It’s already Wednesday and I am just now posting about the weekend. This is because my weekend started early Friday morning and didn’t end until…well, this morning.
Three days of spiritual enlightenment, hours spent laughing and gabbing with ladies, a four hour car ride home, followed by my usual full TuesDay, yesterday evening was equal to the exhaustion of running at least five miles for me (I don’t like running–at all!) while combating a head cold (which I am).
It was all worth it.
Since My Al went to a retreat over the weekend in support of his unit, he took the camera so I don’t have a Photo of the Weekend for you, but my Favorite German Find for this week is the PWOC. While it isn’t actually German, it was started by a group of military wives while in Germany over 30 years ago.
Let me tell you why I attended the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) International Conference.
Did I say Protestant?
Why, yes, I did.
You may be as confused as one woman I met this weekend. After introducing ourselves and learning that I was from Utah, she looked at me very quizzically and said, “You’re not a Mormon are you?”
I said, “Yep, I am a Mormon.”
She said, “What are you doing here?”
I said, “I’m a believer of Christ. I’m here to fellowship and learn.”
She paused and looked even more confused and then asked, “Did you grow up a Mormon?”
I said, “Yep, I sure did.”
I may have been the only Mormon out of 400+ women, but somehow I doubt it.
Let me tell you why this Mormon gal was at a three day conference for Protestant women.
About six weeks ago the Sister Missionaries began attending a Bible Study class. More specifically, a PWOC weekly Bible Study. My Al works with the ladies in charge of this organization on a daily basis and, for months, I kept hearing how they wanted me to attend. He explained to me that just because it was called “Protestant” didn’t mean I was excluded; it’s an organization to strengthen the faith of women associated with the military from many different faiths. Still, I was perfectly content with my attendance to Relief Society events for my support.
Then the Sister Missionaries were encouraged to attend Bible Study by their Mission President. Since they can’t get on Post without an ID card holder signing them on, I got to accompany them. About 60 women meet every Tuesday to sing, share, pray, eat yummy food and then have Bible Study class. The Sisters and I have been attending the class on becoming better at letting Holy Spirit guide our lives.
Around the time we started attending, I began a process of chipping away at some of my own personal issues. Meeting with this group of ladies came along at the perfect time for me because of this and when a slot at the PWOC Int’l Conference came open, I signed up.
I had an idea of what to expect at the conference after meeting with the PWOC on a weekly basis, but I was still a little nervous about the possible unexpected conflicts with my personal convictions. My association with these ladies in the Heidelberg PWOC was enough to excite me about the weekend, however.
I learned a lot from the conference. Some things were different than what I’m used to. Some things were very different. All things were an effort to strengthen ourselves, each other and those we will meet in the future. I experienced laughter and openness with ladies I have learned to love. Hugs. Generosity. Discussions about differences in practices and beliefs. Discussions about our common beliefs like tithing, prayer, hope, charity, forgiveness, strengthening our marriages, overcoming really hard trials, believing in ourselves, trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.
Most of all I learned that these 400+ women–a small representation of the world as a whole–are striving for the same goal as women in my own religion are. PWOC is made up of varying Protestant branches, Catholics, Jewish Christians, and LDS/Mormons.
My experience with PWOC and the International Conference reminds me of a quote by James E. Talmage taken from the new Relief Society book, Daughters in My Kindgom:
“The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.”
They may pray using “You” and “Your” while I pray using “Thy” and “Thine” as well as have other differences, but we focus on what we have in common. More specifically, we are all women with a strong desire to follow Jesus Christ, our champion.