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!
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
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! 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 via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!