Purity Conference & Misc Arkansas Reports

Yesterday our van was making a weird noise. My dad asked one of the girls on our team, Nawon, if she knew of a good mechanic (because she lives in this area). Nawon said that her pastor was a mechanic.

After her pastor fixed our van, we offered for his girls to come to our conference for free. What we didn’t know is that his wife and daughteres already knew about our conference and had been praying that they would be able to come. But because of some medical bills they couldn’t afford it.

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You can only imagine the mutual delight we experienced when we realized how the Lord had worked this out! Praise the Lord who works in awesome ways (and even breaks vans temporarily) to provide for His children.

20130628_135907_21684 A special element of this conference has been our fellowship with our four international leaders: Supriya from India, Maaike from Congo, Nawon from Korea, and Bernita from Singapore. One of our prayers is that the Lord would continue to spread Bright Lights internationally.

20130628_203830_21695 We are very grateful for all that Teresa, our hostess for this conference, and her daughter Maddie have done to make this conference happen! Thursday evening (our free day) we had a very relaxing evening at their home….

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… as you can see. [smile]

20130627_165021_21635-2 Natalie (from Texas), Allison (from Illinois), Sarah (from Arkansas) have each been leading Bright Lights groups. Actually, a large percentage of the girls on our team have their own Bright Lights group at home. It’s fun to hear them compare notes and share ideas regarding what they’ve been doing in their groups.

20130628_134108_21669 Here’s a picture of my dad and brother finding another creative time and place to play catch. They bring their baseball gloves everywhere. No broken windows yet.

20130629_202254_21746 Nickie turned 26 today. We love you, Nickie !!!

Tomorrow we take off for Houston. Thank you for your prayers for us. We finished our sharing time a little bit ago. Praise the Lord for the responsiveness of the young ladies and parents who attended the conference.

At each Purity conference, our main goal is that the girls would grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus. When our heart’s affection is in the right spot, everything else falls into place. Please pray that the attendees would grow in their love for the Lord, and that we would as well!

“For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Singapore Bright Lights Conferences

Singapore Conferences!

Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell B Vanderbon have taken on … um … a new look look for these overseas conferences. Dani has definitely exceeded what I thought a girl could do playing Mr. Maxwell.

The good thing was that I could actually get this dress zipped up. When we do overseas conferences we ask local people to help find skit props. Some Asian people are kind of … um, small! [smile]

Small groups!

This picture is of Reena (in white), a 26-yr old girl who is now engaged, sharing with my small group about how the Lord had changed her thinking in the area of purity and relationships. The girls loved hearing her share, and it was really a provision from the Lord to have her with us!

Dads praying for their daughters

Moms praying for their daughters

“Cool down” time with staff and those who had helped to host the conference, sharing stories.

Eating pizza and ice cream with flavors we don’t get in the States…red bean, durian, jackfruit …

This is something else we were eating that I’m going to miss! … it’s a soft bean curd desert with a sweet syrup-like sauce.

There is so much more to share, I feel that this is a very inadequate representation of the Singapore conferences. Right now we are in Australia. It has been an extremely full week and blogging hasn’t been top priority, but I will definitely be posting more reports soon. Sarah and Nickie are packing suitcases now as I write this. We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning to fly home.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas yet, especially since I have a sunburn! We’ve had an amazing trip, and we are going home to snowy Iowa for Christmas with full hearts of gratefulness and awesome memories. More reports coming soon.

Radiant Purity Conference, Chugiak, Alaska

Here are a few more pictures from the conference! We really appreciated the hospitality of the Crossings church where the conference was held.

Since we flew here, we couldn’t bring a harp or easel. But the families here found both! The Lord provides. [smile]

One major challenge about this conference was that my brother Stephen was not here to run sound. Although Stephen thoroughly trained us in how to use our smaller easy-to-transport soundboard before we left, I think we were all a bit surprised at how difficult it was without having him there to fix all the little issues that arise. Thankfully, yesterday we found a good price on tickets so he is flying here tomorrow to help with the next conference. (We are very, VERY happy about that. [smile] )

As we were sharing reports over dinner after the conference, there was the usual combination of tears, laughter, and thankful reflection. Many of the attendees indicated that they were planning to go home and do a better job being open with their parents. We pray they follow through with their decision.

The last few days since the conference we’ve been enjoying a combination of many Alaskan activities which I’ll write about soon.

Radiant Purity Conference, Carrollton, Texas

Sarah teaching a main session

Since we had many musicians among the leaders who were helping us with this conference, we pulled together a little ensemble to accompany the singing before the main sessions.

Our sharing time lasted quite a while as many had refreshing reports from their small group times.

We were blessed to have a large group of staff for this conference (local girls who joined us) … as is evidenced by the height of our empty-pizza-box pile.

I still can’t get over how cute this little guy is. We caught him in the place we were staying.

Waiting for the first flat tire on the way home to get fixed.

Waiting for the second flat tire on the way home to get fixed.

It was a great trip! God took care of us and we felt very blessed in so many ways.

Reports and pictures from the IOWA conferences coming next.

Topeka, KS, Radiant Purity Conference

One of the highlights of our Bright Lights conference trips is the encouraging fellowship time before each conference when we (our group of leaders) share with each other what God is teaching us from the Word.

Once the conference begins, things become very busy!

The skits always keep us on our toes. Often someone is missing something backstage (well, that would usually be me [smile]) and we all frantically hunt for it… but it usually comes together just in time. [smile]

Many girls say one of their favorite parts of the conference was the chalk talk.

This skit on Saturday afternoon was about trusting God instead of listening to our fears.

Saturday night it usually takes several hours to pack up. Thankfully, we work as a team. (i.e. I take pictures while they work. Just kidding. [smile]) …And, though we’re tired, we are usually working with encouraged hearts – appreciating the many blessings God gave during the week and the ways we saw Him work.

Bins ready to be loaded into the trailer!

One sad part of each conference is saying goodbye to so many special friends…like little Bethany (whose family was hosting the conference). She had become Lilly’s little shadow. [smile]

We are now in Carrollton, Texas, and the Radiant Purity Conference here starts in about four hours. Thank you to any who are praying for us. I will be posting pictures from the “Strong in the Lord” conference here tomorrow.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)

Bright Lights Conferences in Minneapolis

Last week was an exciting week of conferences at Straitgate Church in Minneapolis. We really appreciated being able to use this beautiful facility and enjoyed working with the great people at the church.

But the conference was not without difficulties! Difficulties are good, though. They cause us to pray more, and it builds our faith as we see the Lord work things out for good!

A few days before the conference my dad and brother became aware that the church was located in a dangerous part of Minneapolis. (This picture is of the church’s fenced-in parking lot.) When Stephen looked up the crime record in the area he became quite concerned, and he said that if he had known he’s not sure he would have agreed to do the conference there. Dad and Stephen are very protective, and they didn’t want to be responsible for any problems while 400 moms and daughters came to this area of town.

My dad felt that the principle found in Deut 22:8 applied in this situation, and he wanted to take whatever precautions we could. First, we sent out an e-mail to everyone registered, asking them to park in the lot (not on the street), not leave valuables in car, carpool if possible, and other things like that.

Here we are dividing up phone numbers among the leaders who were helping us set up on Monday. We checked and saw that about 80 attendees hadn’t opened the e-mail about security precautions. So we decided to make contact another way…i.e. lots of phone calls!

We also hired a policeman. He was really nice!

And we were very grateful for the help of a group of young men (especially the Watson brothers) who directed parking, escorted the moms and girls, and patrolled the area. Even though there were some other interesting people around in the neighborhood, the presence of our team of young men, our new officer friend, and of course God’s hand of protection made everything safe even when it was at 9pm when we dismissed.

Dad dismissing the audience and giving directions

It seemed like there were a lot more dads there than usual. We thought this was great, because we LOVE it when dads come. We think it’s beneficial for them to hear what their wives and daughters are learning. My dad also leads the small group time with the men and they seem to always have great discussions.

We had such a great group of attendees.

Our friend Mindy Caron (right) and the group she brought to the Radiant Purity Conference from northern Minnesota. At the Radiant Purity conference she told the encouraging story of how God brought her and her husband Ben together.

Backstage

Josie Morris, Ruth Watson, Mrs. Watson, and Mrs. Kramer in the kitchen. They worked really hard and made it very special…even making homemade applesauce and other homemade snacks.

After each conference we always have a cool down time to share stories over dinner. While I was taking this picture, Laurie (in green) was sharing about one 8-year-old girl in her small group (who was from the neighborhood and part of the church’s bus ministry) who contemplatively asked, “So you are saying that when my brother does something mean I am supposed to do something nice to him in return?” It’s really encouraging to see the lessons “click” with the girls.

Our group of leaders

We had a fantastic place to sleep. Mrs. Issac opened her home to all of us–with lots of loving care besides. Thank you again, Issac family! Here we are on having a special “singing” time together with the Bright Lights group that regularly meets in their home.

There are some *interesting* parts of living with so many other girls in a basement for a week. It’s fun, but you also learn things like:
-how to get completely ready in the morning without even stepping in a bathroom
-how to fall asleep with earphones in and the lights on
-how to turn the water on and off during your shower to reserve water, while also making your shower really fast!
-How to take showers at odd times…like Stephen, who had to take showers at 3:30am! (He and my parents were sleeping on the top level while the rest of us had the basement.)

BUT, these things are all an improvement from icy cold showers (we still love you, our Wisconsin friends, though! 🙂 And we’d still come back if you invited us! haha ) and it’s better than traveling to other houses for showers (although there are some blessings in that too!)

We thought this sign in one of the bathrooms of the Issac’s house (where we stayed) was especially appropriate!

There are many little practical things we learn after living for a good portion of the summer with LOTS of other sisters. We have finally learned a big secret that makes mornings much more pleasant: no one is allowed to set their alarm clock on their cell phone. Instead, someone individually wakes people up at the time they request to be woken up. (They even made me turn off mine which is really cool and sounds like a tropical jungle! 🙁 ) Otherwise, we just have way too many weird sounding noises going off in the morning…(i.e. a rooster, a frog, annoying bells, praise songs, you get the idea.) And SOME PEOPLE (okay, myself included) don’t even wake up to their own alarm clock half the time even though most everybody else does.

Ah…fun memories.

Well, to everyone who prayed for us: THANK YOU. There are so many more stories that I don’t have time or space to record. We are so privileged to serve the King of the Universe who has good plans, good lessons for us to learn, and who provides for us just what we need for what lays in our path.

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” Psalm 145:3-4

More Conference Pics!

I thought I’d post a few more pictures from our last set of conferences in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and Omaha, Nebraska.

Conference attendees!

Sarah sharing about guarding your heart

Hannah and Stephen

The kitchen always becomes the popular gathering place for our team of leaders. Here we are eating bran muffins and smoothies brought over by Mrs. Kolar, who hosted the conference.

We really appreciated Lindsay (left) and her very sweet and enthusiastic Bright Lights group. They brought our team some snacks one afternoon.

…and we REALLY enjoyed them. Right, Lilly? 🙂

We also really appreciated the families that hosted the conferences in Wisconsin! Here is our team with several girls from Serena Kamp’s Bright Lights group at a 4th of July cookout.

On the 4th of July our group of leaders (about 20 girls) went to a local small town parade and passed out our little tracts called “The Price of Liberty” about how just as our freedom was purchased through the blood of soldiers who gave their lives, our spiritual freedom with God was purchased through the blood of Jesus Christ. Hannah (red shirt) got into a very good conversation with these girls about the gospel and how one can know they have peace with God.

Here is the shower schedule for our team of leaders. It’s a little different living with 15-20 girls for two weeks! But we don’t know what we would do without the great team of girls that God has brought together to help us lead the conferences. We have a lot of good times together!

We also appreciated many girls who were local to the area who helped as assistants on small groups.

And THIS is the spider that gave me and Nickie a very…um…exciting wake-up one morning. It looked quite a bit bigger with it was alive and standing up just inches from Nickie’s pillow.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and we are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for our next trip to Pennslyvania and Ohio. We are leaving in three days now!

Answers to Prayer

Psalm 105:1 tells us to “make known His deeds among the people,” so I wanted to share a few of the ways we saw the Lord work at the recent Bright Lights Conferences in Wisconsin and Nebraska.


Small Group Combination
Rachel Wissmann (right) reported that while she got acquainted with one of the girls on her small group team in the sanctuary before the conference started, the girl shared how she had been through a traumatic accident, but how through it the Lord showed His goodness and faithfulness in her life. Later that evening, during the first small group time, a different girl in Rachel’s group explained how she had trouble trusting God’s goodness. So, Rachel asked the first girl she had met (who had the traumatic accident) to share her testimony with the whole group. This was just the perfect thing for the other girl to hear, and it was also a catalyst for some great conversation for the whole team. We were reminded how God answered prayer in putting the right girls on the right teams!

Changed Hearts
“When I first arrived I didn’t think I was going to fit in here, but I’m so glad I came!” one girl told Sarah. She continued, “And I’m the type of person who, when I like something, I bring all my friends too!”
We knew that some of the girls didn’t want to come, and Sarah had actually asked me to send an e-mail to our church’s e-mail loop back home to ask for prayer regarding those girls. We saw many answers to that prayer.

One girl, just by her body language, made it obvious she didn’t want to be there. One of our leaders, Abby, noticed this right away and began praying. Later we learned this girl had a big turnaround and by the end of the night she was enthusiastically interacting with the group.

Another girl at the Purity Conference was goofing off with her friends, but in her response form she wrote something about how she wanted to “talk to her parents about crushes and things and save her first kiss for her wedding.”

Lessons that “Stuck”
One of the most encouraging reports I heard about was from Kara, who had attended a Radiant Purity Conference in Omaha two years ago. She shared how the Lord worked in her life at that conference and gave her a new perspective and desire to live for Him.
Sarah told her it was really encouraging to see the lessons that were taught stick with girls.
“Oh it stuck,” she and her mom said in unison and laughed.
Praise God!

But that’s only part of the story. You see, two months after the conference two years ago, Kara had a brain aneurism and a very serious surgery. Kara shared a testimony at this conference (picture above) about how she can now see the Lord’s hand of preparation. She strongly testified with joy how the Lord is faithful.

Kara’s mom and Kara


Lost Contact Lens
Right before the final session at the WI Purity Conference, I lost one of my contacts while leading my small group discussion outside. I looked for a few minutes and found nothing. I wear the tiny hard kind so finding it in the grass would be very unlikely. “A needle in a haystack,” my dad said. But they are expensive and inconvenient to reorder. I had to go in for the next session but prayed that my Dad and John (another guy helping Stephen) would find it. They decided to take a 6 inch square of grass and thoroughly search, and amazingly they found it in about 10 seconds!

Small Group Distraction Fixed
One of the younger girls was very disruptive in her small group, so Sarah was going to remove her from the group for a little while by doing some one-on-one time with her. But she was resistant to both Sarah and her small group leader and would not come out of the room. So a handful of girls outside the door prayed and asked the Lord to calm this girl down so that the small group could continue without distraction. But before they had even finished praying, the girl stood up and walked right out of the room on her own initiative. They considered this a little miracle, and the small group leader (inside the room) was so surprised, not knowing about the prayer.

Smooth Equipment and Health
As we list answers to prayer, one thing that we are so grateful for is all the things that didn’t go wrong. Thankfully, the technical side of things ran pretty smooth the whole time–thanks to Stephen who does a great job keeping that all under control. We are also grateful that no one on our team got sick. When you are living with 15-20 other girls for two weeks sickness can travel quickly!

Healing Hurts
Danielle (above), one of our leaders, told us about an 18-yr-old girl in her group at the Radiant Purity conference who had been hurt and humiliated by people she trusted. Danielle was praying for a chance to talk one-on-one with her, and before the last main session it worked out for them to stay back and talk privately. Tears streamed down this girl’s cheeks as Danielle shared that she can be pure in Christ’s eyes, no matter what has happened to her, and that He will place a robe of righteousness on her which will make her so beautiful to God. She also wept as Danielle assured her that as she allows God to mold her inner character, some day a godly young man will love her and cherish and protect her, and won’t judge her as other people in her past have—or view her as damaged. Danielle shared the gospel with her and sent her away with the Scripture verses written on a paper and she repeatedly thanked Danielle.

Though the conferences in Oshkosh and Omaha are over, the Lord’s work is far from finished. And, as Lindsay (Bright Lights leader in Omaha) reminded us in an e-mail, Ecclesiastes 3:14 says “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”

Praise God that nothing can stop His work.

We would really appreciate it if you would join us in prayer for the upcoming conferences in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.

Oshkosh, Wisconsin Conferences

Here are a few pictures from the Strong in the Lord Conference and Radiant Purity Conference which took place this past week in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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We are grateful for the hospitality of Wyldewood Baptist Church and for the wonderful group of people who hosted the conference. Thank you to any who were praying. It is definitely a highlight to see girls and parents respond with enthusiasm to the messages being taught.

You can go over to Emily’s blog if you’d like to see more pictures from the conferences.

We are now setting up at Emmanuel Fellowship Church in Omaha Nebraska and would appreciate prayer for the two upcoming conferences here. The Strong in the Lord conference starts tomorrow night and the Radiant Purity Conference starts Friday night.