Journal Entry Day 6

Our Clergywomen’s Seminar began today. We gathered with 16 Mozambican Clergywomen who serve churches in the Southern Conference. Eight of the women had dinner with us in the guest house and it was a fairly quiet meal because we didn’t really know one another, and the language barrier prevented us from going past the general pleasantries of greetings and sharing names. We began the morning with getting to know one another’s name and sharing the greatest challenge and greatest joy that each of us has in our ministry settings. Our interpreter, Orlando, did a great job of helping us tear down the language barrier so that we could learn more about the stories behind the smiling faces gathered around the room.

Some common themes across cultural contexts emerged in the challenges: juggling time as a pastor with time at home with family; problems with parsonages and parishioners unwilling or unable to help; not having enough money given through offerings to sustain the ministry of the local church; parishioners not willing to take Scripture seriously and devote themselves to discipleship; rejection of a pastor for some reason…being a woman, being “too young,” being single, not “looking like a pastor.”

Some common challenges were specific to the African Context: no access to clean and fresh water, not speaking the local language of the parish where they are assigned, or having to walk many kilometers to make pastoral visits without a car or money for the public bus.

We were able to share and discuss what is the same and what is different about our contexts so that we could get a sense of our common places in life and in ministry.

We shared lunch together, and enjoyed some free time outside in the cool air. For our afternoon sessions Pat offered a presentation related to leadership styles. We gave each woman a chance to discuss the very different styles of leadership and discuss how we can all follow the example of Jesus and be servant leaders. She did a great job inviting each pastor to reflect upon their leadership style and how it might connect with Jesus’s style as a servant leader. She also laid some groundwork for Lisa’s presentation later that day.

Lisa was able to share her personal story that contained loss and emotions that every woman was able to connect with in some way. She offered the story of how God was able to come to her in the midst of brokenness and breath new life into her.  She spoke of various spiritual disciplines that offer life to her spirit. She emphasized the importance of prayer, mentoring, and having other clergywomen who will pray for us. We took time to partner up and spent 30 minutes with a pray partner, sharing specific concerns and praying for one another. This time was deeply appreciated by all who gathered together that day.

Finally, the day concluded with the “homework assignment.” On Sunday evening when we had the opportunity to chat with the Bishop in the guest house one of the many questions she graciously answered was, “What one hope do you have for our time together during the clergywomen’s seminar?” She said that she hoped the Mozambican clergywomen would be able to share with one another how God had helped them overcome challenges in their ministry so that they might learn from one another. So, at the conclusion of our first day I asked each woman to prepare to share the next day one challenge in their ministry that God helped them to overcome. I wanted them to have some time to prepare so they could tell their stories and encourage one another and so that our team might learn from our Mozambican sisters.

One of the highlights of the day for me was the time when we had some down town together, waiting to resume our seminar, and I was able to ask the ladies to sing one of my favorite songs in Xitshwa. It made them smile and laugh as I tried to recall the name of it, and as soon as they figured out which song I mean they were happen to sing it for us. The says, “Jesus is the only one for me.” I was able to get some videos of the ladies singing for us!

Eleven of the women stayed in the guest house with us that night and the atmosphere around the dinner table was much more animated and jovial than the night before. We had  shared with one other so much throughout the day that we were able to move past our language differences without our interpreter at dinner. In fact, a few of the ladies were feeling really brave and were excited to try out some English phrases. We had fun establishing what each item on our dinner table was called in both English and in Portuguese. We even pulled out a dictionary to help determine exactly which protein we were being served at dinner…turns out it was turkey! 🙂

It felt like a great accomplishment at dinner because our goal of this seminar time is not only to share information with one another, but to build relationships between the clergywomen of our two conferences and to strengthen the bond between our parts of the body of Christ.

~ Sarah

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One Response to Journal Entry Day 6

  1. Pingback: IOH UMVIM Clergywomen trip to Mozambique, Index of Blog posts « Kataggello…to proclaim publicly

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