Monday, November 1, 2010

Lovingkindness Over All

And we pray that we, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...
Ephesians 3:17-18

~Day 23,
30 Days of Prayer

The volunteer staff will spend a few days debriefing and processing all that has happened. We also get to do a bit of sightseeing; after all it would be a shame to come this far and not see some of India!

I will leave you with the words of one of the attendees given to us in a thank-you note:

“Being at this retreat has been an amazing experience. My soul has been refreshed and renewed. He gently pulled me back to Him. I realized how the stress in India has caused me to slip back into old habits I had developed to cope with painful issues. Through the holistic ministry of this retreat, I've become aware of my condition. Being in a supportive community gave me the support I needed to face truth. Being in the atmosphere of this retreat broke the cycle of my attitude and behavior. Being in a loving context restored me. Let me encourage you to continue your dedication to this work. I have come to appreciate your vision. Thank you for all your kindness over all of us.”

THANK YOU for joining us during this Fall Retreat in Goa, India.

~Sharon Woodroof for the entire team.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Your Reach

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice like the great deep.
Psalm 36:5-6

~Day 29, 30 Days of Prayer

Today is the last day of the second Retreat. Sarah, a physical therapist who is giving massages, will share.

Sarah writes:

I am so blessed to be returning for my 4th Retreat. A little part of me wondered, as I packed to leave the States, if or when these retreats would start to feel repetitive. Our awesome Father never ceases to amaze me in how He so incredibly orchestrates these events.

Even though the general structure and my roles have been consistent through all the retreats, each one takes on a different tone. He knows exactly which women need to be in attendance, what words need to be spoken, and covers it all with His Spirit. What a humble experience to be a vessel of blessing to there remarkable women!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Friend Who Helps

Two are better than one, because they have a
good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

~Day 11, 30 Days of Prayer

Continued blue skies~ Thank you!

Today Karen will be sharing her experience. She was invited to volunteer by her friend, Rosalyn, our photographer and a returning volunteer.

Karen writes:

This is my first retreat and I am awed by the experience. I had some expectations based on what I had heard in advance, but those expectations don't compare to the reality of being here. My first observation has been how awesome it is to see Him bring together a group of 25 women from all over the U.S., different backgrounds and ages, and bind of together in such a special way. My heart is forever connected to the group with whom I'm serving.

The second thing that stands out to me is that a gift it is to be here, to be serving those who give their lives in service. I'm working on the pedicure team. After my first pedicure, I had the chance to step away and journal. I was shocked at the emotion that welled inside of me as I processed the fact that He had placed me here—what an honor.

The women we serve are so different and yet share so much, and at times I sit back and just watch them minister to one another. His hand is evident in so many ways—in the small groups He put together, in the connections and friendships being made, in the encouragement that is shared, and in the face of every worker He brought here to be reminded of how very much He loves them!

Friday, October 29, 2010

He Hears Us

This is the confidence that
we have in approaching God:
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
I John 5:14

~Day 27, 30 Days of Prayer

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the continued clear beautiful skies. Since we will not be sharing our guests’ stories directly on the blog, I want to give our volunteers a chance to express their impressions.

Mary and Ruth are sisters who grew up in India; their parents were workers here. They found out about the opportunity to serve through a friend at their local fellowship who is a faithful friend to us and has served with us several times.

Here are their impressions:

Pinball machine-like taxi rides, incessant honking horns, the smell of spices mixed with smoke, hot tea with milk...we're back!

We have come full circle to be with women who are making this land their home. We've had some surprises:

*Hot water may or may not be present while showering.
*What looks like an Andes mint is really mosquito repellent!
*There's toilet paper!

Having lived in India, we expected a connection with the women – but underestimated its power. It has opened a channel of communication and given us credibility. Their guard is dropped. They relax, reach out, and say, "You know."

The guests arrive for the second Retreat.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

~Day 26, 30 Days of Prayer

The second Retreat guests are arriving this afternoon. Please accept my sincere and heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the entire team serving here. Your interest and support is not something we take for granted, nor could this work be accomplished without your involvement and, of course, His.

Here are some of my random observations from India:

Naan is a super yummy flatbread.

Masala means curry.

Beware of small spicy green peppers masquerading as green beans.

Once again I am trying to eat my weight in papaya. The last time I tried that was the Retreat in Thailand.

The contrast between one side of the hotel there are water buffaloes grazing and the other side is a rice paddy.

Speaking of hotels, both here and in Mumbai there are clear glass windows into the bathroom!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Common Thread

"The Lord is my portion," says my soul
"therefore I will hope in Him."
Lamentations 3:24

~Day 1, 30 Days of Prayer

Hopefully, you are getting a sense of the rhythm of our Retreat schedule. Mornings include worship, singing, teaching from our speaker and small group discussion. Afternoons are for rest, relaxation, pampering. The evenings are for laughter, times of sharing old stories and memories and for making new ones as well.

Laughter in the evening playing the "Taste of Home" game, white-elephant style.

The common thread throughout the Retreat is gifts, gifts and more gifts!

It is hard to believe that the first Retreat is over today, that our new friends must go, taking a piece of our hearts with them -- women we just met a short four days ago. What an incredible honor and privilege to serve in this way.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Longs to be Gracious

…the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
Isaiah 30:18

~Day 24, 30 Days of Prayer

The rains have continued to stay away which makes it much more pleasant for our guests to get to all their afternoon activities which include haircuts, pedicures, a massage, color analysis and make-up or the ever-popular pool and beach!

One of the attendees commented that this was the BEST retreat she has ever been to. Another said it was the first retreat where she really got to relax. We are so grateful that it is truly a time of refreshment for them. It's hard to believe that they leave tomorrow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Faith Comes by Hearing

Sue will be our speaker, and we ask that you empower her every thought, word, action and prayer as she prepares for the Retreat; give her understanding of each page of your Word. We desire rich times for her in your presence as she listens to you. You know what every lady needs to hear, and we ask that you meet each of them in an intimate and special way with your powerful, healing,
encouraging Word.

~Day 17, 30 Days of Prayer

Sue is our speaker every morning. She is talking about:

~work produced by faith includes joy and suffering

~labor prompted by love involves transformation and sacrifice

~endurance inspired by hope entails working and waiting

Lorrie, our director, had this to say about Sue and her impact: "Our speaker, Sue, is fabulous! She and her husband just moved here 4 months ago. So the guests really relate to her. She has a great sense of humor yet her teaching is deep."

After her talk, the attendees have a time of discussion together. The afternoon is filled with lots of fun activities. More about that tomorrow...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arriving with Gratitude perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.
Isaiah 25:1

~Day 3, 30 Days of Prayer

All 46 attendees for the first Retreat are here. Thank you for your intercession for travel mercies on their behalf as the Goa airport had an oil spill on the one and only runway today. We had also asked for some dry weather as our first dinner tonight was outside on the lawn. We were blessed not only with no rain but it wasn't even that hot and not very many mosquitoes!

Many of our guests were thanking us as they arrived and we hadn't even begun to spoil them yet! Several shared details of seeing our father go before them so they could be here for this time of renewal.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Namaste = Welcome

Namaste ~ Welcome to India.  I am Sharon Woodroof and  it is my privilege to share from the Fall Retreat in Goa. Joining me are Rosalyn Otto, photographer, and Cindy Blomquist, editor, who will be putting everything together for this retreat blog.  Thank you for joining us. 

We have a team of 28 women; which includes 3 hairstylists, 4 counselors, 3 color/make up analysts, 2 massage therapists, 10 pedicurist, and a speaker.  We are very excited to meet the 92 women who will be joining us at the 2 retreats.

Please ask for travel mercies for our guests and for intermittent but very heavy rains to stop so that our attendees can fully enjoy all that we have planned for them.