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MCUSA Youth Convention Blogs

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Day 3 - Yesterday

Posted by Mary Kennell on OP12er @ 12:41 PM

Yesterday, July 3rd, was a rich and full day at convention!  The temperature was warmish—111 degrees and everyone here is extremely thankful for air conditioning.

We started out the morning with a joint worship service (youth and adult) and the room was full of people from many locations, nationalities, and ages—united in worship.  Ervin Stutzman had the message and spoke of how everything we have is God’s and if we really believe that, it impacts everything we do and say.

Bryan, Ross, Katie and I all chose seminars and learning events to go to—some together and some separately.  One that we all went to was, “Undoing Sexism Through Storytelling” and we listened to people tell of their journeys—both men and women.  When we discussed it later, one comment was that there are word choices that are so much a part of our culture that we don’t even notice them.  An example would be that we don’t think it strange to call a mixed gender group “you guys”, but we would never call a mixed gender group, “you gals”.  That was interesting to think about, but what I really enjoyed was the stories, and how they were clearly on a journey—and held no bitterness about the past, but were clearly able to let God work good through the hard experiences.

After the last learning experience, we hurried back to the hotel and were soon off to our adventure.  Katie and Ross had decided they wanted to see some of Arizona’s mountains, so we drove south of Phoenix and did some walking (it was only 108 degrees).  We saw a few lizards, a lot of cacti, and a very different landscape than Central Illinois---beautiful in its own way!  Ross was hoping to see a rattlesnake (from a safe distance) but alas—I think it was even too hot for them. :)

To end the evening we ate together at a restaurant called “Oreganos”.  It was a great time of good food, and good conversation about the day’s events.  We have some very perceptive and thoughtful youth!

I have to mention the fire alarm that woke us up at 3:00 a.m. A VERY loud voice announced THREE times that it was a false alarm and that we could go back to our rooms. By that time, Katie and I were wide awake and may have to schedule a short nap time for this afternoon! We're looking forward to another full day.

Lynn Kennell said...

Posted on OP7er @ 6:41 PM -
I really appreciate the insights that Ross, Katie, and Mary have shared about their time at conference. Thanks for helping us catch a glimpse of the breadth of activities you could participate in!! Sounds like there was a lot of thought processing, listening, reflection, and laughter.!! Thanks again!
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Ross' Blog

Day 1

   Today may have started off earlier than is usually desirable to me under most circumstances, but it turned into a rather fantastic day. First we played a competitive game of Dutch Blitz, which Mary won hands down. Then, we got our assignments and arrived to our servant project. This was an extremely rewarding project, as I got to work with and learn about three wonderful retirees: Marian, David, and Viola. We made two Fourth of July posters for their care center.

   Afterward, we planned out the rest of the week during the free time we had until the evening service. The worship itself was a great start to what hopes looks to be a great week. The speaker is the pastor of the Mennonite church in Phoenix, and he spoke about dreams, how God can use dreams to communicate his intentions, and what God dreams for us. Overall, it has been an extremely successful day.

                                                                                                  - Ross -

Day 4

Yesterday was a very interesting day, as I attended my first two conversation rooms. They were closed sessions in which you were divided into groups of five people that you didn’t know, and then were instructed to discuss reasonably about the issue at hand. The two conversation rooms that Mary, Katie, and I attended were The Church and Biblical Interpretation and Authority, and The Church and Sexual Orientation.

The purpose was not to convince anyone of a specific side, nor was it to change anyone’s mind. The purpose was to discuss tough issues not usually discussed without tension and anger in a safe, calm environment. The way the process worked was that the facilitators would ask one or two broad questions and ask for at least three people to give their perspective in one or two minutes. After each person gave their perspective, someone else had to paraphrase and summarize what they had said until the speaker was satisfied that they understood what he or she was saying. That format was then taken to the small groups, with each person sharing their perspective on the questions, with another paraphrasing. After those initial questions were asked, the group was free to branch out in their discussion in any way they wished.

Another feature that the facilitators added was a card that acted as a talking stick. Only those who held the card could speak and everyone else had to listen without instead focusing on what to say next. These were some of the most reasoned discussions I had ever held on the subjects, and I think that everyone could learn a lot about discussion and conversation using the techniques used. I couldn’t help but thinking that the conversation rooms were an extremely Mennonite way to confront and deal with sensitive issues (solving things not individually, but in community).

                                                                                                 - Ross -

Katie's Blog

Day 2

Well this is certainly something that will surprise everyone: I don’t mind the heat! I know I complained about how terrible it was going to be, but it’s actually nice to be outside after sitting in a cold hotel room. Instead, Mom, Ross, and Bryan are having a harder time with the hot weather, and enjoy turning down the thermostats.

This morning, Mom and I got up at five to work out in the gym. We we’re both so tired later in the day, we had to take a nap. For the morning worship, I decided to join the adults. The speaker was a woman that told a touching story about a family of immigrants which gave me a completely new perspective on immigrants and the struggles that many of them have to go through.

For evening worship Mom and Bryan joined us in the youth service. The music is very loud, but there were a lot of good hymns. The speaker was a young woman that spoke about how we identify ourselves: deference, past, and same. She said a lot of things I connected with like how high school students are often told that they should know what they want to do and who they should be. We are still young and most of us have no idea. It’s ok to take our time figuring those things out despite what other people might say.

I’m learning a lot, and I know I’m going to come away from this with a new idea of what it means to be a Mennonite.

                                                                                                    - Katie -

Day 5

Today was so much fun! First, we went to morning worship and listened to a really energetic speaker. He spoke about how the struggles we go through now help prepare us for God’s plan later on in life. Then we went to a seminar that discussed how the bible came to be and how it’s changed throughout time. I enjoyed it because it helped to answer some long time questions of mine.                         

The seminar after that was called “Lies My (History) Teacher Told Me.” The speaker took us through U.S History and explained that we liked to make ourselves look good by overlooking the whole story. If we looked at history from all possible perspectives, and got the whole story, we would become wiser and more Christ-like.

After all that, you can imagine we were pretty hungry. We decided to go out for sushi at a small restaurant called Kokora. For those of you who don’t know, I love sushi!

To wrap up the day we went to see a movie: “Despicable Me 2.” It was super funny (the minions made the movie!) and everyone enjoyed it. It’s probably best not to ask Mom how it was seeing as she took a well-earned nap during most of the movie.

I had fun and enjoyed learning, but I also can’t wait to come home to family and friends!

                                                                                                     - Katie -

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