Wednesday, January 28, 2009

APCE 2009

The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators has an annual conference that is usually one of the highlights of my continuing education experiences - for many reasons. My favorite part is that it is always in a different city so we get to see new places. However, this year it was in San Antonio, TX so I went a few days early to spend time playing with my sister and brother-in-law.
We stayed in a beautiful condo/hotel with three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, washer & dryer and balcony that looked out over the River Walk. The weather was glorious so we spent a lot of time sitting on the balcony drinking coffee and visiting. Jo & Scott even came over to play and enjoy the incredible view of San Antonio!

At the opening dinner with our region, I had the pleasure of dining with a young lady who was my camper when she was in the 3rd grade. She didn't remember it nearly as well as I did considering this was the group of girls who decided to dress up in funny clothes so they all borrowed mine! That's a little hard to forget. :)
I got to experience Sushi for the very first time! Ron found a gift certificate on so I decided to give it a try - break out of the mold, be brave... I liked it!! Of course, you could probably put ginger and wasabi on just about anything and I would like it. I felt very mature for trying something I said I would never eat - and I would definitely do it again.
My favorite workshop was led by two of my favorite people - Bill & Holly. We met about 10 years ago when my friend, Keith, invited me to assist him with the youth bible studies at the Montreat Worship & Music Conference. We all ended up working together and it was a bonding experience! If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.
Since we had such a fabulous pad, we invited friends over on Friday evening for a little get-together. Sitting there in a room full of amazing Christian Educators - including the CE of the year and the Vice Moderator of the PC(USA), I couldn't help but think about Hebrews 12:1 - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." The inspiration and encouragement that I get from APCE doesn't always (or even usually) come from the speakers.

We had a fun PSCE gathering at a restaurant on the river walk but they way overestimated the amount of food needed so instead of throwing it away, they let us package it up and take it to the homeless folks around San Antonio. I was a little nervous but my friend, Sarah, was an inspiration. She had us drive to a nearby city park and we walked around giving out food until everything we had was gone. It was amazing! Sarah even came upon a pair who were praying together and when they opened their eyes, she was standing there with food. I don't know if it's what they prayed for but it might have been the answer.

My friend, Eric, came over to play with us one evening. Eric and I have a most unusual friendship. He was the youth director that followed me at Burke Presbyterian and somehow we became friends. When he left BPC and moved to San Antonio, we were able to get together when I would be down there visiting my sister. He's a blast to be around!

I had a special visit on my way home. My friend, Laura, lives about 45 minutes from Denton so she drove over and met me for lunch just off the interstate. I haven't seen Laura since we were at FCA Camp together in Colorado when we were in high school. It's continues to amaze me that you can spend a week with someone who will become a friend for life.

Friday, January 16, 2009

30 Hour Famine

I spent the weekend with some of the most incredible young people that I have ever had the pleasure of working with. We participated in World Vision's 30 hour famine starting at 7am on Friday morning. The youth made t-shirts the week before at youth group to wear to school on Friday to help explain why they weren't eating. After school we met at the church to spend the rest of our fasting time together. Our first activity was a service project at Hillcrest Ministries. Half the group went to the Hillcrest buildings and did some painting while the other half went to the Hillcrest Thriftstore to volunteer.

We spent the evening doing activities related to world hunger including creating a visual demonstration for the congregation of how many children die each day from malnutrition. They put 2800 handprints on long sheets of paper to hang around the sanctuary. Each finger represents a child - 14,000 in all!

We spent the night at Mercury Gymnastics where we played on the trampolines and the foam pit and then rope swings. Everyone was ready to crash about 1:30 so we called it a night. Morning came early at 7:30am and we headed back to the church to finish our project and find out the final total of moneys raised. Jennifer and I had challenged the youth that if they raised $1000, they could pick out an outfit for us to wear from the thriftstore and if they raised $2500, they could dye our hair the color of their choice. I really never thought they would pull it off since they really had so little time following Christmas but I will never underestimate the youth again!!

They raised $2573.50!! For me they chose Huckleberry Blue and Party Time Pink and for Jennifer they chose turquoise and red. I had a fabulous team of hair artists - Amanda, Jen & Ashlei - who assured me that they knew what they were doing. They had even created a diagram of which hairs would be which color. I was starting to get nervous!

However, it was unnecessary. They did an excellent job! They seperated my hair straight across the middle and did the lower half in the blue and the upper half in the pink. Thanks to the fact that I have highlighted my hair for almost as many years as I have been alive, the color took well to my hair. Unfortunately, Jennifer did not have the same luck. Her hair is darker and she has never lightened it so all you can see is a hint of red in some places. Darn the luck!

Sunday morning Jennifer and I arrived completely donned in the lovely outfits that the youth picked out at the thrift store. I had a lovely pink dress with a leopard print skirt underneath, pink slippers, a colorful jacket, frilly gloves, a tropical purse, a hat and a belt around the hat. Jennifer had a bright-colored skirt, a lovely green top, a matching hat with wide brim, pink heels and a beautiful yellow robe. Where did our youth get their fashion sense!
We got a lot of comments on our beautiful outfits but I was so proud of our youth group that I didn't even care! They did a fantastic job and really worked together to accomplish something that they never would have been able to do alone.

I was also so proud of them that I didn't even mind having pink and blue hair! It may be with me for a very long time but I don't care! We had a fabulous weekend fasting together and we raised enough money to feed and care for seven children for a year. Thinking about that makes the color of my hair seem pretty unimportant.