More than thirty women—six from the U.S., one from Kenya, and the rest from the area—gathered in Trois Rivières, Quebec, for a regional gathering of United Society of Friends Women, June 15 and 16, 2019. Several women from Montreal and Quebec City and from Massachusetts and western New York had hoped to come but could not make arrangements in time.
The women in the Trois Rivières community are mostly refugees from the civil war in the Congo.
We had lots of singing in a variety of languages—English, Swahili, Spanish, Rwandese, Congolese—sharing our joy of Christ and joy of sharing together.
I made introductions and also shared about USFW International, what it offers to women, and how women from different parts of the world have found it helpful. Those gathered received an official letter of welcome from our hosts.
Pam Cole and Gale Schultz (both from New Bedford, MA, Friends Meeting) were the main speakers, giving a PowerPoint message about Lydia, Priscilla, and Phoebe, three important women of the Bible; Judith Nandikove (East Africa USFW) translated into Swahili. Dorothy Curtis of Durham (ME) Friends Meeting shared about their active USFW group.
The women of Trois Rivières provided a bounteous potluck meal with many Congolese dishes.
The next day, we all attended the regular Trois Rivières Friends Church service, led by two young men and one older male pastor. Three choirs—children, older women, and young women—sang during the service. Judith Nandikove gave the sermon of the day and Gloria Thompson (New York YM) gave the final prayer. A highlight of the service was the typical Congolese drumming circle that grew in numbers and volume, until everyone was a part. (This was much like what I had experienced when I worked with Mesquakie Indians in Iowa years ago.)
We all enjoyed the program and decided to return next year. Thanks to the women of Trois Rivières who gave us such a warm welcome!