Vanessa Alarcón – Colorado Springs, Colorado … Around 150 women from across the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) gathered in Colorado Springs for the annual Hispanic Women’s Retreat, October 6-8. The theme “From Heart to Heart” was from Andrews University’s International Center for Trauma Education and Care. Ingrid Slikkers, executive director for the center, was the keynote speaker along with two masters-level interns, Yailin Bruzon and Leslie Rodriguez.

Patty Rivera, RMC Hispanic Women’s Ministries director, first met Slikkers at the 2023 North American Division (NAD) Ministries Convention during a presentation the trauma education center gave for Children’s Ministries leaders. Rivera reflected, “I was profoundly impacted by their seminar and the way they integrated neuroscience, education, and ministry. I knew I had to try to have them as our presenters.”

Slikkers shared that story at the opening of the weekend: “When Patty and I spoke about this invitation, I told her I would do everything I could to come here because informing the Latino community about trauma is close to my heart.” Slikkers and the presenting team adapted their existing series of trauma presentations to be culturally informed, an element that the trauma education center focuses on. “We wanted to make sure we shared our personal stories,” continued Slikkers.

The weekend was structured around providing psychoeducation within a faith context. Teenagers that attended the conference had their own breakout sessions with Leslie Rodriguez, who presented the material tailored to their generation. Women shared throughout the weekend their gratitude for having such a relevant topic as the theme.

“We all know that, by living on this earth, we are likely to experience some sort of trauma,” reflected Martha Rocha, an attendee. “I’ve realized over this weekend that it’s time for me to process my own trauma with a professional. I’m walking away with homework to find that person.”

Mia Lopez, a Hispanic youth from the Montrose Maranatha Hispanic Church, shared her takeaway from the weekend: “Everyone’s trauma matters. Some may think there’s is smaller or bigger than someone else’s trauma. I learned that there’s different types of trauma and that everyone has to deal with it differently.”

After the series of presentations and activities, the women ended their night with a western-themed social event. Ruben Rivera, RMC Hispanic Ministries Director, commented on the importance of the spiritual, social, and cultural aspects of Hispanic Women’s Ministries. “Every year, the women anxiously await their retreat. It’s a time they can refresh, connect with other women in their native language, and connect with God,” he commented.

—Vanessa Alarcón is elder and church clerk at Boulder Adventist Church. Photos supplied.