Finding our fire among the gumtrees

NSW/ACT MOPS Conference
21-22 September 2018

Tallong Outdoor Education and Retreat Centre

As we arrived at Tallong on Friday night we were personally welcomed to the venue, and lead down a winding path lit with glowing tin lanterns.

We entered the dining room and immediately felt the warmth from the crackling fire, noticed the smell of a roast dinner being prepared, saw twinkling fairy lights adorning the tables, and enjoyed delicious mocktails with fiery hues and dry ice that created a smoky effect.

Joy, laughter and easy conversation filled the room, as leaders made new friends and reconnected with old ones.

After a mouth-watering roast dinner and delectable chocolate mousse for dessert, we headed up to our meeting room. Another warming fire greeted us in a room glowing with festoon lights hanging from wooden rafters; tables lovingly decorated with lanterns, flowers, and fairy lights created a rustic elegance.

We began by honouring two very deserving women by presenting the ‘Hands of MOPS’ Award. Lis Irvine from Emu Plains and Karen Davies our State Leader have both served in MOPS for many years and have gone above and beyond to share the vision of MOPS with others. Not only were they surprised to receive the award but shocked to find their families waiting to celebrate with them.

Next came the introduction to our theme for 2019 – Find Your Fire! The introduction video ignited our enthusiasm and hearts for the year ahead. We were opened up to the idea of living expectantly, finding joy and having our eyes open to notice the goodness and fun all around us. Next we were given the challenge to reflect on and identify something we needed to surrender daringly to God. Be it a hope, fear, uncertainty, or relationship, we wrote down our words on paper which we later relinquished to the flame. Finally we were encouraged to breathe freely, to recognise we are deeply loved by our great God and to notice the goodness in those around us also.

We finished the evening around a bonfire in the bush. Here, we spent some time in reflection and surrendered our earlier identified hopes, fears, and struggles to the flames. We enjoyed a supper of gooey s’mores and community around the fire before heading to bed.

Saturday arrived, nestled beneath the blue gums and wattles. The crisp morning air brought with it an expectation for new beginnings. After a nourishing breakfast, we had a rare opportunity to take a personal journey on the Labyrinth surrounded by bushland and bird song. This was a wonderful opportunity for personal prayer, reflection, focused thought, or simply to soak in the beauty of God’s glorious creation. As some of the ladies reminisced of the flickering bonfire, a new fire for outreach was about to be birthed in our hearts through the talented speakers.

Sharing the gospel does not come naturally to everyone but, by the end of the day, we were all a little more comfortable with the art of evangelism. Hannah’s beautiful testimony encouraged us that we all have something special to offer and that God has created us uniquely for a reason. Lexia Smallwood reminded us not to be discouraged if our efforts of sharing Jesus do not automatically result in conversion because, for most people, new birth is a process that takes time. The icing on the cake was the incredible workshop by Hazel and David who captivated us all with many practical, natural ways to share the gospel with those around us. After enjoying a delicious lunch of chicken schnitzel with all the trimmings, we headed home with a kindled passion to help lead the women in our MOPS groups to the One who renews heart, mind and soul.

Jayde De Leeuw and Belinda Robson
Camden MOPS

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