Tasmanian Conference 2016 … oh, and chocolate

03 September 2016

_MG_0189 scaledStars… Glitter… Chocolate… I’m not sure Camp Banksia Port Sorell on Tasmania’s beautiful north west coast has ever sparkled quite so brightly amidst the lovingly prepared dining hall with a ceiling full of fairy lights and garlands of stars, glittery runners and tables adorned with stars and of course chocolate…

You’d be forgiven if you thought this wasn’t really a gathering of the troops for a serious conference with every current Tassie MOPS group represented, but gather they did, arriving in expectation and resplendent in sparkles and glitter for the “Get Your Glitter On” dinner… What a great excuse to dress up, have a little fun and splash a bit of glitter around… Yay!  Go Girls!! …

_MG_0026 scaledWe were welcomed with pre-dinner nibbles, drinks and a great mingling ice-breaker to challenge us. Using question cards we were encouraged to speak to many different people, but only asking one question to each person. There was a prize for the one who collected the most cards.  Our prize winner was the lovely Kayz Parsons who had a fistful of cards and whom I’m sure must have spoken to almost everyone… Great job Kayz!

As the official program began and dinner served, Erma Mayes presented the new theme of ‘We Are The Starry Eyed’ with the elements of Wonder, Hope and Kindness. She reminded us of the wonder of God through the exhibition of stars.  The opportunity was given to write a Kindness note to someone to express how much they are appreciated. We were also encouraged to ‘Get Our Hands Dirty’ – receiving beautifully fur-edged rubber gloves to help in the task because getting our hands dirty can be done in style.

Because we don’t do things by halves in Tassie, Karen Dickson shared about the difficulty in choosing a winner for the 2016 Tasmanian Hands of MOPS award. As there were a number of strong nominations, the Board was giving two awards this year.   There was great anticipation in the room as the two worthy recipients were announced: Rose Wilson and Katie McKenzie. These amazing women have both given and continue to give many hours of gracious service to MOPS… Congratulations Ladies…!!

One of the most powerful moments of the evening’s events was the ‘Cardboard Testimonies’ demonstrating ‘Hope’. A number of women shared a brief highlight, on cardboard, of a challenge faced and how, through perseverance, they had seen the difficulties resolved and their hopes fulfilled.

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Saturday revealed another beautiful morning and a number gathered for an early morning prayer retreat which was a special time for those in attendance.  The day’s official program began with worship very sensitively led by Megan Burton with songs chosen to reflect the theme.  This was followed by an encouraging testimony by Hanna Udy who reflected on “Those weeks where life gets a bit harder and you’ve got to dig deeper to get through!” She described the elements of her busy day to day life and shared her struggle with doubt, something we can all relate to. She described how God has enabled her to grow and learn through her journey with MOPS and that she loves how God whispers right into our spirits. “But,” she said, “I have to STOP and be open and ready to hear it!”_MG_0210 scaled

The keynote address was given by Karen Dickson who talked about what it means to be ‘Starry Eyed’ and how we can put that into practice. She suggested we literally go outside and lie on the ground and LOOK UP at the stars. It doesn’t take long to realise how small and insignificant we are but how awesome and magnificent God is.  If we take a quick glance we may not see very much but if we invest in the time to STOP and really look we’ll see a much more detailed picture.  When we fix our gaze on God and ‘tweak our awareness’ of Him, setting our sights on Him and excluding all other distractions, we will see Him.

The Leadership Training sessions were informative and challenging.  Sue Whitely inspired us to a ‘Life of Listening’ and encouraged us to learn how to hear God’s voice in the mixture of voices we hear inside ourselves. She encouraged us to practise listening to God through his first language of nature and to write down what God is doing in our lives through journaling.  Donna Hill shared about MOPS 101 while the MOPPETS-specific training led by Kim McVeity was, to quote Katie McKenzie, “absolutely wonderful, encouraging and relevant”.

_MG_0285 scaledWhat a wonderful conference. There was so much going on the time just whizzed by. It seemed we no sooner arrived than it was time to say goodbye – but not before consuming a good share of the chocolates and thanking all those selfless ones who contributed so much to a fantastic event… Particular mention goes to Conference Convenor, Megan Burton, who did a fabulous job and has the amazing ability of organising things while pregnant and standing on her head…

So until next year, I’ll just go and finish eating my stash of chocolate…

Bronwyn Febey
Ulverstone MOPS

One Response to “Tasmanian Conference 2016 … oh, and chocolate”

  1. Miranda says:

    Thanks Bronwyn for a great wrap-up of the weekend! Almost felt like being there 😉 Well done Megan and team xx

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