|The EMI World Staff Families (well, most of us)|
Last week, we were up in the mountains for the EMI World Staff Conference – where all EMI staff from every office around the world gather to connect and learn and get recharged for the work of EMI. The conference is something we only do every 5 years due to the costs for staff to attend, but each time it proves to be well worth the effort and expense - and this time was no different!
While a few of our local staff from the field offices were unable to get visas into the US, some of them were! It definitely added to the excitement to have Africans, Middle Easterners and Indians in our midst - in all, the total number of attendees including families was over 260! (By comparison, there were only 135 attendees at last the conference in 2011 – meaning EMI has more than doubled in size in the past 5 years!) Next time, we likely won't hold the conference in the US given the difficulties encountered with visas for our local staff.
Alisha and I very much enjoyed sharing meals and hanging out with so many of our worldwide staff. We were reminded of the very cool people we are blessed to work with. The boys also had fun in the teens and kids programs – it felt like we hardly saw them since they were out and about doing all the fun activities provided for kids at the Y camp (ok, maybe we joined them for a few of those fun activities). But our kids really connected with the other EMI kids, and by mid-week all the kids ate meals together and hung out during the free times.
|On our way to the conference, the boys wanted to check out the|
skate park in Winter Park, CO.
Speaking at the conference were Psycho-therapist Tim Sanford (of Focus on the Family), former missionary and Perspectives lecturer Brian Hogan (YWAM), and Alan Ch'ng from the Navigators. For the most part, we didn’t talk much about design – I co-led the one session on ‘Excellence in Design’ where we emphasized the need for appropriateness in all that we do. But mostly, we focused on growing EMI in it’s Discipleship program, encouraging staff with member care sessions that included everything from managing stress in ministry to influencing rather than controlling our kids.
|Our 'guest' MC's - Vladimir and Paprika.|
|CEO John D. giving the opening talk.|
|John gave a lively message in church on Sunday.|
|It was a beautiful setting and facility, and it felt like we almost|
completely overran the place.
Overall, from running in the mountains (the camp was at 8800 feet!), to tubing down a hill (see our Facebook pages for a video of that!), to playing putt-putt golf, to praying and learning how to hold ‘simple church’ in our homes, it was just a very renewing time…and indeed, that was the theme of the conference – ‘Renew’! And since I was responsible for heading up the team that has been planning the conference for nearly 3 years now, I am definitely glad things went well and that it's behind us (sad as it was to say the goodbyes)! Time to start thinking about next time...
|The early morning running crew - 4 miles at 6am up at 9000' elev.|
is not for the casual runner!
|EMIer's hanging out in one of the lounges|
|CEO John & his wife Gala - dear friends of ours!|
|Gerhard and Trudie - the couple starting up our South Africa|
office in Cape Town. Future home of the Crawfords? (Just checking
if our parents are still reading the blog! :) )
|Graysen celebrated birthday #12 while we were up at the conference.|
Since I was in charge of leading the team the put the conference on, I have to say that it is a big relief now that it’s over and things went so well. But then again, saying goodbye to people whom we may not see for 5 years (if ever!), the low point of the week was definitely having to say goodbye.
|First day of school yesterday - Graysen headed off|
to Middle School for 6th grade...
|...and Brodie began his High School career as a freshman at|
Rampart HS here in Colorado Springs. He's also trying out for
the soccer team!
|And a family picture this morning, taken by our friend Dave|
Lambert from England who stayed with us for 4 nights after
the conference. We missed you Jaz!