Wednesday, September 12, 2018

YWAM Together | Thailand 2018

Earlier this year, we were discussing who would be able to go to the big YWAM Conference called "YWAM Together" to represent our region of Central Europe. As I am one of the people who helps lead this region, it looked as if it would be my turn to go. I was still debating whether I should go or try and get someone else, when my good friend (and former colleague), Rebecca, wrote to ask if I would come along to the conference and help her in the communications side of things: specifically to run the iCentre (or information centre). I wrote back to her to say "does it make me crazy that I want to come more now?". So off to Thailand I went...

The conference was huge - almost 4000 people, and I and a team of 24 volunteers were tasked to help answer people's questions. And do you know how many questions 4000 can have? A LOT! We had a lot of information on an app called Whova, and so people could also figure things out that way, but a lot of people also needed help with the app :) Below I am with some of the team (all serving in the Philippines):
I thought we would have a lot of people on the first day and then after that it would kind of calm down, but every day there was something new from workshops, to roundtable discussions, etc. And on the two last days it was decided that we would offer transport back to the airports (we weren't going to and then the hotel complex freaked out at having to do it, so we ended up doing it last minute and we helped out...) so it NEVER calmed down...

But, despite the fact I didn't actually get into many of the sessions I LOVED IT! I was able to troubleshoot and figure things out and just use the gifts that God has given me to serve... and the conference was soooo well run and the leaders so appreciative of what I brought, that it made it easier.

I did manage to get into some of the sessions (4 of the 12) and be a part of a workshop and a roundtable. I also got to have some meetings with people and a lovely lunch with those who came from Central Europe, so it wasn't all work and no play - but it was definitely different than I had thought it would be!

In the middle of the conference they sent everyone out into the city to do some sort of outreach - from prison ministry to schools, to bible distribution. Seriously well organised - sending out 3500 people!! I stayed back to try and have a break and catch up with myself... however, the emergency phone ended up staying with me... and then people's songthaews (Thai version of a taxi) started not showing up on time... (remember 1000s of people, so some thing will always go wrong!!) so the phone started ringing off the hook...  I was giving out phone numbers and answering questions on the app... all while sitting in a little hot tub near the swimming pool - I was determined to get a bit of water time in, and that was all I could do, but I am sure everyone else wasn't too amused with me!! But at least I did enjoy my outreach day :)

There were over 100 nations and 77 languages, and I was also involved in getting information/ announcements translated into 5 of them... both before and after the conference. It was amazing how committed the translators were to making sure that their people could understand what was going on! And it was a privilege to have a small part in that...

I came away with many new friends with whom I fought in the trenches during the week and even though it was hard work and loooooong hours, I would do it all over again!!

On the day after the conference finished, I was part of a gathering of leaders from all over the world. It was the main reason I went - to be a part of that meeting. And out of the over 100 leaders there, I just happened to sit at the table with our founders, Loren and Darlene Cunningham and some other senior leaders. It was completely by accident (there was no one there when my friend and I joined the table, and we sat near the front as he didn't have his glasses with him!) and yet felt like a little "well done" to me from God!! Love it!

Otherwise, I leave you with the highlight video of the whole week... it is amazing and gives a feel for what it was like to have so many people from so many different countries together in one place:

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