“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10 NLT
“You Get What You Pay for.”
The “set” we used for the first year of the drama is not exactly something we look back on with pride. The Tuckers’ yard had a playhouse that we turned into the “gates of hell” without too much work. We decided the swing set in front of the playhouse would be the frame for the Empty Tomb. We took old sheets I had collected from a local nursing home, draped them over the bars, painted them with various shades of gray, and tried to make the Tuckers’ round picnic table look like the stone by rolling it on its side and wrapping it with the remainder of the sheets and spraying it with the last of the spray paint. (I’m afraid the only realistic thing about it was how heavy it was when the angel rolled it away.)
Since we were without a sound system, not to mention any performers who could project, especially outside, it was clearly going to be hard to get the point across. Our “sound system” was a boom box, and the volume of the “boom” depended largely on how windy it was on any given rehearsal day. Since most of the people involved in the drama were our children and some of their friends, getting them to listen carefully for their cues, helping them to remember what to do, and holding their attention was … “somewhat challenging…”
Who am I kidding? It was like herding squirrels.
We needed a mature actor to play the part of the devil, someone who could lip-sync “No One Believes in Me Anymore” and remember numerous stage directions. It also had to be someone who could tolerate working with young kids. Fortunately, my daughter Joanna’s father-in-law Tom was a very sweet guy as well as a seasoned actor with the local theater group, and he agreed to help us out. Surrounded by grade school kids, he resembled one of those charismatic adults that kids love to hang out with, which can be either endearing or creepy, depending upon who that person turns out to be. When it’s the devil, the image made quite a statement.
Deficiencies and Distractions
Rehearsals were sort of hit and miss. Since the children couldn’t drive themselves to the Tuckers’, they were dependent upon their parents, and so were we. So, attendance was irregular, at best.
Then there was the general environment of the rehearsals. October in Michigan isn’t exactly predictable, and young children are predictably unfocused. After I had finally succeeded in getting and holding their attention, a raindrop or two would elicit shrieks, and immediately several of them would want to run inside.
Then there were the bells.
Across the street from the Tuckers was a Lutheran church with bells that chimed every fifteen minutes and played a minute or two of hymns every hour on the hour. These bells drowned out my puny boom box and were enough to distract the children yet again. I remember wondering more than once what we had been thinking, and whose crazy idea was this anyway?
Meanwhile, In the Dining Room…
While I was working with the kids, Kelly Tucker gathered a group of women around her dining room table, where they filled the gallon Zip-loc bags with tracts and treats, and loaded hundreds of the bags into big plastic bins. The fellowship was sweet, I’m told. This was the group of women who had been meeting at least once a week to pray for months before the outreach. I would have loved to join them. But I was outside squirrel-herding, trying to shout over the church bells and children’s chatter, and praying the rain would hold off just one more hour…