We've just returned from our week up in the mountains for the EMI World Staff Conference. It only happens once every five years.
This is a week for all our staff from every office around the world to gather together for fellowship, learning, and renewal. While a few from field offices were unable to get visas to the US (a fact that saddened us greatly), the total of us including kids was over 250. To give you an idea of EMI's sudden growth, there were only 75 attendees at last the conference in 2011. Our next one probably won't happen in the US -- we will hold it in a country that allows you to easily receive your visa upon arrival so that ALL our family can be present.
I think Kevin and I ate every single meal with a different family. We tried hard to spend most of our time with the staff we don't see here in the Springs on a weekly basis. But since we are leaving for 4 months we were also trying to soak up some quality time with our CO peeps. And I did not take a lot of photos. I just lived the week, getting to know folks without a camera stuck to my face.
Another great thing was watching our kids become fast friends with the other staff kids. Most of the week we only saw them at chow time or in random passing as they headed for the mini golf course or the roller rink. And they had their own times of quality teaching and encouragement from the speakers who came to be with us.
Speaking of speakers, we heard from Tim Sanford (of Focus on the Family), Brian Hogan (YWAM), and Alan and Connie Ch'ng (Navigators whom we learned live right up the street from us!). It was not dry conference fare aimed at showing us all how to be better engineers and architects (which would be a lost cause on me anyway). We learned about discipling simply, trusting the Holy Spirit, and raising kids overseas, among other fun stuff.
And when we were not learning or getting to know people, we were flying down a huge hill in tubes or hiking or just enjoying each other's company. And we laughed a lot. Each day at least once I looked all around me and thought of how grateful I am to be part of such a real, humble, dedicated, and Spirit-filled group of people. And then my next thought was always one of gratitude to each of you who have made this possible for us through your support and partnership.
We knew we were going to love working for EMI, but I don't think either of us had any idea just how much.
Our CEO knows how to have fun.
From the Keiters:
Here is where we share our daily experiences of how God is using our life in the US and abroad with EMI to draw us closer and to make Himself known.