Friday, February 10, 2012
Last night was the women's tea for the staff and students here at CBTS. I got there right on time, even though nothing in Africa seems to start on time. When I got the invitation from Ma Massa Angelista, she told me it would begin right at 5pm even if all the people were not there. Ma Massa lived in the United States for a few years so I was convinced it would really start on time. Needless to say, Ma Massa did not even arrive until 515pm. This is only the second such event they have had with the women here and it was not like we have at home. The classroom was big and dusty, there was tea in coolers to keep it warm, the missionaries brought baked goods but nothing was set up "pretty" or even organized. We offered to help but were told we were the guest of honor so we couldn't do that. In the front of the room, there was a long table that they put a plastic table cloth with hamburgers and hot dogs along the edge as decoration. At this long table was seated: Ma Massi, Stella - the student body representative, Helen - Secretary, and a man (whose name I did not get) - dean of men. The tea only started 20 minutes late and moved along pretty well after that. I think they had hoped it would be a celebration with dancing and fun but not one followed through, even when Helen encouraged them to get up and dance. It was new to them and the fact that it was held in a classroom made the women feel like they were in class and should control themselves, I guess. Ma Massi shared a devotion in the beginning about unity. My talk that followed fit right in with unity. I shared some of my testimony and then shared about small prayer groups that I have been involved in over the years. My topic was on Women's ministry in the USA - the first thing that popped into my mind was scrap booking and I was pretty sure that would have no place in this land. I did share how our women's ministry has retreats, socials, Bible studies, teas and other events. At the end there was a woman who stood up and said she thinks they should have retreats. Prayer groups seems like something anyone who wanted to grow in their faith could do. The prayer groups I have been involved in have always fit a purpose in whatever season of life I have been in, and the relationships made through those experiences are rock solid. What surprised me is how emotional I got when I was sharing - I was not expecting to cry for goodness sake. Ellie was there with me and I ended by sharing how Ellie started a prayer group for young ladies when she was only 13. I wanted them to not make excuses but to see that anything is possible. When I finished and sat down, Helen stood up and said, very earnestly "How are you feeling women, after hearing this Ma talk? Do you have a burning in your chest as I do? How are you feeling?" Honestly, as I was writing, I had a burning in my own chest. Even though being committed to a small group of women and praying on a regular basis has been life changing for me in the past, I have not been involved with a specific group of women in a long time. This is one of the things I hope to change when I get home. After our refreshments, Andrea shared on being a Pastor's wife. She asked for a show of hands as to who were pastor's wives or their husbands were going to be pastors when they finished school. I think over half the room raised their hands. Andrea did a great job - even though her husband accidently printed page 1 twice instead of printing her 2nd page of her script, she handled it quite well. What she shared was relevant for any of us but especially Pastor's wives. She spoke on being thankful and encouraging our husbands. I know she touched the hearts of many of the women there. One thing I have noticed is that most of these women are extremely shy. I had assumed in a room that size that most of the women would know each other but that did not seem to be the case. At the end of the tea, the women just quickly left the room - nothing like the gabbing that goes on in America. I did have one woman ask if we could talk. She is working on her thesis and thought some of the things I shared would be fitting for her topic so she wanted to ask more questions. I'm looking forward to meeting with her this coming week. I could tell I had people praying for me because I felt extremely calm and I even talked slower than I ever remember talking. Before I got up, the women all introduced themselves (yes we went around a room of over 50 people). Most of them did not seem to speak English very well and I felt my heart sink. I prayed under my breath for God to open their ears to understand us because it seemed like a waste of time for me to see anything. By the looks on their faces and the nods of heads, I believe God was faithful in answering that prayer. My prayer now will be for these women to follow through and come together in unity and prayer.