Through the Valley - the 57th Women’s Conference
Tis the season for the official kickoff and open invitation to register for the Women’s Conference 2014. The conference is being held at Amagi Sanso from January 31st to February 2nd, 2014. (Please note the schedule is one week later than usual - which may be good for many teachers!)
Mark your calendars now and register early (by November 30, 2013) for a discount! The registration form is provided online here and payment instructions (via postal transfer) are posted as well. (If you need any registration assistance, please contact the registrar, Kelley Davidson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
THEME AND SPEAKER INTRODUCTION
Women’s Conference 2014 features a walk “Through the Valley” with keynote speaker and educator Sharon M. Draper, whose books have been listed on the NY Times best-sellers’ list. Sharon will share her insights on guiding our spiritual walk through dark and difficult times to a place of peace and joy. The beautiful poetry of the Psalms, particularly the Psalm 23, will be emphasized throughout the weekend.
Co-chairpersons Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud and Sarah Oba met the speaker last year during Sharon’s tour of international schools in the Tokyo/ Yokohama area. Sharon was awarded the Sakura Book Medal for her novel Out of My Mind, whose main character is Melody - an 11 year old girl with cerebral palsy who struggles to be understood in her school. This book was translated into Chinese and Sharon was invited to China as a U.S. literary representative. Sharon will have much to share with us and will also grow in her own journey by coming to know the vibrant women who support Women’s Conference year after year. (We encourage mothers of teenage daughters to enjoy the weekend together as a special memory.)
While exploring the conference theme with Sharon, the community of women gathered at the conference will have time for creative workshops and fellowship. Julie Fukuda returns with a quilting workshop. The labyrinth will be available for a quiet time of contemplation. Sharon will share a writing workshop exercise for the whole group. Carol Sack will grace us with her melodies of the harp. There’s the walk to the waterfall and the trip to the onsen. The planning committee also hopes to introduce new faces and voices. We want to include time to hear from women who work with non-profit groups standing in solidarity with women walking through the valley. Sunday morning is a celebration of worship, thanksgiving, blessing, and communion before we go our separate ways.
CHARTER BUS RESERVATION
If navigating your way from Tokyo to the conference has been a reason not to register, there’s good news! The past two years a charter bus has been reserved and we would like to do that this year, too. There are plans to offer the option of reserving a seat on a charter bus which would leave around noon on Friday January 31st in front of Tokyo Union Church on Omotesando Dori. An email will be circulated to those who have registered in order to announce this option. To finalize your bus reservation, you must reply to the email to secure a reserved seat. Roundtrip fare is 6,000 yen and is paid in cash upon departure. The charter bus will have about 25 seats and is a great way to start the conference fellowship during your journey to Amagi Sanso.
Over the years, personal invitations and “word of mouth” have been the best methods of publicity for the conference. We would like to enlist your support!
1) Please speak to women within your circle of influence and invite them to this enriching weekend retreat.
2) Join the Facebook page here if you haven’t already and send friends an invitation to the event and the page. Information from the brochure is posted on the Facebook page.
3) The planning committee is glad to send brochures or posters. Contact the registrar, Kelley Davidson, at email@example.com with your request as well as your snail mail address.
QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS
Remember to write to firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions about the conference or for assistance with the registration process. We hope to see you there and journey together! Thank you for your prayers and support!
Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud, Co-Chairperson
Sarah McAliley Oba, Co-Chairperson
Kelley Davidson, Registrar
Lyn Sato, Treasurer
Noriko Sakoh, Planning Committee
The 2014 Women’s Conference will take place at Amagi Sanso over the weekend of 31st January to 2nd February. We are thrilled to announce that the world-renowned author and educator, Sharon Draper, will be our keynote speaker. She will be addressing our theme: “Through the Valley.” All of us have walked the valley during our own personal journeys through dark and difficult times. We will be gathering together to consider our travels through the valley and to meditate on the strength, wisdom and growth that can be gleaned from our times of darkness and doubt.
Please join us as we walk the valley together, pushing back the darkness with the same warm fellowship, spiritual nourishment and physical refreshment that women have discovered every year at the Japan Women’s Conference. Our Friday through Sunday retreat will be enriched by Sharon Draper’s engaging talks, her personal stories and her extensive literary background. There will be plenty of time for renewing old friendships, creating new ones and taking time for prayer and meditation. The workshops offered will enrich our journey as we learn how to reduce stress and deal with dark times through prayer, journaling, mediation, and exercise. We are never alone in our walks through the valley. Our Creator and Lord is always with us and we are gifted with friends and helpers along the way.
Our journey “Through the Valley” will culminate with “dance on the mountaintop” as we gather for a communion worship service on Sunday morning before we go our separate ways once again. This year’s Women’s Conference will be an adventure that you will not want to miss. Please grace us with your presence. Bring your lovely self and feel free to invite along some friends and colleagues as well.
We are looking forward with excitement towards another great Women’s Conference. Please spread the word about the conference by sending out the address for The Women’s Conference website (It’s easy to remember: “wocon.net”) and by sharing and liking the Women’s Conference Facebook page. Feel free to comment, post and share links via the Facebook page as this is an easy and fun way to share news and photos relating to the Women’s Conference.
If you would like a packet of brochures, flyers or posters to help advertise the Women’s Conference, please let us know and we will send the materials to you. I will be making church visits from September through early December to get the word out. Please let Sarah Oba know if you would like to schedule a short presentation at your church as she is drawing up a schedule.
Sarah Oba and I are honored to be the co-chairs this year for the 2014 Women’s conference, and we look forward to seeing all of you there.
Your Sister in Christ,
Contact email: email@example.com
Sharon Draper’s website: sharondraper.com
Women’s Conference website: wocon.net
Facebook page: click here
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 shared powerful and compelling stories. She showed how each one’s gifts work to advance 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. Amagi Sanso is also a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
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 are thrilled to announce 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few photos from this year’s conference. To see more please take a look at the album on our facebook page.
We are happy to announce that REGISTRATION for the 2013 Women’s Conference at Amagi Sanso IS NOW OPEN! For information and online registration, please click on the following link: http://wocon.net/?page_id=44
We have an exciting Conference planned on the theme, “Treasuring Our Gifts.”
I recently had the pleasure of talking with our speaker, Lorelei Ver Lee. She is very excited about the Conference. She will be sharing fresh messages she’s receiving from the new artisan training program she has started as an
International Advocate in Kenya.
At the Women’s Conference, we will explore together new gifts within each of us and ways to express them.
The Planning Committee is enjoying putting together another meaningful Conference with amazing workshops and other exciting events. We hope you will join us again this January and make this a most memorable weekend in beautiful Amagi Sanso!
“Treasuring our Gifts” — YOU are a gift. Please mark January 25-27, 2013 on your calendar and register soon!
Chairperson of the 2013 Women’s Conference
Greetings! I hope you are well and enjoying the summer.
I would first like to express my gratitude for what this Women’s Conference has meant to me. While tending to my family and work, I felt a lack in the area of women friends. ”WoCon” has so gracefully helped to fill my longing for wise and creative friends, while nurturing my understanding of God. What a wonderful way to work together as a community of Christians!
Won’t you join us at the 2013 Women’s Conference and Retreat at Amagi Sanso on the Izu Hanto? It will start on Friday the 25th, Saturday the 26th and end Sunday the 27th of January. Please note that this is the last weekend of January. Our website is up: http://wocon.net, and we have a new Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Womens-Conference/373702912668052) Please check them both for the latest information.
‘Treasuring our Gifts will be our theme. The aim is to enable us all to recognize our God-given gifts and identify how we can better use and expand them to glorify God. The organised activities will include time with our facilitator and, of course, workshops led by the talented women living in Japan.
We have the privilege of having Lorelei Johnson VerLee as our guest speaker. She is a pastor’s wife and mother of two. Since high school she felt called to work with missions and somehow combine that with her specialty — art. In 2007, she helped train Haitian women to support their families by creating embroidered cards. In 2011, she broadened her reach and started:
Creative Women of the World
Www.Creativewomenoftheworld . COM You can find out more about Lorelei on her website.
We will also be exploring the lives of several outstanding women form the Bible and relating them to our theme and then to our own lives.
We look forward to welcoming you to what will be a wonderful time together. Understanding how busy everyone is, we ask that you mark it on your calendars now.
With gratitude and prayers for another great conference.
email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Almost all registrations for the Women’s Conference are now made online through the website, so we will not be sending out brochures to out whole mailing list.
Therefore, please let us know if you require a brochure, or would like a packet of brochures to advertise the conference to your friends and acquaintances.
Sixty one women attended the 2012 Women’s Conference, at Amagi Sanso 20-22 January, which was based around the theme of “Relive, Revive, and Restore”. More than half the women attending this year were “first timers”.
Our speaker this year was Koko Kondo, who was an 8 month old baby when the nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, within 2km of her home. Over three sessions she shared with us the story of her amazing life. The workshops were both enjoyable and useful, thanks to the generosity of the leaders, sharing their understanding and knowledge with us. There was time before dinner for relaxation at the onsen. Others used this free time more actively, walking in the rain to the waterfall. Teresa Sherril led the worship at the Sunday Communion service which included a prayer performed by the interpretative dance workshop lead by Melanie Sinex. A thought provoking sermon was given by Gail Mundt from Tokyo Union Church.
Conversations around mealtimes and during freetimes fostered new friendships and deepened old friendships. Upon leaving, one new attendee was heard proclaiming: “next year, I’m bringing a few of my friends.”
Some photos are below. The full album is available on picture trail. Email me at email@example.com for the password.
Best wishes for the rest of 2012, and see you at Amagi Sanso next year. The Conference, to be held on the last weekend of January will be themed around “Treasuring our Gifts”.
Sadly Ruby Sakuma passed away (after a long bout with cancer) on 2nd March. She did not make her illness public, and most of us were very surprised to hear of her passing. She was a shining light at this year’s conference:
The March 11th triple disaster introduced dramatic changes in our lives. It disrupted our habits, our emotions, our health, our relationships, finances and kept us uncertain of our future. However, it also opened doors to take Christ out of the church into the community. Some participated in aid and relief operations, offered their homes for safety, prayed, counseled families who lost their love ones, and much more.
In the book of 1 Kings 19, Elijah participated in one of the greatest moves of God ever… He literally summoned God’s fire from heavens. Afterwards, he was so mentally and spiritually depleted that when Jezebel threatened to kill him, he ran for his life and ended up alone in the desert. He was so disillusioned that he asked God to kill him right then and there, but that is the opposite of what God did. God did not scold him or tell him to suck it up, nor he did not tell him to have more faith. He did not make him feel guilty for being depressed; instead , God told him to rest and sleep and then He sent angels to bring him food to eat. It wasn’t until he was physically, spiritually and mentally strengthened that God sent him back into ministry.
Even Jesus himself taught the disciples about the importance of solitude and rest in the Christian walk. Jesus himself retreated from the crowds alone to commune with His father in prayer. If Jesus needed it, how much then do we need it? God’s heart for us is to be renewed, and to remind us of how good He is, and who we are as His children.
Having said that, may we invite you to take time out of your overscheduled life for a special weekend ( January 20-22) of worship, meditative prayer and adoration, big group session, workshops, time in nature and the onsen, all designed to rest your weary body and rejuvenate your tired soul. Amagi Sanso provides the beautiful place, God will provide the rest.
This year’s theme is “Relive, Revive, and Restore”, and we have invited as our guest speaker, Ms. Koko Kondo, a symbol of peace and the image of a strong Christian woman who faced uncertain times. Her powerful life story as a Hiroshima Bomb survivor at the age of 8 months proved that God’s grace and mercy will sustain us through to the finish. She didn’t make it through by turning out the lights and crawling under her bed, but by taking one tiny baby step of faith at a time until she made it through. God has given her a chance to honor Him through this harrowing experience, and is accomplishing great things through her.
Come with open mind, and open heart for God and enjoy the fellowship with one another. We hope to see you there!
In response to the Great Tohoku-Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami, The Women’s Conference have donated this year’s Sunday offering to Second Harvest Japan to support the relief effort. See Second Harvest’s blog (here), for insight into the situation and news of their activities in Tohoku. The total amount donated was 100,000¥.
Fifty three women (and two babies) attended the 2011 Women’s Conference, at Amagi Sanso 21-23 January, which was based around the theme of “Health and Healing: Mind, Body and Spirit”. The Conference this year was led by women resident in Japan. Plenary sessions on Friday and Saturday were led by Rev Susan Townley, who made the scriptures come alive through vivid storytelling. Debbie Umpig-Julia led the group singing while Carol Sack sang Taize and played the harp. In a departure from the format of recent years, the workshops were spread over three sessions with 4 options for each session, covering a wide range of activities related to the theme. There was then time before dinner for a time of relaxation at the onsen. At the Communion service Susan spoke once more, while Claudia Genung and Keiko Gray danced and led the whole group in a free dance.
An album of photos taken by Julia Hargreaves, Karen Seevers and Roxanne Buacaria are up on Picturetrail at this link. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the password. Next year’s Conference will be held at Amagi Sanso 20-22 January 2012, and will be based around the theme of empowerment for all women.
Registration is now open for the 2011 Conference, to be held on the 21-23 January at Amagi Sanso. Please click here to go to the registration page. Please email enquiries to the 2011 Women’s Conference chair, Karen Seevers at email@example.com.
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