Ready or Not--Here I come

Ready or Not--Here I come

I love change and moving furniture and being involved in a dynamic organization like The Special Gathering that is constantly looking for ways to make things better and improve.  As a ministry within the developmentally disabled community, there are a myriad of things to learn and experience.  Each day must be a new beginning and adventure.  Though our mission remains focused on discipleship and evangelism, the way we do things is open to discussion and growth.  This brings me a lot of pleasure.

However, there is a down side to change.  That comes when you are asked to change at the last minute and you ain’t prepared.  That was the opportunity we had on Sunday and it turned into an exciting adventure.  First United Methodist Church of Melbourne, our gracious host church in South Brevard, was having a wonderful celebration with all the ministries of the church participating.  Because we must catch our buses to go home, it was decided that we would not have our choir sing or attend the worship service. 

Yet, during preparation for our worship service, we were approached by the pastor and he asked that our choir sing at the beginning of the joint worship service.  “Sing the song you were practicing a few minutes ago.  It sounded great,” the Senior Pastor, John Denmark, requested.  My concern was that the choir had only sung that song about five or six times.   I don’t mean that we had practiced it during six rehearsals.  I mean that we had only sung this song a total of five, maybe six, times.

Singing a new song after so few rehearsals would be a feat for any choir but our members are developmentally delayed.  It seemed impossible.  However, the choir was more than game. “They can’t sing.  They aren’t wearing their uniform,” was heard from several naysayers.  I admit that Stuart’s shorts weren’t appealing to me.  Yet, it was a celebration and this is Florida where semi-formal wear always means clean jeans. 

Leslie is a committed Christian who would be singing the solo for this song in the Christmas play where we intended to sing it for the first time.  Leslie’s smile is amazing and her willingness to cooperate is legendary.  But Leslie’s voice has such a narrow range that most people would call her a monotone.  I found that this song matched the few notes she is able to sing.  However, did I go so far as let her sing during the opening of a celebration with about 1,500 people?  My decision was yes.  And no one was disappointed, especially Leslie.  The tenderness and compassion displayed in her facial expression and especially in her eyes told the listening congregation that this young woman loves Jesus with all her heart. 

I was so proud of our choir but I was especially excited for Leslie.  Excellence is vital in a performance but love is much more important.  Leslie has a terminal disease and we could lose her any moment.  I’m so pleased that 1,500 people could see and witness her desire to please her savior. 

Ready or not–we came and we sang and I’m so happy we did.

Has there been a time that you stepped out when you didn’t feel prepared?  What were the results?

Photo by Volar

Last evening at First United Methodist Church of Melbourne, Special Gathering of Indian River had our first Fun and Games Night.  It was a whopping success.  While Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community that does evangelism and discipleship, we firmly believe that part of discipleship is fellowship and fun.  We had over 50 people who attended. 

All of this began because the Brevard County Recreation Department has its summer camp in July and August.  The rec employees are tied up doing a day camp for children with disabilities.  Therefore, they aren’t able to do the Friday night socials.  Special Gathering of Brevard and Indian River decided to pick up some of the slack and have a party.

Of course, parties are the best thing I do.  And this one was great fun.  We began with pizza and salad.  Then one of our wonderful SpG volunteers, Barbara Kenney, led us in more than a hour of line dancing.  Everyone got into the action and we learned or refreshed our skills in step/toe/heel. 

After more than an hour of this aerobic exercise, we played games.  While they were fun, it ended up being a bit confusing because we hadn’t allowed enough time to organize them properly. 

Lessons learned from this event:

  • There were more than 15 members/parents/volunteers who helped with set-up, tearing down, serving and clean up.  Without a good number of helpers, the night would have been impossible. 
  • Serving food was great.  Pizza is the easiest thing.  With church special discounts given by Domino’s Pizza, the cost was only $2 a head.  Everyone can eat for that amount of money.
  • Serving food was a big pain.  Many more volunteers are required to make food service advisable.  Praise God, people were willing and able to help serve.  We had seven people who were dishing out the food and pouring drinks.  However, there was an additional five or six who were helping people who are physically disabled to get their food.  Most of these helpers were SpG members. 
  • The line dancing was perfect.  Even our parents loved the music and our members loved the fun.  I, being extremely straight-laced, loved the movements.  It was heel, toe, step forward, step backward, spin.  There are no touching or holding.  Perfect for a church event.
  • To do the games, we needed to allot much more time to organize properly.   I would say that at least 5 to 10 minutes was needed to organize the members into groups. 
  • There should be about three or four people to each group with a helper person in each group.  The helper could be a member/leader or a volunteer.  (Unfortunately, because of time restrains, we only had three large groups and no leader of the group.)
  • We had three games going at the same time.  Each game had its own table and one person stationed at the table who helped the members to play the game.
  • The games were the simple standards.  First, eat three crackers and the first person to whistle won.  Second, blow soap bubbles.  The person who blew the most bubbles on the first blow, won.  Third, everyone got a piece of bubble gum and the first person to blow a bubble, won.  Each winner was given a colored card.  Each game had different colored cards.  In this way, we knew who won which games.  We were to then have the winners of the individual games have a tournament.  (We ran out of time and we weren’t able to do the tournament either.  However, we had enough game prizes to give each person with a card a prize.)
  • Our members in Melbourne are pretty high functioning but they weren’t able to whistle or to blow bubbles with bubble gum.  They were all able to blow the soap bubbles. Your members will all be different.  We played the same games in DeLand where the members are much lower functioning and they were able to whistle and blow bubbles with bubble gum but they weren’t able to blow soap bubble. 

    Blowing soap bubbles was the best game we played

    Blowing soap bubbles was the best game we played

  • Soap bubbles are such fun for our members that I plan on incorporating them into more of activities in the future. 
  • We also had two games of Dominos going for those people who didn’t want to play the other games. 

Have you been able to find games that your members especially enjoy?  What are some of them?