One of the single most unifying characteristics among people is their desire to be connected; to hear and to be heard. This is a common theme I have heard throughout the retreat this past week. Yesterday while painting an attendee’s toenails in the pedicure room, I asked her what she believed was the greatest need of global workers on the field. Very simply in response she said, “Communication.” She explained that cross-cultural workers need people back home to show them that they care.
Global women, like every other person on this earth, have stories to share. They have stories of joy. They have hilarious stories of embarrassing moments. Yet, often what we forget as church-goers in America is that they have stories of hurt and tragedy. Through listening to the women this past week, I began to understand that serving on the field is really hard, emotionally and physically. Yes, it is their joy to be a part of God’s work where He has sent them, but it is not easy. Just like every other person in the church, cross-cultural workers need people to listen to their stories, and they need to be told that their stories matter.
Elaine Slaughter, our massage therapist, said that she was surprised by the women’s willingness to share their stories this past week. In her words, “We didn’t get the Twitter version, we got the blog details. I love when they share their stories!” As volunteers this week, we had the privilege of seeing the attendees’ faces light up when we asked them about their lives, and sincerely wanted to hear the blog version instead of the Twitter version. They felt loved and valued. God has brought immense healing this week through the telling of women’s unedited, real stories.