Almost 365 years ago, a Dutchman named Jan van Riebeeck opened what could be considered the first rest area. It was on the southwest corner of Africa, roughly halfway between Europe and Asia, where sailors and traders quite literally rounded the bend of Africa. Here seafarers could get fresh water, vegetables, and meat. (van Riebeeck knew Twizzlers and Diet Coke aren’t exactly the best sources of protein.)

Transportation has long since changed, but Cape Town remains a waypoint. In fact, today, it became a place for 41 global women to land for a few days and “refuel” before continuing on their journeys. Dorothy drove 15 minutes from her home in Cape Town. Michelle and Sarah crossed many time zones to be here from Honduras and Indonesia. The rest came from the ABCs of Africa: Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Mozambique, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Tonya and Chelsea knew how much they needed this time away from their isolated town in another part of South Africa, so they came a few days early to rest and reconnect with Jesus. Terina left her six kids at home and is looking forward to a few more naps than usual. Sue came looking for a friend, hoping to meet a few other single ladies who want to spend holidays together. We hope each woman would get exactly what she needs to refuel.

For each of these women, the next few days will be an opportunity to step off the pedestal they’re often placed upon, and find respite from the demands of cross-cultural work. It was evident during the opening worship session, small group time, and personal sanctuary that these ladies are hungry for rest, thirsty for friendship, and ready for respite.

Follow @thriveministry on Instagram for a photographic journey through the Cape Town retreats.

©2016 Thrive.