Trip of a Lifetime

In January of 2009 Cory, the leader of Mujeres de Virtud, decided to challenge us with a new opportunity for growth. She wanted to take the Mujeres de Virtud ladies from Chirilagua to Lake Champion, New York, for a spiritual retreat weekend with 100 women from Boston, Syracuse, and NYC. It sounded like a dream to us, but a pipe dream. We must have laughed harder than Sarah, when God told her that she would have a son in her old age, because it seemed just as impossible. We told Cory that it sounded wonderful but we better pray hard because we had 5 strikes against us. 1) Most of the women never leave Chirilagua, let alone the state. 2) They never get vacation time. 3) Their husbands will not let them leave, because the women take care of the children and make the food. 4) They don’t have the money to pay for it. 5) They can’t afford the missed wages from one or two days of work.


But as we began to pray, it became evident that the retreat was exactly what we were supposed to do. When we announced it to the women they became wildly excited. We pulled together a planning committee to begin empowering the women to make a way for themselves. They made a plan, they made 500 delicious tamales, they hosted a sale… and they raised a grand total of $1000 for their trip. A month later, Mujeres de Virtud of Alexandria and Arlington took a bus of 19 women to Lake Champion for their first retreat. Many of us would take for granted something like a weekend retreat, but the whole experience was made new when we heard our friends saying that it was a dream come true, that they couldn’t believe they were going, and even that they didn’t want to sleep on the bus because they wanted to drink in every second of the trip.


The diversity among the 100 women present at the conference was unbelievable. There were women from the US, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. Talk about a little taste of heaven. Women from 18 different countries gathered together in unity, crossing over national and cultural barriers to encourage and support one another. The theme of the weekend was “Blessed to be a blessing.” We prayed together. We played together. We ministered to each other. We ate together. We learned from speakers. We worshiped together. At our last session of the conference, all the women walked forward praising God, praying for each other, and held hands in solidarity as sisters in Christ. Lives were changed. All of the women left energized, and they began preparing for next year on the bus ride home.


Throughout the past year we have walked through life together encouraging each other every step of the way. We have been there for each other through the death of family members, pregnancies, emotional and verbal abuses, domestic violence, unemployment, loneliness, cancer, chronic illness, weddings, and broken relationships. We have become stronger as a community by walking through these important life events together, leaning on one another in times of need.