In December I attended a virtual all-cottage meeting organized by Big Ocean Women. It was just one week before Christmas, and I admit I wondered about the timing, but that 40-minute gathering was one of the sweetest gifts of the season for me.
Our friend in perpetual motion, Ann Takasaki, moderated with her signature grace and love. One by one, she invited representatives from Big Ocean Women cottages near and far, to share their insights, experiences, and dreams. I listened in awe and, like the Grinch created by beloved author Dr. Suess, my heart grew three sizes that day. I scribbled notes which I can now barely decipher, but fortunately I still have some impressions carved in my heart.
- Despite bandits, troubled times, and a season of not being able to meet for a while, one group acknowledged that their Big Ocean Women retreat had lived up to the theme of Lighting the Way to a Peaceful Harbor. Their leader described their year as “not smooth, but blessed.”
- The London cottage shared how they contributed money to send women in Nigeria to school to become self-sufficient with skills such as sewing and baking. They have plans to help them start a cottage there where “each one can teach one.”
- Tai spoke of difficulties with having space to meet, but concluded, “Start with what you have, and you can also make a difference. Start doing things from the ground up.”
- Another sister vowed that despite an intense year, they had made a resolution to get their cottage up again.
- Becky Rogers spoke of the “sacred work” of Families Mentoring Families in Africa as they had just welcomed 11 families as well as girls rescued from sex trafficking to their restoration centers for help and healing.
- The Houston Cottage partnered with other organizations to provide meals to the homeless and Christmas stockings to children of prisoners.
- In my corner of the world: 1) Women personally visited recent refugees and assessed their critical needs. This resulted in offering English classes and clothes to share with them. More importantly, they filled the need for welcome and friendship; 2) A local Big Ocean Women leader was caught in the typhoon during her mission to the Philippines to gather information for a new cottage there; 3) A leader passionately spoke of the challenges of isolation, encouraged us to pray to know how to help, and promised blessings as we give our time.
Ann described plans to develop DROP–a Digital Resource to Open Potential—which will offer women all over the world a wide electronic curriculum to help them realize and reach their worth and strengthen them financially, emotionally, and intellectually. This is a drop that can literally become an ocean. Our founder, Carolina Allen, concluded with a vision of how DROP—the world’s best library at your fingertips—can contribute to our goal to grow and create clusters of cottages with powerful means for leadership development.
This short article is certainly not a full and accurate report of this powerful gathering, but as I participated from my kitchen table, I was filled with such gratitude and for the creation of this global collection of sisters that inspires and enriches me. I see the power of generative (lasting) solutions that change us as women so we can change the world. I came away with a gift to last a lifetime and a determination to see what I can do in my own home, community, and as a member of our global sisterhood to contribute to an ocean of change, hope and goodness.