Widows brave bad weather for uplifting camp

A group of friends with Atoifi connections - Elma, Jenny, Helen Miller, Halifu and Tina.

A weekend retreat for widows and deserted wives has seen 35 women brave extreme weather conditions in Solomon Islands to be encouraged and uplifted, despite life circumstances.

The women camped at Doma, west of Honiara, on November 25-27. Guest speaker Helen Miller (formerly known as “Sister Hay” when she served at Atoifi Adventist Hospital in the 1970s) shared her experiences in somewhat fractured Pidgin on the theme “Broken to be Beautiful”.

One of many special items.
One of many special items.

“The stories the ladies shared moved us all and highlighted the blessing that this group is, not just to its own members but to the community,” Mrs Miller said. “Some live alone, others with family members. Time and again the message came through — ‘We trust God. He is so faithful and never lets us down’.”

Even though the tarpaulins ripped and the tents blew down during a storm on Friday night, they refused to go home until Sunday.

Heading home on Sunday.
Heading home on Sunday.

“These ladies have gone through far worse times, as widows (oru) and deserted wives (taloa),” Mrs Miller said. “They rejoice at the encouragement and support they share at the Oru/Taloa Camp each year.”

Lynteko, one of the attendees, shared an incident of seeing a sad young woman, going to talk with her and discovering that she was about to commit suicide after her husband deserted her and left her with two small children and no means of support. Lynteko’s own life story gave her wisdom and love to help this distressed taloa, while sharing food from her own garden with her.

“A personal testimony is a powerful witness to God’s goodness in impossibly difficult situations,” Mrs Miller said.

Where the ladies HAD been sleeping.
Where the ladies HAD been sleeping.

Another attendee, Pamela, trains the wives of ministers in various churches. She shared how God has been with her for 25 years since her husband died.

“The theme song Something beautiful, something good is shining in the lives of these ladies, who plan to keep reaching out to others who are broken and share their beautiful Jesus,” Mrs Miller said.

The impact this group is having is expanding throughout the Pacific as a group of women on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, have been inspired to set up a Bougainville Foundation for widows and deserted wives. They have invited the Solomons group to meet with them in 2017.

If you are facing a crisis and struggling to cope, support is available through organisations such as Lifeline and beyondblue.