The National Missionary Convention this year was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the 50th anniversary since our Grandpa was President of this same Convention.
Grandpa, as part of his missionary work in southern Africa in the 50's and 60's, helped to commence the American presence at the Mashoko mission in Zimbabwe, back in the 1950's. Here is an excerpt from his book:
This great field had its beginning about the year of 1928 through the efforts of the Dadaya (New Zealand) missionaries, and in spite of personnel and financial difficulties...yet the field was maintained and the work remained alive. By the year 1955, however, it became apparent...that the New Zealand Churches of Christ could no longer carry [Mashoko]...which resulted in my immediate journey to the field and the New Zealand Churches giving the field over to the American support and development and ultimate supervision.
Brother Pemberton showed [me] the amazing development on the great new head mission station. Just two years to the very day earlier than this, I had first seen the Mashoko field.... Now four new buildings were completed at a completely new site, and three more were in the process of being built--this besides two new out-school buildings....Three hundred yards below us and to our right in a large open area of several areas extent would one day stand the new hospital. Four hundred yards directly in front of us and far below, stood the school block already partially constructed, and John explained how it would look when completed, and far down below the school buildings Brother Pemberton pointed out where the Mashoko mission chapel would one day stand just above the road. Here, unfolding before us, was an ambitious plan, already well-advanced, for a beautiful mission station on a potentially great mission field.
We had the opportunity to meet the grand-daughter in law of the John Pemberton mentioned in the excerpt above; the Pembertons still work in Mashoko, which is a medical mission and now also operates an orphanage.
It was very exciting to me to be able to ask about this mission -- how it has remained strong in spite of all the terrible things happening in Zimbabwe. It is of course, God's hand and protection -- and also because of the faithfulness of American supporters sending American dollars, allowing the workers at Mashoko to buy supplies from South Africa. Many, many people have been helped because of the faithfulness of both the missionaries and the homeland supporters over the last 50 years -- not to mention the fortitude of the original New Zealanders who refused to give up the mission for lost even when they did not have the resources to carry the work themselves.
Many missionaries have children who then become missionaries themselves, and the same is true in my family. Dad and his brothers ended up settling and ministering to Australians. This is my uncle in his booth at the NMC.
I always loved missionary conventions as a child. It was a wonderful way to learn about other countries, not as tourists and sightseers, but as friends and helpers. It was exciting to learn that you could help people who didn't know how to read, or didn't have Bibles, or couldn't see or hear. I never could hang out with missionaries for long without wanting to be one, myself.
I hoped that my own children would catch a little of that excitement today.
At one point, we gathered all of the family present at this year's convention, to make a memory of the gathering. In some ways, a missionary convention is kind of like a big family reunion. Some missionaries, who only come stateside every few years, will only see old friends, and sometimes family, at one of these conventions. So it is a very convivial atmosphere.
Unfortunately, baby was very out-of-sorts with a nasty diaper rash, and had slept through lunch so was thirsty and hungry to boot. We had to leave early, in spite of the best comfort and distraction we could offer.
Even his great-uncle Ken tried, but, no. We had to go.
I do hope that the NMC went well for everyone!