This years conference was attended by 92 family units. There were 162 adults and 89 missionary kids. In additional to the missionaries who attend there are also servant teams who come down from the States to lead us and serve us. This year there were 55 volunteers who came. Among them was our guest speaker Pastor John Durham from Highland Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. He did an outstanding job teaching us from the 23rd Psalm. We have four worship sessions spread out over the weekend. Our music was led by a praise team from Christian Fellowship Church in New Holland, Pennsylvania. We also had a very talented family from New Hartford, Iowa share their musical talents with us several times over the weekend. They are called The Johnson Strings and they are incredibly gifted!
The Johnson Strings
the praise team
There is another group from Christian Fellowship Church in New Holland, Pennsylvania that comes each year just to serve us. They offer free services to the missionaries which include eye exams, hair cuts, body massages, foot reflexology, and pedicures. We can each choose one option. This year I chose a pedicure.
While the adults are enjoying worship and break out sessions the children and youth are busy in their own classes doing VBS style activities. A team from Scottsdale Bible Church in Scottsdale, AZ comes each year to work with the infants and toddlers. The children and youth are lead by a team from First Baptist Church in Irving, TX. The single adults have a team from Green Acres Baptist Church in Texas to come down and fellowship with them. There are also two great counselors from Green Acres who come each year to offer counseling to individuals and couples who may be struggling and need someone to talk with.
Three break-out sessions/ workshops are offered on Saturday. Most all of them are led by the missionary community. There are a wide variety of topics that are covered. This year I enjoyed a session on nutrition and a mom's panel for missionary moms.
Overall it's just a fun, relaxing time away and a weekend that our family looks forward to all year long. Here are some photos I took of our travel and time there.
It is a seven hour drive to get there from our house so on the way there we broke it up with an overnight stay at our mission house in Guatemala City. We were able to get a little shopping done, pick up Ben's passport from the US Embassy, and enjoy a few good meals.
supper at San Martin in Guatemala City
A tradition we have done for many years is stop for a meal at Kape Paulinos on the way to Panajachel. It is about half way there and is a good place to stop, stretch your legs, and enjoy some good food.
enjoying a late breakfast/early lunch at Kape Paulinos
Another stop we always make is at the mirador/ lookout. We stop to take family pictures and usually let the boys pick out a homemade toy from the market.
me and my boys
I love my family!
The conference takes place at a beautiful hotel that overlooks Lake Atitlan. It is such a peaceful place to be. The missionaries get to attend the conference at a discounted rate because the servant team raises money throughout the year to help with the costs. One of the things they do is bake and sell cookies. It was announced that they baked 600 dozen cookies to sell. That is sweet in more ways than one!!!
After arriving and checking in we headed straight to the bookstore/ book swap area to drop off books and browse for new ones. This is one of my favorite parts of the conference. As we were walking up Cruz says "I hope I find a Box Car Children book". Well, guess what the first book he saw was? yes, a Box Car Children book! He was so excited. It was the only one we found so I was glad we got it when we did.
a new book for Cruz
The view from our room on Sunday morning. Isn't it gorgeous! It is always hard to leave after being there a few days. Those views would never get old.The boys on Sunday morning. I have taken this same picture of them for several years in a row now. It is fun to look back at how much they have grown. The conference always falls on or near my birthday so the boys relate my birthday to going there. Before we even left they were already asking me "mama, how many more days until your birthday so we can come back here again". They really love it. We all do!
The conference ends after worship and lunch on Sunday. We packed up and said "see you later" to many before making the LONG seven hour drive back home to Chiquimula. It was late when we arrived and we were all exhausted. But, in spite of that, our hearts were full of gratitude for all that we had experienced over the past few days. Intermissions is fun and if you serve as a missionary in Guatemala and are not attending you really should consider going next year. The dates are February 23-25, 2018. Come join us! You will be glad you did.