Category Archives: conference

Conference Recaps

This year the young people in our family have been able to take in a couple of encouraging conferences. So here are the highlights!

Midwest 26 Below

This was the first time we went to this conference which was in Iowa. We traveled down with a bunch of fellow Minnesotans, braving bad weather and icy roads, and I guess each of the three vehicles had their own creative ways of passing the time (i.e., making up songs about the possibility of ending up in the ditch, etc.).

The speaker for the conference was Micah Tuttle, a missionary to Peru. His message to us over the weekend was “Don’t waste your life.”Each of his messages looked at characters from the Bible who either wasted their life, or didn’t. Here’s a few thoughts from the notes I took.

Jonah–How much more would God have used him if he had yielded. What am I doing with the opportunities God gives me?

Daniel and his three friends–They were taken captive and even their names were changed to change their identity. Don’t let yourself get brainwashed—Babylon will suck you in…and it will destroy. We have to get serious about living holy lives and running from sin. Remember, “I live in Babylon, but I’m not from there.”

Esau, Adam and Eve, Lot, Achan, Samson, Judas–people who got what they wanted, but lost what they had. In their own ways they preferred to gratify the flesh rather than inherit the blessing of God. Sin will render you useless. Do I want God or what God can give me?Jacob–We serve a God of second chances. Sometimes God has to touch you where it hurts most in order for you to not waste your life. Sometimes He has to break you first. Sometimes He has to pry our hands, our heart, away from everything else so we grab onto Him. God touched Jacob’s hip…and gave him a new walk.

Peter–He took some small steps that set him up for failure. He had pride and self-confidence; he was sleeping when he should have been praying; he used the wrong sword for the wrong reason and got one little ear–at Pentecost he quoted Scripture and 3,000 souls were saved (6,000 ears!); he followed the Lord at a distance; he was sitting with the world, looking to be comfortable while Jesus was suffering. Who are you sitting with? Peter could have easily gone like Judas. But he was repentant and was restored.

most of our minnesota crew

A breakout session taught by someone else focused on having a missions focus even while living “here” (wherever that may be). Some notes from that…

If you want to go to the foreign mission field, until you get there God has you here. Where you are right now is your mission field. Different ways to be involved in missions right now include: pray for other people–think outside your own little world; email missionaries–they need encouragement…consider becoming a prayer partner; give and watch God give the increase–don’t worry about how much you give (over-giving); invest in internationals and the least of these in your community–the mission field really starts right where we are.

And a few more odds and ends from the weekend…

Risk is right in God. Don’t waste your life to be safe. — Prayer is wrestling. Where are the men and women who will wrestle with God? — “Stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” (Jonathan Edwards)

And this would not be complete without a picture of the major snowball fight that broke out which one of the Minnesotans may or may not have been responsible for.And an afterthought is—don’t waste your life Martha-style. Don’t be so busy serving that you lose sight of what is most important, your relationship with Jesus.

For our trip home we had good roads and sunny weather!

And a couple months later…

Vessels of Honor

…for which we are generally lacking pictures.

While 26 Below is focused more toward missions, Vessels of Honor has a different theme each year and has quite a variety of topics for both the main seminars and breakout sessions. This year so many of the sessions kept coming back to our personal relationship with Christ. It’s the most important thing!

Jesus is not halfway about us. He is deeply committed to a personal relationship with us. There is a link between walking with Him and seeing the demonstration of His power. We should ache to be loyal to Jesus.

And, as we were reminded, it’s so easy to replace intimacy with activity/ministry. But busyness (for the Lord) is not godliness. Godliness is walking with Him.

We were also challenged with the fact that often the church is like a mannequin…it looks good with no power. Intimacy comes before power. So start now, and get in the quiet place, seeking Him. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint—you have to continue doing things even when you don’t feel like it. Walking with God isn’t an accident.

There were so many good things that we heard over the weekend, what I shared here is just scratching the surface! We also had good conversations and enjoyed some fun games together.

We are so thankful for encouraging conferences like this, and the freedom to have them!

sharing a meal before hitting the road for home

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22

Canada 2017

Early January for us has come to mean packing up and heading north to Pickle Lake, Ontario. Many of you are familiar with our annual trip there to sing at the Winter Road Conference and then the community outreach. We always look forward so much to going there. And yes, this is where the plane crash happened last April.

But this year, we went to Winnipeg first. Since we used to live there we have lots of friends, and in a way it still feels like home when we visit.  We stayed with the Ungers, who live just down the street from our old house. How can I describe our time with them anything short of “a blast”? Games, fellowship, singing, laughter…it is so good to have the body of Christ wherever we go!

Danton and Daniel sang us a song

Sunday morning we were grateful to remember Jesus through breaking bread with our church family there. Sunday evening was testimony night at church, and we were invited to sing a few songs during the meeting.  One of our favorites went wonderfully along with the theme of the evening.  The message of the song is: No matter your background, whether it was rough or you were raised in a Christian home, as brothers and sisters in Christ we can all say, “You can’t imagine what the Lord has done for me!”

Yes, our church family in Winnipeg truly is family. We are always so blessed when we visit.

Then it was off into the Ontario wilderness…the long, beautiful road to Pickle Lake!Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday was the Winter Road conference which our friends the Rasmussens host at Friendship Baptist Church. Basically, this is a time to encourage the believers in the north through song and messages from God’s Word. Since we’ve been coming to Pickle Lake for so long we know quite a few people and it’s always nice to see everybody again.

Mom and Linda, two of the very hard-working cooks of the week

Friday through Sunday was the gospel outreach at the community center. This year especially there seemed to be a lot of spiritual opposition…several things happened that just reminded us we are in a battle. But God is still in charge and the meetings went really well.

many people came

Since this is the town where the plane crash happened, and in such a small community everybody knows about it, it was advertised that the family who had been in the plane crash was going to sing. Actually, it was really amazing…many of the main characters of the story were there—our family, Dan Hatfield (the pilot), the Brennemans whom Dad had been staying with in Round Lake during that time, Gary and Chris Quequish, the Rassmussens (Mrs. Rassmussen, the Brennemans and Dad had formed “The Maryland Trio and Cindy,”), and even one of the EMT’s who checked us out at the scene.

Dad and the Brennemans

One night of the outreach Mr. Hatfield shared the airplane story from his perspective, and one night our family shared from our perspective and showed pictures on a screen. We’ve told that story in so many places to so many people, but to share it in Pickle Lake where it happened, I think there was a different kind of connection between us and those who came out that night.

Dan Hatfield

Gary Quequish preached this year again. We never tire of hearing him share his testimony, the gospel, and whatever else God has put on his heart.

Gary Quequish

Also one night a young couple from Pickle Lake shared their testimonies. It was such an amazing story, one that really stirs you.  To hear of the life before Christ and now what a difference He has made… There is hope in Jesus!

to God be the glory!

We were able to see God working in people’s hearts during these meetings. Pray for those whom He touched and those who have yet to respond to Him.

we always enjoy hearing the Sweat family sing

“the Maryland Trio and Cindy” regrouped and sang for one of the meetings

Mr. Rassmussen, Dad, Mr. Sweat, Mr. Quequish

One afternoon at the community center we did a children’s program, featuring songs, games, a Bible memory verse, and a reenactment of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Thanks to the Rassmussens for all their help again this year!

Bible verse with actions

marching for “The Gospel Train” song

Sara narrated the Bible story when we didn’t have lines to say (and yes, the frog umbrella was the “golden image” in the story…)

“Look! Three people are not bowing!”

“O king, we will not bow.”

a rousing game of musical chairs to finish off the hour

In between all the different church and outreach meetings and activities, there was plenty to be done.

work

school…with a little bit of company?

food prep

and our annual game of Canadian bowling!

It was such a blessed week of ministry, fellowship, and great conversations with believers and non-believers alike.

On our way out of Pickle Lake we stopped by the EMS office to say goodbye and get our picture taken with “our EMT.”God is so good!

And we have yet more travel reports coming soon!

From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD’s name is to be praised. Psalm 113:3

New Mexico

Yes, another road trip. Lots of time together in our van. Lots of laughter and smiles and memories.

God opened up an opportunity to serve in New Mexico at the 40th anniversary conference/celebration for CHIEF, a Native American ministry that focuses on discipleship.  Dad was asked to help with recording, share about The Storyteller, and our family was invited to sing.

So, as is our custom with long road trips, we loaded that van to the ceiling (or almost), piled in, and drove the long three-day trek to New Mexico. We drove to our grandparents’ house in South Dakota for the first night, and the second night landed us in Colorado Springs. We were excited to be able to visit Focus on the Family, especially since we’ve enjoyed many Adventures in Odyssey as a family.IMG_9205IMG_9207

we also enjoyed meeting (a cardboard version of) Dave Stotts from Drive Through History while we were there

we also enjoyed meeting (a cardboard version of) Dave Stotts from Drive Through History while we were there

the scenery in Colorado Springs in amazing

the scenery in Colorado Springs in amazing

At the CHIEF conference it was encouraging to hear what God is doing in Native North America. It was a time of celebration for the last forty years, but at the same time looking to the future and being exhorted to press on.  We also made some good connections for the work we’re involved with.

each person here represents a different ministry in Native North America

each person here represents a different ministry in Native North America

Huron Claus, director of CHIEF

Huron Claus, director of CHIEF

we shared in song

we shared in song

Mr. Vern, one of the many speakers

Mr. Vern, one of the speakers, shared an especially powerful message about how we can’t lose when we have Jesus

the Hendersons led the worship for each session

the Hendersons led the worship for each session

the boys were eager sound-booth help

the boys were eager sound-booth help

Dad and Huron

Dad and Huron

After the conference, we headed to Albuquerque for an outreach concert put on by our friends at Garfield Gospel Chapel – a church that a few of us have visited the last couple of years. We had a great time meeting new people and getting to know our host family.

evening in the pool!

evening in the pool!

happy to be Lego-ing

having fun Lego-ing

Mrs. Lennox and Mom

Mrs. Lennox and Mom

On our way out of Albuquerque we stopped in Old Town for a family morning of touring shops and eating frozen yogurt.IMG_9357IMG_9384

yay yogurt!

yay yogurt!

IMG_9389

we liked the farewell

We saw so much beautiful creation on our trip…mountain ranges, clouds, rays of sunlight, rainbows, flowers, rivers…everything declaring the glory of God.

even the rainy weather was beautiful

even the rainy weather was beautiful

On our way home we stopped at our grandparents’ again, where the go-carts are always a hit.DSCN0322

Thank you for all your prayers on this trip. We know God works in ways that we may not even be aware of, and we’re thankful for His faithfulness.