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Get that thing out of here

Right out of high school I told the Lord that if there was something that kids like me could do to serve Him besides playing a musical instrument and/or singing, if He would show me what it was, I would do whatever I could to make that happen. You see, I wanted so bad to be on a traveling team serving God but the only opportunities I knew about required musical talent. It is one thing to ââ?¬Å?likeââ?¬Â music and another thing to be good enough to get into a group. There are a lot of people with musical talent so the competition is stiff.

It wasn�t until I had finished a four year tour in the Air Force and was in college that I discovered what other talents could be used by God. Vicky and I would soon be putting together our first puppet programs. We decided that there were probably some teens out there who maybe could not play an instrument or sing but they would be great at doing puppets. For the next several years we took students between the ages of 13-21 as summer missionaries.

We asked the teens for a ten week commitment to do camps and Bible schools. We had one week of training where they had to learn their parts for ten different one hour programs as well as how to set up the stage and all of the equipment that went along with it. At the end of that week everything got loaded up and we were on the road for the remaining nine weeks. Once we were gone, there was no turning back to get anything that was left behind.

To try to lessen the possibilities of anything being left behind, I watched and took inventory of everything that came out of the office building and was loaded into the bus that would be home for the remainder of the summer. I figured that by doing this, if something did get left behind it was my fault and I could not really blame anyone else. I know what is needed but I also know what is NOT.

Have you ever tried holding a puppet up over your head for any length of time? Believe me, they get heavy. They may not weigh a great deal by themselves but the longer they are up there, the heavier they get. There are times when you think your arm is going to totally fall off. The pain is almost unbearable. With practice, it does get a bit easier but they are still heavy no matter what.

Well, here come the teens with load after load of suitcases full of puppets, stage pieces, sound equipment, lighting equipment and ââ?¬Å?Whatââ?¬â?¢s thatââ?¬Â? There was something I did not recognize. I know our equipment and this is not something I had ever seen before. I stopped the young man who had it neatly concealed with some other ââ?¬Å?approvedââ?¬Â items. I took it and held it in my own hands and even then I had no idea what is was. I had to ask, ââ?¬Å?What is this? What is it for and where did you get it?ââ?¬Â

With a sheepish look of guilt on his face he explained that it was a prop to rest his arm on while doing puppets. It was a long staff with a foam padded Y on the top. You are to put your elbow in the padded Y and let the wooden leg hold the weight of the puppet. He had made it in our shop during some unsupervised time and figured if he could get it on the bus without me knowing, he would be able to use it once we were on the road. Ya right!

How are you to get your puppet to look like it is walking when it has to go from one side of the stage to the other? You can�t be on your knees and reach the Y with your elbow. So that means you would have to stand. How are you going to keep people from seeing your head if you are standing? If something like this would work, don�t you think that I or someone else would have already thought of it? By this time we had been doing puppets full time for several years. If it did work, what about the rest of the team? Shouldn�t they have one too? Are you so special that you should be the only one with one? Are you trying to tell me that you are more of a wimp than the girls on the team?

Actually I didn�t go through all of that with him but it did NOT get on the bus. I guess you never know what you can get away with unless you try. He was a good kid. In fact, he was one of the few that we took for more than one summer.

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