It’s not really that new of a ministry for me at all: the arts and youth have been the main themes of most of my life experiences and opportunities. I get the sense now that all I have done before has pointed towards this. Experiences like tagging along for years to rehearsals/performances when my dad and step-mom were directing shows, starting a youth choir at church and directing a musical when I myself was in high school, participating in countless productions in high school and college, working in the costume shop at Sterling for my on-campus employment, directing all those MADD (music, art, drama, and dance) Camps for youth at Heartland, writing my degree at Sterling so that I could teach any of the fine arts on the mission field, teaching the fine arts at the Denver Street School, helping with and leading youth groups for all of my adult life, directing choirs and dramas at the churches where we’ve served. For some reason, though, it never came together for me before that teaching high school theatre specifically would be a perfect way to combine all of my passions and abilities. But, now the light has finally come on!!! It even goes well with those aspects of my personality which I always felt were negative, like preferring to work on projects rather than on-going responsibilities which never end. All this is to say that, God is AMAZING in how He creates us each to be unique, and then leads us down a path in our life that we may never really know where we will end up, but we can be sure that it ends just the way He wants it to and everything along the way was for a purpose.
This school, is a perfect fit for me. Their purpose statement is, “To inspire and equip students to use their God-given talents for Christ-like service in the world.” Wow. I love that. I pray that I can do that for these students. Especially to help them see how their artistic gifts can be used in their lives to minister to others, to earn a living, to bring glory to God, and to learn about doing that through excellence and integrity in their craft.
So, you may be wondering what this position entails and how it looks for our family. Basically, I only go to the school for afterschool rehearsals (I’m not teaching any classes this year). I started out with two rehearsals per week, then graduated to three, and have just begun doing four. This is only for the last few weeks before the production. I spend most of my day at home, cleaning, cooking, and doing some home school preschool with Sydney. I typically leave the house at around 2:45pm and come home by 7pm, which is when we have supper. Sydney will often come with me to rehearsal and play around back-stage (the high schoolers like playing with her!). Sometimes she’ll stay at home with our househelper, Truphena. The boys come home around 4:15 and work on homework/practice instruments and Andy gets home at 5pm to relieve Truphena. I usually have simple dinner planned that Andy starts and I help finish up when I get home.
Andy is helping out with the play, as well. He is the technical director which means putting the lights and sound together. We’ve enjoyed working together on it all. The boys come to rehearsals whenever they can, as well. They’ve enjoyed watching the set change each time they come and watching the rehearsal, etc. They have no problem with saying they like the movie “Little Women” and seem to be excited to see the story on stage, too. Even this weekend we’ve watched some of their “plays” that they are making up. This was an important part of why we decided I should do this: to expose our kids to the arts more and have it be a normal part of their lives. We’ve even got Tim pulled into it! He’s helping Andy with the lights and will be running the cameras for when we film it.
You may think that I get home exhausted after rehearsal. And I should be, (especially considering that it takes me an hour in Nairobi traffic to get home), but I’m not! I’m always energized by my time with the students, directing, being creative, mentoring, etc. I come home happy to be home and excited to chat with the family about all that happened at rehearsal and to catch up with their day, as well.
Every day at rehearsal we have a prayer time. We go around and share requests and then everyone prays for each other. Without fail, every day, there is at least one prayer request for a student’s parent(s) who is traveling for their ministry work. I’ve begun to see it as God’s gentle reminder to me every day that what I am doing is important. These kids’ parents are traveling to dig wells for people who have no water, to offer medical services where there’s none available for miles, to teach and encourage African pastors who are ministering in remote locations. And each of those parents is able to do their job with peace of mind knowing that their kids are getting a good education and that they are able to have experiences like being in a play and learning about/honing their God-given gifts. So, as if being in the lives of youth wasnít enough reward for me, knowing that Iím touching the ministries of all the parents too is more than enough to keep me going and encouraged that God has me right where He wants me to be.
Going forward, what’s next? Andy and I are both at the point where we both feel that we are exactly in the right ministry for each of us. We are in prayer right now about our future with the school: Should we live closer? Should the kids transfer there soon and how can we help them to make that adjustment? When should I start teaching classes there and how much of a load could I handle? How can we increase our involvement at school while still maintaining Andy’s work with OFM and our community at AIM? Many of these are questions we are looking to answer between now and the time when we come back to the States in May.