Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Business Part of this Business Trip

I had arranged for a 7 am wake up call (which is 6 am in BC dollars) but I was already awake when the phone rang. We are next to the airport and the planes land and take off from the foot of my bed.

Those nylons I bought? Were a stretch to get on. I don't bend like that anymore...
Plus, they, uh, didn't come up as high as I would have liked. I wore them Drew-style, as they didn't really make it to the hip region of my lower half.

And the new shoes? Pinched a little. A lot. And, truth be told, made me look like I was wearing Minnie Mouse's cartoon shoes. And did I mention they were a tad tight. Like the panty hose...

Sandra dropped me off at the conference hotel at 8. I registered, got my binder, name tag, and envelope full of propaganda then found an empty seat in the ballroom.

A local singing pastor led a mostly empty room in a quiet worship set. I was unmoved and non-worshipful until the second to last song when we sang a well known hymn that I forget just now, and somehow the room overflowed with a rich chorus of harmonizing voices. It got me a little choked up. Which is how I like my worship. Emotional. Full. Tear-inducing.

Steve McMillan, Senior Pastor of Oak Park Church of Christ delivered a wonderful sermon - I took two pages of notes. Because I'm aynull that way. Can I write out a quote he put on the screen? Well, it's my blog, so I'm going to. I wasn't really asking your permission. He was talking about God and how hard it is sometimes for God to get our attention. We are so plugged in to cell phones, ipods, balckberries, facebook, tv shows, etc that we don't take the time to stop it all and Just Listen For God's Voice. (Coincidentally, or not, the book I started to read in the airport on Monday afternoon was "Hearing God's Voice - Seven Keys to Connecting with God" by Vern Heidebrecht. I'm sensing a theme here. God may be trying to alert me to something...)

Anyway, back to the sermon - Steve refered to the Moses and the Burning Bush story and said something like, "How long do you think that bush would have been burning before Moses noticed it hadn't burned up? 10 seconds? 3 minutes? Scholars figure that bush would probably have been burning for 15 minutes..."

Quote from Rabbi Kusher - "The burning bush was not a miracle. It was a test. God wanted to find out whether or not Moses could pay attention to something for more than a few minutes. When Moses did (turn away from his sheep/distractions/MSN/XBox/TV) God spoke. The trick is to pay attention to what is going on around you (what God is doing around you) long enough to behold the miracle without falling asleep. There is another world right here within this one whenever we pay attention."

He shared a couple personal stories (I LOVE it when pastors do that. Expecially if the story is relevant) and I can hardly wait to hear him speak again on Wednesday. I'm a little bit sad I'm not going to be here for the final session on Thursday - I have a feeling I'll be missing something special.

And then. Then the business stuff started. Did you know that the CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) has replaced form T3010 with form T3010B and that that has alot of implications for charities? Neither did I. And I really hope I am not the holder-of-that-knowledge for our ministry, because I wasn't sure what she was talking about when she went into details about reporting, bar coding, schedule D's, and dispersement policies.

My first workshop of the day was "Somebody Poked Me - Facebook and it's Many Challenges for Charities". He (the presenter) had the coolest voting transmitters... it was the same technology they use in game shows when the audience votes on something. TOO cool. It was a good workshop, but I left him a long note on my feedback form. He used the term "dooce" correctly (meaning to get canned from a job because of blogging about your place of employment) but he got the back story from where the word came from ALL WRONG. And it's only because I read her blog every single day that I know the REAL story. So I told him about Heather Armstrong like she was my best friend or something. I KNEW my blogging hobby would come in handy some day.

I ate lunch with strangers and learned about some obscure church denominations. Met the CFO for MBMSI and told him about Clint who was going with MBMSI to Peru next week. Met the office manager for MCC in Calgary; told her about the fair I went to on Friday and how there was too much cottage cheese in the perogies and the lines were too long for farmer sausage. Oh I did not.

Then I went to the afternoon workshops: Media Releases that Work and Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness. If they sound dry to you, they were. Dry like a desert. Dry like a mouthful of Creamo coffee whitener. Dry like my heels. But still informative and factual and useful. I took many notes because that's what I do. And I do it well. Ask me something about those workshops. Go on, ask. I will be able to tell you, because here? Right here? In this notebook? I wrote alot of words. And they have meaning.

And after all that listening and being uncomfortable - remember the tight panty hose being not quite high enough? Well, they magnetically managed to pull all the other elasticized waist bands I was wearing (just imagine. I'm not spelling everything out here) but all those other elastics were pulled onto the top of the nylon's band and I had this cutting and digging in my lower abdomen area that was slicing me in half. I had this huge roll of flesh hanging over this assortment of waist bands that was not only uber unattractive, but massively painful.

All of that dissipated however, when I stepped outside to meet Sandra:

Yeah, that's right. Top down on a sunny afternoon.
I ditched the panty hose, put on black flip flops and we spent the evening first at Joey Tomatoes (oh Yum) and then back at the Mall.

I could get used to this life style.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Conferences with great pastors, meaningful worship, gifted presenters and rad transportation options.
2. Internet connection so that I can stay in touch with those I love back home.
3. I have a relationship with a God who desires to communicate with me.


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