But this year, it's just Dave, me and Mara, a member of our Communications Team, here at our training center.
Several weeks ago, when it became clear that restrictions would not be lifted, we made the painful, but necessary, decision to cancel the event.
However, our creative juices got going, and we're taking the event online instead!
Today, Dave was recording two talks that will be aired live for our team next Thursday and Friday evening. With everyone in their homes, still in quarantine, they'll be doing the same thing as me today - putting their feet up and tuning in to Dave!
Of course nothing can replace being together in person. And being here today, in the spot where I'd normally spend a lot of time during a conference week, I felt the sadness of what we'll all miss.
Since our team serves in 16 different countries, events like these are extra special for connecting with each other, and be fed spiritually. Not only that, but teams come from the States to provide incredible opportunities for our JV Kids (110+ of them!) to learn and grow too.
So we're having to get creative about how to provide a touch of that in the midst of this pandemic.
We'll all gather, kids included, next Thursday evening before the little ones go to bed, for a family online activity. And then at 8:30, will go live with Dave's teaching for the adults and older kids.
It's a bit of an experiment since we've never been in a situation like this, and no doubt everyone will feel some level of loss during those days. Coming to Malenovice is a highlight for everyone, and we'll all be missing this place.
Dave went out with Mara to shoot some footage of the rest of Malenovice, in all its springtime beauty, to bring a little of that into everyone's homes as they will be online for a portion of those two days.
But of course, there's nothing like being here - even in the tent, which we've used for four years now, ever since we outgrew our largest meeting room! We're still waiting for our building permits to get started on the event center someday, Lord willing!
As Dave spoke today, I kept thinking of a phrase he repeated: "The key to my faithfulness in the future is remembering God's faithfulness in the past."
When I think about what we have experienced these 26 years, being part of God's movement in people's lives across Central and Eastern Europe, and all the ways He has gone before us, making sense of things that didn't make sense at the time, I know He will do the same for us when we get past this unusual time in history. We KNOW He's about something right now, and that it will bring blessing eventually because that's how He works.
In the meantime, until we see all of that glory, I want to remain faithful to Him during this time, remembering how very faithful He has been to us, and will always be!
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