Stop for a moment and look at this woman.
What do you imagine she is thinking about? What kind of life do you think she leads? Would you have anything in common with her? What similarities and differences might there be between your life and hers?
Three years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador for a missions trip. Before going I was asked to speak about grief to a church in a small Quechua mountain village. I did my best to present information that would fit cross-culturally, and it went well. I also prepared a little reflective, art exercise for some of the women to do in a seminar the next day. I was happy and quite relieved when all of the things I had prepared were done. That’s when the pastor said, “I thought you were going to do one-on-one counselling as well.”
So there I was a few days later taking a taxi up a bumpy mountain road with a friend who is a pastoral counsellor, and we met with women for two days straight. Women dressed just like the lady in the picture. A lot of the younger ones came in with babies wrapped on their backs. I was in one corner of the concrete church sanctuary. My friend was on the other side. We each had a translator. The women came in one after the other for those two days.
I remember wondering (yet, surprisingly, not feeling worried) about how I would be able to help them — their language was different; their lives looked so different.
But guess what?
Their worries and struggles were the same.
They worried about their teenage kids and their husbands who worked away. Some of them struggled with anger. Some were lonely. A lot worried about what the future would hold. The external circumstances might look a little bit different, but inside it was the same, human story that we all have.
Wonder and worry. Stress and struggle. Fears and follies.
At the end of this month I get to go back to Ecuador. Two doctors, two nurses, and two counsellors will be travelling to do women’s clinics in two parts of the country. I am excited to be able to sit and hear these women’s stories again. To listen with my heart and give them some tools. But, mostly, I want to remind them that they are not alone.
Our stories and struggles connect us when we have the courage to share.
Stay tuned for more as Dixie from Storybrook goes back to Ecuador!