Thursday, September 30, 2010

Understanding Thursdays

Occasionally I mask a complaint about Thursdays on Facebook by telling my Thursday to "bring it!" or that "you will not defeat me."  You see, Wednesday is my day off, and Thursday is Sara's day off.  Frankly nothing here is massively hard to do, but Thursday is when Sara and I are not partners; it's the day when I'm on my own.  I wouldn't mind it so much, except that it's like being thrown in the deep end.  Right after the day when I don't have to do anything, I'm prepping booked rooms & helping out with toddler club and Sara's not there.

I emphasize again, none of it's hard, it's simply the contrast.  There's also the issue that I'm not a morning person unless you're talking about the wee hours of the morning - when I still haven't gone to sleep yet...  And on Thursdays, there are typically bookings that need to be ready between 8-9:30 AM, so I have to get up early and trot around to get the rooms ready and then it's off to Toddler Club.

I look forward, in a way, to the solitary work; I just like it better in the afternoon.  Why do I look forward to it?  My iPod.  That's an odd answer, I know, but on my iPod are old and newly forming playlists as well as audiobooks and a bit of dramatized Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  Unless I'm extremely tired, I don't take audio content in well while I'm sitting still and doing nothing.  So while I'm retrieving, filling & plugging in semi-heavy water heaters, grabbing tea & coffee, sugar & milk & spoons for the rooms, setting up tables & chairs, (which is all mostly just motor activity vs. mental) I do a lot of important thinking & processing.  There's something about my hands and legs being so busy that it makes my brain really receptive to music & books...

Toddler Club is a festival of cuteness, but somehow it's honestly not really my thing.  Plus, I've been battling a cold this week and so it's not a great idea to be near the children anyhow - I head to the restroom every time I need to blow my nose and wash my hands immediately afterwards.  I love babies & toddlers, but I need a relationship with the baby to be happy to see him/her no matter what time of day, and so when it's a mass of cute toddlers I barely know, I'd be more likely to be social in the afternoon, but since that isn't the case (and I wouldn't trade with Sara; she has two Toddler Club shifts on Wednesday - I've only got one on Thursday - she loves it, btw) I classify it as character development and a patience laboratory.  I don't dislike it, it just doesn't really register anywhere, so I go and am as helpful as I can be, taking initiative whenever I can and I'm slowly getting to know the parents who come.

I don't think I've explained already that Toddler Club for me is 9:30-11:30 AM every Thursday.  Mainly mothers bring their children (I've never seen two parents of the same child come to Toddler Club...yet) and they play with the toys we set up, put on simple dress-up clothes while the mothers (and the occasional father) either play with their kids or sit & talk with each other.  At 10:30, sliced bananas & grapes are handed out as well as sippy cups half-filled with diluted juice.  There are also generic biscuits for the toddlers.  For the parents who come, tea, coffee & hot chocolate are available as well as fancier biscuits with chocolate & whatnot fillings.  We get the toddlers' fruit & sippy cups ready so they can just be passed out, and I'm on standby to make whatever hot drinks the parent wants.  At 11:15 is "tidy-up time" where the children and parents get the little toys into boxes and drag all the bigger items into one big pile/area.  At 11:30 the parents are leaving & we clean up.  We sort through the small toys (they go in specific bins) and put all the large play-house type things in the closet, clean the cups & spoons with our NIFTY 10 minute dishwasher (I seriously wish we had them in the states!!) and lock up by about noon.

Thursday afternoon holds a few free hours and then anywhere between 3:30-5pm, I'm returning to the booked rooms to clear or tidy them up.  To tidy means to leave tables & chairs and just take care of the hot drink table & water heater, whereas to clear means to make the whole entire room look like no one was ever there - the whole shebang.

Thursdays are something I pray about on Wednesday night because while they're well within my range of abilities, I don't want to work up any resentment over something that's technically trivial.  So I tell God I don't really like Thursdays and I feel intimidated, but I remember that Thursdays have always been rewarding - not something I've begun to resent and I leave it in His hands.  I genuinely feel like God helps me get up early with much more ease than on other days; Thursdays may feel harder because of the contrast with my lovely Wednesdays off, but they feel like a day in the week when God and I get closer.  So I have a funny conundrum: I dislike Thursdays in anticipation, but I'm grateful for them in the end.  Cheers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Updates Coming Soon!

The "September Swing of Things" was kind of a precursor to when the swinging really started, so to speak.  Life at Stanborough Park Church has been great but BUSY lately, hence the infrequency of my blogging.  So, I wanted to state that soon I will blog about our trip to Thorpe Park (yikes!), Toddler Club (weekly cuteness but at a groggy morning time for me) and Messy Church (a monthly event to reach out to families with small children).

More blogs WILL happen!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The September Swing of Things

I was told when I first arrived that I came during a funny time - when not much was happening, because "everyone's away on holiday" but that things would begin getting busy when we turned the corner of September.  Today is September 9 and for sure, a lot more has happened in 9 days than the last 11 days of August when I'd first arrived here.

In the last several days, I attended my first meeting to plan Messy Church and my first meeting to plan Parallel Service.  I've been booked to plan Parallel's song service on the 18th and then to plan the entire service on the 25th.  We spent 3+ hours disinfecting toys for Toddler Club (which happens Wednesday & Thursday every week, but today's my day off, so Sara is downstairs with the little ones & their mothers; I'll be there tomorrow) and on Monday (i.e., a few days ago) we helped out with our first Seniors Club which happens every other week.  There have been 1-2 days where Sara and I were on our feet all day helping set up & take down rooms that were booked by various groups.  Last night there was something called Tuesday Night Talks (?) that apparently has been done before, but not recently.  I was asked to give the special music, for which I sang Give Me Jesus/Balm in Gilead.  Before I sang, I was helping set up tables, chairs, place settings & helping get the light dinner ready (+helping serve), which began at 7pm prior to the actual service, which began at 8pm.  After the special music, we had the sermon and then Sara & I helped pack up the room and get it ready for Toddler Club, which began this morning at 9:30.

For a little clarification, since that paragraph probably felt like a blur of information, I'll try & start from the top & give my understanding of these services & functions...

Messy Church happens once a month, and it is what it sounds like - a church service that's ... messy.  It's oriented heavily (I think...) towards families with small children but is also for anyone who wants to come - it's quite the event!  Crafts for the kids, etc.  The responsibility I walked away from that meeting with was to try & put together a song service.  Parallel Service happens 3 Sabbaths out of every month.  The 4th Sabbath, everyone gathers in the main sanctuary.  Parallel Service happens right across the hall from the sanctuary in the larger hall that seems to me to be rented the most whether for a club, birthday party or reception of some sort (the 2 funeral receptions I earlier blogged about were in this room).  It's more casual and less traditional than the main service, and is oriented towards people who don't usually go to church, haven't been to church recently or just don't go to church very much at all.

I'll pause for a moment and say that I've seen MANY modes of outreach here at Stanborough Park Church.  The church has many rooms that are rented by various groups, which apparently gets them exposed/aware of the SDA church and shows how we're just as approachable as anybody.  The clubs for toddlers & seniors aren't just for SDA members, but because it takes place in this particular SDA church and is mainly planned & run by SDA members, people who aren't part of our church get drawn in in a very friendly & genuine way.  I think it's great stuff, because frankly I've never seen outreach done like this; it's unique, it's all over the place and because of how they work it into so much of what they do, it comes across (at least to me) as seamless.

Back to Parallel Service.  I like both the main service and Parallel.  For any reading who go to PMC, I'd say that  the main service is a little like 1st service and Parallel is more like 2nd service, except that the main service really does remind me of 2nd service and Parallel also feels like it's got a good dose of the Friday night vespers available to AU-Students.  I hope that made sense...

In the meeting to plan the next Parallel Service, we talked about wanting to get creative worship back in the program, so it's a matter of brainstorming & prayer.  Your prayers would be welcome too!!

Since Toddler Club hadn't been happening during the summertime, the lady who's in charge (my kingdom for a better memory for names!!!), Sara and I pulled out all sorts of toys (it's a good-sized storage closet-full!) and disinfected the plastic ones in hot water with a special baby-bleach.  I didn't realize until later that my hands still smelled like bleach even though I'd washed them about 5 times for other reasons!  Hmm...  But we spent 1 hour on a Wednesday night and then 3 hours the next Monday morning getting all those toys done, and we weren't even there to work on all the toys!  That should tell you how many there are...  After I've actually been present for a round of Toddler Club, I'll have something to blog.

The Monday that we spent 3 hours cleaning toys, we had an hour off for lunch and then were back down at 1pm to help set up for Senior Club.  I thought it was absolutely charming!  Yes, the room was full of elderly people, but it didn't feel that way.  It's run & prepared-for & attended-by seniors, completely.  Between 1-2pm, people were buzzing around, setting up chairs & preparing hot drinks & cake.  At 2pm, everyone else arrived and they went into the sanctuary for an hour of classical violin & piano music given by what looked like 2 accomplished siblings from the congregation who'd volunteered or been volunteered :-)  At about 3, the music was over and they came into the room to sit down for a video after their cake & coffee.  The video was a little documentary on otters in actual wildlife vs. a famous novel depicting otters.  The whole thing was precious!  I'd never seen anything like it, and I thought it was wonderful.  After they left, we put away the chairs & vacuumed and made sure the kitchen was taken care of.

Yesterday (Tuesday) we weren't really busy until about 4pm.  Sara & I closed up a room that had been booked at 4pm and went upstairs for a little longer, then we came down at 5:30 to set up-for and help during the Tuesday Night Talk.  Just for review, there was a light supper between 7-8pm, then at 8:00 there was a welcome & announcements, theme song, special music & sermon.

And now it's today!