I have lived in Ecuador as a missionary (along with my husband and our children, both now grown) for the past 22 years. This weekend, thanks to the incredible sacrifice of both the sponsors who made my attendance possible and the beautiful women who volunteered their time, gifts and energy to the effort, I was able to enjoy a weekend that is/was by far the most memorable in all my years of ministry both here and in the U.S.. The Azmera Haven Retreat was a glimpse into what Heaven will be like, as women from a variety of nationalities, languages, traditions, and ministries, joined together to worship the God we all love and serve. But because we are still here on earth, between gardens where life is often hard and the rewards not always visible, the experience touched us where we live, here and now. For me personally, as well as for the other women who were blessed to attend, it was a time in which we experienced an outpouring of the Savior’s love through the prayers, words and touches of a group of lovely, brave women who had placed themselves in His hands to be vessels through which that love became tangible to us who came so thirsty, so hungry, for a reminder such as this: a reminder that we are seen, we are known, and we are loved. It was not, as many retreats tend to be, a “mountaintop experience”. Instead, it was an opportunity to join others who are living “in the trenches”, fighting the same enemy in his many different disguises. To be reminded that ours is not a personal battle but a Kingdom one. And best of all, to be encouraged that we are not fighting it alone. Women like those who volunteered for this retreat are fighting alongside us. Fighting for us. And that, I believe, is exactly the message we needed to hear right now, at this time and in this season. May God multiply blessings one hundred-fold over those precious, willing, obedient women who made this possible.
With a heart that is grateful beyond words,