Thursday, March 1, 2012

DCE Conference Day 1

I was privileged to attend the 2012 NW District DCE Conference. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is broken into districts. Minnesota has two districts within it’s state (MN South and MN North). Alaska is a part of the NW District along with Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.

I awoke at 1:15am and drove to meet Jamie (the other Alaska DCE attending this conference). We left Jamie’s house at 3:00am and made it to the Anchorage airport at 4:00am. After crossing through security we boarded the 6:10am flight to Seattle, WA.

I slept for most of the flight. Upon arrival to Seattle Jamie and I made our way to AVIS car rental. Our original car for a bargain price was a Chevy Aveo. The lady at the rental casually asked us what we were in town for and we told here we were going to Leavenworth, WA.

“Oh!” she exclaimed “Well we strongly recommend a vehicle upgrade since you will be going through the Snoqualmie Pass” (see the below map for location of Leavenworth and drive we took)
“We are from Alaska I think we will be fine” Jamie explained
The AVIS worker stood there and would not allow us to leave without the upgrade. So an additional $10.00 a day later and full insurance (as she INSISTED we get for the drive) we were off. Our new car a KIA Sorento.

View Larger Map

Jamie and I were both fatigued. Jamie having come off of a weekend confirmation retreat and myself playing “work ahead” as my fiancĂ©e arrives the day after I get back from the conference. Jamie drove and we rocked out to the very limited radio stations there were through the 3 hour long drive. Much to our dissapointment there was NO snow on the roads. The roads were dry. There was snow in the ditch but none on the roads. Jamie was especially frustrated having drove in wretched conditions in her 8 years of Alaska living. I guess to Seattle when there is even a dusting of snow the whole city shuts down so the sheltered lady working the AVIS counter over-reacted.
On the drive through the supposedly snowy pass
On the drive...

They even make McDonalds look German all hand painted signs
Cute Subway/76 gas sign.
Main Street: Das Hut Shop, Cafe Crista, Der Sportsmann etc.
We arrived in Leavenworth and got checked in to the Enzian Inn. The Enzian Inn was very reflective of the surrouding community of Leavenworth--It was EXTREMELY GERMAN. The whole town of Leavenworth is built to reflect Germany and has a multitude of shops each with a German name.
American and German Flag on Main street Leavenworth, WA
I could not help but think of my sister Kayli who is currently serving as the German Exchange Student for Worthington High School. Kayli is in Crailsheim, Germany.
My sister Kayli in Germany
There was approximately 20 DCE's from the NW District who were present at the gathering. We started out like any DCE would at his or her own youth event-Icebreakers! We played "Matchmaker" where a name or a Bible Character was placed on each of our backs and we had to find our pair by asking yes or no questions to one another. We then went into a crossword name game and finally we had opening worship.

Photo credit: John Schmidt

Photo credit: John Schmidt

Worship was very refreshing for me! Most of the time I am either assisting with leading worship, or am absent from worship while teaching children's church. This time I was fully present and able to really absorb what was going on.

It was powerful being surrounded with fellow brothers and sisters who understand where you are coming from since a lot of us are dealing with the same frustrations. The theme of the gathering was "The Joy of Being a Follower of Christ" based on Philippians 1:6-- "There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears."

Keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Robin J. Dugall had is first session. It was SO AWESOME. He talked about how we lead to share Christ. The fact of the matter is we don't share Christ with a fancy Bible Study. It's RELATIONAL. From 1 person to another. There was talk of some of the ministries at different congregations including a soccer ministry for a Hispanic group.

The group gathers and plays soccer all day and pray before each game with people who have NO clue who Christ is. Where people see a soccer ball, we see a bridge. It's a start and it's foundation is in relationships.

As a called worker of Christ, or for any servant for that matter, our attitude needs to be that of Christ. Christ was relational. He was relevant to his time-speaking in parables. We too need to be relational, really get to know people because only then can one make a bridge.

I personally do this by attending youth events-athletic games, music concerts, and you know what it's also FUN for me. I see what's going on with my youth. Relate to them, and not just for the sake of getting involved with their lives but with their spiritual well-being.

It was a great first day, but the second day would be even better... (more posts to come)

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