Marilyn and Jennifer, a mother-daughter duo, have truly captured the heart and vision for Women of Strength (WOS) through their ongoing participation. Their passion for relationship building is evident in the stories that they share, reminding us why we do what we do. Here are a few highlights that they shared with us. If you’ve never participated in a WOS trip, this is a great snapshot of what makes this trip unique.
“Marilyn and I have really enjoyed the WOS trips for a variety of reasons. First, we can serve together, mother/daughter. There are not a lot of trips out there for children under 16 years, so this is key. Young girls are treated with respect and not looked down upon. In fact, there is quite a bit of emphasis on them being able to do hard things for the Kingdom. Amor invests in them as future leaders. The intergenerational and cultural aspect of both trips we have been on has impacted us in so many ways. A wise friend once told me when I started my faith journey, always seek out groups of varied ages and stages so you can better learn from wisdom and fresh perspectives. That vision is carried out in these trips. Serving with 80-year old women and 11-year old girls is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ. To see other Godly girls and woman come along side my daughter in an encouraging way has been priceless. She has been mothered by many "others" and I am grateful. She says this makes it so much (more) fun!! [Think dance mat with Alyssa and friends until 1:00 a.m.] LOL
Also, unique with Amor's WOS trips, the work team includes members of the community in which we are serving. Not only is this rich because we get to know women from the communities we are building in through talking and praying for one another, this model also guards from the attitude that I have come to serve "them". Truth be told, we serve because God knows it is what our hearts need. And, on both of the WOS trips we have been on, we have left changed--imprinted by the lives that we have shared with women all over the world who came to serve together because God called them there. POWERFUL!!
Some moments that have made us reflect on what we have experienced while on previous WOS trips include the fact that woman all around the globe have many of the same passions (family, work, ministry, etc.) and struggles (family, work, ministry, etc.). Despite language barriers, we prayed and cried with pastors' wives in Mexico over our children's choices and for our churches, husbands, and communities. The language of love is a special bond. The Holy Spirit allows us to share joys and sorrows together, even when we do not speak the same language.
As it relates to South Africa, we had the opportunity to learn the history and culture that could not have been taught in a book; it was experienced by absorbing the stories and experiences. We also learned of the disparity among classes and races that exists and how justice is important to Jesus.
Once we got home, we continued (and still continue) to reflect on our experiences and opportunities for growth. Sometimes a memory is sparked or an experience comes to mind that brings us back to South Africa or Mexico. I especially love how Amor weaves in the lives of many that we met into other Amor trips. For example, we’ve been able to see a pastor from South Africa at a future Amor event in Mexico. It’s a great opportunity to further our relationships and not just leave thinking we will never see one another again.
This trip is different in that it combines doing work with daily spiritual practices (worship, Word, prayer, stillness) along with cultural experiences and a ton of fun throughout all of it. I always describe it as a global women's retreat where we can put our faith into practice each day, all day. Other trips we have been on in the past are more focused on the task at hand-"build this, do that." …You will come back from WOS trips feeling nourished and ready for the next one.”
We can’t wait to see Marilyn and Jennifer on future WOS trips, and hope their story serves as an encouragement to you as you consider joining us this summer.
When women come together and serve together, we are all made stronger.