Thursday, August 25, 2011

Women's Conference encourages friendship, reconciliation

Last week was our Esther Women's Conference in Pignon, Haiti with more than 80 women from our ministry's main churches attending. The women from St. Raphael, Fontaine, Savanette and Pignon stayed on the Pignon Mission Complex campus for the week and enjoyed a time of Bible teaching, activities and fellowship. Our friends, Serena Isaak and Kathryn Haw from Fresno came to help with the teaching and activities for the conference. Serena's daughter Lindsey also joined us for the week to help watch our kids and play with the orphans in The Bridge Christian Children's Home.
The theme of the conference was "Friendship" and Serena was the keynote speaker with translation by Gerby Seriphin and Walquis Seriphin. Serena spoke on a variety of aspects of Friendship, including friendship with God, finding Godly mentors, the value of Godly friends. The women were able to dive into the Bible together twice a day for intense teaching. They also shared devotions and prayer time each morning. Serena's sweet spirit and creative ideas encouraged the women to deepen their friendships.
I had the opportunity to speak on Tuesday night at the evening service. I shared the story of Esther from the Bible through the lens of friendship. We studied who Esther's unexpected friends were in the story and how her friends fasted and prayed for her when she was in a tough situation and needed wisdom from God. This gave me the chance to share some of my personal journey over the last two years and how many times I felt like Esther.

One of the most powerful services at the conference was when Serena shared about the topic of "Unforgiveness in Friendships." At the close of this service, God prompted five pairs of women to stand up and publicly reconcile with one another. Some tears were shed and some major breakthroughs were experienced by those sharing and those listening to their testimonies.
One of our greatest joys of the week was having our dear friends Madame Degwa join us. She had her leg amputated earlier this year because of a bad infection. She has served our family for years as a cook/chef and knew Ericlee's grandparents well. We invited her to stay in our mission house with us since we knew the other accommodations would be difficult for her. We were so blessed by her presence at our family meals. We prayed together, laughed together and she encouraged us throughout the week. 

Madame Degwa was also a huge asset in helping us teach some of the other ladies to knit in the afternoons at the conference. This was a joy to see as my mom, Maria Lazo, had just taught Madame Degwa to knit a month earlier. 

Kathryn was a grammy to all that week as she loved on the babies, helped with the children, extended open arms to the ladies and even moved beyond her comfort zone to share her personal testimony.
Lindsey was a great leader for the kids. She led them in crafts, games, singing and more. She and Meilani spent one Saturday bravely hanging out in the busy, crowded market!

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