After hearing from each leader, all of the pastors represented from that region stood up, & people gathered around them to pray for encouragement & also for the specific requests that we'd all just heard.
Afterward, we had a few minutes where we could 'break bread' with each other - pull a chunk off of a flat, garlic loaf, & go to another person to share with them (the bread.) Part of the sharing was to be an opportunity to pray blessing on each other. It was a very moving & powerful time together. I was really touched by the prayers & blessings prayed over me... and by the number of people who said encouraging things to me.
This is the 3rd year I've been at the conference, & so far I haven't 'done' a whole lot - just got to 'be'; spend time with people that were interested in spending time with me, usually over meals & in the gemeindeshaft (fellowship :) time after the service in the bistro - answering questions, listening quietly, & trying to pick up as much as possible what was going on around me. I go because I was invited, & because I feel a 'call' to support the pastors & leaders of Germany - I do that in prayer, at home, but also by being present, & by looking for a person that seems open to talk & get to know each other (aka "the hungry bird" -) It's trusting in God's Sovereignty for provision in the connections that I am to make. It's how I met Roland & how Julia has ended up in our house.
It seems that this year, more than the others, I can feel the acceptance & belonging - I heard from at least 10 people that being present, again, is a point of encouragement, for several reasons:
I don't always get to know the WHY of my call to Germany, or understand HOW stuff is supposed to look or to work. I just want to be faithful to it - & to be an encouragement, a giver of courage to others, that they would be strengthened in their faith, & in their God-given identity & their own call. And it also makes me thankful for Hillside, & for the people I am blessed to know & be known by there. Traveling reminds me how blessed I am, & all the areas that God has shown His favor to me.