Higher Things does something to a person.
I’ve been involved with Higher Things in one form or another since 2007. The summer before my senior year of college, I was called upon to be a College Conference Volunteer (CCV) by Pastor Rob Jarvis, the CCV Manager for the For You conference in Minneapolis. He was a campus ministry pastor from Morris, Minnesota. They needed more college volunteers. He knew that I went to school in St. Paul, and that I was a decent person on account of the fact that I was marrying one of his former members. My now husband, Daniel, was active in the campus ministry while he went to school at the University of Minnesota in Morris. I agreed to serve, but was uncertain of what the week would bring.
What that week at For You was one of the most incredible times of my life. I met wonderful people. I was floored by the sheer force of the preaching and teaching. Plus, I had an amazing time that was fueled by very little sleep. It ended up being life changing, and I don’t say that flippantly.
I had to take 2008 off while getting settled into married life and a new job, but I then brought a group of youth to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the 2009 Sola conference. I was a fairly new youth leader introducing this great organization to a congregation, and, thankfully, they never looked back. While getting reacquainted with some of the HT staff that year, I put myself out there and asked if there was anything I could help with. The following fall, I was asked to plan the entertainment for the 2010 conference in Nashville, Tennessee. That’s when I planned for a conference of 1,100 people to go to a rented out saloon for a night of line dancing, billiards and pictures with giant horses in cowboy hats. We prayed compline in a bar. So, that happened.
Following the 2010 conference season, I was asked to serve as the Housing Coordinator for all three 2011 conferences, and through that process, I was trained to take over as Registrar for the 2012 conference season and beyond. I couldn’t believe that this organization that I had come to love so much found something worthy in me to ask me to take part in their mission. Without hesitation, I agreed. Throughout the 2012-2015 seasons, I served as Registrar and loved it. I truly enjoyed working with all of the group leaders to assist them in getting their ducks in a row as they prepared to attend their first or twelfth conference.
Through the growing and changing of the organization, I now serve as the Conference Coordinator for Higher Things. This past summer, I coordinated my first conference at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. What a ride! Who would have thought something so great could happen in the middle of the corn fields of Iowa? This job allows me to stay home with my two young children while working with an incredible organization, the mission of which is to bring the Gospel to the ears and mouths of youth and adults alike.
I meant it when I said that the week in 2007 that I served as a CCV was life changing. It brought me into the world of HT, which now has become my career. I encourage anyone to take part in these conferences, in any way, if at all possible. You never know where it will lead you.
Crysten Sanchez is a member at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mount Vernon, Iowa.