A Typically Unexpected Sunday

by Jim on 7 December 2010

Some days just don’t turn out like you expect.  All right, around here no day turns out how you expect.

Actually, the whole weekend ended up being a bit strange.

We had wanted to go to a special Christmas dinner on Saturday night.  It’s a special dinner for Christian workers in the Mexico City area.  But I felt we were rather over reaching our limits as a family – we were getting pretty over-tired.  So we made the difficult decision on Friday to miss the event.

On Saturday morning, Nathanael woke up sick – very sick.  I won’t get into details, but he was down and we were madly cleaning up after him.

Suddenly, 2/3 of the way through the day, *poof* he was better.  Oh, he still looked a little weak, but he had all his energy back (just when Mom and Dad were completely exhausted from caring for him while he was still sick!).

Now, I had a lot of work to do to get ready to lead the service on Sunday.  And then José asked if I would lead the communion service as well.  So by the end of the day I was trying to get around to doing that (but of course there wasn’t much hope until the kids were in bed!).

The next morning I finished preparing (sorta) and we decided to keep Nathanael home, which meant Shari would stay with him.  Hannah and I went early so I could get to my music practice.

I was just stepping out the door when I got a message from David – could I bring my laptop so we could put the lyrics of the songs up on the screen?  (Recently we somehow got a projector – used it for the first time the week before)

So I packed up the laptop and left, a little late.

Sheet music

We started practising – almost all new songs.  For some reason, around here we rarely sing Christmas songs around Christmas.  Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a Sunday morning service with straight Christmas songs since we moved here (this is our 5th Christmas here).  So these were all new songs to me.

Some new because I’d never played them.  But quite a few new just because I’d never even heard them before.

Then I got a phone call – Rod.  Apparently our preacher was sick, so we had no sermon.  No problem, I said.  We’ll do something.

Then back to the music practice.  Ummm… David?  I have the laptop… how are we going to get the words onto it?

So, David started working on that.  Some typing, and… wait… he had some lyrics on his iPod.  So he transferred some of those, formatted, and so on, and so on (hey, this is cutting our practice short!  These are new songs!!)…

Uh oh.  I just was wondering – if I’m leading the communion service, do I need to have everything prepared for it as well?  The cups and….

So, I was off to the store to buy the food and drink for the communion service (tostadas are basically unleavened bread, right?).  Then I delegated and asked someone else to get it all ready, while I figured out what to do for the sermon time.

Tostada photo courtesy of Omar Omar

*Poof* the computer program David had been using to put the lyrics in closed, and he hadn’t saved anything.  Back to square one.

Back to the iPod, transferring lyrics.  I looked up passages and prepared for a time of discussion in place of the sermon.  Hoping Rod would help (which he was happy to do).

It was after 10am (the start of the service).  The good news was that most people still hadn’t arrived.  So I dictated the lyrics to two of the songs while David typed them in.  We gave up on PowerPoint (no, actually I use OpenOffice Presentation) and stuck with scrolling through pages on Word (er… no, OpenOffice Text).  While we typed and copied, we saved it lots.

Mayra was kind enough to operate the laptop.  Rod was kind enough to remove the door (we take the door off every Sunday because the room is so small we need all the space we can get).  The other David and I put up the screen.  All of a sudden there was a full room, and we hadn’t started yet.  I grabbed my notes and apologized, and we were off and running.

After my brief introduction, we were into the songs.  What I didn’t know was that David had – well, he used the lyrics that he had on his iPod, which were not necessarily songs we had practised.  So each song was a new and wonderful surprise for me.

Now, these songs weren’t necessarily all that familiar to David either, so I felt that a strong keyboard track was important.  But not only were these songs I had never played, and songs I had never heard… they were also not the easiest songs in the world.  And they were written in Latin Music Notation.  English Notation is A-B-C and so on.  Latin is Do-Re-Mi.  Now I’m more or less familiar with the latin notation by this time – but when you’re playing a song you don’t know which has lots of chords fast… well… the music on Sunday was interesting.  Let’s say … it was a little creative.

The rest of the service went all right, I think.  During the sermon time, we centred our discussion loosely around the prophecies of the Messiah in Isaiah 9-12.  We had some good discussions both about the passages, and about other far-flung topics.

For example, Rod was reamed out about his country’s strange obsession with Santa Claus.  Of course, this is one case in which Canada is just as guilty as charged as the USA.

Santa Claus

You see, in Mexico, Santa is more of an imported tradition.  Generally speaking, the gifts are not given on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but on Epiphany – the 6th of January, here known as Three Kings Day.

You know, give gifts when the Magi did.  Kinda makes sense.

Now, Mexico is arguably just as guilty as many other countries when it comes to secularization and detaching Christmas from anything to do with the Gospel.  But you’ve got to admit, linking gift giving to the wise men is a little more of a direct connection than some jolly old elf in a red suit.  (After all, how many people would even know who I was talking about if I mentioned the Bishop of Myra?)

No wonder some Mexicans are baffled by the strange tradition of Santa Claus that so many Christians in the rest of North America seem so attached to!

(Not sayin’ it’s good or bad or neutral, just trying to help you see things from their perspective)

Er… yeah… speaking of getting off topic…

There were lots of other things going on that I won’t even get into – handing things out, talking to people about this and that.  It was a good service in the end, actually.  People had some great things to share.  We had some good times in the Scripture.  You know, all that good stuff.

When I got home, I found that Nathanael had maintained his energy (which meant that Shari hadn’t!) and the day continued at a typical fast pace.

No, there aren’t any typical days around here.  But we wouldn’t want to be bored, would we?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Shari Cottrill December 8, 2010 at 10:24 am

I don’t know…it might be nice to be a little BORED once in awhile!! ;O)

Lauren Thorpe Menge December 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm

lol… that sounded like a hilarious sunday 🙂 … daniel and I both laughed reading it … hope all is well 4 ya’ll!!!

Grandma C. December 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm

This sounds like a combination of several of Dad’s bad dreams! You know him, likes to be so well prepared that he gets stressed if something goes “wrong” or if there’s some change at the last minute.

Now I know why staff and students in our Bible College used to say, “Good missionary training” when things did not go as expected.

Shari Cottrill December 9, 2010 at 1:24 am

Great to hear from you Lauren! Glad u guys are keeping up with all the craziness of Ixtapaluca…even all the way from Dallas! ;O)

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