Women's Retreat

This weekend, I went with women from the local Cambodian church to a regional women's meeting that went from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. This was definitely a stretch for me, as everything was in Khmer and I was the only white person to stay the entire time. But I enjoyed it so much more than I expected. And I feel so humbled, because these women are amazing.

The retreat had a comfortable rhythm of everyone singing songs together, then different groups getting up in front of everyone and singing a "special" (there's a churchy word for you), someone teaching about half an hour, then more singing and more "special songs". After a sermon was given, women were invited to share whatever was on their heart in response to the message. Women told stories of God's faithfulness, of difficult marriages, of losing children, of seeing believers surround them with love. As I sat and listened to the stories, I thought, I have it so easy. For these women, the retreat was the rare chance to be surrounded by other women who love Jesus, to rest from the constant daily toil of caring for a home and family with few resources (except probably a third of women brought their kids with them!), and to see friends whom they only meet rarely.

The women's joy could not be watered down. They sang, laughed, raised their hands and their voices loudly, celebrating a Savior who had set them free - not free from difficulty, but free from sin. They also gave offerings to support families who were struggling, giving even beyond their ability to give (2 Corinthians 8:2-3), maybe because they said, Girl, I have been there before! These are women well acquainted with suffering and poverty - but also with the glory of Christ.

I didn't understand everything that was said - not by a long shot - and I don't remember everyone's names. But I knew I was meeting a side of my spiritual family that had experience God's grace in ways I can only hope to see. 

On the way back to Poipet, I rode with the women from our local church and was able to talk in my broken, 2-year-old Khmer with them. I find it challenging to build friendships with Cambodian women here. Most of them at the church don't really speak English, and I'm not sure what women do here to connect - maybe make food together, or go the market? Coffee shop dates aren't really a thing here. But I was really glad to find one way to spend time with them.

In other news, rainy season is here!
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