Sunday, October 26, 2014

Party of the Year

If Jehovah threw a party,
what would it look like?

After this year's string of larger than life International Conventions, I feel like we all got a glimpse.

Convention on the whole did not feel like convention. 
It felt like a party. 
The excitement levels were through the roof!
We had been preping for months, making jewelery, candy gift bags, buttons, cards and other souvenirs. And that was just our family! The amount of time that was dedicated and sacrificed for this event was mind blowing. 

I only knew how many late nights I did. I would work on various projects in almost any spare moment I had (and plenty I didn't). I couldn't seem to stop. It was making me so happy it almost felt like an addiction. And it dawned on me that this was being repeated in households all across Washington in thousands of different ways.

For many brothers and sisters, this summer felt like the busiest of our lives. While exhaustion was a constant threat, it never fully got the upper hand. Working for Jehovah is its own reward. It was a joy of gift giving on a level I have never experienced before. Knowing we were all selflessly working together to welcome our brothers we had never met unified us in a new way. 

We were all doing things that had maybe only been a hobby before, but now doing it for our God and brotherhood elevated and dignified our various pastimes. It was a fun couple of months. And that was just the gifts!

More than 500 brothers and sisters were also part of entertaining our guests. Incredible videos, (one of which made it to the first JW TV broadcast) songs, dances and dramas were prepared, rehearsed and refined over and over and OVER again.

I got to be part of a singing group that performed for our evening gatherings. That was a privilege that really meant a lot to me. Many times we give up little things we enjoy that aren't wrong but that we simply don't have the time for in our spiritual routines. Music had been one of those things for me for a while. So to be assigned to practice something I loved with a group of awesome friends every week for months... well that was a blessing I never saw coming. There again, singing is fun. Singing for Jehovah? Even better.

I also got to help out with a shadow dance. We performed it silhouetted behind a screen as we told the story of a couple's life from their childhood all the way through Armaggedon. While the two main characters did their thing, the rest of us rolled, folded and generally shape shifted into trees, planes, cars and benches around them. It was crazy. Another wonderful unexpected memory from convention.

After our performances, we got to give the delegates an enthusiastic send off that turned into a love riot. We sang, clapped, yelled, posed and had such a rush of brotherly affection that some people were almost floating off the ground. Love among strangers and joy among hard working volunteers may happen every day among Jehovah's people but it never loses its beauty.

Then suddenly, after months of preparation, convention arrived. Even more suddenly, 4 am arrived when we had to wake up and hit the road to beat the traffic. We met in a beautiful outdoor stadium that had only been used for the university's football team. We had approached them before but they were never interested in renting to us, until Jehovah wanted their stadium for his convention that is. Then they found themselves saying yes.

Anyways, that's where we had the party, I mean... convention. Why did it feel like a party? Well half of us were in costumes to start off with. And almost everyone was getting gifts. The delegates had gigantic bags stuffed with souvenirs that got refilled each day! And of course if you count the days before and after, there was loads of singing, dancing and music. Not to mention, when the missionaries came onto the field, we were all very moved. We tried to contain ourselves, and being Seattle, we did quite well. Until the missionaries started leaving the grounds. The clapping gave way to a roar of cheers and shouting.

So there we were, meeting beautiful people and feeling so appreciative to be brought together. Not only was the love between each other fully evident, but the love of the governing body shone bright as THEY bestowed THEIR gifts on us! Gifts they had been preparing all year, videos, books and tracts. I think the governing body gives us more gifts than anybody else. They felt like the warm and generous hosts of these great and international parties, beaming with love and friendship across giant screens all around the world.

But the true source of all this delight and joy is our happy god. It was he that first gave us peace of mind and heart,  he that introduced us to our like minded friends, he who organized us by his faithful slave and he who blesses our hard work and sacrifices with truly astounding and refreshing events like these! It reminds me of the festivals Jehovah organized for the nation of Israel. Those must have been something. Of course, ours are pretty incredible too. If this is what we can do stuck in the middle of Satan's system, I'm thrilled to imagine the kind of festivals we will have in paradise. Jehovah knows better than any of us what makes the heart of mortal man rejoice so it only follows that HIS festivals will be some of the highlights of our future lives.

And now, after that wonderful send off and a global campaign to finish off the service year, I'm happily back in Thailand! More to come soon...

An assortment of gifts the delegates brought for us. Covered our dining room table.

My sign made it to the big screen!
There were alot of great ones out there including the much anticipated "We love you more than coffee!"

So my friend got married at the branch in Cote d'Ivoire and none of us could be there for it. But lo and behold! One of the sisters that was in her wedding came to our convention! And I ended up randomly sitting next to her. Details were extracted.

Our cast, one of the 4 giant crews that performed at the evening gatherings.

Part of our smaller but no less adorable group that performed for the congregation service day.

OH! and that's the last time you're gonna see me with long hair for a while. Just a heads up :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Falling in Love

With Myanmar.

You might too after watching this! There are a few versions of this video floating around, but this is the one I made for my aunt and uncle who came with us to the convention from Florida. They are in the Cambodian group in Jacksonville. After Myanmar, they finally got to go to Cambodia to see what it was like for themselves. They loved the ministry there!

If you'd asked me two years ago if I would ever go to international convention, I would have said probably not. I thought it would always be prohibitively expensive, seeing as how we had been accepted to several in the past but repeatedly chosen to back out.

Once again, in the month before convention, I felt a financial squeeze. I worried I had been frivolous. Was Special Convention a need? Was it wise to shorten an assignment to pay for a vacation? I had mixed emotions.

Then I went to Myanmar. It soon became clear that I could have paid twice as much for that experience and it still would have been a bargain. It probably changed the course of my life. But i'm still figuring that out!

So not only did I learn that special/international conventions are a privilege to always reach out for, but I learned to stop guessing what I can do or where I will be. Because two years ago, I thought I would never make it to an international convention. But now i'm attending two in one year! Not to mention, at the second convention, we won't simply be attending. We'll be hosting! Seattle's international convention is coming up fast and there's so much to do. It's incredible. Jehovah has so many surprises waiting for us.


Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Search for Enlightenment

This video is based on information and footage from the 2014 International Convention tours in Myanmar. 
It briefly reviews things we learned to help us teach Buddhists more effectively. 

Buddhism takes many forms and can be accompanied by a wide range of beliefs and practices. However, because it often focuses on the life and teachings of one man, Buddhists may initially find it easier to relate to the life and teachings of Jesus. 

Belief in a Creator is not taught, nor are answers often sought to such questions as, 'Where do we come from?' or 'Why does God allow suffering?' 

The highest point in Thailand
Family is of utmost importance to many cultures that embrace Buddhism. Showing how the Bible can improve their family life is often of great interest to both men and women. 

Buddhism teaches that the end of suffering is reached only by countless lifetimes of good deeds and meditation. Since the reward is so far off, many Buddhists simply focus on giving offerings to ancestors and monks as well as being kind to others, while making the most of their life now. 

In contrast to Buddhist teaching, the solution to mankind's problems as presented in the Bible is quite simple and easy to understand. One teacher even referred to it as "a shortcut." By having faith in the ransom, a person only needs one lifetime to escape the effects of sin and death. Appreciation for the ransom can help them gradually build faith in God.

Hope this helps!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The 2014 Awesome Awards


Last year meant something different to each of us. Maybe it was good. Maybe it was tough.
But each of us have certain people without which the year would have just been less.

This is about those people.

Together we went on studies, ate som tam, sweated and laughed at ourselves. You made me pies, fixed my bike and taught me Thai. For your friendship, self-sacrifice, weirdness, enthusiasm, advice, comfort and heart, I thank you. I could not have done it without your support and general acts of awesomeness.

You are extraordinary and this is for you.

Last day of convention in Myanmar

So many more videos to come! A month travelling in Thailand produces insane amounts of footage.
Bye for now :)