Friday, March 2, 2007
Want to know where your money went?- Amy J
So many of you generously supported the Africa team. Your generosity affirmed God’s call in us—that’s a generous gift.
But let me give you a glimpse of where your money went—50 lay counselors, homecare providers, and HIV support group leaders gathered with us for their first-ever retreat. And boy did they deserve a retreat! These men and women do the most difficult tasks with unexplainable joy. They are on the frontlines of HIV care, they have the hard task of informing people that they are HIV+, and they often care for them even into the last stages of their lives.
For us, a retreat is pretty common. For them, a retreat is a luxury. Imagine their delight when the walked into their cabins with bunk beds stacked three high! Or how much they enjoyed the braai (cook out), along with roasting marshmallows! Most importantly they retreated from the heaviness of their lives—they were able to "retreat" because of your giving. A portion of the money from each team member’s trip was used to fund the retreat.
The theme of our retreat was "Drink" and that they did. It was life giving for our team to minister to these folks. They worshipped and shared their stories, laughed and unloaded their burdens, and we were privileged to carry those burdens for just a bit. We were able to share new approaches to prayer with them from prayer postures, to journaling, to paint journaling. It was so much fun to watch them embrace these new ways of seeking solitude, which is something they desperately need.
For me, the most significant moments of the retreat happened as we closed today. We had the privilege of blessing and anointing the LH staff—yes, we actually anointed their heads with oil! (something I hadn't had the joy of doing before) Julie explained that to anoint means to “consecrate for sacred duty.” Their work is incredibly sacred. As we anointed their heads, we prayed this blessing over each person: “As I anoint your head with oil, I pray that your cup would overflow, and that God’s goodness and love would follow you all the days of your life.” I can’t articulate the holiness of those moments. As the Rolling Hills team anointed each other and these sweet people, we did so with the authority of Christ in us—it was powerful.
It sounds trite to say that today was beautiful... but it was. I can't fully describe the grace we experienced and gave. The compassion and love of God flowed through our team today and we were blessed far more than we imagined we could be. Your giving and supporting our trips enabled this to happen—you all are as much a part of this trip as those of us who are here. The Living Hope staff thanks you, as do we.
Posted by Amy J at 2:07 PM