The Andrews University gymnasium was overflowing last weekend (May 31–June 2) with more than 700 women who had gathered for a time of spiritual renewal at the third bi-annual Lake Union Hispanic Women’s Convention.
The "Living Healthy and Happy" convention was an event with the purpose of teaching women through God’s framework about their value as a woman, recognizing priorities and achieving balance in life. It was designed to give tools to women in order to first, recognize that they are the daughters of a great King, second, that their value is incalculable and third, allowing them to reflect through personal evaluation so that they can prioritize important things and direct their efforts to it.
The conference included a banquet on Friday night where more than 500 people feasted on a delicious meal prepared by the Andrews University cafeteria. The main speaker, Arnaldo Cruz, pastor of the Pilgrims Spanish Church in Florida, brought the Word of God to bear in a practical way, comparing specific biblical stories with the modern situations that women go through and in order to teach how to rely on God in dealing with those issues. Various seminars were offered and a beautiful Communion service was provided, led by pastors and pastors’ wives.
On Saturday afternoon, a group of professionals in different areas offered seminars related to improvement in spiritual life and health. Others were aimed at having better tools for raising children and, at the same time, being more alert to the social challenges that children face. On Sunday, to close the event, there was a health fair and a beautiful baptism, which taught everyone about the power of God and how He even uses children to advance His kingdom (see separate story).
However, the event transcended to another level because while the preacher was offering his last message, the committee was preparing for a second baptism as three more people (members of the Rogers Heights Church) had decided to take that big step and commit their lives to Christ. In total, five souls accepted Jesus as their personal Savior during this event.
The sold-out event took months of preparation, programming and deep thinking. Organizers had studied the surveys of the previous year’s retreat where interests for the next year’s conference were conveyed. As expressed in the surveys, many women have been taught by difficult situations in life. They had no other learning experience but “life experience” which, at times, left a sour feeling in many.
After this year’s retreat, the ladies wrote glowing testimonials, such as:
The weekend was a blessing for me. I realized that I must never forget my value as a woman. Sometimes, in certain circumstances, I have forgotten that God values me. Although I am a sinner and am not perfect, God still values me.
I went to the event with personal and spiritual low self-esteem. [Now] I understand that God is with me and that He wants me to be healthy and happy. I also was made aware that other women are in the same situation and that these events help us realize where we need to grow in order to help others.
This women's retreat allowed me to understand the value that I have as a woman. I am a daughter of a loving Father who wants the best for me, and I am deserving because I am His daughter.
Organizers give thanks to God for the privilege of serving and working on His behalf. They are aware that it is He who directs them; they are His vessels. As Philippians 2:13 says, For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose."
Organizing committee: Carmelo Mercado, general vice president of Lake Union Conference; Carmen Avila, administrative assistant of Lake Union Conference; Rosa Del Valle, Women's Ministry coordinator for the Hispanic churches of the Lake Union and Michigan conferences; Noemí Miranda, Women's Ministry coordinator for the Hispanic churches of Wisconsin Conference; Delvis Pérez, Women's Ministry coordinator for the Hispanic churches of Lake Region Conference; Celia Jaeger, Women's Ministry coordinator for the Hispanic churches of Indiana Conference.
Rosa Del Valle, Lake Union Hispanic Women's Ministry coordinator