I returned to the Dominican Republic on November 12th. A few days later, I traveled with 20 of our Dominican leaders to the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit here in the Dominican Republic.
Some of you may have attended this conference in the United States. While I was still teaching, I attended the conference three or four years in a row. It was always a powerful - transformational experience for me. I still think about things that I learned from some phenomenal leaders of churches, governments, businesses and non-profit organizations.
Each year after the US conference, Willow Creek translates the messages into many different languages and put materials together to replicate the conference in countries around the world. The Dominican Republic is one of the counties that is able to host this conference.
For the last two years, I wanted to take our Dominican youth to this conference, but I wasn't able to come up with the finances to do so. This year, because of a donation made my Resurrection Lutheran Church in Monticello, MN, 20 of our leaders were able to attend. For many of them, this was a life-changing experience.
The leaders who attended this conference are still commenting about things they learned. We all came back inspired and with renewed passion and vision for sharing the love and message of Jesus Christ wherever we go.
Condeleeza Rice was another of our favorite speakers. We were all inspired by her story. She talked about some of the challenges of her childhood -- growing up in a low-income home, being an African American, being a woman, etc. She gives glory to God that despite these challenges, she was able to work alongside of the president of the United States as the Secretary of State. Condeleeza Rice told us, "It doesn't matter where you come from; what matters is where you are going." This comment touched the hearts of our leaders.
The conference was two days, so we stayed one night in a hotel. Some of the people on our team had never stayed in a hotel before, and most of them had never stayed in a hotel with a swimming pool. The time we had together as a team eating, sharing, praying and playing was also really special.
We had a couple of gatherings after we returned from the conference where those who attended the conference shared what they learned at the conference with the rest of the team members who were not able to attend. It was so fun to see their enthusiasm and hear the passion in their voices as they reported on the things that impacted them most.
We've already begun to implement some of the things we've learned, and have begun thinking and praying about next year's conference!
We're all incredibly thankful to God for the opportunity to attend this conference, and we're thankful for Resurrection Lutheran Church for their generous donation, making it possible for us to attend. It truly was a life-changing, perspective-changing experience for all of us.