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Posted by Anonymous Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Last night I returned from Youth Specialties National Youth Worker Convention in Anaheim, California. It's a 5 day conference attended by 3,500 youth workers that happens 4 times every fall (in different regions of the US.) I skipped out on the Midwest region conference to take the opportunity to head to the coast.
The first day, I attended an 8-hour course called "Thriving as a woman in youth ministry," with Kara Powell and Heather Flies. It was brilliant! I am so blessed to work in two ministry settings (YouthFront and Jacob's Well) where women are totally valued and empowered and equal. Nonetheless, the seminar was very encouraging, as well as gave me some practical tips on ministering to male students.
Over the course of the weekend, I attended seminars by Tony Campolo, Tony Jones, Mark Oestreicher, Dan Kimball, and Lilly Lewin. We talked about everything from politics to prayer to crazy junior high students to experiential worship for teenagers. I was so glad to come out of it having learned something both personally for me and practically for ministry.
Also, the general sessions were pretty great--a little overstimulating for my taste, but I enjoyed the speakers (especially Philip Yancey) and worship with the David Crowder Band--what a brilliant lyricist and musician! The intense rock-worship isn't necessarily my style, but I love watching and listening to them.
And in the midst of all that, I had a little fun outside of the Anaheim Convention Center. My first few nights I stayed with Jana and Brian Harrelson, college friends, who took great care of me. Friday night my aunt and uncle, Tom and Marianne took me to the Anaheim Ducks game--who knew pro hockey was so unbelievably entertaining? Saturday evening I joined friends Nate and Katy Wiens for dinner, seeing them for the first time since their wedding this past summer. Later, Mike King took me with him to Marko's (Pres. of Youth Specialties) suite to hang out with some of the speakers/musicians from the conference and do some "networking" if you will. Sunday, after Mike finished his seminar "Presence Centered Youth Ministry", he and I and another youth worker from KC, Eric, headed to the ESPN Zone to watch the Chiefs game! That evening, I joined friends from Hong Kong (American youth pastors who I worked with during my time there who attended the conference) for dinner. Finally, I spent the rest of my time with Patrick Shen, an old friend from college, in Santa Monica (and FINALLY made it to the beach!)
I'll get some more pics up on my Flickr site pretty soon. Mike has some pretty good stories on his blog as well.