Esther Pavao

This pitcher is overflowing with water, if that isn't evident by the picture, but it started out empty. The ladies who were in the service group set up a big jar of water, and each woman in the room came and put one cupful of water into the pitcher. It filled very slowly, and it took very many scoops to fill it, but by the time each woman had put her portion in, it was not only full, but overflowing. It was a beautful picture of how each woman has to do her part to make the whole.
Each lady had chosen quotes about service that they read that gave a picture that service isn't just work, it's choosing to give yourself, all of yourself, for others and for God.

They also gave us a broom with these words on it:
I will live to carry your compassion, to love a world that's broken, to be Your hands and feet. And I will give with the life that I've been given and go beyond religion to see the world be changed by the power of Your name.
These are the lyrics to a song, and they felt that they embodied their message to us. The broom was to represent the hidden work we do that no one sees, true service. They used sweeping as an example: the floor is swept three times a day, at every cleanup, and yet, because of our lifestyle, it always seems dirty. Sometimes, it doesn't seem worth it to sweep it one more time because no one notices when you do it, but when it isn't done, everyone can tell. It must be done. 

I don't have a picture of the broom. Sorry. It will be hanging on my wall whenever I move somewhere with more wall space. :)
Esther Pavao
Before I post all about the different groups of ladies, I think I should explain a few things.

The theme of our passage was based on Proverbs 31, among other things. They had divided up the verses, and picked one or two words that they felt defined those verses. Then all the ladies grouped up based on those verses and presented them through dramas, or songs, or pictures. It was truly beautiful.

Anyway, that's what I'm referring to when I say "The service group" or "the strength and dignity group".

Also, part of the theme was the Dawn and the Dusk. She was the dawn: the rising of the sun, the daytime, the bright, happy side. I was the Dusk: the evening star, the nighttime, the setting sun. (I don't think I can safely say the quiet, mysterious side, though the people who didn't know me so well seemed to think that was included.) The point being that each is not what it is without the other, and each gives way to the other to be complete. The day has to give way to the night, and nighttime disappears every morning. They are different, but similar, and each is strong in its own element.

Another aspect was the Conquerer and Defender. I was given a sword (a Joan of Arc replica) to represent the conquerer, attacker and fighter, and she was given a shield (which she was quick to point out, was "sparkly"). She is the defender, the protector. A lot was said about her connection with children. They love her, they follow her around, and she easily bonds with them. She was likened to a character in the Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis, who, when appears, is followed by laughing, dancing children, flowers bloom when she passes birds and butterflies surround her (which is why they did her entrance the way they did). I was likened to Joan of Arc, who led warriors into battle and ended up being burnt at the stake, fighting for her belief, her God, and her country. Both very different, and yet, they can't be who they are without the other. There would be no safe place for the children and people like Nichole without the fighters, and there would be nothing to fight for without them.

Anyway, I'll add the pictures to this when I get to the coffee shop tonight.
Esther Pavao
We interrupt this Passage program to bring you....Coffee House Prayer!

I had a prayer experience that I actually found kind of funny. Last Thursday, the bible study was canceled. This is what actually helps our business on Thursdays since we close early (due to almost all of our workers being in WindDance). Tipharah and I were opening, so on the way in, I was praying that we'd have good business to make up for not having the bible study. God answered by giving us more business than we'd had all for two weeks. It was truly amazing since based on weather, we shouldn't've had much at all.

So Friday night, when the weather reports said we'd have a tornado watch, I wasn't expecting much business at all, and thought, It worked last week, why not today? So I prayed, "God, please help us have good business tonight, in spite of the weather. At least help us break $250." I was thinking, that's not asking too much. In fact, that's pretty reasonable. Not 10 minutes after I had prayed this, Beth and Benayah came in with their kids. I checked the drawer after they left and we were at $260.49...and that's were it stayed for the rest of the day. If Benayah's family hadn't come in, we wouldn't have broken $250.  God gave us exactly what I prayed more, and no less. Maybe I'm the only one who finds this funny, but I could totally imagine God doing that on purpose, to strengthen my faith in prayer? Probably. That was the result, but I also can't help but laugh, thinking, So, You do have a sense of humor.
Esther Pavao
Anne and April, sisters at heart

"Sisterhood, as we all know, is about what we have in common," April began. She and Anne began listing everything they have in common: their husbands are considerably older than them (and both men have amazing taste in women, of course), their engagement rings are identical, their weddings are the same month. Their oldest children were born the same month, a year after they were born. The next children, 4 days apart. "And of course, it helps when you dress alike and your hair is alike!" Anne adds at the end. "And we like the same cold cereal, eaten dry." 
"What are you talking about?" Jenn asked. And they talked about the true meaning of sisterhood, that it's deeper than having things in common, or even being born into the same family. It's about being there for each other and being able to trust each other.

It's a two-sided relationship, where each gives, not just takes. They then each said what they contributed to the sisterhood of the village. Each woman then stood and joined the circle, holding hands each pledging to give what she had to the village. Some said honesty, comfort, faith or life: the word we all think of when we think of them. Love and trust and even magic. (Can you guess who that was?) Some people said the ministry they were part of, like midwifery or being a doula. All together, you could see how the sisterhood would not be complete without each part. Nichole and I had been asked to think about it before the passage so we were ready with our pledges. 

"I pledge gentleness," Nichole vowed, and I pledged strength. (I guess a little explanation is necessary here. A few years ago, Amma had been meeting with the Messenger girls, and she gave us a word that she felt was our strength and weakness. Mine was strength and Nichole's was gentleness. On our outing before our passage, the Messenger girls had given us a quote that they felt linked our words together and proved once again, that neither of us would be who we were without the other.
"Nothing is as strong as gentleness, and nothing is so gentle as true strength." 
This was repeatedly referred to throughout the day, so I guess we chose well.)   

This group also gave us a necklace: a double wired necklace, a glass cross, and several colored beads. Each color represented different traits and personalities, and they said to remember, each time we wear the necklace, to remember we are wearing the sisters around our neck, and also, the necklace isn't complete without all of them. 

I feel so blessed to be part of that sisterhood.
Esther Pavao
I started blogging about my passage and it transformed into something way longer than I expected. I guess I'll post it in segments. Also, some of it is personal, so reading this, you may not get the full story. If you're a lady, you know what happened. If you're a girl, you'll have to wait till your passage to know how it really is. If you're a guy (of any age), you'll just have to wonder I guess. :)

How do I begin to describe the amazing journey my sister and I undertook? Maybe I should begin at the beginning, but this story begins long before Saturday, April 17th at 9:30 AM. It begins months, and even years earlier as we both began to find our place in the body of Christ, how we struggled with our peers and cried over losses when friends were taken out. Several times, we nearly went down ourselves, but somehow, Saturday morning, I awoke ready to take on the next and biggest step so far: Womanhood. We were given lists of tasks to accomplish to help prepare us for this day, and so as I began getting ready to leave, I wasn't very nervous, which is weird because I usually get nervous about much lesser things than a passage. (At my graduation, I was miserable to be around, and when required to give speeches, I'm exceedingly...unpleasant.)  This morning however, the only side effects I felt were that I couldn't eat, and I didn't talk much, just watched all my friends and the ladies in my house rush around in a frenzy, hair half-done, speaking cryptically when they noticed that I was in the room.

At about 8:15, I was driven down to Joy's cabin. They had me close my eyes and led me in slowly by the hand. I was seated in a chair and then told, "Ok, open your eyes!" I was skeptical that the delicate, pink dress in front of me was mine. It was beautiful, but my eyes were drawn to the one in front of Nichole. There was so much detail on it; I couldn't believe that someone would put that much time into something for me. It took a little bit to convince them that my stunned silence was overwhelming gratefulness, not that I didn't like it. The next 15 minutes were spent getting my hair twisted up and into a braided wire headband that Rushi had made for me. I couldn't believe it was actually mine, it was so beautiful.

     I then changed into the dress and waited for Nichole's hair to be finished, which took a little longer than mine.  Waiting there was the first time I felt a twinge of nervousness. Do you really know what you're getting yourself into?, my mind asked. A little late for doubts, I replied and resolutely walked out the door. It was then I found out I had to enter on horseback. Apparently, I was supposed to have a practice horse ride days before, but it hadn't worked out with my schedule because they couldn't tell me about it. I stood for a moment, trying to figure out how to climb up into a saddle in a full-length dress, and then made a rather undignified scramble up onto the horse. After we arranged my skirts and the other girls climbed up, we waited, hearing snatches of the speeches being made on the stage. I have to admit, that was the most nervous I was the entire day. I heard my name every once in a while, and people laughing, which was the worst thing since you couldn't hear what they were laughing at, I heard, ..."she struggled with that for a while, but..." What did I struggle with? The horse kept trying to sniff my foot, and I kept trying to kick it away without letting Samantha see when I heard the music start. At the last moment, Esther decided she couldn't ride a horse and carry the flag and threw it down.

     As soon as the horse started walking, I was totally fine. I straightened my back and held my head high, and for the strangest moment, I felt like Joan of Arc, riding home after a huge victory. I had worked long and hard to get to this place and time, and I rode in with my head held high. I looked over and saw Nichole being led in on a white horse with ribbons braided into his mane, surrounded by little girls dancing and carrying flowers. Even though I didn't know this was on purpose, the first thought that went through my head was, She looks like a queen. I was dreading trying to climb off the horse and keep my skirt down, but somehow I must have managed it. Nichole slid down gracefully (of course), and the little girls ran to give her the flowers. Those sweet girls noticed that my hands were empty (I was supposed to be carrying the standard) and they remedied that by handing me half of Nichole's flowers.

*note to anyone wondering why we looked like we were at a funeral, these little bugs kept flying into our eyes, and there was nothing we could do except kind of squint and hope they went away. I had someone ask what was wrong.

     The Messenger girls danced then, and then pulled us into the dance and then they whispered, "Walk over to the ladies now." I had been warned they'd ask us rite of passage questions, and I started to worry they'd do that now, but as we walked towards them, they began to sing the Bride song and formed an aisle leading to the door of the Town Hall. I walked through, feeling my nervousness drain away, glad I had managed to make it through without tripping once...thought too soon, I stumbled on the hem of my dress and nearly fell. Couldn't I have got any of the gracefulness in my family? Sigh... I couldn't help but pause on the porch and look back at my family in the field. I didn't feel an overwhelming feeling of leaving my childhood behind, or any momentous, recordable thoughts besides, "It's going to be an AWESOME day." Then pushed open the door and stepped inside.

                                   Waiting to see the dresses

We both instantly know there was a swap. Check out Nichole's adorable expression! 

Nathanael, talking about Nichole.                  

Abba, talking about me.

My grand entrance 

                      My beautiful sister

Little kids are so sweet! 

                                   Believe it or not, these flowers are not for a funeral. :)

  The Messenger girls!

Walking to the ladies. We look so different...

 Me                                                   Nichole

Singing the Bride song and walking up the aisle. :)
Esther Pavao
My passage is in 8 days. A lot of people keep asking me if I'm nervous, and honestly, for the first time in my life before a big event...I'm not. And I think I know why. I have been forced to get out of my box and really spend time with different ladies in the village that really intimidate me. There were eight ladies my mom chose for me to talk to, and I had to meet with them three times each before my passage: a total of 24 talks, each between 30 minutes to an hour. An astounding feat, even if they weren't the 8 busiest ladies she could find. :)  They set really high standards that you can't help but try to meet when you're around them. I can't help but try my best to be like them when I see the kind of impact they have on the people around them. Spending time with them has helped me to get closer to them and not feel so intimidated by them. If I hadn't had to do that, I would be terrified. As it is, I feel really excited and honored to spend a day with women I totally admire and love and I'm not scared of it at all.

Those are my thoughts for today. I'm so grateful and overwhelmed by everything that's being put into it. Especially to my mom for working nonstop for days and Amma for sewing my dress. Haven't seen it yet, but everyone tells me that it's a masterpiece...Those are really the only two I see because I live with them, but I know there're others.
Esther Pavao
I'm feeling totally overwhelmed by my sweet friends. The Messenger girls planned an outing for Nichole and me before our passage, and even though it was a learning experience for all of us (what isn't?) we had a wonderful time together. They gave us letters last night that weren't finished before our outing. I'm speechless. They are so awesome!

I have to admit that I thought that this passage would create a distance between us, but if anything, it's brought us closer together. I love my friends!