This post is part of the MennoCon23 #BeTransformed series. MennoCon23 will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, July 3-6.
Hugo Saucedo is an elementary school principal in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Danielle, and two kids. Hugo has been volunteering at convention since the 2003 convention in Atlanta, Georgia, and has served in a number of capacities. Hugo enjoys live music, traveling and sampling local cuisine.
The first convention I attended was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1993. I was 16 years old, when my youth group drove from Brownsville, Texas, to Philadelphia. In spite of the long drive, the memories I made have stayed with me to this day. I remember enjoying the company of so many different types of people from around the country, and possibly even the world. For the first time in my life, I was able to see much of who I was as a Mennonite in the lives of people who came from very different backgrounds. After a 10 year hiatus, it was this first experience that led me to volunteer in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2003. I have spent the past 20 years volunteering at convention in one way or another. My time as a volunteer has been equal parts educational and spiritual. In many ways, my time volunteering at convention has also been therapeutic, especially in the past few years..
Convention serves many purposes. It is a way for us to come together and enjoy one another’s company, and it is also a way for us, as Mennonites, to shape our identity. Although convention is not as well attended as it was 20 or 30 years ago, it is still a way for us to reignite the spiritual fire that makes us siblings in Christ. We may not always agree on everything, but by coming together, we guarantee the opportunity to better understand one another.
I think that is what has kept me coming back to volunteer at convention. I have had my fair share of disagreements during the many conventions I have volunteered at, and I even boycotted one, but I have come to truly appreciate the special space that is convention. I have made so many wonderful friends, who I continue to enjoy and to whom I owe much of my spiritual growth over the years. In many ways, convention is a big family reunion, and I get to relive my memories of Philadelphia ’93, even as a much older adult.
It is these special relationships that I have built over the years that make convention so fulfilling for me. Likewise, I get to help create space for a new generation of Mennonites to experience what I did as a 16 year old all those years ago. We all have our reasons for coming to convention, but for me, the most important reason is the space that creates possibilities for spiritual and emotional growth.
If this is your first convention, savor every moment. If this is your 10th convention, create the space, both physically and in your heart, for all to enjoy.
I look forward to seeing you all in Kansas City, Missouri, for MennoCon23. If you see me, don’t let my “mean principal face” scare you, come say hello, and let’s enjoy our big family reunion together.
Register for MennoCon23 by May 14 to receive the discounted early bird rate!
Interested in volunteering at MennoCon23? Apply here!
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