Retreat or Retreat?

TAT A TAT A TAT A TAT A TAT. Not the noise we wanted to hear. There had been warnings the night before that roads would be blocked and there more than likely would be violence. I still find it a mystery how come these things are planned and announced. Which reveals how little I know about the political world, especially in the Middle East. Co-workers sent video links of the shootings that were happening a 15-minute drive away. Several times we could hear bigger explosions. It all seemed a bit surreal. Schools quickly sent children home.

For those who have lived through the war, this event stirred up thousands of memories.

For me personally, I had to weigh if I was still going to lead a women’s day out in the mountains that was planned for 48 hours later. The risk was that the traumatic event would not settle. That a bus full of women and children could be an easy target. Possibly the roads would close, and we would get stuck or worse…. My Middle East friend and team member decided with me that we would delay buying the groceries for the outing until closer to the time to go.

So, for the next 28+ hours, I did a lot of praying, asking God for wisdom.  I also talked with many locals. Some young, some middle aged, some who had a good feel on the political pulse and tried to get an understanding of the safety level. The feedback was mixed, but in the end, I felt at peace to continue with the plans.

Once the decision was made, I set my face to the task of pulling together all the final details for the retreat. Hundreds of texts later and a short night sleep we were off. 65 women and girls. The weather could not have been more perfect. The women and girls were so receptive. The food, both physical and spiritual was yummy. The facility and surroundings were gorgeous.

I don’t know why I love women’s ministry. I used to say it was because I am a mom of 4 boys, and I did it to keep my femininity. However, I don’t think that is the case anymore with them all out of the house. Perhaps, it is because I love creating space for women to refresh, renew and have their hearts ministered too.  I have sat in those seats, feeling gaping need and receiving inspiration to be a better mom, wife, and friend. The need is even deeper here with the great economic strain and the recent lack of resources (electricity and water). It is rewarding to pass on the encouragement I have received in the past.

It’s also exhausting. Especially when there is political tension in the air. 40 minutes before we were scheduled to leave to come home, one of my good friends sided up next to me and showed me a text warning of trouble brewing. I quickly concluded that we needed to be on the bus sooner versus later, but that we didn’t need to cause alarm or fear. So, while she took over wrapping up the program, I ran to the kitchen and threw everything back into its place and gathered up all my pretty dishes and cloths, and pots and pans that I had brought along.

We slowed down long enough for a group photo and then the bus was off, and the four extra cars.  Thankfully, everyone made it home safely. It turned out that the text message was a false alarm. Now our day out is a warm memory for the ladies and girls. Reflectively, for myself, it was a retreat touched by God’s favor and I am filled with gratitude for the safety, for His presence and work, that I could never begin to fill.

The women and girls are already looking forward to spring when we hope to do an all-weekend retreat. I’m already planning.  If you would like to be involved let me know. You could help women in the Middle East, retreat!

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