Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Back from the Retreat

Refreshing! Encouraging! Inspiring! These are all apt descriptors of our time in South Africa last week. We were part of a new program called InterMission aimed at encouraging missionaries on the field, and our southern Africa retreat was the first of its kind. We didn’t know that until the last day, and we never would have guessed because the facilitators did such a great job. John and Beth Reese, Kent and Nancy Hartman, along with Fielden and Janet Allison are all former or current missionaries, and they know exactly what missionaries need.

We were with 14 other couples and four young singles, plus six missionary kids for the three-day event. The other missionaries were natives of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Great Britain, and the Congo as well as some fellow Americans. Our commonality was working in cross-cultural missions in southern Africa, and that drew us together quickly.

Someone told us that once you’ve been to the mission field, you never quite fit in anywhere. You’re no longer completely at home in America because your experiences have changed you so much, and yet you’ll never be completely accepted in your country of ministry. So it’s no wonder that when missionaries get together, they have an instant understanding and a deep bond. We loved making new friends and renewing our ties with former acquaintances.

The location for the retreat was Carmel by the Sea, a Christian conference center on the coast near George, South Africa. The views were breathtakingly beautiful in every direction.

In addition to presentations and discussions, our program included an afternoon for fun. We went to an area of the South Africa cape called the Klein Karoo and toured an ostrich farm and the Cango Cave. Believe it or not, I can add “riding an ostrich” to the list of weird experiences I’ve had in Africa—and I have the video to prove it! I may even post it on the blog when we’re back in the US and have more bandwidth.

We are very grateful for the opportunity to attend this retreat, and we feel very blessed by the experiences we had and the fellowship we enjoyed.

1 comment:

Mary Ann Melton said...

I'm so glad that you had this wonderful experience! What a great way for God to build you up for the work you are doing!