The table decorations had disappeared, the signs that had been suspended over the buffet table with fishing line were gone and the Fellowship Hall was set up for Bible study class. The multitude of signs pointing toward restrooms, registration and coffee were gone, and the masculinity of the men’s rooms had been restored, the artificial flower arrangements having been removed from the urinals. A vacuum was running somewhere, and several of the youth were wiping finger prints off the glass doors. Extra chairs were gone from the sanctuary, and the Communion table was set and ready for Sunday morning worship. David and I boarded the shuttle bus that would take us and a few other tired volunteers to the remote parking at the Methodist church. It looked like the Redeeming the Time Ladies Conference our church had hosted was over, but it wasn’t.
In Friday’s post I said that we were excited to watch God do His work, and we were not disappointed. One of my regular readers commented: Look at all you’ve done in God’s house, and I bet He loves a party. She was right; God does love a party. He showed up at ours, and He showed off. In spite of early morning rains, we had around 240 in attendance including men and children. That’s 80% of the number we planned for, and any experienced hostess knows that a two-thirds turnout is phenomenal. In addition, we had more than enough loving child care workers, the rain cleared and the predicted cold front didn’t hit until 5:30 pm. The kids got to play outside part of the day, and I didn’t hear any unhappiness coming from the nursery or children’s rooms, even from the workers!
Our men were amazing, coordinating parking in three locations, standing in the rain to direct traffic and help ladies out of their cars, greeting each arrival and holding umbrellas over them as they walked to the building. Check-in was a little hectic, but the registration crew remained cheerful and flexible, shifting lines from window to window to keep things moving and setting up an impromptu coffee service to keep everyone happy. One creative worker used scissors and tape to put together a name tag for a guest who was upset because her preprinted tag couldn’t be found. In spite of the weather and the crowd, we managed to get everyone in their seats in time to start right on schedule.
Food service was equally successful. They served muffins in the morning, wrap sandwiches and pizza at lunch and cookies in the afternoon. They even prepared meals for several guests with special dietary needs, and although we worried about running short (it’s a southern thing), everyone had more than enough to eat. We planned extra long breaks to allow time for everyone to be served and use the restroom in our limited facilities, but everyone was so gracious and everything went so smoothly that we finished the day 45 minutes early.
The physical aspects of the day went like clockwork, but the spiritual part was even better. The tech team set the tone for the day with a selection of praise music and a PowerPoint presentation that played during check-in. The praise team led us in songs that inspired us to worship and helped us feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. By the time Edwina began to teach, we were prepared, and we were all blessed.
I didn’t get to sit in on all the teaching, but I was blessed in other ways. I did my coordinator thing, checking in with our outstanding kitchen crew to see if they needed anything and making sure things were set up for the next break. They never needed anything and were always ready, but it was a blessing to see them working together with such joy.
I wiped up water around the restroom sinks, and I put fresh rolls of toilet paper in the stalls. It was a blessing to visit with the ladies who were taking a quick break and to hear their responses to tracts and treats and positive signs, the little things our restroom hostesses had done to make the time standing in line a little more pleasant.
I looked in on the kids, and I helped draw numbers for door prizes. It was a blessing to see more smiling faces and to be reminded of the generosity of the local businesses who donated merchandise to be given away.
One of my favorite jobs was picking up prayer requests that had been dropped in the basket and delivering them to the prayer room. It was a special blessing to quietly open the door and see one of our men with his head bowed over a pile of requests.
But blessings or not, as the day went on, and hurdle after hurdle was cleared, I began to droop.
“How are you doing,” said one of my hard-working committee members, slipping her arm around me during the last break.
“I feel like I’m about to come apart,” I said with unexpected tears filling my eyes. “I guess the adrenaline that’s been holding me up is beginning to drain away.”
“Oh, don’t do that,” she said, giving me another hug.
I found my aunt and cousin who were enjoying some cookies. I sat and talked with them for a few minutes and felt better. After all, one more teaching session and it would be over – almost. There will be a de-briefing party for the volunteers so we can share our stories and praises with each other. And we need to develop an ad for next week’s paper thanking all the businesses that donated goods and services. There are also thank you notes to write. But wait – there’s more!
Before she began the last session, Edwina had a few announcements. Because of a lot of feedback, she and Pastor Jason had scheduled a 10-week Bible study beginning in mid-February. In addition, there would be a follow-up mini-conference in early May to see how we were applying what we had learned. I breathed a little easier when she smiled and added that it would be a bring-your-own-brown-bag-lunch event.
By the time we boarded the shuttle to go pick up our cars, I had two sheets filled with names of ladies who were interested in the Bible study, and visions of follow-up phone calls and e-mails, publicity and logistics were dancing in my head. The conference had been a gift of love that a lot of dedicated people presented to our little community and to God. In 1 Corinthians 13:8 the Apostle Paul said “Love never ends.” Since there’s more love, I guess there’s more to do, and the party goes on.
- One Body – Many Parts – How Hard Could It Be? | by Linda Brendle (lifeaftercaregiving.wordpress.com)