Saturday, February 17, 2018

Geneva | Western European Leadership Gathering

Even though I am part of the Central European area of YWAM, as part of my role in leadership, I am invited to be a part of the WELG (Western European Leadership Gathering) which is held every other year. This year it was in Geneva. There were about 300 leaders from all over Western Europe (and about 20 of us from Central Europe). (See if you can spot me in the middle next to the lady in turquoise :) 
The key note speaker was Vishal Mangalwadi. It was amazing to hear his teaching again, as I was privileged to have him speak on the Community Development school I did in 1999 in South Africa. He spoke on two days, and the rest of the week we had other YWAM leaders sharing - from Jeff Fountain to Tom Bloomer - and it was a very encouraging time!
And we were definitely in Switzerland - the first night we were treated to some traditional music and raclette! (which for this amount of people was quite a task, but they did a great job!)
To keep costs down in one of the most expensive cities in the world, they told us we would be in bunkers... I thought WW2 bunkers that had been turned into a hostel or something like that... but no, we were in actual atomic shelter bunkers built in the 70s. This is the view of our room - my purple sheets on the left is where I slept in this room with 25 of my (now) closest friends! It was unexpected, but not as horrible as it seems... and now I have a great story to tell!
 Yip - I slept in an actual Bomb Shelter...apparently Switzerland has shelters for every one of their citizens. Each new building has to have a shelter and in every 10th house built in a village, the government pays for them to have a shelter in the basement for them and their neighbours.
We did get to enjoy some of the sights of the city - mostly on the tram on the way to and from the conference :) But it was still nice to get a feel for the city - and isn't this just beautiful! (thanks Jill for the pic!)
One afternoon I was part of a walking tour of the reformation part of the city with Tom Bloomer who is soon stepping down as the Provost for YWAM's University. It was amazing to hear about the reformation that happened in this city from someone who has been studying it for years! Here he is explaining about Calvin's role in the city's transformation.
We went to see where Calvin preached:
 And the chair he used:
 And the church where he did his preaching...
And our tour ended near an amazing place: what was literally the crossroads of Europe - during Roman times, this is where the main North South road met the main East West road, connecting all of Europe in this place!
And that is what this conference is for me - there are no pics of all the connections that took place with old friends and new, connecting me to people in Spain and Switzerland who want to send teams to Bosnia, connecting me with people from Czech and Greece so I can see how they are doing, connecting me with people from Ireland who are coming to run a Faith and Conflict conference in Bosnia in April, and most importantly reminding me how important it is to stay connected to God so that I can do all that I am doing! 

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