Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LWMS: For Everyone!

Last month I had the privilege of attending my fourth Lutheran Women's Missionary Society convention, held in Rapid City, South Dakota. It was a weekend full of missions, fellowship, friendship, and tradition!

Mom and Grama in LaCrosse - 1999
As I walked through the Rapid City Civic Center, where the convention was held, I was pleased to notice something about the attendees - they're getting younger!

And no, I'm not talking about facial treatments and hair dye. I'm talking about age.

I remember "attending" LWMS conventions when I was a little kid. My mother would attend the conventions with my grandmother, and my father would take us kids and do all the touristy stuff. Then we would come to the closing service on Sunday morning and worship.

It might have been my young age, but I was convinced this convention was for older ladies. While my mother was definitely not old at the time (she would have been in her 30s and 40s), all the other ladies seemed to be the same age as my grandmother! I just thought my mother came to hang out with Grama.

Attending my first convention in
2007 (Detroit) with Grama
My worry as I got older was that LWMS was going to struggle to find an audience after the generation of my grandmother met their Lord in heaven (as Grama did back in 2013). But to my relief, LWMS has started to bring out the younger generations in their quest to support the mission field of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

The biggest reason for that has been family connections. My mother went with my grandmother, and now my sister and I go with her. It is a great excuse to get together as a family and hang out while hearing great presentations and singing hymns with 1000 other people. (It never gets old.)
Mother, Daughter, and Aunt in
Rapid City - 2015

I did notice a lot more mother-daughter groups at the convention this year. And mothers aren't waiting till the daughter is in college or out on her own. It was fun seeing how many were high-school - or even grade-school - age!

With our bags in
Raleigh - 2012
Another way the group is growing is through friends. A few years back the convention was held in Raleigh, North Carolina. It happened to be hosted by the circuit that my best friend was in, and we both decided to go. We ended up participating in an insane scavenger hunt, which involved listening to presentations in order to find answers to questions, looking at the displays for little bits of information, or even tracking down missionaries and presenters to get that knowledge. And we won amazing bags that I, for one, still use on a regular basis. (Now they just pick a name out of a hat for those bags.)

Another bonus of the win was that she, as the first-place winner, received free registration to the next convention, held in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. This meant she and I got to hang out together for another wonderful weekend.

Rapid City opening service - 2015
(photo courtesy LWMS)
My mother experiences the same thing. She has been to so many of the conventions over the years and made so many friends that each convention is more like a reunion for her! Last month we spent the Friday "free night" to go out to a Mexican restaurant with some of her closest LWMS friends. It was a hoot! Not only is the draw to come and hear more about our WELS missions, it's also an excuse to connect with friends.

With all that said, it is wonderful to have the older generation at the conventions. Many of them had the same experiences that I'm experiencing now - coming with mothers, bringing daughters, and now are meeting up with friends! They have a zeal for missions that I hope I can replicate as well. When it comes to support through money or through prayers, they are the first ones to offer that support. I tend to get along really well with people older than me, so I feel right at home when I'm seated with any group!

Courtesy LWMS
Flag Presentation in
Rapid City - 2015
(photo courtesy LWMS)
Another wonderful addition are the men that have been attending the conventions. I know, I know, it's Lutheran Women's Missionary Society, but many of the women bring their husbands along and make a vacation of it. A lot of times husbands and wives are working, and this is a great way for both to be able to experience a wonderful cause together, without the distraction of work.

But the main reason we all get together at these conventions (and at our circut's rallies and retreats) is to help spread the saving message of the Savior to all nations. We have presenters from all over the world that fly in to present about their work in a certain country. We hear about the troubled times, but we also hear about the wonderful success stories that bring many in the room to tears. (It's not often that presenters get a standing ovation, which I feel is deserved and appropriate.)

A skit inviting us to Chicago in 2016!
(photo courtesy LWMS)
We also hear from presenters from our Home Missions, where pastors are sent to areas of the United States where there is growth, but no WELS church. There are fewer stories of culture shock (though there are some), and more of the different ways to access a community and be a welcoming presence in a neighborhood. I've heard stories from preschools to soccer camps to cookouts to participating in community events - our home missions run the gamut!

An LWMS convention (or, as I put it in my calendar this year, "LWMS Con") is a wonderful way to refresh yourself and uplift others in the work of spreading the gospel. It is hard not to leave a convention and not feel a zeal for missions and mission work. And it doesn't take much to help support that work! Prayer is the #1 thing that missionaries ask for when they do a presentation, and many are moved to contribute in other ways, as well.

I enjoy attending these conventions, and am eagerly looking forward to the next conventions in Chicago (2016) and Orlando (2017). For more information about the Lutheran Women's Missionary Society, visit LWMS.org. And please view this wonderful video about the work of LWMS!


Lwms-reachingout-looping-2 from Beth Taticek on Vimeo.

2 comments:

  1. Love the article! Looking forward to when I can get to another one - fingers crossed next summer in Chicago! Are you planning on being there?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am definitely planning on it!

    ReplyDelete

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