“Well, what did you learn?”
It’s been nearly two weeks since the 17 of us returned from the Women of the ELCA 25th Anniversary Trip to Liberia. The jet lag has worn off, and I’m back to my normal daily routines. Last week I listened to voice mail messages left by folks requesting photos and presentations before we were even back home. While listening to the messages I answered an incoming call–another request for the list of participants so that the caller could invite “one of them” as a speaker at a spring meeting. After explaining that I would share her request with the group instead, the caller rapidly fired off a series of questions, in an angry tone.
There must have been four or five questions, and then finally the caller said “Well, what did you learn?” Without recounting the rest of the conversation, let me say one good thing did come from her rant. Her last question “well, what did you learn?” got me thinking.
I learned several things:
Bold women are real. We met many of them, ordinary women. Being bold takes courage and sacrifice. We went to Liberia to celebrate our longstanding partnership with the National Lutheran Church Women Fellowship (of the Lutheran Church of Liberia). Our itinerary included short stops in five districts where we were welcomed by hundreds of women waiting in 90 degree heat after walking for miles on short notice to let us know that celebrating with us was important. (By the way these thirty minute gatherings with our Liberian sisters were larger than most of our SWO conventions.)
We are complacent. Our culture has convinced us that only a certain kind of person—celebrities, the rich or famous—can impact the world, in isolated incidence. Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Women of the ELCA Triennial Gathering speaker (2011) reminded us that she is receiving the recognition but it was the action of hundreds of women day after day that made the difference in her homeland.
Doing nothing is an action. Just think what we could accomplish in 2013 if every participant took one action. The ball is in your court.
Valora Starr is director for discipleship.
[Editor’s note: you can view more photos from the trip on our Facebook wall.]