This is part seven in the ten part series on my ministry trip to Ontario. In the last post, we crossed the border into Canada, listened to Ron Luce open the conference, and discovered the reason for Lilibeth’s crankiness. You can start with part one if you need to catch up.
I awoke early Saturday morning to make sure I was ready to greet our booth visitors at the Hamilton, Ontario conference. I loved the enthusiasm of the 4600 youth, youth leaders and parents rushing to their seats. The teenagers did not seem to mind the short sleep of the night before. They burst through the doors as if they owned the place with their bleary-eyed chaperones dragging in the rear.
Our experience thus far in two Acquire the Fire events is that not many people will spontaneously stop by our booth to visit until after either Kalyn or I have a chance to share our messages with our respective audiences. We must be seen as those strangers standing in front of life-size posters who are obviously not dressed like band members ready to give autographs.
At this event I decided to be more outgoing to the crowds as they passed through the busy hall. I figured my job was to personally greet every attendee who seemed of adult age. “Are you coming to the parents’ session tomorrow?” became an effective greeting that took them off guard. Most of them were unaware of the scheduled parents’ session but were genuinely touched that someone “from the top” seemed to acknowledge their importance in the sea of a youthful throng.
Parent of teens, I have decided, need their own organizational name. We have all heard of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). Should we try POTS – Parents of Teens? We are an interesting breed of mid-lifers. Some of us arrive at our teen parenting years relatively young and fresh. But most of us are already lamenting some loss of youthful edge as we watch our young ones arrive at the peak of theirs. It calls us up to a new form of maturity. While our kids think we are so “out of it,” we are trying to convince them—and ourselves—that we are not!
I was so excited to be meeting once again with my tribal group. When I discovered our meeting room, though, I was slightly dejected. In a big arena you sure would think someone would plan for a decent secondary conference meeting room. But no, that era of construction rarely has a strong second meeting option. We would be holding our assembly in the ground floor backstage area. Right by the loading dock. Not real scenic, I mused. And potentially very loud as we were literally right off where the main stage speakers were projecting. I quickly checked the schedule to see if any bands would be opposite our meeting. Not likely if the schedule stayed on course. So I did my best to make our sales table as homey as possible and went off to get breakfast.
The backstage team room was ablaze with activity as other staff workers were coming by for food. I was so excited when one of the event coordinators greeted me on my entry. “Good news,” he said. “We have found another place for your meeting. We are in the process of moving all 450 chairs upstairs to a beautiful balcony porch. You did bring a coat, didn’t you?”
Yes, I had worn my winter coat in during the early morning hours. I immediately tried to assess if this was good news. We were in Canada. Were Canadian parents—CPOTS—of hearty, energetic stock? Would they, like the Canadian Mounties, arise to adverse weather conditions? Or would I be the only frozen POT speaking to myself on the veranda? Only time would tell, I reasoned, as I proceeded to the escalator to survey my new assignment.