Getting to the conference was indeed like The Amazing Race. We tried to sleep a little the night we left but I only slept for about twenty minutes. I caught another 20 or so on the flight. We landed in São Paulo at about 6:30 Monday morning and we took off running to catch a 7:00 bus. Well, I took off running to figure out where to catch it while Russ waited for our bags. That bus took us to a bus station where we bought tickets for a bus leaving in 10 minutes. We headed downstairs to the gate but I guess taking the elevator took too long to get down there (JT was in the stroller) because the bus had already left. Fortunately it was easy to get our tickets changed for the next bus which was only an hour later. The extra time gave us a chance to have a little breakfast. At 11:00 we rolled into Itu and found our way to the hotel. (A bit of a challenge, since we weren't able to get a hold of the person who was going to pick us up and we couldn't remember the name of the hotel! Russ tracked it down and we ended up taking a very expensive taxi all of four blocks.) A quick lunch and then it was time for all of us to take a nap. I managed to sleep for...you guessed it: twenty minutes! I left the boys to sleep and wandered around the hotel, enjoying the peace and quiet.
The conference was awesome. Don McLaughlin, the main speaker, did an amazing series on the book of Hebrews. It was so awesome to just get to sit and learn for a change. The women's sessions were taught by Cindy Roper, a communications prof at ACU, and were about intercultural communication. The guys' sessions were taught by Steve Allison and I'm not entirely sure what the official theme was but it had something to do with learning to express their feelings and not be such jerks or something like that. All I know is that for the first time ever, the women's class didn't involve crying and the men's class did!
Itu (pronounced E2) is a cute little town and we had a little time in the afternoon for sightseeing. They're known for having big things so we got some giant souvenirs.
We spent one afternoon at the "Chocolate Farm", a cute little place full of yummy shopping. We picked up some chocolate (duh!) and some salami. The farm part was beautiful and there were lots of animals for Jackson to see.
It's such a blessing to get together with all of our missionary colleagues. We have so many common experiences and we have a lot to learn from each other. But we also have a lot of fun together, which was most evident at the talent show on Thursday night. I'm happy to say that Russ and I won second place with our act, winning a "trophy" of a giant Q-tip (one of those Itu souvenirs!).
I love getting to go to the missionary conference because we get to travel to new parts of the country. But somehow we walked away having volunteered to host the conference in Salvador next year! It'll be a lot of work but I'm looking forward to getting to show off our part of the world!