Thoughts from WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting

Defining Moments

What stands out the most to me as I reflect on the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, this year? You might think that I would say the heat and the fact that I did not see a cloud in the sky the entire time. No, the thing that stands out most to me is the people. I am thinking of the people I met for the first time and the people who are already friends that I was able to catch up with. Not only did I see people at our main sessions and conference breakouts, but I also spent time in the WMU booth in the exhibit hall for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Let me share about some of the people and their stories.

I was excited to hear how Nadine Peterson’s church in the Phoenix area is using Mission Friends® in a different way. Nadine’s church has a child-care center during the week, and for 3 days each week church members have a Story Time with the preschoolers in the child-care program. They use the mission stories in Mission Friends Leader as part of their storytelling each week. What a creative way to instill a missions heart within the preschoolers!

John and Donna Guillot serve bivocationally as pastor of Green Valley Baptist Church and director of missions for Catalina Baptist Association in the Tucson area. Even though their church is an elderly congregation, they reach out to the families in their community through VBS. John and Donna shared with me that their small church had 125 children in VBS a few weeks ago. They have met needs as they also feed breakfast to the children each day of VBS. They saw this need in their community, and fill this need as they share God’s love with the children.

I caught up with Melanie Lawler, a missionary we featured in Mission Friends several years ago as she served in Nevada. She is now serving on a church staff as the church and community ministries director in a community in Louisiana. Though her location has changed, she is still meeting needs with the sweetest servant heart.

I met Marc and Sandra Johnston, missionaries in Florida whom we featured in Mission Friends a few years ago. They are missionaries on the Christmas in August list for Mission Friends this year, so it was great to hear of their work and make this connection with them.

I met a missionary couple whose 20-something daughter was also with them. This young woman shared with me that as a child, she was an MK (Missionary Kid) featured on the weekly MK prayer calendar for Girls in Action®. Because of being featured, she received many cards and notes from other children. She spoke of what an impact it made on her as a child to know that so many other children prayed for her. It was a reminder to me that we may not know what happens as we pray for missionaries and their families, but our prayers do make an impact.

I was blessed to meet Johanna Dawson again and hear how she is still on mission for God. Johanna was a writer for Mission Friends for many years. She lives in an assisted living facility now near her daughter in Phoenix. She told me that her mission every day is to walk through her building and pray for each person as she reads their names on their doors in the hallways. What a testimony of being on mission as she serves others through her prayers.

I was encouraged to talk with so many young mothers in our booth. These young mothers were interested in missions learning for their preschoolers and in missions experiences for themselves. I had many opportunities to talk with them about myMISSIONSM and Mission Friends, and how the 2 go hand in hand together.

There were many special times at our WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting. By far the most special were times with the people whose paths I crossed. Start planning now because I would like to see you at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas, in June 2018!

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