Sunday, December 13, 2009

"SHOW-TIME", The Novosibirsk District Holiday Concert & Open House 12/1/09

"SHOW-TIME", The Novosibirsk District Holiday Concert & Open House 12/1/09
Weather -- Snowing, Overcast
Temp -- -14 F (-26 C) Wind -- 15-18 mph, gusts to 25mph

We have been preparing for the Holiday Concert and Open House for about 3 months, but the real push has been only during the past several weeks. I decided that since I was responsible for the whole idea that I had better make sure it was a success as far as I could make sure of anything here. I made the plans, Sister Cindy evaluated and suggested, we met with the district president and representatives from each branch to give them their assignments, followed-up, checked-up, and were there to manage it wall-to-wall. If I have to say so here myself, it was a big (not roaring) success and we both feel satisfied that it was the best it could have been. Here is our accompanist Anya (next to me) and a choir member Yulia.

The concert part included four choir numbers, a children's chorus, a missionary trio, a 10 minute skit done in poetry (written by Brat Konanov of 2nd Branch), a missionary choir, and The Nativity (Luke II) video. Each act was preceded by Elder Wilson reading verses from Luke and Matthew.

The choir opened the show, after the introduction by President Nikolaichev and prayer by the District Relief Society President, by singing Joy To The World and Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. The children's chorus, led by Lena Ozherelev, sang Mary's Lullaby (very cute). The missionary trio of Elder Rainsdon, Elder Hinkson, and Elder Byers sang Away in a Manger, the choir sang Night of Silence / Silent Night and What Child is This. After the skit the missionaries all sang O Holy Night.

By 6:50 we had about 12 people in the audience and I was a little concerned. We had split 200 invitations among the 4 branches and given 50 to each companionship in town and announced it for two Sundays.  I had stopped rehearsing the choir and was doing last minute things, but by 7:05 every one of the 100 chairs were filled and people were standing. They must have all come on the same Metro train. The final count was 125 with about 25 or so non-members and investigators.

Before the concert, the Sunday School room was set up for the reception and refreshments supplied by the 4th Branch Relief Society. In one corner was the Family Enrichment/Strengthening Families display, and in the other corner was the missionary table with English Club, Book of Mormon, and Questions about the Church displays. In the center of the opposite wall was Sister Gushchina's Family History Center open for people to see. Each display was very popular with the visitors. We also had displays in the auxiliary meeting rooms, Relief Society, Primary, and Young Women. They were all well done and attractive.

The concert ended about 8:00 and people seemed at least satisfied with it, some quite excited in fact. I got a couple of vigorous handshakes and "большая работаc" "bolshoya rabotas" (great works), a few "Молодцыc""molodyets" (well dones), and a bunch of "Спасибоc" "spacibas" (thank yous).  Singers and performers were congratulating one another and generally most felt good about the evening. President and Sister Trejo thanked me and I think they were pleased as well.

For me the Open House was as much or more of a success. People traveled the rooms and saw the displays. Each was unique and entertaining. The Relief Society had out their quilts and books, the Primary had an on-going demonstration of things they do in primary with songs and games, the Young Women had a power-point presentation and clips from past youth conferences, punctuated with popcorn and balloons. The missionary and FEP corners were thick with visitors and the Family History Center was always active.

Of the investigators who came, we saw many of the ones who have come to our home over the past month. Anna, Dema and Olga, Alexe, Gnade were among them and we heard tonight that Anna and Dema have set baptism dates. We hope that others will materialize. We also met the Drachyov's relatives who are not members as well as friends of the investigators who came.

The cultural lesson for me was the refreshment table. In the US, my experience is that people will go to the refreshment table, take something and move away to another location. Last night was an eye opener. The refreshments consisted of an abundance of store-bought confections and "juice". I put quotes around the juice because here, unless you buy "100% sok", it is 20-40% juice and the rest sugar and water. I have never been to an event where they served punch as we know it, but most juices are its equivalent.

Once it was known that the two tables in the center of the room were for the refreshments, people began staking out a position at the table. As the food and juice began to arrive, it was "Katie bar the door" and "Every man for himself". It was like the Walmart bargain table the day after Thanksgiving; arms, hands, hips, elbows, everything was a lever, I saw one small child duck down, squeeze between two portly sisters, and pop up next to the table where he grabbed several cookies and, reversing his path before getting crushed, emerged with his trophies. It was amazing.

The post-concert Open House was a great success (bordering on roaring) and people stayed on until about 9:10 when it seemed that the same Metro train was about to leave and people began rushing for the coat room. It was a mass dressing of children and I don't know how they managed to get the right clothes on the right kids; gloves, hats, boots, scarves, coats, pants, all in heaps with mothers trying to grab the kid with one hand and pulling on the article with the other.

As Sister Simmons and I stood in the hall, after being ushered out of the reception room by the cleaning crew who wanted to join the exodus, we thanked, hugged, and generally bid the last of them farewell. It was a great evening and we hope it results in at least good will if not new members.

What a Country


Carol said...

Glad to hear that it was a success. I'm sure that it was a very good missionary tool as well as just a fun evening. Good job for all of your efforts.

Rene Weston-Eborn said...

It sounds like such a great night! I look forward to our son meeting you all and participating in such neat experiences. This brings back memories of my mission in Hong Kong when we as a mission put together a Christmas Choir and put on concerts around the mission(our mission was much smaller geographically) What a Great experience. I didn't sing but was involved in the overall production. This post has brought back such good memories for me of that Christmas in the mission field.

The Gospel is true and your work is building the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

thank you for all you are doing and have done.

God bless,


Trisha said...

What a great idea. I love how all of your life experiences have come to a full knowledge of why you are there.

Andrea S said...

What a wonderful idea. It sounds like a great event. If anyone can pull of a wonderful evening, it's you guys. I'm sure that members are grateful for all your hard.

Bob Steed said...

Great event. I am interested in hearing additional comments that may be made at church or received through the missionaries over the next few weeks.

Great storying telling about the food table. I would loved to have watched that! But the words and pictures made it almost like I was there. Thanks, Doug.

Shannon said...

sounds like a great evening! way to go! I can only imagine how wonderful the program was. I am sure all who were present felt the spirit.