Today, we had a leisurely morning, waiting for the other 60+ people to fly/drive in. And then at 2pm, the 27 of us who came in yesterday, took a shuttle to the International Mission Board (IMB) building in Richmond, Virginia. That is where are conference is held everyday. At night we take a bus 30 minutes back out to the International Learning Center (ILC).
Since I didn't grow up in a Baptist church, I asked Doug as we pulled up to the IMB if getting to see this building was like Mecca for a former RA. In case you were wondering, he said, "No."
The building is a labyrinth of cubicles and interesting rooms. When we first arrived, the long-term missionary candidates (that's us) were directed to the library where we found a table with our name on it with books pulled for us to read on Uganda and our people group. It was neat to look around the room at the small stacks of books spaced every 6 or so feet for another couple to look at, all books about different countries.
The short-term missionary candidates spent the whole time we were in the library in the lobby looking through books of information trying to choose a job and a country for where they could go. I was thinking how stressful that must be for them. Doug and I had months to talk it over, ask questions and research. These recent college graduates and retired senior citizens have a few days. Some of them had an idea of where they wanted to go, but most didn't.
After a very short amount of time in the library, we went on a tour of the IMB building. We met tons of people, saw Pres. Rankin's office, the prayer room, the prayer strategy center, the media room, the room dedicated to Lottie Moon, and many rooms full of hard-working people in cubicles. My favorite part of the tour was looking at all the pictures of beautiful people on the walls. The photographers who work for the IMB have really captured the spirit of people all over the world in beautiful photographs.
Next, we had dinner with our small groups, led by a Candidate Consultant who is not our regular one. They matched everyone with a different Candidate consultant as an on-going part of our interview. It gives another person a chance to get to know us, and ask more hard questions, so that the IMB has another person's opinion of us. As a small town girl, I kind of feel like a cow walking around the auction ring waiting to see if some farmer wants to bid on me or not.
Our second to last event of the night before getting on the bus to head back to ILC was an in-depth overview of the week. We had a worship service and a great presentation given by three wise gentlemen who work for the IMB. They basically told us why they have to screen us and ask us tough questions and put us through all this.
You know the answer.
This is not going to be an easy journey. They want to make sure this is what we are really called to and if our giftings match with the job we've chosen. And as a giver to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering (100% of which is given to the IMB), I appreciate the IMB taking the time to discover if someone is ready before they use someone else's money (yours and mine) to send them over.
We ended our night in the library getting detail information about certain appointments each couple has to sign up for during the week, what the library has to offer (it is an INCREDIBLE resource for anything you want to find about anywhere in the world), and how the library works. (They will let us check out books from there for up to a month and then mail them back - isn't that cool?!) Of course, I love libraries. I checked out three books tonight!
Since I've been scouring the libraries in Houston for books on our people group and Uganda, I was blessed to see that I had already read three of the books that the librarian had pulled and set at our table, and Doug had already read two.
I won't go into detail about all the cool things in this library because unless you love libraries like I do, you might not care. So I'll just say that I'm looking forward to going back tomorrow!
We returned to ILC tonight, and some couples asked if we would like to visit with them in the lobby area. So, Doug and I and three other couples sat around and shared life tonight.
We are all experiencing the same stuff.
People are asking us the same questions.
We are thinking about the same things on a daily basis.
We share the same thoughts about our children.
We all went through this long process and all have similar stories about it.
We are all anxious about this last interview process this week.
Basically, we are automatically kindred spirits (that's for all you "Anne of Green Gable" fans).
It was a cool experience after feeling estranged in this process for the last 10 months. Not that we weren't loved through it, but that we didn't know anyone else in the process at the time.
Now we have friends in California, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, north Texas, etc. who we know are going through the same stuff AND we get to do life with them in October again when we all move up here.
Anyway, I'm rambling, and we have to catch a 6:50 am bus back to town in the morning.
See ya tomorrow, hopefully.