Monday, January 14, 2013


That's the word that comes to mind when I think back on the Continent Care Connection (CCC) Conference that I attended in October . CCC is put on each year by Great Cities Ministries, one year for the women, the next year for the men. This year, it was my turn to go to Brazil and spend a week on a beautiful beach near São Paulo, and Rusty's turn to stay home with the three boys. I'm thankful that Rusty recognized my need for this week away (probably more than I did, actually), and encouraged, no insisted that I go, even though the cost, what with the plane tickets and the visa, was much more than we had anticipated.

I have not been away by myself for more than a night since 2004 when Rusty sent me to a scrapbooking conference as part of my birthday present. Since kids came along, we have been able to get away together for a night or two to celebrate our anniversary almost every year, but it has been a long time since I have gone somewhere alone for an extended length of time. Certainly not since I had children. So it was soothing to just be me for a few days, to not have to think about anyone else's needs or the demands of life, ministry, educating my kids, running a household, learning another language. Sometimes I almost feel like I'm losing myself in what life and my small children require of me, so it was nice to be able to step back from all that for a little while and find the "me" beneath all those externals.

All week long, my senses were soothed by warm ocean breezes, pounding waves, barefoot walks on the beach, birdsong, the familiar, lilting sounds of Portuguese, delicious food that I didn't have to cook, and the skilled hands of a massage therapist. The CCC team who facilitated the conference included two licensed massage therapists, and every participant was treated to a half-hour massage. I swear it was the shortest 30 minutes of my life! They also pampered us with two gifts each day of the conference -- everything from books and music to fun lotions and jewelry -- and snacks and treats from the U.S.

And my soul was soothed by beautiful seasons of praise and worship (in English!), the blessing of new friendships, the comfort and clarity I found in talking things over with a counselor (and with my sister), and the reassurance that I am not alone in my struggles. There was extended time set aside for silence and solitude each day, and I spent a lot of time writing! Writing is cathartic for me, so this in itself was extremely soothing.

I'm thankful for the nourishment and refreshment that this week provided me, both physically and spiritually. Times like these are so important for missionaries, and I am grateful for all who make the CCC Conference possible each year, whether through their financial support, or serving as part of the Care Team, or through the hours spent in planning and preparation. This matters. This is important. Thank you.

A few pictures below:

A hug from Dottie Schulz
Worshipping God with my sisters

My Connection Group
So glad I got to experience this with my sister. We were even roommates!

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