December 9, 2016

Solomon Islands Widows Brave Bad Weather for Uplifting Camp

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record

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

The women camped at Doma, west of Honiara, in late November. Guest speaker Helen Miller, 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.”

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

A group of friends with Atoifi connections - Elma, Jenny, Helen Miiller, Halifu and Tina. Credit: Adventist Record

Even though tarpaulins ripped and tents blew down during a storm Friday night, the women refused to go home until Sunday. “These women have gone through far worse times, as widows (oru) and deserted wives (taloa),” Miller said. “They rejoice at the encouragement and support they share at the Oru/Taloa Camp each year.”

“A personal testimony is a powerful witness to God’s goodness in impossibly difficult situations”

Lynteko, one of the attendees, shared about 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.

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

Another attendee, Pamela, trains ministers’ wives 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 women, who plan to keep reaching out to others who are broken and share their beautiful Jesus,” 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 invited the Solomons group to meet with them in 2017.