In the Spearhead summer program every week has a theme. It just so happens that this week's theme is calling and character. Funny, huh? Needless to say, it has generated quite a bit of discussion about what it is to be called and to have character. :) There have been several statements made this week that have particularly hit me, some of which I want to share with you. But first I wanted to comment on my last women's group meeting.
About five or so months ago the women in our church started meeting on Wednesday mornings. It was originally Janette's idea, she is one of the missionaries at our church. It started off slowly, gained some steam, and then cooled down a little bit again. Janette started off teaching, but then after a month or so handed over the reigns to the group to decide what the would do and how they would do it. Now Janette and her husband Joel are on furlough for a year, and the two other missionary couples at our church have been out town for the last few weeks. Women's group has continued, and it is really growing. Today I was the only guerra (white girl) there, along with twelve other Mexican women. The woman who was originally going to teach did not show up, so another woman who is a strong leader in the church just went ahead and led a discussion from the book that they are reading.
I have learned so very much being a part of this group. First of all I have found it very different from any of the other experiences I have had in women's groups before. There are definitely some cultural differences, but I think the main one is economic. I think that people are people, and everyone has the same basic needs, but I am really finding that one's economic status really changes how one reads scripture, and lives out your Christian life.
For instance... The other day we were speaking about submission. Part of that talk included speaking about the man as a provider. One of the women stood up and shared one of her difficulties with the submission issue. She and her husband have two adorable little girls, but life is difficult because her husband does not always have work, and when he does the money does not always go straight to feeding and clothing their children. This woman earns a little money through cleaning houses etc., and with that money she basically provides for the needs of their children. In her life whether she has ten pesos (roughly a dollar) or not, makes a huge difference of whether her children will eat or not. What does it mean to submit to her husband who is not caring for the needs of the family in a very practical way? A second instance happened today. The lesson was speaking about how the mother is the heart of her family, and has a big influence on whether one's dwelling place is just a house, or if it is a home. The discussion went on to teaching one's children to little by little contribute to the running of one's home, but not to expect them to do everything. One woman shared in tears about her difficulties when her husband left her with nine young children to care for. He had claimed to be a Christian, but then ran off with another woman, leaving all of his children and his wife with nothing. This woman, now a grandma, shared about how she had to choose which of her children was the most responsible and mother-like, and then leave all of the mothering duties to that child while she went out and worked. Later on her children shared stories with her about those years when they often had nothing to eat, or were not cared for well so the neighbors would lend a helping hand. How, this woman asked, do you create a home-like environment for your children and your family when you have all of the responsibility on your shoulders alone? They were living in small huts, and the landlord came weekly to claim the rent. Now, this same woman is 64 and the company she worked for cleaning bathrooms basically made her quit by requiring her to travel further and further to the workplace. She tried to go and collect social security, but you have to be 70 to start receiving it. There are not a lot of jobs in the city, and most people are not keen on hiring someone who is older. As she sat there crying I marveled at the way in which the other women in the group rallied around her helping her to think of creative solutions in which she could generate money, all of them willing to help. I am amazed by the faith of these women, many of which are very new believers.
The book that we are doing our study on is called (something like) A Woman After God's Heart. Almost every chapter we have read I have been aware of the vast financial difference between the woman who wrote this book and the women in our group who are reading it. Sometimes those differences come up in conversation one way or another. But the coolest thing has been watching the women share how God has touched their lives, and provided for them, how they are seeking each day to be a woman after God's heart, even with all of the challenges that confront them. I am so amazed what I have learned through the privilege of being part of this group, and find that as I read Scripture, I see it through a new light.
Because today was my last women's group meeting, I just wanted to share a little about that experience. But before I sign out I wanted to leave you with a few thoughts that have been shared with me this past week when discussing calling and character.
1. Your calling is your character: What is important to God is how you live your life, not necessarily all of the details of what you do.
2. As Christians, our primary calling is to Somone, God of course :), rather than something.
3. Our desires can be good indicators of the way in which God is calling us, but they are not the end-all indicator of what we should do.
4. When you are doing what God has for you you will have peace.
5. DO SOMETHING! Don't just sit around forever deciding what you are going to do, step out in faith and let God guide you from there.
So that is it for now, this is a pretty long entry, but I just wanted to share some of the stuff that has been going through my mind. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers! :) Leah