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2 It was an International Experience

How do you transform a gymnasium into an International Market Place?

Is it even possible? Why would you want to? They say, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ so I will show you with a few photos, “how” we did just that. And the “why”? It was our church’s (Pine Castle United Methodist Church) annual mission’s weekend called GIC or Global Impact Celebration. Kelly and I co-chaired the event with our Missions Pastor and many, many other volunteers.

Friday night was to be a world affair banquette with the movie “Peace Child,” and Sunday would feature our guest speaker, missionary and author – Don Richardson, followed by an Expo display of the missionaries and outreach ministries which our church supports.

First the expo draping went up to help disguise and soften the gymnasium walls. Tables were skirted in preparation for the Sunday Expo and stored to be used on Sunday. (Thanks Jeff for providing these for us!)

Backdrops from the Children’s department added color and definition to our ‘international’ theme. (Lee holds the ladder for Stephaney.)

Round tables were decorated (by a small army) for the banquet (thanks to Eleanor and her team). We were going for a South American ‘fiesta’ look with bright colors that popped, and colorful helium balloons to fill the dead space above the tables.

The perimeter of the gym would feature the International Market Place, displaying cultural artifacts and trinkets from around the world. Here Connie and Jeanette discuss how the Africa market will look.

An African ‘Safari’ look was the finished product (thanks Jeanette).

From Africa we transition into South America. Bright, happy and fun colors draws one into this village scene that could easily be Mexico or even Guatemala.

South America came alive thanks to Kim, Sondra & their team.

Next, we move into our Asian market (above and below photos).

This area included , China, Thailand, Myanmar and the country near and dear to my heart, Indonesia (two photos above), and the Marshal Islands & Japan (as seen below)

The Island Nations (above)

Stephaney and I are smiling because the work is done and we still have a half hour to change our clothes before the banquet starts.

Now, just add ‘people’, and let the festivities  begin.

Volunteers like Marilyn and Liz served close to 200 people.

Our school chef, Patrick (in the black hat), outdid himself with an international meal that was amazing…from the pita bread & hummus to the couscous and adobo chicken with rice and more.

With the tables cleared, it’s now time to “let the program begin”. Kelly was the MC and the program began with a dramatic video of “Peace Child.”

It’s Don Richardson’s story of a primitive tribe of cannibals in Irian Jaya (Papua, Indonesia). The Sawi people honored & practiced treachery and betrayal and thus in the Gospel story (to Don’s dismay), chose Judas over Jesus as a hero. But hidden within their cultural, Don found a practice that would point them back to Jesus. It was the tradition of a ‘Peace Child.” When the chief’s only infant son was exchanged with the warring tribe for peace, Don was able to point them to Jesus, the perfect Peace Child. (Link to YouTube clip of Peace Child)

On Sunday, the round tables are replaced with the expo tables holding the displays put up by our missionaries. The missionaries line up in front of their tables waiting for the church members to enter.

Church members use their passports (found in their bulletin) to enter the expo and participate in the prize drawing later. They fill the aisles as they talk to the 40 some ministries attending and supported by PCUMC.

Some of our missionaries were unable to attend so church members volunteered to “represent” that person and share their ministry with others. Here, Jo shares with this couple about Suzanne’s work in Africa.

Our Guest Speaker, Don Richardson and his wife Carol join us at the Expo with their book table. (Books by Don Richardson: Eternity in Their Hearts, Peace Child, Lords of the Earth, Secrets of the Koran, Acting Without Agony and Unhidden)

And finally, a photo of Kelly standing in front of our Expo table, sharing about our ministry with fellow church member, Armand. (Kelly is wearing his Indonesian batik shirt and a black felt cap, or peci, as the Indonesians call it.)

Mission Accomplished

One of our goals was to create an atmosphere that would help make missions more touchable for the people.  The encouraging part was the great turn out of volunteers helping bring it all together.  It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it. It was a fun time for all.

1 Books, books and more books:

At 7:00 pm we closed the book table, did an inventory and by 9:00 pm had all the remaining books packed up and ready to ship back home. When we closed out the cash register, the sales for the day showed we had been successful in moving a lot of inventory into peoples hands. We were all quite pleased with the results, considering the current state of our economy.

Kelly and I were attending the Mission ConneXion Northwest, sponsored by the northwest area churches and held this year in Vancouver, WA. It’s a two day event challenging the Church to fulfill the Great Commission. We were there assisting Ken, our ACMC team member, with his book sales for the conference.

Kelly and the team set up the book tables for the conference
Kelly and the team set up the book tables for the conference

This event, with its 125 workshops, four leading keynote speakers, and inspirational worship sessions had something for everyone. The attendance count hasn’t been posted yet, but we are estimating around 6 to 7 thousand may have attended. (While it’s not as many as the 15,000 that has attended in previous years, it was a good attendance for the times.)

One view of the crowd mingling in the foyer.
One view of the crowd mingling in the foyer.

About 80 missions agencies set up exhibits providing information about work being done in countries around the world.

Here is our Pioneers booth exhibit, right next to Wycliffe.
Here is our Pioneers booth exhibit, right next to Wycliffe.

In between workshops and general sessions, the book table was a favorite gathering place where a wide variety of books about missions could be found.

004 Book Table Crowd2 028

We had 6 long tables stacked with books, videos, and other resources all pertaining to missions.

There was something for people of all ages at the conference and at the book table.
There was something for people of all ages at the conference and at the book table.
This young lady couldn't resist taking a closer look at the book she chose.
This young lady couldn’t resist taking a closer look at the book she chose.
These two college girls found this corner the perfect spot to browse through their books.
These two college girls found this corner the perfect spot to browse through their books.
Connie explains the plot found on this DVD of "The Enemy God".
A customer asks Connie to explain the plot to this DVD movie, “The Enemy God” that was made by our Denver film team.
Kelly rings up another sale.
Kelly rings up another sale.

We love getting mission materials into peoples hands and to the churches. It was a great weekend for us in, even if it was rainy and cold. We even got to have lunch with a couple we hadn’t seen since 1986, back when we were living in Portland. Friends and missions, what a combination.

Reflections:

With the start of a new year, many of us are reflecting on the past year as we look to ‘what’s next’. I’m thinking back over three main events from the last 3 months of 2009.

The first event happened in October when we broke our record for ‘the number of new missionary going through our training program in one year’.  Our 5th and last orientation program for the year had 29 new candidates bringing the years total to 158.

OCT COP 2009

The second event was hosting this group of pastors and church leaders (shown below) for our November Church Partner Forum.

Even though it takes a lot of hard work to put it all together, it’s one of my most favorite events. The positive response and feed back from the participants makes it all worth while.

Church Partner Forum November 2009

Church Partner Forum November 2009

The third event, that just ended on New Year’s Eve, was Urbana 2009. What? You’ve never heard of Urbana?

Urbana logo

Upwards to 20,000 young people (ages 17-30) attend this student missions conference sponsored every 3 years by InterVaristy Christian Fellowship. It started in 1946, and from 1948 to 2003 was held at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana… thus the name “Urbana”. Since 2006 it has been held at the St. Louis Conference Center in Missouri.

It’s amazing to see this many young people give up 5 days of their Christmas break for the opportunity to see, hear and respond to God’s global mission.

Kelly and I had the privilege to attend back in 1991, and were amazed by the zeal and commitment of these young people whose hearts are turned toward God and missions.

PI Urbana 2009

Pioneers sent a team from our office to represent our agency. The photo above was taken by one of our co-worker showing our world globe and Pioneers’ sign hanging over the heads of the participants.

Yes, 2009 has been a great year and we have great expectations for 2010. Our prayer for you is that 2010 will be a blessed year for you and your family. Happy New Year!

Our Largest Group Of New Missionary Candidates In 9 Years

God’s call to fulfill His promise to see a people from every tribe, nation and tongue brought into his Kingdom has not gone unheeded (Rev. 7:9). Forty-five new missionary candidates attended our January Candidate Orientation Program this past week (Jan. 4-9). It happens five times a year so this is just the beginning. What a great way to start the new year of 2009!

cop-jan-08-group-photo-3

I never tire of seeing these “called out ones” of all ages, from all over the country, stream into our training center. Each one has their own story of how God has touched their lives and brought them to this point. We feel privileged to hear these stories first hand and be a part of seeing their dream start to come to fruition.

Take for example, Nazir (not his real name), a 67 year old US citizen from Pakistan. He came to the US over 30 years ago with his family as a teacher. Now this guy has a story! He proves it is never too late to answer God’s call.

1 NEW MISSIONARY CANDIDATES ANSWER THE CALL

A week ago we wrapped up our 2nd (for the year), Candidate Orientation Program with 27 new individuals going through training and receiving an appointment to serve overseas.

These are the statistics from those 27 people 6 couples and 15 singles (3 were male & 12 females) from 14 states

Their anticipated destination of service: 2 to S. America/ 2 to Africa/ 5 to Middle East/ 2 to Europe/ 4 to Asian countries/ 1 to China /and 5 who are undecided.

WINTER WONDERLAND FOR A DAY- IN DENVER connie in denver snow full scene

Then last week we went to our Denver office. We arrived on Tuesday and it got up to 80 degrees. On Wednesday a cold front went through and by noon, huge snow flakes were coming down in sheets. It was beautiful, like a winter wonderland. We got 5 inches of snow.

The snow caked on the trees and grass but never stuck to the streets or sidewalks, making it the perfect snow fall (not requiring any snow removal). We woke up Thursday morning with the sun glistening off the clean white snow. By noon it had all melted away and we were walking around in short sleeves. Now that’s the way a snow fall should be. Twenty-four hours of blissful white snow, and then, GONE! SWEET!!!

Connie close up denver snow

connie in denver snow full scene