24. January 2016 20:10
It was a half day of ministry and the team broke off into 3 smaller teams. I had the opportunity to visit Villas, which I had not been to before. It is a nice colonial with 2 stories and probably one of the older colonials. When you walk in, you get a sense of a sweet spirit in the colonial and a kindness about the people. We were going to host a Bible’s study for the women, led by Heidi, and at the same time put on a kids’ program. There would not be any food trucks or medical clinics – which gave an opportunity for the feeding team and the medical team to serve in other areas.
The pastor, I think it’s Juan Carlos, began by leading worship before splitting off. I did not realize until just before worship began that I would be leading the entire program. The children’s team for that day consisted of Katie our translator, Amy the nurse, and her daughter Caitlyn. Debbie, Uncle Andy, and Aunt Sharon did watch and I had to use them as plants because the kids were a little shy. But they were great at helping the kids understand it was okay to be a bit silly. Amy turned out to be a natural in clown-like behavior. We did the “Your Special Gift” to open up the ministry portion of the program which led into the parable of the talents. While Katie read the story in Spanish, I helped the kids act out the roles of the various servants. I got a lot of laughs with the 3rd servant in hiding the coin and then looking for/digging up the coin. However, the room was crazy hot so we switched to an old song I know from the “Dramatized” drama team called “Akazumba.” I had been teaching it to the team as we waited for boat rides, car rides, etc. So, they were able to help me teach it to the kids and get some of the wiggles out. We went back to the “Jesus Fills the Hole in my Heart.” Following the skit, I asked the kids if they had Jesus in their hearts. All of them did, so we prayed that Jesus would show us all our special gift and teach us how to use it for Him.
24. January 2016 20:10
Pastors Andy and Sharon were asked to lead a marriage conference at the Mazatlan Vina. Katie, Mitchell (both of the American team), Ulises, and I were asked to help watch the kids. We had about 15 or so kids in a small room for roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes. Entertainment for the evening included clapping games, face painting, teaching them new songs, and a skit. We did the “Your Special Gift” skit. We couldn’t do it inside the little children’s room area, so we performed outside where the staff and guests of “Taco Time” were able to watch us.
At one point during the evening, I did have a few moments to present the supplies to the pastors of each colonial that have clowns continuing to grow (Jorge with the main Vina, Dona Chonita, Modero, and Stone Island). I was able to share the vision of clowning and a couple verses that talk about Jesus’ joy available to people and used through clowns. We then presented each supply bag to a pastor. It was short and sweet…but a moment that I will treasure always.
24. January 2016 20:10
Today, was different in that I convinced my roommate, Krishna, to be a clown (which meant that I was a clown as well).
It is the only day that we are clowning and it was an impromptu decision with pieces of costumes instead of full costumes. However, it gave me the opportunity to clown with Ana (Anabanana), Ulises (Tomasito) and Jorge as well as Krishna (Sassie).
We visited numerous houses and Krishna and I were both swarmed with kids (something that I have missed from previous colonials) as we moved from street to street.
More than that kids would shout for us to go visit their friend’s house and tell us where they are at. We visited a house with 5 kids who wanted the last of my stickers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough so we told them to come to the colonial. However, their mother was working until 5 pm so they couldn’t leave the street. It was hard because the only thing I could give them is taking their picture – but they wanted balloons, stickers, and medicine for parasites.
Jorge performed his show today and included Krishna. The kids were absolutely captivated. It was wonderful to see his show and to see the kids giggling throughout. I did practically nothing, which is the way it should be.
We had a time for face painting but I asked that Ulises assist me instead of someone from the American team because Ulises would be (hopefully) using it moving forward. At one point, I was able to tell Ulises that I was glad that he was able to come to the colonial to clown with us. I told him that he was very special – which made him grin from ear to ear.
There was a moment as I was face painting where I was painting something small on a little girl’s hand. Something in my spirit just could feel something deeper and I wanted to cry for her. So, I gave her a big hug, which made her stiffen up. It was overwhelming. I spent today (because of how heavy this colonial weighed on me) not only praying over kids in my mind as I painted them but tried to find ways to give them healthy loving touches – patting their hand, hugging them, tickling their sides….just loving on them.
24. January 2016 20:09
Stone Island is the vina that the Virginia Beach has a special heart for. They have been working with Stone Island for years and been a big part of the continuing spiritual growth on that island – despite the spiritual darkness that they have been facing.
Initially, I was part of a different team but (again) I know this blog is for clown and clown related adventures. As the day progressed, I did move out to the children’s team to help with face painting as we waited for the food to be served. I helped with the food team for a couple minutes but the nurses took charge (which was great because I had the opportunity to serve with the food truck at the dump the day before).
The other thing that the team does annually is distribute the shoes to the kids. Prior to the distribution, we got all of the kids in the church to do a brief show. It was amusing how quickly I went into “clown mode” (my alternative to beast mode), even without the make-up. I was able to incorporate other members of the ministry team to help with the magic tricks and the skit. The “Your Special Gift” skit had been performed by clown team members and Krishna (my roommate). However, Krishna was able to minister to the women with a Bible Study and could not help me with the skit. It was great to utilize other team members and have their comfort levels pushed a bit as well. It was great to make the kids laugh and the new skit has been doing really well in Mexico.
Finally, we wrapped up the day by shoe distribution. My favorite moments were the little ones who held onto their shoes as though they were precious treasure. It’s always hard in ministry though when kids aren’t as grateful as we want them to be, aren’t as polite as we want them to be…or whatever. However, it’s always a joy to serve and necessary to hold onto that joy and those faces that are able to recognize Jesus’ love. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Not me, my talents, what I brought or did…but simply reflecting Jesus’ love. It might get recognized or it might get rejected – either way, it’s my job to love.
21. January 2016 06:53
You arrive at The Dump and the stench doesn’t really get you at first. It’s when you leave the “Vina” and start walking through the neighborhood that it starts to hit you. Even at the “Lower Dump” (point further away from the actual dumping ground), you can see the garbage everywhere and water flowing down the dirt streets that smell like god-awful fecal matter. You see bugs, birds, dogs, and stray cats everywhere.
I guess what surprised me is how much humanity I saw. You would walk by houses that have all of this garbage and sewage surrounding it but women furiously cleaning their house or men working to repair their house. They were not content to be lazy and really worked to clean their houses. It makes me think of Dallas houses – beautiful on the outside and dirty or empty on the inside. All about appearances. In the dump, they work to clean from the inside out. They know their priorities.
It’s interesting how my first reaction is to act like a clown – to yell at people all the way down the street, hand out stickers, or to goof around if I feel that we are losing the attention of the audience. It’s in my nature but it feels like there is a missing element without the clowns. Missions is possible without clowns but man, they sure bring a lot of people.
We did the show and Jorge and one of his clowns had the opportunity to perform the new skit the “Your Special Gift.” Jorge began by filling a cup of water and then began to “cook” as he had the part of the baker. However, he worked in splashing the water all over the kids – which of course made them squeal and giggle. Krishna played the construction worker who could not find their talent until the end. We actually did the skit without music (and without words) but all of the kids were able to grasp the meaning.
The rest of the day was more of an opportunity to serve in other functions, to pray, and to observe. If I had to end this with an observation – I would say that I was glad to have seen it out of make-up and to serve in other ways. It gave me a way to see beyond the swarm of kids around the clown but to see the people. These beautiful people that I respect, working hard to survive.
21. January 2016 06:52
We had 8 clowns arrive for the 201/301 class. To be respectful of the clowns who had already completed 201 or were trained in the field last year (like Ulises) – we did the 301 class first. It was amusing as Ulises (whom everyone was convinced was miserable as a clown during his first day) protested when I made him the “sad” clown in 2 different skits during the class. I love seeing how much he enjoys clowning.
The clowns Felix trained last year were there again (father and son). They told me that they built a larger version of a magic trick I had shown them last year and it’s been a huge hit with kids. They got into the “If I only had a green nose skit” a lot. They were a lot of fun to watch them improvise with the ideas.
Jorge was, as always, so engaging to watch. He pulled me aside at one point to show me a picture that he had of the clowns he trained. I was so glad to have brought several items that he was able to use for himself and his team.
We actually moved through the material incredibly fast. We not only completed all of the “301” in about 55 minutes but we were able to review/learn 201 for the older and newer clowns before doing a brief clown supply divvying up. As I opened up each bag and then opened up each space saver bag, the comment from the translators and Krishna who met me at the airport was, “No wonder customs pegged you to be interviewed.”
19. January 2016 20:44
Estero is a colonial that previously was one of the rougher days in that the kids were extremely rowdy. It is the colonial that we were most protective when taking clowns, especially my grandmother, in years past because props would disappear or the clowns would be picked on a lot. However, today was different (and not just because it is my first time in the field without being a clown in 15 or 16 years.
The day started off slow with a few kids wanting face painting – mostly because playdough was available as a craft (which with this age group, it was much more fun to play with playdough then sit still for face painting – lol). At one point I left to help another team and returned to find that Caitlyn (another team member) had started painting a boy who wanted about every design stencil I had available and was running out of arm, leg, and face space for paint. I think there might have even been a stomach lion at one point. He could not get enough face paint.
As the day progressed it turned more into a steady stream, but still calm as kids waited and I explained in broken Spanish that kids without any paint or only 1 design needed to go before kids who had several. My favorite part is always face painting or doing anything clown related for more than just kids – for abuelas and mamas. Their eyes always shine when they are allowed to have the face paint too. Several mothers brought their infants over. It’s always difficult to face paint kids 2 and under but I learned yesterday making funny faces and sound effects keeps them engaged. Well, distracted might be a better word. They are so focused on trying to figure out what’s up with your face and the noises that they forget about the paint.
It was also a great experience training other people on the team to face paint. Caitlyn had done face painting last year – but it was fun showing Nancy and Krishna what I was doing. The funny part is that after Krishna took over for Nancy, I continued to translate what the kids wanted from Spanish to English. Krishna had lived here for a couple years so she’s fluent in Spanish and couldn’t figure out why I kept translating. Lol.
One of my favorite girls came up to me at the beginning and when I would ask her what she would like painted, she would say playdough in Spanish, which kinda sounds like the word banana. So I kept asking if she really wanted a banana painted on her face. Finally someone explained that she wanted the playdough more than the face painting. After we had wrapped up the face painting, I was hanging out with Aunt Sharon at the fingernail painting station and she came up to have another color added to her nails. I placed her in my lap and kissed her cheek which made her giggle. I love making her laugh and so kept making sound effects as I was painting her nails.
17. January 2016 20:27
It is hard sometimes to be brief in blogs – some might say impossible as II tend to include a lot of detail in blog posts. Today, I had the opportunity to work with Krishna and the Vineyard Team in the kids’ ministry.
It enables me to see other aspects of working with kids and provides the freedom to move where needed without the administrative aspect of being a team leader. However, as this was established as a collection of stories about the clowns, I will keep today’s blog limited to aspects of the clowns.
At Modero, the team mostly led the kids in songs, prayers, and a story. They did allow me to lend my talents of singing kids’ songs, performing magic, and going through a skit. While a couple magic tricks completely fell apart, it actually was pretty good. One, because it enabled one of my clowns from last year (Ulises) to see that kids can handle a show following apart and still enjoy it. Two, it still gave me the opportunity to include kids that I bonded with in the moments leading up to the magic tricks. Three, it reminded me that the show is not about me. As people were wrapping up and going home, two little guys showed me a variety of coin magic tricks that they made up on the spot. With pride they would show the coin disappear or reappear. Moments like that are what it’s all about – to show the kids that they are special, valued, and loved.
16. January 2016 20:53
Another year and another trip. Each first day of travel is a mixture of blessings and frustrations. Reminders that some things will never change. Something will go wrong as you travel – no matter how hard you plan or try to prepare for it – it’s the one thing that you can definitely count on. Landing in Mazatlan, it had been a full day of oversleeping, parking in the wrong part of the airport, just barely checking bags in time, 5 major arguments that co-passengers had (one that almost had us concerned as they ran towards the cockpit), delays, and customs interviews (which was a little difficult because what questions do you ask someone who has a bag full of “clown” supplies – I can’t imagine how they kept a straight face). The only thing you can do is laugh and just rest in God’s arms from moment to moment.
But then you walk through the gate and into Mexico and see the team. The second thing that I can always count on is how open and loving the team is. I am not the outsider or visitor from Seattle. I am a member and the smiles, love, support, and hope that we have for each other is beautiful! I am looking forward to each moment that is yet to come.
3. August 2015 21:16
It’s always so hard to narrow down pictures to highlight a recent trip…but I have enclosed a link to a video created with the recent trip.