Editor's Note: See PDF for pictures
* Ana Maria Conejo, from the Spanish Union of Churches, reports that in Guadamar del Segura, Alicante, Spain, the pastors' annual convention met from April 28-May 1, 1996. The convention included the pastors' wives and elders. The pastors' wives appreciated being able to be there as we are unable to communicate with each other very much.
AMAF (Shepherdess) created a parallel program, like that of the elders and pastors, for the pastors' wives. The meetings covered specific topics for the ladies.This year the Lord allowed us to share the convention with the Portuguese Union, so the pastors' wives joined us. We all enjoyed the variety of topics and appreciated having time to share our concerns about church related problems and projects.
Also, this year, we invited an honored guest. Mrs. Alicia Rando, the AMAF Director and Women's Ministries Director from the Austral Union. She spoke about how women now take on greater roles in our society. We all have equal rights, but this implies greater responsibilities in the family, society, and church. The Lord needs workers for His vineyard. If we are qualified to work in all fields, God counts us as His. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).
We appreciate the directive of AFAM in making this program possible. We offer our support so that this type of convention can be held again, if circumstances permit.
* Geri Mueller, Shepherdess Coordinator for the Division, reports on the Quinquennial Advisory, February 23-27, 1997: Approximately 25 Shepherdess Coordinators and 20 Ministerial Secretaries from almost all the territories of the Euro-Africa Division assembled at Diepoldsburg, an Adventist retreat center in Germany. The two groups met together and separately. Geri and her husband, Ekkehardt, the Division Ministerial Secretary, organized the meeting and lead out in the program. A team from the General Conference Ministerial Association also came: Jim and Sharon Cress, Will Eva, and Rex Edwards. The different fields of the Division gave reports. There were discussions on the job description of Shepherdess Coordinatos and Ministerial Secretaries, conflict management, and handling agenda items. it was a very rewarding experience for both groups to meet together. In this way, they experienced a deeper appreciation for each other and their different fields of expertise.
* The Bulgarian Union held a week-long retreat for all the pastors and their wives. Jim Cress and Barbara Fol kenberg represented the General Conference Ministerial Association and spoke at the meetings.
North American Division
* The Idaho Conference ministry wives met in Boise for their annual retreat.
South American Division
* Rio Grande do Sul Conference and Western Mission conducted the first meeting for pastors' children, September 13 - 15, at the Three Fig Trees Farm, in Irnbe, Rio Grande do Sul. Seventy-one pastors' children ages 8 to 18 attended the meetings promoted by Pastor Helio Coutinho,Family Ministries; Pastor Marlinton Lopes, Ministerial Association; and Pastor Erton Koler, Youth Ministries
The attendees were divided into two groups.One included children 8 to 12 years, and was directed by Dr. lara Papke, a speech therapist who works in family counseling. Her topics included self-esteem, developing faith, maintaining communion with God, and having a good relationship with family, relatives, and neighbors. The second group comprised of teens ages 13 to 18 was directed by Dr. Helnio Nogueira, Administrative Director of the Adventist Hospital in Pe'nfigo, Mato Grosso State. As a PK, he talked about issues impacting pastors' children: church members expectations, frequent moves, self-esteem, dating, choosing a life companion, and drugs. Also, Dr. Paulo Candido dos Reis spoke about the subsidies the pastor's family receive.
The meetings were very productive. The young people went home with a new vision about themselves and a new perspective of life.
Northern Asia-Pacific Division
* Under the direction of Verna Chuah, the Shepherdess Chapter of the South China Island Union Mission, held three one-day events for their clergy spouses. The first program, "Count Your Blessings and Understand Each Other," boosted the spirit of the pastoral family and improved communication. The second, "Messages From Grown-Up Pastoral Children," sought to improve the support of adult PKs; these young adults shared the blessings and difficulties of growing up in a pastoral family. The third program, "How to Protect Your Ministry from an Affair," based on an article in Ministry writtenby a pastor's wife, helped pastors and their spouses comprehend why ministers are vulnerable to affa irs. It taught ways to help pastoral couples prevent affairs.
Southern Asia-Pacific Division
* Gorgonia Jimeno, the Guam Shepherdess President, shares how God answer prayers:
Twelve shepheHesses huddled together asking God to intervene for Priscy, a pastor's wife on the island of Guam. Priscy's eyes had been bothering her for quite a while. She had been seeing double, but now she was experiencing some blindness and was afraid she would lose her eyesight.
The doctor referred Priscy to a specialist in New York. Besides being nervous about going to a new place, Priscy had no idea how she and her husband could manage to pay for the trip ar the treatment. Yet if she did not go, she would almost certainly go blind. Thus it was that the shepherdesses were praying for the Lord to help her.
When financial arrangrnents were finally made, it was December and extremely cold in New York, especially for one accustomed to the warm tropical weather of the islands. Then Priscy's doctor called to say that there was another specialist in California. As Priscy and her husband went to California for the surgery, the shepherdess group prayed that the operation would be successful. God heard those prayers, and today Priscy can see well. She is back home working at the Seventh-day Adventist Clinic in Guam.
Praying for our fellow pastoral wives is just one of the activities of our shepherdess group in Guam-Micronesia. We meet on the second Monday of every month to fellowship, pray, and take part in activities such as crafts, cooking demonstrations, recipe exchanges, and talks on subjects of special interest to the ladies.
We also have Secret Pals and give gifts to one another on special occasions and holidays. At Christmas time we invite our husbands for a buffet dinner. Then we reveal who our Secret Pais are.
This year we plan to adopt a shepherdess in the islands of Micronesia to help build up her supply of Sabba thSchool materials. Many of our island churches need help in their children's programs, and we hope this will encourage the pastors' wives to do more to help their Sabbath Schools.