This past week, Robbie, Eleanor and I had the privilege of traveling up north to Townsville for an international YWAM gathering called YWAM Together. As far as I know, there haven’t been too many gatherings of this magnitude worldwide, so it felt particularly special to be a part of it.
I wasn’t planning to go originally. I have known about the event since earlier in the year, and when I saw the timing, it didn’t seem possible that I could go with a 2-month old. However, when it came down to it, we just prayed and asked God whether Eleanor and I should go with Robbie. As we prayed, we felt it was good for us to go as a family.
Preparing to travel for a week with a newborn is definitely a new experience. Fortunately we had taken a couple steps to helping that – one night in Sydney, then 4 nights in Sydney and now 7 nights in Townsville. I am glad we did those other trips first. We had the flying component to this trip, however, and I was admittedly nervous about it. Eleanor did wonderfully, though. It helps that she sleeps very well when being held and that’s what we had to do on the flight.
We got to Townsville on Sunday afternoon with 41 other YWAMers (read: 41 other YWAMers from our flight alone!). We got settled into our accommodation, which was near The Strand (the beach area of Townsville). The accommodation worked well for us – a little studio apartment with a kitchenette and bathroom. The only challenge was being a 25 minute walk from the conference. However, I decided it was my introduction back into exercise post-baby! We were walking 1.7km (just over a mile) each way, so 3.4km per day! That doesn’t count all the other walking we did!!!
The conference began Monday night. I was glad we got there on Sunday and we were able to settle in before going straight into it. All the night sessions were celebrations. We celebrated different cultures, what God was doing globally, Loren Cunningham for his 80th birthday (and the biggest birthday cake I’ve ever seen!), Papua New Guinea’s 40th year of independence and so much more. The night sessions were so full of life and exciting.
Then Tuesday morning, we began with the morning sessions, hearing from different ones in the mission. We started with worship, though, and that was really cool to worship with 1300 other YWAMers. I thought they did a particularly great job of choosing a wide range of songs to appeal to everyone. The afternoons were full of different expos and seminars. Robbie taught a couple and attended a whole lot more.
For me, being at a conference with a baby was a different experience. I was very much thinking in terms of her schedule – when did I need to feed her next, was she too hot, where’s a spot out of the way, etc. By the end of the week, I had found a great spot in my friends’ Anna and Kelly’s office where I could still hear what was happening but be a little separated to feed Eleanor. Because of that schedule, I feel there were a lot of sessions I missed out on or only got to hear bits and pieces of.
The week was so worth it, though. Going into it, I was really feeling the need for a fresh injection of vision as a missionary. I have found that the past couple months, while great, haven’t felt too “missions” minded in the way I am used to. I know that’s so normal because it shouldn’t feel the same – I am a mum in missions now. Things are different. I really felt I was to connect with some different mums while I was at the conference, and I was so glad I did. I pursued a few different ones, and I just asked them about their experience being in missions as a new mum. I learned so much from all those conversations, and I left with this sense of excitement for what is to come.
One point that stood out to me from one of those conversations was to remember that Robbie and I aren’t missionaries who happen to have a daughter, but rather, we are a family in missions! That’s one of YWAM’s foundational values, and I loved hearing that.
Overall, as tired as I felt coming home from such a big week of travel and all the walking and meeting new people, I feel so grateful to have gone and to have been a part of it. I am SO excited for the future as a mum in missions!!!
Here’s some photos from the past week…
Loren Cunningham (YWAM Founder) wanted everyone to commit to ending Bible Poverty for his 80th Birthday. In a nutshell, Bible Poverty is when someone doesn’t have the chance to have a Bible in their own language. There are teams working hard to change this – to make it available for the all and the every!
One of the “professional” photos (aka not an iPhone photo! haha) taken by the staff at YWAM Townsville of little Miss Eleanor sleeping away. I promise she doesn’t always sleep haha! #toomanyphotosofeleanorsleeping