2013 – Treasuring Our Gifts

2013 speaker banner

In keeping with the title of this year’s Conference, “Treasuring Our Gifts,” our aim is to enable each of us to recognize our God-given gifts and to identify how we can better use and expand those gifts to glorify God and increase our joy. Through interaction with wise and creative friends, we have the opportunity to nurture a deeper understanding of God. With our speaker, we will be exploring the lives of several women from the Bible. We will find ways in which they were supported and found creativity in their lives through the grace of God.

Lorelei Johnson VerLee, our guest speaker and daughter of long-time missionaries to Japan, became inspired as a teenager to combine her passion for art with missions. In 2007, she helped train Haitian women to support their families by creating embroidered cards. Then in 2011, at age 56, she started her own organization, “Creative Women of the World” which is devoted to sharing stories and selling products made by artisans, not only in Haiti, but from around the world. Her organization is expanding further business opportunities for women by providing grants and incentives to the communities where the artisans work. Lorelei passionately works to give a creative voice to those who find it hard to speak. Find out more about Lorelei on her website: www.creativewomenoftheworld.com

The 2013 Women’s Conference planning team welcomes you to what we believe will be an inspiring, fun, and relaxing weekend – with old friends and new– in the beautiful mountains of Amagi, Izu!

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What a marvelous time we had together at Amagi Sanso as the 56th Women’s Conference unfolded. Sixty five women attended from many parts of Japan and the US as well.

The conference was blessed with a deep sense of Spirit Presence as our speaker, Lorelei Ver Lee brought her talks and messages. She shared how each one’s gifts work to move forward the worldwide mission of Love, Peace and practical support. What an inspiration to hear concrete examples of God’s transforming Power.

Lorelei’s work involves training women to create lovely things which can be sold to help support their families. In the process, they are taught valuable life lessons and how to succeed in a small business. Our hallway was laden with attractive, colorful crafts from Haiti, Kazakhstan and Kenya, to name a few. What fun we had choosing things to take home with us! What treasures!

Our time together included assessing our own gifts. As we interacted in small groups, we were given reinforcement and encouragement while exploring our strengths. Then, with the understanding that sometimes friction arises between people of different strengths, we were asked to make skits!! What a hilarious time we had sharing them!

As usual, workshops were offered on Saturday afternoon. Each was outstanding in its own special way. We are grateful to the ladies who shared their talents. Thanks to the early morning stretching group. Many ladies luxuriated at the nearby onsen as well. It’s also such a great place to enjoy the outdoors.

And participants from the hula workshop shared in the worship service — lovely! The puppets shared twice in our worship service. It was an unexpected and powerful way to receive the message that God has given each of us unique gifts. Such fun!!

A generous offering was taken and sent to two organizations working in the Tohoku region:

The Nozomi Project in Ishinomaki. The women Lorelei worked with, the week following the conference, all have a stories of pain and loss surrounding the tsunami. But they are finding tremendous relief and joy in creating exquisite pieces of jewelry from the shards of pottery washed up onshore. This organization is now an arm of www.creativewomenoftheworld.com

Renew Yamada: This organization was also helped by our offering, to rebuild a school and community in Iwate, Japan.

I’m confident that we will carry this Spirit filled experience, the friendships, the rich understandings with us into the moments and days to come. What a gift to treasure!

Special thanks to Lorelei Ver Lee and the committee and the many who prayed.

We look forward to having you join us at the Women’s Conference 2014 — Jan. 31 – Feb. 2. We hope that the well-known author, Sharon Draper will be our speaker. The Conference has no permanent organising committee, so new volunteers are always welcome. If you would like to help out in any way with next year’s conference, please email us at woconjapan@gmail.com.

Here are a few photos from this year’s conference. To see more please take a look at the album on our facebook page.

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wocon2013 fun group photo

Some people keep complaining to me (jules, treasurer and webmaster) than the rates go “up and up”. It isn’t true! Rates have been very flat (in fact they have decreased slightly) since 2009 (when the western style rooms were refurbished and the rates for those rooms increased). We have, however, altered the discount categories in order to try and encourage new women to attend. For posterity, the rates for 2013 are posted below:

First Time Rate:
18,000¥  – Japanese style: futon, 2-4 per room
23,000¥ – Western style: twin rooms + some singles

Regular Rate (paid by 10th January):
24,000¥ – Japanese style: futon, 2-4 per room
31,000¥ – Western style: twin rooms + some singles

Late Rate (Paid after 10th January)
29,000¥ – Japanese style: futon, 2-4 per room
35,000¥ – Western style: twin rooms + some singles

Bring a daughter (age 14+) special rate:
18,000¥ – Japanese room, 23,000¥ – Western room

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