge of shame that I’m not going to suffer somewhere. For me personally going on this trip, it’s over the top abundance at every turn, details so full and deep and beyond my expectation I couldn’t have created this. I think that’s the point.
God’s hand has been guiding every detail of this trip, and it’s actually a story of the value and meaning behind of each of those details.
It brings to mind a story of extravagant, lavished love. Poured out for the sake of love and devotion of Jesus, for the purpose of demonstrating this kind of adoration and action out of an abundance attitude. Mary poured out a pint of expensive perfume (pure nard) worth a year’s wages. Others looked on and did the math, the mental spreadsheet of how many could have been fed. That was vocalized by the man who, had she sold the perfume (as he suggests) and given it over to him, he would have skimmed it as he was a thief.
How did Jesus respond to those hearts, attitudes and comments?
Leave her alone, that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you will always have with you, but you do not always have me.
Mary loved Jesus so much that she wanted to honor him in this way. The love that she had came from him; and he was greatly touched by her action. It served the purpose of demonstrating sacrifice and recognizing the value of personal, intimate displays of affection, beauty and care to Christ that impact the atmosphere surrounding it. (The room was filled with the fragrance of her offering.)
I believe this is part of why we are meeting these women in the setting we will be. Nothing is wasted. This is intentional. Mary was displaying in that moment a response to the kind of love and character she knew from her Jesus, her Lord, her teacher, her God. So also, God is displaying to all of us, all of us who are invested in pouring out the perfume of time, money, prayer and energy into the preparation for the feast these women will partake in. The physical, the spiritual, the mental and emotional.
It’s a thanksgiving of the whole being. You’ve helped us buy the groceries, the gifts, you’ve helped us get to the site. God is preparing the menu and giving us the tools and instructions to lay each of our dishes before each woman’s table setting. And, we get to join them, to engage, to listen, to see what the LORD does, to see them savor his nourishment and delight in his extravagance of sweetness, depth and flavor. We will rest and feast, and rest as anyone does during a holiday weekend.
We, the hostesses will have our work, and we will pray for spaces to sit down and enjoy and be present in the fruit of that labor. We aren’t just showing up. We’re picking up what’s set before us; listening to guidance, trusting in provision, with full knowledge that it is the LORD who prepares the feast for us, and that we are all invited to the table. May this retreat be one that changes the holiday experience; that transforms hearts into ones that have tasted and know that the LORD is good. That each woman leaves with expectancy, hope and understanding more than before of her Father’s great love; to look forward to the next time of feasting and back into her rhythms more whole, filled, rested in her knowledge of who she is in Him and who He is for her.