I have been away from my computer for a few days for a good reason. I went with a group of ladies from church to Branson, Missouri to a Women of Joy Conference. It is the first time I have been to one of these kinds of conferences, and before I went, I only knew one of the ladies who was going. I had a couple of new friends I have made since coming to Oklahoma who were coming, but they had dropped out at the last minutes. The only other lady I knew going is a student from one of my Spanish classes. I am teaching her to speak Spanish. It was fun getting to know the other ladies and going to the conference.
We began on Friday morning and took the church van. We visited, and I got to know the ladies all the way from Oklahoma City to Branson, Missouri. Some of the ladies were retired, but not all of them. The short lady in the yellow pants holding the sign, “Team Jesus” is a retired nurse, and an extremely happy, enthusiastic lady. There was one lady who is currently working as a nurse and another who is a retired nurse. The one currently working as a nurse knows a little Japanese, and she spoke it to me when she heard I spoke Japanese. She lived in Japan when she was small. Her dad was in the military. She had also been on a couple of medical missions to Central America. She looked out for me all the way through the trip. I have a few medical problems that makes me have to be careful of what I eat, what kind of chairs I sit in, etc., and this lady picked up on them right away. After all, she has been a nurse a really long time, and she began giving me lots of advice about taking care of myself. She is the one next to me in the middle of the ladies holding the sign that says, “Women of Joy.” The lady I already knew, I am teaching Spanish to and she is the preacher’s wife. I learned she worked at Tinker Air Force Base for years, but is retired now. She is the one holding the sign that says, “Choose Joy.” One lady who is not retired is a Mary Kay lady. She brought us all special packages full of Mary kay hand cream, gum, mints, a pen, and a small notebook. I learned that at one time, she worked on a mission team in Brazil with some good friends of mine. Her husband came and drove the church van for us. She is the one all the way to the left holding the sign that says, “Women of Joy.” Still another lady, the leader of our group, I found quite interesting because she was wearing a wig, and I didn’t recognize it as a wig until she told me. She is a widow. She is the one all the way to the right helping me hold the sign that says, “The best is yet to come.” When she began telling us she was wearing a wig in the room, the Mary Kay Lady showed us two wigs she had in her suitcase, and the other ladies began trying on wigs. It was like a big slumber party in the hotel, it was was fun. We stayed in three different rooms, but all the ladies came to my room to hang out and talk when they weren’t sleeping.
The conference itself was good. If you haven’t figured it out, it was a Christian conference. There were 3,000 women there from all over the United States and from several different churches. I saw a list of the churches represented, but I didn’t memorize it. I remember seeing these churches on the list: church of Christ, Baptist, Pentecostal, the Church of God, Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian. I don’t know if I got the complete list or not. There were ladies there from as far away as Illinois. They kept mentioning that several of the people on stage were from Liberty University, so I looked the university up, and it is a Baptist university.
There were two different Christian rock bands there. One of the rock bands did the singing and played their guitars and drums during the day, and on Saturday evenings, another band played. The one that played during the day, the lead singer and the lead guitarist were from Liberty University. The one that played Saturday evening, the lead singer was Pentecostal. From what I understand, the one that plays Saturday evening puts out several CDs, and one of the ladies from our group listened to his CDs every day while driving to work. The one on Saturday evening, they didn’t post the words to his songs one the screen for people to sing along, but with the other band, they did. I knew some of the songs, so I went ahead and sang along. Everyone was disappointed on Saturday evening because the band got so loud you couldn’t hear the singer. They said on that group’s CDs, it wasn’t that way.
There were several speakers. I don’t remember all their names, but they had good messages. The first speaker talked about forgiveness, and she talked about a time that she had trouble forgiving because something so terrible had been done to her. She got to the point of having to go see a Christian counselor to get it all worked out. I could relate to her because some pretty bad things have happened in my life too, and in her counseling sessions, she finally came to the same conclusions I have come to just by reading my Bible, praying, and sorting things out logically. You can’t control what anyone else does. The only person you can control is yourself. You can forgive them without staying in their presence, and sometimes, you just have to get away from them to be able to go on with your life to stop yourself from being hurt anymore. I found it an excellent message, and one that I have learned myself from trying to stay close to God.
A terribly funny lady got up to speak, and she wanted to talk about vulnerability. In order to open ourselves up to God, we must let ourselves be vulnerable. We have to admit to the things we have done that are wrong or we can’t be forgiven. She wore a body suit to show her vulnerability in front of the crowd. It was a stretch suit that went from her ankles to her neck and down to her wrists. It had pictures of all the muscles, bones, intestines, etc. anatomically correct in the right places. It was quite a visual!! She was trying to help people understand that they must be 100% honest with God. You can’t hide from God. If you want to know who she is, evidently, the people from the conference found her because she had a video that went viral on the computer. They were calling her “the Chewbacca Mom” because in her video, she put on a Chewbacca mask and sat in her car laughing her head off, and everyone thought she was funny, so they all logged on to see it.
The third speaker is recovering from cancer. She told a story about getting a wig because of her cancer, and when people saw here, they came and hugged her because of the cancer. She was in a room once, and everyone was coming in and hugging her, and every person who hugged her knocked her wig a little, and so many people hugged her, her wig as pushed all the way around her head. She talked about being “a bad girl” before she became a Christian and compared herself to Mary Magdalene, the woman who was a prostitute in the Bible before she became a Christian. This lady talked about how she not only used to drink and do some really hard stuff, but she also smoked pot, took cocaine, and slept with all kinds of guys, three in one night once. She said she had to hit rock bottom before she realized what she was doing and learned to clean her life up. She had met some Christians at work and thought they were completely off their rockers because they were so kind and good to her, but their goodness ended up converting her, and she completely cleaned her life up. When she requested baptism, people were actually shocked. The thing that hooked her in was that when they invited her to church, the preacher was preaching about marriage, and he talked about the scriptures from Ephesians about husbands and wives. She was not married, but the scriptures say that the husband needs to love his wife so much that he would give his life for her just the way Jesus gave his life for the church. She initially thought Christianity was crazy, and at that point, she said she didn’t believe any man would die for her, but if she ever met one, she wouldn’t let him go. The person who had invited her told her that a man had already died for her, Jesus. They had her interested, and she just kept wanting to hear more sermons. Today, she is clean, sober, and happily married waiting on grand kids because she accepted Christ into her life.
All the messages were good. The music might have gotten too loud, but I considered that their problem if they weren’t talented enough to get it right. Most people from the church of Christ wouldn’t have appreciated the bands at all. I like music, but they need to work on theirs. I really don’t want a band during worship time. One of the problems is that so many people just listen to the band and don’t sing or think about the songs. During worship, I like more emphasis on the singing. At least the messages were good and the fellowship with the ladies from the church where I have been attending was great!! I am still fairly new here, and it was great to get to know some more good people from church. I learned the man who drove the church van for us has been a Bible class teacher for many, many years. One of the people who worked at the conference even gave me an email. They want me to email them because they may want me to speak at one of the their conferences. The ladies who went with me were all encouraging it. They thought it was a great idea. It is the first Women of Joy Conferences I have been to, and I enjoyed it.