We are just about done recovering from our first experience speaking as missionaries at a conference. Phew.
The trip didn’t start out too well. On the way to LA to drop off the kids (with my parents, where they spent the first 3 days, then they stayed with a church friend for the rest of the week), our carry-on backpack was stolen out of our van at the local Costco. In it was Nathan’s school laptop with all of his school, thesis, and conference material on it. What a blow. Also in it were: my DSLR Pentax camera, my shoes, my wedding-gift earrings, and some important cards. What was NOT in it however: our passports! Which I had packed into our check-in suitcase, for some strange reason….praise God! So we were able to go on our trip after all, just shaken and stirred.
The missions conference was the 60th annual Waldheim Missions Conference. Waldheim is the very small town (<1000 people), historically Mennonite (and still the only “dry” town left in Canada I think!) in the middle of Saskatchewan, Canada, where Nathan’s parents live and where we lived before moving to CA for school. Yet all the area churches have been banding together for 60 years to hold a missions conference! I believe it originally started as a kind of revival, and continued to provide support to non-denominational missionaries who have some kind of link to the area. This year, we were priviledged to be among the 8 missionaries chosen to present (for 8 minutes one night, Sunday). Others were there as well, letting people know what kinds of groups are out there and available for support and involvement.
60 years…I still find it rather mind-boggling. But as the average age of the attenders (not counting kids) was probably 60, and many of the volunteer leadership positions were being retired out of for next year, it was obvious that the conference was being supported mainly by the elder members. During the conference the leadership presented for a vote (to all attenders on Tuesday night) the choice to have it be the last year of holding a community-wide missions week, or to have it continue – provided sufficient people came forward to be on the leadership committee. Overwhelmingly the vote went to continue, and the leadership went from 2 to 9! Not just that but the offering for the four nights (budgeted to ~C$33,000 – interestingly the same as the offering amount at the very 1st conference, sixty years ago!) was matched…and doubled to $60,000+! So a conference that wasn’t certain to continue on the first night now has the nice problem of how to give away $30,000. =D As presenters, we will be given $3,000 towards our vision trip/field survey to Cameroon in January, which will probably cost about $5,000.
And how did it go for us? Well, people were either very nice or the presentation we pulled together hastily on Saturday wasn’t bad. We had the opportunity to talk with several people who came to our table. What I find the most interesting is that we had printed out a map of Africa, with Cameroon in detail, to show people where Cameroon is. That map ended up being used very differently. Most of the people who came to see us wanted to use it to show us where they had been in Cameroon! Apparently the Waldheim area is rich in retired African missionaries! 😀 We were very encouraged by the people we were able to talk to at the conference and during the week, and it was very, very nice to spend a lot of time with Nathan’s parents. Nathan’s mother made sure we got our fill of GOOD Mennonite sausage, perogies, salads, desserts….sigh. I gained 2 pounds in 5 days. I don’t think it’s the baby. 😛 And Nathan’s not stepping on the scale! 😉
One last note. We are now able to receive funds towards our vision trip (which I will post more about later) through our missions agency, World Team. All donations are tax-deductible. If you would like to support us, here is the World Team link on how you can do it. =D Use Nathan and Katherine Born as the missionaries’ name.