Hands Canada celebrated their first ever National Conference & Banquet in Calgary on November 21, 2009. From the humble beginnings of the five people that Lynn Chotowetz asked to help out a couple of years ago, we had over 120 people at our evening banquet. They came from Parksville, Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Major, Winnipeg, Toronto and Masoyi. Hands Africa's first ever international volunteer, Maggie from Toronto, was in attendance.
We have connected with several new churches and many new volunteers and donors and we had representation from Westside Kings, First Assembly, Lakeview and St. Martins churches to name a few. The conference itself was attended by 37 committed people and they were intoduced to our newly produced training & advocate manual for our provincial representatives. An afternoon strategic planning session helped us formulate some goals and strategies for the coming year. God was with us all day. He has provided us with a group of voluteers who served with open hearts and new committments to work together. George beamed as he showed us some pictures of Pragcidence and Levy's wedding and as Canadian's we were especially proud to see our brother David walking Pragcidence down the aisle.
George tirelessly spoke at events around Calgary, usually twice a day. Some days he only survives on his passion for the children of Africa, and his deep faith. He speaks truth and people listen and hear. Lisa had to lock him in his room one day to get some much needed rest.
Peoples hearts were opened to see the struggle. We held a breakfast in downtown Calgary at Central United Church and over 60 business men and women showed up at 7:30 in the morning to hear George speak. They were served a small bit of porridge on a frisbee as a sample of what an orphan may get to eat as their one meal for the day. They listened intently and we have many new hearts preparing to reach out. At another small gathering at Ambrose University College when George was exhausted and not enthusiatic about speaking again that day, he said he was ready to run away! We got the committement of 4 people who want to go and serve in Africa, 2 more who want to help out in Canada, and several who want to donate. We were again so vividly reminded that when we are weak, then God is strong!
It is seldom in ones life that you meet a real man of God, a true servant, and we were truly thankful for George's encouragement and support. It was especially moving to know that our compatriots around the world and especially our brothers and sisters in Africa were praying for us. I can tell you that we certainly didn't do it alone. Your prayers were answered and we have an incredible amount of work to accomplish in the next short while as a result. We are truly together.