AndreadeAvilaAndrea de Avila lives and works in Kalona, Iowa. She served as one of the youth worship leaders at the Phoenix 2013 convention.

I have always been a people person. Maybe that is why I love convention so much. Seeing old friends and meeting new people both excite me. I also consider myself an extrovert. It does not mean that I don’t get nervous around people, but it at least doesn’t stop me from surrounding myself with others. I like volunteering as well, so when you put together all these things, it is not surprising that I agreed to be one of the worship leaders at the last convention [in Phoenix].

I had been to a Mennonite Church USA convention before, but Phoenix was an experience like no other convention will ever be for me. Even though I plan on volunteering again, my experience on stage in front of that vibrant group of believers gathered together to worship gave me a view and a perspective that not all people get when they go to convention. From onstage I could see the youth, the life and the energy that the church has. My hope in the church was strengthened. All the planning, thinking, and traveling was well worth it at that point when we all came together to be in community with our Mennonite (and non-Mennonite) brothers and sisters who came from all across the country or even from abroad.

Worship excites me, and diversity does too! The fact that we had a diverse team of worship planners and onstage staff also gave me hope for the future of the church. Incorporating Spanish songs into our worship, seeking ties with the local Native American churches, offering service opportunities during the week of convention, and educating people through seminars and discussions, to me, is caring for the church.

Jesus cared for the church and its future. He invested time, energy and all he had on people. His ministry included (but wasn’t limited to) service to others, as well as spending quality time with those who were the closest to him. By attending convention we can do both of these things. We can get to know people in our youth group and our sponsors better, and we can participate in service projects that can greatly impact the community in which we gather for that week (and, perhaps beyond!). Plus, we also get to worship with people who we would not otherwise have the opportunity to worship with!

I am looking forward to convention in Kansas City. I will be there volunteering, though in a very different position. Though there probably won’t be another time at convention where I’ll get to experience the same type of “view” that I did at Phoenix, I am exited to see the ways the Holy Spirit will move among the body of believers gathered in Kansas City and the positive ways it may affect my hope for the church.