Last week I had the opportunity to serve as a gopher for the Pioneers InTent Leadership conference held in Altensteig, Germany. Cathy, our area leader, contacted us about a year ago to see if either of us would be interested in serving as they were interested in bringing the conference to our serving country. I agreed without much hesitation with the only caveat being that Alan and Chloe could come with me. As the time for the conference approached I was surprised at how much work it was to be this "said gopher"! lol Transportation details, room and dietary needs, dinner reservations for a night out, spreadsheets that made my head hurt, hundreds of emails between myself, the facilitation team and the hotel. Suddenly I became nervous that I'd bitten off more than I could chew. Not necessarily for this conference but due to the fact that when I signed up I agreed to do the same conference again next March and I was currently serving on the team for the Europe-wide Pioneers conference in Malta in late April as well. That's in addition to taking care of Chloe, the house, supporter updates, finances, our website, our teams coming next summer and about a bazillion other things. (ok well not a bazillion but at the time it felt like that!) I came to find out during the conference through personality tests we all took that my propensity to take on more than I can possibly manage is high. lol, really?? haha
Anyway, it took us forever to pack because we were arguing so much about something. I can't even remember what it was (it was that stupid) but finally we were off. We arrived mid afternoon and checked into a neighboring hotel from where the conference was held due to them not having enough rooms for the first night. Alan and I were happy to do it but that meant unloading about half our earthly possessions from the car up three flights of stairs for one night then reloading them the next morning to move into the conference hotel. Fortunately I have a very strong and able bodied husband that didn't mind. :)
Alan also jumped in to help with airport runs and by Monday morning had taken four trips back and forth from the Stuttgart airport (about an hour and a bit away from the hotel). We enjoyed being involved with as much of the conference as we could in between whatever else we needed to do. Monday it was a trip for me to the local dentist because of a tooth that had come loose from one of the participants. Fortunately we found a good dentist that was able to reglue it and didn't charge a ton of money. Tuesday - Friday sweet Chloe stayed at the local kindergarten attached to the hotel during the morning sessions. I thought she would have a hard time given she is only 16 months but she did awesome. The ladies said she was such a joy. Still, it was so special that every time I would go and pick her up and wave to her across the room as she was playing with one of the other kids she would stop what she was doing, get a huge little grin on her face and come running to me with her arms wide open.
The meals at the hotel were good for the most part but I'll have to admit to being slightly sick of German food after about day 3. lol I couldn't believe how little German food Alan and I actually eat on a regular basis so having it three meals a day was hmmm, interesting! :) Still, breakfasts in Germany are my favorite so I made sure to eat a lot then in case the rest of the meals weren't so hot. Wednesday night we had arranged for everyone to have a dinner out. At first we couldn't find the restaurant we'd chosen but then once we did everything turned out terrific. Everyone seemed to love the food and ambience which was great. A few tables, the participants at which will go unmentioned, were even quite rowdy! What a treat!
The group of leaders that attended the conference were amazing. Leaders from Hungary, Poland, Austria, England, Australia, Bosnia, France and Ireland were there just to name a few. Alan and I loved getting to know people, worshipping God together and just having good fellowship time. The week ended Friday night and I spent most of my time making sure everyone knew how they were getting to the airport the next morning. All in all everything went on without a hitch and we're looking forward to the next batch of folks to come through in March.
This week our sweet Venture student Sarah-Lee leaves to go back to the states. She has accomplished so much in the last six months that she deserves her own blog post. More on her a bit later... :)