Last Thursday I left town to attend the annual Women’s Conference from my church. This year the conference was held in Springfield, MO. It’s a four-hour drive to Springfield. It’s through pretty countryside, rolling … and steeper than rolling … hills, mostly covered in green trees of various species. The highway is Interstate meaning four lane divided so that’s not a problem. There were a few places where work was being done on the road but not any major issues that would delay you very much.
One problem did surface, though. I was listening to an audio book as I traveled and after a while, I found myself drifting toward highway hypnosis and close to nodding off. So I cranked up the air conditioning and nearly froze my toes after making a stop at a rest area to walk around a bit. But I reached Springfield about 5:15, had a salad at a Steak & Shake and then ended up parking in a garage about a block from the auditorium where the meeting was being held since I couldn’t find any spaces on any lot any closer.
A friend from Texas was coming to the conference. We were to meet in the registration area. I got in line and picked up my registration material and then proceeded to the auditorium where I found a seat. She had left two different messages on my phone that (1) she had missed her plane and (2) she really hadn’t missed the plane but wasn’t sure she’d be able to meet me at 6 p.m. in the registration area and I should try to sit to the side and save her a seat. I sat in the middle, right on the aisle, toward the back and managed to catch her eye without a lot of trouble once she got there some 15 to 20 minutes later.
I saw several people I know from around the state. It’s always good to catch up with long-time friends I don’t see regularly. I saw one across the room but couldn’t catch her eye. Later that night she had a heart attack and spent the night at a local hospital. She was air evacuated to St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis because that’s where her cardiologist is. She didn’t want any of the local Springfield doctors doing anything, especially since she had some kind of card which made it okay to send her via heliocopter to the hospital here. Saturday her daughter-in-law said she had been through a bunch of tests. They thought it might only be a blockage and had scheduled her for a cardiac catherization Monday. Sunday night at church Pastor requested prayer for her and said she had had several more episodes since arriving in St. Louis. So I don’t know exactly what is going on with her.
The speaker Thursday night was a woman from San Diego. She was just excellent. I so enjoyed the worship which preceded her speaking and then hearing what she had to say. After the service, my friend walked with me to the garage and then I drove her to where she had left her rental car in the far corner of a parking lot behind the “convention hotel.” We left my car in that lot … but under one of the light poles … put my luggage in her car and headed out to find something to eat. We ended up in a different Steak & Shake. Then we headed to Branson and her time share.
It’s an hour’s drive from Springfield to Branson. We were tired and she hadn’t told me what intersection or exit to watch for and before we knew it, we were in Hollister! She got turned around and we went back to Branson, she made the correct turns and eventually we were closing in on the time share. But first she wanted to stop at a quick mart place to get some juice, etc. So she went in and got some apple juice, two bottles of vegetable juice, and a soda, I think it was. Eventually we got to the time share and got our stuff inside. It was about 1 a.m. when we tumbled into bed.
She gave me the bigger bedroom which had a jacuzzi in it (which I didn’t use) while she took the other bedroom which had a regular shower in the tub in its bathroom. She said that was her usual room when she, her mother and her sister would come to Branson. So there I was with a king size bed and I couldn’t sleep. The mattress had no give to it. It wasn’t just that it was a firm mattress; it felt more like it was a mattress stuffed with cotton. There wasn’t much give to the pillows either. So as a result, my arthritis which had been kicking up a mild fuss from the drive down there, got very vocal about not liking this bed. I got very little sleep that night. Just about the time I thought I could doze off, it was time to get up.
We got up, had breakfast and got ready to go to Springfield without a lot of problems. We stopped at a McDonald’s in Branson where she got a coffee and I got an iced tea. She went in to get them because the drive-through was backed up. I specifically told her I wanted iced tea; she put very little ice in the cup so I had lukewarm tea. Ugh! When we got back to Springfield, she wanted to stop at a Walgreens and, amazingly, we had enough time to do that. I ditched the tea in the trash bin outside the door to the Walgreens.
Friday morning there was a different speaker, a woman who is currently making Alexandria, LA, her home. I thought maybe my friend knew her since that’s where her family is but she said, no. She’s heard her family talk about this woman but she had never met her. The speaker was raised as a Hindu and became a Christian after she finished college. She, too, was an excellent speaker.
After the service was over, we visited the various tables with items for sale. A church can rent one of those tables and sell items for their church projects, etc. There was also a silent auction of purses filled with all kinds of stuff. We looked at things but didn’t bid on the purses.
That evening they announced the churches who won prizes in various categories for their Mothers’ Memorial offering in 2009. My local church came in fourth in the district. Then the district leader talked about how she hoped and believed the churches in Missouri could give $100,000 to this effort in 2010. She thought we could raise the tithe ($10,000) in the offering that night. This is the only offering they take at the conference. So they had everyone put her offering in an envelope which was on her chair and then bring it to the front where it was deposited in a bucket. We were given a small candy bar, a $100,000 bar, as we did that. Saturday morning they announced the total offering given Friday night … $10,197.85!
The speaker Friday night was the woman from San Diego. She talked about the treasures which are in the Bible that we don’t know about because we don’t read it. She said that she failed at following the BREAD (Bible Reading Enriches Any Day) program for about three or four years. Then someone told her that she had done the same thing until she decided to read the Bible through for her daughter. As she read, she underlined verses which really spoke to her or ones she felt would be helpful to her daughter. At the end of the year, she gave that Bible to her daughter.
So our speaker decided to do the same thing for her older daughter. She made it all the way through that year and gave the Bible with a letter explaining what she had done to her daughter at the end of the year. She read … and marked … a second Bible for another daughter who wasn’t in the church at the time. Then she did one for her son. She said she’s thinking about the grandchildren but doesn’t know if she has enough time to do one for each of them since it takes a year to do one. But maybe she can do a New Testament. She’s still thinking about that.
After the service, we headed off to find a snack before driving to Branson. We ended up at the Village Inn which was a pancake/waffle house kind of place. We didn’t know that when we stopped there; we just noticed it was still open. We ordered salads. While we were sitting there waiting for our food, two young women came in and nodded and smiled at us. Before she could ask me who they were, I told her I didn’t know them but they recognized us as having come from the same place they’d been. In a bit, one of them came over and said, “Here, have a free meal.” She lives in Springfield and got a coupon on the back of the receipt from the grocery store for a buy one, get one free meal at this restaurant.
We weren’t sure we could use that since we just ordered salads. But the waitress said if we’d order a drink, we could. So we got some decaf coffee to go with our salads. We stopped by their table and thanked them for being so nice to us. And then headed for Branson. We got to bed at midnight that night.
I had another sleepless … or very little sleep … night. I was exhausted the next morning and in SO much pain it was unreal. I was really concerned about having to drive home, feeling the way I did. She said she had the unit reserved through Saturday night and we could stay over if I wanted to. I said, “I’ve had two sleepless nights in that bed, why would I want a third one?”
My friend asked me if we want to do this again next year when the conference will again be in Springfield. I said I didn’t know. I might want to go to the conference but I didn’t want to stay in Branson; it was just too far away. If I go, I want to get a hotel in Springfield. I’m afraid I was a cranky roommate.
It wasn’t long after the morning service started that my friend asked me what was wrong. I told her I was exhausted and in so much pain. I was so tired I was trembling. She prayed for me. After a little while she asked if I felt any better and told me I looked peaked. I felt peaked, for sure. The pain did ease up some, though, and later during a time of prayer another woman came over and prayed for me.
The speaker that morning was the Indian woman who was just outstanding. At the end of the service there was a period of prayer and then one by one people started filtering out. My friend wanted to take a last look at the book stall and I went to the stall where a church sells a bunch of baked goods. That church must be full of good cooks because all their stuff is tasty. I got three packages of brownies because I thought the caffeine in the chocolate would help keep me awake on my way home.
As we walked to the car, those two young women from the night before walked up behind us so we had another nice chat with them. Then we drove to my car, switched the luggage and headed off to have lunch. We stopped at a Fazoli’s where we had a nice pasta/artichoke/spinach/chicken dish. While we were in the restaurant a family group who used to go to my church came in. The daughters came over and hugged both of us. We knew these girls when they were just small so it was rather touching that they wanted to come and chat with us. One is married and living in Springfield and the other is graduating from high school this year.
After lunch, we took off … she to the airport and me to St. Louis. I stopped and got gas and then got on the highway. I stopped several times on the way to use a restroom. At one stop there was a chocolate outlet. What a gip that was! I can buy that chocolate for less money at Walgreens. But in that same little strip of shops was a cheese outlet. I don’t know if the prices were cheaper but I was able to get several varieties of cheese I never see in the stores here plus I found the dill mustard I’ve become fond of. Then I stopped at a McDonald’s in St. James, MO, where I got another big iced tea. I think that was my last stop until I got back to Fenton. I went to Culver’s to have supper and got their pot roast meal … beef in gravy on top of chewy bread, cole slaw and green beans. As I was eating, I thought about how good I was being, what a healthy meal I was having … and then I remembered all those brownies I had eaten. Oh, well …
Even though it was an exhausting and painful trip, I’m glad I went to the Women’s Conference.