Every once in awhile you make an amateur mistake. You know, the kind of mistake that makes people say, "you knew better than to do that! What were you thinking?" Yep... I made just that kind of mistake, and I'm paying for it in stress and fretting.
In August, we were asked to take over teaching the youth Sunday school class for awhile. No problem. Then we realized that 'awhile' was going to turn in to 'forever'. Well, okay... we can handle forever... we like these kids and we like teaching, so it's okay. But then came the Christmas program.
Not having been here in Spain for past Christmas celebrations (last year, we were hosting someone from another country and were not in town during the church services), I have absolutely no idea what a Christmas program looks like in this cultural context. But somehow that slipped my mind when the meeting about the program rolled around. I thought I was just sitting in a teacher's meeting, minding my own business and listening to the proceedings. Then, all of the sudden, it slipped into the conversation that the youth would be doing a theatre or drama production during the service "like they always do". They don't always do the same thing, but they always do a drama of some sort. "Oh, okay," I said. "We can do that." I didn't know how, but I figured that it couldn't be too hard. I could pull it off.
It wasn't until after that meeting that I found out that the church usually does NOT do a Christmas program. They usually do a program for the Epiphany on January 6th - the Coming of the Three Kings. This would be the FIRST year for a Christmas program. Oh, and by the way, several key folks in the church are not too happy about it... they don't want to celebrate Christmas, they want to do the Epiphany and the three kings. Oh Great! So now I'm in charge of a drama that some folks don't even want to see because of cultural taboos about Christmas and the Evangelical church. Awesome. Nothing like the missionary coming in and stepping all over some religious cultural norms!
So, I decided to play it safe. Can't go wrong with a word-for-word reading of the Bible's telling of the Nativity, right? Silent actors playing their parts while the Scripture is read outloud. And the pastor gave it a thumbs up, so I'm safe, right?
Well, yeah, except that the reader is one of the guys who was against the Christmas program. I'm trying to build bridges here...
Then I found out that none of my kids can practice or build scenery EXCEPT on Sundays during Sunday school time. Remember, all but two of them are immigrants, and 75% of them do not live in town. None of them drive. And it is time for finals at school (a big deal here). So we are 100% dependent on their parents and their school exam schedules. Yeah, so, we are having to try to do everything during the 1.5 hour Sunday school time. Not working out so great.
Then it dawns on me that I have no idea what it means in this culture to 'decorate the stage'. Are we talking major production stuff? Are we talking about teenagers drawing and painting scenery? Are we talking about lights and props? Oh my goodness... what have I gotten myself in to?
'Mary' just sent me a Facebook message... "Where am I supposed to get a costume? I need help. My mom can't do it, and I don't have any money. Can you help me figure it out?" Costumes!!! Hadn't dawned on me until this weekend. Oh poop...
So now I'm freaking out. I don't know what is expected of this 'production'. I know that some of the church folks are already not happy about it. The scenery is not even close to happening and I am scrambling. I found a few costumes, and I think I can throw something together for the rest. We have one weekend left to pull this together. We haven't ever practiced the entire thing in the sanctuary. Is this even going to fly, culturally?
This may be the end of my stage direction career...
Did I mention that there are also puppets involved? Puppets AND live action. What was I thinking?
The bright side is that the youth are having a blast! They don't seem to be getting anything much done in any orderly fashion, but they are having a great time doing it, and learning a lot of Scripture in the process. That should count for something, right?
Does eggnog sooth stress ulcers??? Probably not...
The Christmas program was AWESOME! Okay, I'm a little biased. But seriously - it was great. We had to get pretty flexible there in the end. The scenery just wasn't happening. The kids didn't have time to work on it during the week and there was no way that I was going to pull it off alone. So, I punted (sorry for the sports analogies). I found some backgrounds for scenery online and we projected them on to a giant sheet/screen that we hung up in front of the church. It was actually cool! We had a scene for Mary's house, a scene for Joseph's bedroom, a scene for traveling to Bethlehem, a manger scene, and a scene for the shepherds in the countryside. The puppet stage was on the right hand side of the live action and the puppets narrated the whole story. The youth were great, the puppets were fun, and it all worked out! The audience loved it!
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!