We got home Sunday evening at about 10:30pm having finished the last of the missions conference at Aldan Union Church in Philadelphia. It was quite the interesting week!
The conference actually began on the 8th, but we were not able to attend since I was helping do a teacher training seminary in New Jersey at a Chinese church.
We were expecting 23 students and ended the morning with 31. Even though we did the sessions in English, many of the group assignments were done in Chinese, which I found just fascinating. We were given a tour of their church and found out more information about the church and the surrounding area. There is a large Asian immigrant population in that section of New Jersey. This particular church runs an English service, a Mandarin service, and a Cantonese service – and they are full to capacity. Their building is very large and basically nothing but classrooms. They have maxed out their facility and need more room for more classes. Their children’s class runs at least 60 kids, all second generation Asians, on a regular basis with 180 that come to VBS in the summer – again, all second-generation Asians. So neat! I was given some cultural queus and information about this particular group of immigrants and I was so thankful for what they shared with me. They were excited about the training and look forward to having us come again.
All in all, it was a great day. Stan and I seemed to work well together and it was nice seeing how someone with more experience conducts these classes. Definitely worth my time to join him for the morning!
So then, Monday evening, we went down to Aldan for just the night. We were involved in a “Missionary Round Table” at the church. There were 11 “round tables” that each had a number and people could just sit at whatever table they so chose. Missionaries were all given a small sheet with a few questions we were to answer and then the number of a starting table. We had eight minutes to answer the questions, talk about ourselves, and answer questions from the people at the table. Then, a little bell would ring and we’d all shift and start over! The hour and a half FLEW by. We actually really enjoyed it. We got to meet such a variety of people and talk about a number of different aspects in our different ministries.
We spent the night with our host family (whom we hosted in Peru in ’09). Tuesday we helped Lucho do some errands before coming back up here to Scranton in the afternoon. Brian had some work he absolutely needed to accomplish Wednesday and Thursday, so we just weren’t able to stay at the conference the entire week.
Friday morning, we headed back down to Aldan. Friday evening, we attended an International Dinner. Food from around the world was set out potluck-style. Our host family and Lucho had made Peruvian empanadas and I had brought down Peruvian alfajores (cookies) to share. It was quite the feast! Lucho and I talked for a few minutes after the meal, just about cultural thing we enjoy in Peru and some of the food we like in Peru (Brian was currently occupied with the kids so he didn’t get interviewed… I’m pretty sure he did that on purpose!).
Saturday morning, Brian and Lucho went to a men’s breakfast with about 70 men in attendance. Brian had a chance to share a little about us before introducing Lucho and translating for him as he spoke for about 20 minutes. Over lunch, we were able to see one of the girls who came to Peru in ’09 with the church, so that was nice as well.
Sunday was our complicated, busy day. The church has two services and Lucho had been invited to speak in both services. I translated both times. There was some confusion during the first service as Lucho had been asked to speak to the children about Pennies for Peru, but was given a number of different times as to when he would do so. In the end, we hung out in the youth room with the youth pastor and his wife, who also came to Peru in ’09 (and are returning this summer with a new team).
During the Sunday School hour, I translated for Lucho as he talked with the children about Pennies for Peru, then again to the combined middle and high school class as he presented his ministry and gave a short challenge:
After Sunday School, Brian picked the kids up and took them back to our host family’s home and then Lucho and I went to the second service where he shared his testimony again and I translated.
That afternoon, the team going to Peru had a meeting and asked Lucho to attend. Someone else was able to translate for him, but they asked us to come for dinner, so we came part way through their meeting. After dinner, we were asked to share some things with the group and we were also able to talk one-on-one with some of the kids going down and encourage them as they prepare for this trip.
After dropping Lucho off in Stroudsburg and saying our “final” goodbyes, we made it home. I have to say, we enjoy doing this, but doing it with two small children is WAY different than it used to be! They did really well, though, and we’re so grateful that they are pretty good at adjusting quickly and staying with new people.
Next on the agenda is the Recognition & Training Day I will be holding for our children’s ministry at our church on April 26. The planning is going very well and we’ve had some good community interest, so now to just pull all the loose ends together and make it happen!
Brian always seems to find things to do here at MRF. He installed a new tub and shower in one of the homes two weeks ago. He pulled the plastic off the new tub after everything was set in place… and found a scratch from the factory. So, unfortunately, he will be ripping that out and replacing it in the near future. He’s also getting the snow blower set so it can be stored and ready for next winter (in faith that we won’t need it again this winter!!). This is among, of course, other odds and ends that he’s always working on as well, including the three websites he manages.
I leave you with a picture of our extroverted children. I had asked E to keep Baby J company while I was out of the room. He was in his crib… and this is how I found them when I returned: