Handmade Souvenirs and Highlights from the 2019 Love Never Fails International Convention In Miami

Hello, dear crafty peeps! As all eyes turn toward Miami for the Super Bowl today, I thought I’d finally post a little about the souvenirs I made and the program of the Love Never Fails international convention that we attended at the Marlins Stadium in Miami, FL last July.

Marlins Stadium in Miami has an amazing retractable roof… we were thankful, in the sweltering summer heat, to have the roof closed and the a/c on! 

The international convention was one of 24 held around the world last year, plus hundreds of regional conventions with the same program, with millions in attendance. At the Miami English convention, we had a peak attendance of 28,000, with 5000 international delegates from 49 countries. The program was held simultaneously in English and Chinese Mandarin. (you can see the section for their sessions behind the stage and off to the right where the orange sign is. (You can also see the Miami skyline out the windows.)

The mayor of the city of Miami visited the convention site on Sunday and commented: “I love the fact that the message is ‘Love Never Fails’! It is a very positive message.” He added: “I think [the convention] is nothing but good for any major city in the United States or around the world.”

Several months ahead of time I started making small souvenirs for some of the visiting delegates to remember their special trip. I have enjoyed attending these special international conventions in other countries in the past. I still have mementos from them and wanted to extend the same hospitality to our visitors. I have quite a collection of shells from our beaches and from trips to Sanibel, so I selected some of the larger scallops and drilled holes in them….

It wasn’t as hard as I thought… I only broke one. You just need to make sure you have something thick enough – like several layers of cardboard – to keep from ruining your countertop once the drill goes through the shell.

Next, I decoupaged a convention logo on the inside of each shell, put in a ring and strung them on silk necklaces with a small shell and a ‘made with love’ heart on the dangling chain.

I also made up some small bottles with shells and sand and a note that the recipient was the proud owner of ‘beachfront property.’

I also made a bunch of bracelets with a beach vibe….

(I especially love the large sea turtle with her babies!) Most of the charms were from Bead Gallery (Michaels), with a few by Hildi & Jo (JoAnn)

Last, I made a few abalone shell (Bead Gallery/Michaels — gotta love those 70% off sales!) key fobs  – both feminine and masculine versions. I didn’t get pics of all of them, but you get the idea…

I decided the best way to hand them out would be to put them in small coin envelopes with a small welcoming note and a contact e-mail. It has been great to receive so many thank-you notes and keep in contact with these new friends!

That’s the end of the crafty portion of this post.  For those of you interested in what the program was like, here are a few of the highlights…

I’d say it was like a 3 day training course/spiritual retreat on learning to imitate God in showing love in every aspect of our lives. Each day there were Bible-based discourses, videos, practical demonstrations, interviews and experiences. There were also music videos to start each session and video presentations with dramatizations of Bible accounts, including several from the life of David and the main feature film about king Josiah. And, in addition to singing our regular songs, there was a brand song introduced at the end. There is nothing like hearing 28,000 voices joined in unison – I still get goose bumps listening to the recording! After the program finished on Sunday, no one wanted to leave… half an hour later we were sill in our seats clapping and waving as the camera panned the audience. When they finally turned off the camera there were instantly 28,000 saying “Awww!” in unison… so they replayed the new song (Titled “Unfailing Love”) and we all sang it again as a grand finale!

A couple of highlights from my notes: In thinking of how David treated Shimeai, who threw stones at him (2 Samuel 16:5-13; 19:15-23)… when people throw hurtful words, like stones, at us, apply Proverbs 19:11… slow down and try to understand and make allowances… are they having a bad day? Maybe their background or upbringing makes it hard for them to be kind. Whatever the reason, we can make the choice to imitate our God and do the kind and loving thing and overlook it. Ephesians 5:2 says to ‘go on walking in love’ indicating it should become a way of life for us…. so start now!

One speaker talked about the creatures discovered living in the Mariana Trench – the deepest natural trench in the world…. nearly 7 miles deep.If Mt. Everest were dropped in the Mariana Trench, its peak would still be more than a mile under water! We saw pictures of some of the amazing creatures living down there under the immense pressure of so much water where no light gets through. Then, based on the principle in Matthew 6:26: If God cares for the critters in the Mariana Trench, how much more so will he care for us when facing dark days under pressure?! Likewise, after considering the amazing starry heavens, we came to the same conclusion as Isaiah 40:16, 29… no matter how dark our situation may seem the God who lights the stars can light our way; and no matter how tired we are, the creator of these unfathomable powerhouses can strengthen us!

A ‘hum-dinger’ of an illustration: Vultures fly over the Death Valley desert in search of dead things. But hummingbirds also fly over Death Valley in search of fresh flowers. Each will find exactly what it is looking for… What kind of bird am I? Do I look for the good in others? If so, will find it!

A special feature during the week of the international conventions is the evening of local entertainment put on for the visiting guests. This was held up at the former West Palm Beach Auditorium which is now the Christian Convention Center. The choir, dancers, live orchestra, costumes, stage, lighting and sound, choreography, original songs… everything was done by volunteers from the local congregations. It was an incredible show! There were native dances by the local congregations such as Tagalog, Hatian Creole and Portuguese. Plus they did a tribute to many of the visiting countries, too.

Afterward, all were served a meal with a good variety of local cuisine. All-in-all, it was an unforgettable experience!! Thanks for ‘attending’ this special event with me! Goodness, I didn’t mean for it to be longer than the half-time show. lol!

Personal update: Dad will continue chemo until the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer center, which is now a NCI-designated cancer center finishes installing new state-of-the-art MRI guided high-dose radiology equipment (eta – the end of March) and then he’ll get radiation. I was surprised to learn the challenges of traditional radiation in targeting ‘mobile’ tumors, such as those located in the pancreas as well as adapting to constant changes in anatomy (such as stomach and bowel and even from taking a breath). Having the ability to visualize the tissues simultaneously during treatment with the MRIdian Linac allows precise aiming and minimizes the exposure of adjacent, normal tissues to high doses of radiation thus decreasing side effects. A five day treatment will be so much easier for him than the five to six weeks usually required for more conventional forms of radiation! And, other than the possibility of ulcers, there should be minimal side effects. As for me, I’m going through a lot of tests (most haven’t been done since my original diagnosis 12 years ago) in an effort to have plenty of support for my long-term disability appeal. (They abruptly cut me off the end of November, but didn’t let me know until Dec. 23, after I called wondering where my check was. Argh!) So, I’m even more exhausted than usual and have much less energy for crafting and posting. I will try to get caught up on the few projects sitting in the lonely ‘drafts’ folder as I can. Thank you all for your continued encouragement and frequent e-mails!

Hugs,

~D.Ann

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