CANFP Returns to LA Religious Ed Congress

June 2, 2023 Article by  

Debi Hoppe and Sheila St. John at LAREC 2017

It was rewarding to return to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress to share NFP resources, after a two year hiatus. Veteran CANFP Professional Members Joan Noyes of the Los Angeles region, and Debi Hoppe of the Orange region, both of whom have staffed the CANFP exhibit over the years at LA Congress, (as depicted in pics), joined Executive Director Sheila St. John, of the Monterey Region, in serving the needs and interests of the visitors to the CANFP exhibit. In addition to representing NFP resources from three different regions, Joan, Debi, and Sheila also brought a combined 95 years of experience teaching NFP, each of them expert in a different NFP method. It was a concrete expression of the mission of CANFP: The California Association of Natural Family Planning supports and unites users, providers and advocates of all methodsof NFP, respecting differences in methodologies and focusing on common goals. It was wonderful to experience again the networking, support, and community that is shared by CANFP members as we collaborate to bring NFP education and services to all of California.

Joan Noyes

Joan Noyes staffing CANFP exhibit 2006

Four visitors to the booth were NFP teachers themselves, who sought out the CANFP exhibit to access resources and advice, on everything from difficult charts to the challenges of establishing NFP services in their respective regions.

It is gratifying to welcome the repeat visitors—NFP users or advocates who have visited the exhibit often over the decades we have had a presence at this major event—and hear an update on efforts to promote NFP in their own ministry, consult on challenges new and old, and equip them with resources.

There is always that one interaction, that is a poignant reminder of the importance of our presence. Often, those interactions include tears, and sharing of pain and struggle, and this year was no exception.

Jane (not her real name) began the conversation with a simple question. It does not really matter what the question was, because as if often the case, the question was just her way to begin the conversation she really wanted to have, but did not know how to initiate. Jane’s struggle, sadly, is one we hear often by those who reach out to CANFP. The frequency and repetition of the story, only intensifies the pain and frustration of hearing it from the many who are living it.

Jane and her husband had been trying for years to start a family, unsuccessfully. They consulted their doctor, who ran a few cursory tests, informed them all was normal, and they should be “good to go”—but also referred them to a fertility expert. The fertility expert informed them that the only way they would conceive would be IVF. And that is when the tears started to flow. She said they did not want to do IVF, but felt desperate and hopeless, since the fertility expert seemed convinced that without it, they would remain childless (though their only diagnosis was “unexplained infertility”).

Jane left the visit with a much more robust understanding of fertility within the cycle, how monitoring and charting her fertility would guide effective timing to achieve pregnancy and be vital for a thorough evaluation to actually diagnose and treat the causes of their inability to conceive, referrals to charting experts and physicians trained to interpret it, an armful of educational and supportive resources, assurance of our prayers, a hug and…hope. She left with hope.

Thank you to those who support CANFP, enabling us to provide truth and hope to all the Jane’s out there, who may not hear this anywhere else.