29 March, 2014

Refreshment and Unity

We were at an OMF Japan Conference most of the week. We had a guest speaker and his wife, missionaries in Japan with another mission. I was sitting with Anne, the speaker's wife at one meal. She asked something that got me thinking: 
My name tag for the week, with our theme verse.

"How do you do it? The mission conferences I've been on with our mission have mostly been full of business meetings."

As I've thought about it I realise that OMF is full of specialists. It is also not a democracy. We're church planters, youth workers, short-term worker coordinators, medical advisors, teachers, leaders, etc. 
One of the worship teams (yes, I got to play this gorgeous

Most of the mission business is dealt with by our leaders and representatives of the members, not talked about between members. Matters that involve individuals—like where they will work, or when they will go on home assignment—is discussed between the relevant parties. I can only imagine that that makes life easier for the leaders because amongst 125+ missionaries, there could be about 100 different opinions! Essentially we trust the leaders to make decisions that are in the mission's best interest.

So conferences are therefore about refreshment and expressing our unity as one "field".

The refreshment is primarily spiritual and social. Most people find conferences physically exhausting (late nights talking). So conferences include Bible talks, time for prayer, and time for interacting with one another over meals and snacks. We spend time getting to know one another. 
It was lovely to look out of the chapel
where we had all our gatherings and
see this tree beginning to bloom at
the start of spring.

It is also a time where our leaders inform us of important things that are going on, for example, the impressive list of people who are working towards getting clearance to come and join us in Japan. This year we spent a couple of hours discussing important changes to our structure.

While all this is going on, there is a children and teens programme also going on. This is always a source of great joy for us. Our kids love getting together with their OMF "cousins", many of whom they only see once a year. And it truly looks like a bunch of cousins. A variety of ages, all hanging around together.

It is a joy to express our family-ness too. Now my kids are getting older I feel free-ed up to do things like cuddle other people's babies, or play with younger children.
The younger children having fun.

Irish-Cambodian and Australian "cousins"
One boy I met for the first time (a four-year-old Australian) really reminded me of my boys at that age. So full of energy, and prepared to play with a ball for a lengthy period of time He even tried to tackle me and wrestle me!

I've come home refreshed in soul and spirit, but rather tired of body. I made it through the week on an unusual amount of coffee for me. But thankfully I haven't developed the headache I expected today! 

I love my OMF family. I don't know what I'd do without them in Japan!

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