This weekend, we held a Women’s Retreat (Retiro de Damas) here at our campus. This is the 2nd annual retreat with the theme “The Fragrance of Your Perfume” (La fragrancia de su perfume). Here is a brief glimpse into a Peruvian women’s retreat…
We held the meetings in the back half of our dining hall. The women who were invited all attend our three church plants in the towns surrounding us – Manchay, Pachacamac, and Via El Salvador. We expected about 30 and 25 showed up, so not too bad! We had 10 children that attended a children’s program the entire time and then the mothers kept with them about 4 babies and 2 toddlers. The event was to be Saturday at 11 to Sunday at 1. The main problem we have here is that most of the husbands are not believers, so the women gaining permission to be able to stay overnight is very difficult. So, we were grateful to have the crowd that we did – even with all the children! They all stayed in 4 of our dorms and 4 of our missionary ladies were like the counselors for the weekend.
The women were divided into two teams – Las Perfumadas and Las Aromaticas. They competed all weekend long for one big prize handed out Sunday. Their competitions included keeping their rooms neat and organized, being on time for classes, participating, memorizing the verse, singing, and games.
To begin the weekend, one of our missionary girls brought her mother in to teach the ladies how to make homemade candles. They had a whole session on how candles are made and the lady demonstrated the entire process for them. Later in the day, they were given a chance to decorate their own homemade candle to take home.
We had a guest speaker. Her name is Kathy Anderson and she and her husband are also missionaries here in Peru; they work at an English Christian school in La Molina, the district outside of Lima (where we do all of our shopping). She actually grew up in Peru and her father is the pastor of the bilingual church we attend on Sundays. She had three sessions, focusing on what our “fragrance” or offering to God can be. She did a wonderful job, especially bringing the message down to the level of the new believers that attended. We were asked to let her stay with us overnight – which we loved! We thoroughly enjoy being the official guest house.
(sorry this picture’s a little blurry)
The games were HILARIOUS. Peruvians, of all ages, LOVE playing games! We took the ladies outside and two of our missionary girls led them in three different competitions. The first, they had two girls (one from each team) blindfolded who were handed pieces of cloth with perfume on it. All the other ladies had strips of cloth with perfume on them pinned to their backs. The blindfolded girls had to wander through the other women and find those that had the same perfume on their back that they had on their cloth. The second game, pictured below, the women had to form giant letters that were called out, using every member of their team! So funny!
Can you guess what the letters are??
The last game was a relay. At the end of the course, they had to unroll a scroll with part of the theme written on it and place it on the board in order. In the first picture, you can see how serious these women are about competition!
Saturday evening for dinner, we had a semi-formal banquet. It gave the ladies a chance to dress up and we had the dining hall decorated all fancy. We had special music and a special drama presentation. Since the theme was about giving our all to Christ, the drama was a mime to the song “Broken and Spilled Out” by Steve Green (done in Spanish! The first time I’ve heard Steve Green’s Spanish music used!). It was a beautiful drama that really hit the theme home. My good friend Shantal had a beautiful song she sang as well, talking about offering our lives as a fragrant perfume to Jesus. Here’s a picture of the ladies singing at the banquet:
Sunday, we spent the day doing more chapel-type sessions. Kathy spoke twice. Five of our women did a mime presentation. The goal of the drama was to show that no matter how well you take care of yourself, you will still die. How you take care of yourself physically is not ultimately the most important thing in life!
The women were given a chance to say their memory verse (a verse in Hebrews…sorry, can’t remember the reference!). What’s different than in the States is that each lady was given a chance to say their verse individually – the entire team did not say it all together and just automatically get points. Each team was given points for each member that could say it by herself! Very cool. Here’s one of the older ladies saying her verse by memory:
When it was all over, the women were given a chance to share testimonies of how the Lord had worked in their lives and then the prizes were handed out to the winning team. Below is a picture of what was actually the losing team, but I loved their team spirit! 🙂
After prizes were handed out, the kids were invited in. They sang a song and said the memory verse they’d been working on all weekend. I thought it was really neat that the kids’ program/babysitting was provided for both days. Without it, we would’ve had about 1/4 of the women that showed up! The girls that worked with the kids were exhausted by the time it was over, but they were a bigger help than they probably realize right now.
As far as I know, there were no new professions of faith made over the weekend. However, Saturday night, the women were given a chance to pour a little bit of perfumed water into a large, clay pitcher, symbolizing giving their lives as an offering back to Christ. I would say about 20 of the ladies went up front to do so. And the testimonies this morning gave evidence of more women learning something new about what it means to serve Christ. Praise God!
Continue to pray for these women and our pastor’s wives as they work with them on a weekly basis. They are mostly new believers, some from troubled homes, who comes from poor areas surrounding Lima. Pray for our BCM pastor’s wives: Felina, Karina, and Rosa. They have a big task of discipling these ladies and their young children!