Note: Below is a devotional written by Deb Byler, who serves with Mennonite Mission Network in Carchá, Guatemala, among the Kekchi women. Mission Network is posting her piece to reflect on the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated Oct. 15. Her devotional comes from Devocionales 2021, a book of devotionals produced by the Movimiento de Mujeres Anabautistas Haciendo Teología desde América Latina (MTAL, Movement of Anabaptist Women doing Theology from Latin America). The daily devotionals can also be found on the Libro Devocional MTAL Facebook page.
"Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." — Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV)
Kekchi women live in the rural area of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. They have a lot of responsibilities: taking care of their children, doing laundry, cooking and many other household tasks. Yet many of the women in the Mennonite church in Alta Verapaz also give a lot of their time to serving God outside their homes. Like Martha and Mary, they must choose how they can best serve God when there is so much work.
Julia Xol is one example of a Kekchi woman who had to balance her responsibilities and service. Many years ago, she and another woman were appointed to visit other congregations and encourage the women there. Julia had six children when she started traveling. The oldest daughter was 15 years old and the youngest child was a four-year-old boy. She left her youngest son with her older daughters when she traveled to these churches.
The sisters of the Kekchi Mennonite churches worship together every week. They visit people who are sick, check in on pregnant women and those who have just given birth, encourage brothers and sisters in the church and their neighbors in the community. Through these visits some have decided to follow Christ and become part of the church.
We all have many responsibilities, and we can choose how we are going to serve God. Let us serve God like Mary, who sat beside Jesus, soaking up his every word. Let us also care for others, like Martha, yet without forgetting our holistic self-care. May we all serve God with all our hearts!
Let us pray that in the midst of the many responsibilities that women have daily, we find space to sit at the feet of Jesus.