Type A Woman with a Spreadsheet

Not only was it on my sandwich (thanks, Erin A.!), this apt epithet for me inspired by an Instagram reel became one of several inside jokes at last weekend's Volunteer Coordinators' Conference - it applies to more than just me, in our line of work. And that was before we broke out Telestrations...

OK, we laugh a lot. But the cadre of missionaries around the world who hold a role similar to mine gels effortlessly at our annual, in-person gatherings:
My taxi driver picked me up at 2:30 am to take me to the airport for my 5 am flight to Lincoln via EWR and HOU. My friend and former missionary colleague Amanda picked me up; I'd stay my first two nights Stateside with her and her husband Brian, a CUNE theology prof. 

Sunday was for resting up, catching up...and dressing up. Beyond worship at St. John Lutheran Church - which did All Saints' Day proud - my only plan for the day was a Zoom dress try-on party with my sister and her other bridesmaids. I'd shipped three samples to Seward, where some sweet little girls were happy to play along. I'm modeling the correct color in the photo, but not the style we landed on

Monday, I spoke in three of Brian's classes: Faith & Life (2x) and Doctrine & Confessions. He dropped me off at the CUNE Guesthouse in time to catch a glorious Midwestern sunset and walk to a local Mexican joint for the official start of the conference: dinner. 

Oftentimes we type As with spreadsheets are so engrossed in not losing anyone (hasn't happened yet) that we never take a step back to think critically about our processes or pit them against industry benchmarks. For me, this conference is that step. I always find myself basking in the opportunity to develop as a professional in my field. A bonus is that we inevitably come with ideas worth pursuing - and pursue them. We've been at it long enough that we can look back on several that have become a reality. Shadow a Missionary? Wittenberg. 

For the 2nd consecutive year, we had a speaker(s) from outside our group. Blake Warren, Manager of Global Business Operations, dedicated an entire day to how our work intersects with his team's: getting money and people across borders. It was like an entire day of when I used to walk into his office with (I thought) a simple question and walk out two hours later having solved all the world's problems but not having answered my initial question.

Blake (2nd from left) AND Brian (3rd from right) joined us for lunch at the CUNE Doghouse. 

The next morning we dug into a) the results of a volunteer preparation feedback survey conducted in the weeks leading up to the conference; and b) the 7th of MissionExcellence's Standards of Excellence: thorough follow-through.

Oh hey, another speaking opportunity: scholae lunch at Trinity Academy, a classical high school on the CUNE campus. There are 5 students enrolled for 2023-2024, its inaugural year. Chelsea & I each shared our missionary stories and took questions. 

That afternoon, I co-led a session with Deaconess Ellie Corrow, who joined us by Zoom. She presented her recent research on third culture kids (TCKs), and I shared how LAC runs missionary kid (MK) program teams. MKs are a subset of TCKs, so there's a clear linkage - a chance to use the LCMS's new Learning Management System to create some specialized volunteer training? 

Last speaking engagement, I promise. As Brian and I went back and forth about Monday, he asked me about a Wednesday night pre-seminary/pre-deaconess group, as well. It fell square in the middle of conference programming...but everyone loved the idea of the students benefiting from more than just me. We shared about the work of pastors and deaconesses in our respective regions, panel-style. 

We wrapped things up midday Thursday, and no trip to NE is complete without lunch at Runza. Shortly after, I caught a ride with colleagues to Omaha, where I'd stay with a former CPH coworker and from which I'd depart for Peru Friday morning to host my final volunteer team of 2023. Today's our first workday; I can smell the bacon cooking as I write this. 

Until next time, blessings in Christ!