Latin American women share benefits of caring

More are trained to lead Sister Care seminars, which have reached thousands

Feb 6, 2017 by , and

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Mennonite Women USA is building stronger leadership for its Sister Care seminars in Latin America, where enthusiasm for the program is high.

Sister Care seminars and materials have been received with much interest around the world and shared in 15 countries.

Rebeca Gonzalez anoints Linda Shelly with water representing Jesus’ living water during the Sister Care enrichment seminar closing ritual in Buenos Aires, Argentina. — Rhoda Keener

Rebeca Gonzalez anoints Linda Shelly with water representing Jesus’ living water during the Sister Care enrichment seminar closing ritual in Buenos Aires, Argentina. — Rhoda Keener

Recent enrichment seminars in Guatemala and Argentina — and another next month in Colombia — offer additional training for women leaders who have already taught Sister Care in their churches and communities or are planning to do so.

At the seminar in Buenos Aires, Argentina, three people from the United States — including the two Sister Care Enrichment teachers — were amazed to hear that in the past three years nine women have worked with others to share Sister Care with more than 2,300 women.

Coming from the U.S. were Carolyn Heggen, a psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing and Sister Care co-presenter; Linda Shelly, Mennonite Mission Network Latin American director; and Rhoda Keener, Mennonite Women USA Sister Care director and co-presenter.

The seminar in Buenos Aires drew 31 women from the Southern Cone of South America. It provided an opportunity to share challenges and joys while teaching others and to be encouraged and blessed for their ministry.

Healing and trusting

Martha Basualdo of Paraguay recalled that her first Sister Care seminar brought healing.

“I shared a painful story from my life for the first time,” she said. “This sharing was the beginning of a process of healing within me. The openness and vulnerability of Carolyn and Rhoda in sharing experiences from their own life journeys was very helpful to me. This made me feel that I did not need to have shame to talk about problems and past trauma in my life.”

When asked what was most helpful about the enrichment seminar, Angela Opimi of Bolivia cited the importance of demonstrating trust and confidentiality.

“One of the weaknesses in the church is the lack of trust,” she said. “Many sisters say they don’t trust sharing with others in the church.”

Gladys Silva of Chile said: “It is important to listen to other people’s pain. Many of my sisters have suffered, and I didn’t know it.”

Rebeca González of Mexico said: “Many of our beloved sisters live in an emptiness. I want to encourage other leaders so that they can find their mission and convert their pain into their calling. . . . I also want to reinforce the idea of setting limits. Many women are now pastors and feel they need to respond to all demands.”

Thirty-five women attended the first enrichment seminar in Guatemala in October. The third is scheduled for Bogota, Colombia, in March.

Funding was provided by United Service Foundation, Schowalter Foundation, Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Women USA.

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