Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Missionary Shares Her Heart...

It is always such affirmation to our ministry when we hear these heart felt words from our missioary sisters following a retreat. I wanted everyone to be able to catch a glimspe of what God did in Costa Rica through reading this email from one of the missionaries that attended the Costa Rica Retreat. Thank you ladies for sharing your stories with His women around the world.

Dear Pure Joy Costa Rica retreat team,
Words can not express my gratitude to you and the Lord for your overwhelming love that was showed during the Pure Joy retreat. When I heard about the retreat I had no expectations. I am a "strong" woman and Ladies' retreats aren't my thing. After checking your web-site and seeing that you weren't a cult, just Baptists, I figured that theologically you would be OK and at least I would get a nice few days at a fancy hotel for free. I didn't have anything to lose so I signed up.

The Lord began working on my heart the minute that you all greeted me when I arrived. You each acted as if you were seeing a long lost friend and now I know why. When you told me that you had been praying for me, I couldn't believe it. How could you be praying for me..a stranger? My heart began to soften.

But you know what....I was still guarded and skeptical. After all, I am a "strong" missionary. Then Vickie gave her testimony and I was blown away. She wasn't a stereotypical Barbie doll Baptist who walked down the isle at an alter call in her church as a child. (Vickie, you may not be a Barbie doll but you are more beautiful than Barbie both inside and out.) I loved the fact that she had lived a real life with real problems and that God met her right where she was. Thank you for being so transparent. It ministered to me and I felt like from that moment on, I could trust you.

Then Marsha spoke. Surprise, surprise. She didn't fit my stereotype either. She had lived the missionary life (which I am sure Barbie could never do) and was also transparent. Well, I guess I wasn't too surprised when Kathy didn't turn out to be Barbie either. In fact, I think that my greatest weakness is just like her...I am too strong. (Kathy, I have never wanted to go on a prayer retreat either and I certainly would have taken a nap on the blanket.) Then Merry Beth spoke. Well, Merry Beth, you almost fooled me, but when you shared from your heart about what happened with your children right before you were going to lead those prayer rallies I knew that you weren't Barbie either becaue she would never have anything but perfect kids. (I think maybe you are a GI Jane disguised in a Barbie
figure!) Amazing, 4 very real women....not plastic Barbie dolls.

I can't tell you how each of you ministered to me with your transparency about your own lives. The deepness of your walk with the Lord was so evident and the Bible truths that you taught blew me away. You are all awesome teachers and public speakers. You qualify to be in a colosium teaching at a convention but instead you came to Costa Rica to minister to us. What a gift from the Lord.

Each of the rest of you had such a vital part in the behind the scenes working of this retreat. You were such a team, each with your specific role that you did so well. Everything was excellently organized and carried out and you pampered us so much. We needed to be loved and we received your outpouring of it. Thank you for all the preparation, prayer and long hours you put in, to minister to us.

For me, more than all the beutiful gifts, the presentation that they were given to us in filled me up. I am so glad that you Martha Stewerts came along. We don't have all those beautiful gift bags, ribbons, bright colors and fru fru here in Costa Rica. Just walking in the rooms and seeing the beautiful presentations on each table, took my breath away. Then there were all the wonderful things inside the bag. I was just longing for some nice lotion like they sell at Bath and Body works. Well, I now have enough lotion for not only myself but for all my friends too!

The last day, when I entered the lunch room and saw all the cards, I got a knot in my throat. I was overwhelmed that there were so many people praying for me, even without knowing me. It just reinforced for me, how much God cares about me. Do you know, that in my pile of cards, there was even a Valentines Day card. That just made me cry out because a few weeks ago I asked our Sunday School class to please send me Valentines Day cards. With e-mail, I rarely get mail anymore and I just so love looking at beautiful cards. I love pink and hearts so I was longing for some of those Valentines Day beauties. And here, the Lord knew and had someone send me one through you.

It was so nice to be on the receiving end for a change. Thank you for all that you did for me at Pure Joy in Costa Rica.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Costa Rica….God Does It Again!!

As I sit here at the Costa Rica Airport waiting for our Team to return to the states I am overwhelmed by God’s continual Faithfulness to Pure Joy International. This retreat, like each retreat, was exactly what God had in store for this group of women. What a beautiful group of missionary women coming together from so many missions organizations.

As with each retreat words cannot possible be enough to reveal the things God accomplished in the lives of the missionary women and this team during the past 7 days. He knows every little detail and the importance of it to our lives. I shared with our team last night during our team briefing that it is amazing to me how God works each specific retreat to His Glory!!! One of the ladies said to me last night, “Surely we are the best team you have ever had?” I laughed and said, “You are the best team for this retreat!” We all had a good laugh from it. Every retreat is different and each team is the best team for that retreat.

I want to thank everyone of you that gave to the Costa Rica Retreat. The one thing that the ladies really acknowledged was that it was very obviously to them that much prayer has gone into our time with them. They cannot believe that so many of you are praying for them. I want to encourage those of you that have been praying for the retreat to write comments on this blog about how praying for the missionary women has affected your life. I have also asked the missionary women to take time to write on the blog to you and share how God used the retreat in their lives, so be watching for that in the weeks to come.

Well, time to board, but just wanted to briefly say to all of you Friends of Pure Joy….THANK YOU FOR LOVING JESUS AND LETTING US IN ON IT!!!