Wednesday

Preschool in near-city district at a different school than the other times.  Tho other school had two near-identical classrooms- the teachers are truly a team there- and the students were English-speaking.  You know where I’m going with this one…  I arrived, and the principal was acting as secretary and signed me in.  Headed to the classroom and what is the first thing I see?  Everything in Spanish.  The one school got the English-speaking kids, this one got the Spanish-speaking ones.   Most did know a little English, and unlike another class I was in in another district, let’s just call it one-school district for the number of schools I was usually called to sub in toward the end of last year which is tied to the reason I didn’t re-sign up with them this year, this time I had an assistant working with me who could speak Spanish, so I didn’t have too much of a problem.  The morning and afternoon were similar in schedule to the other school.  I think they run off the same schedule as pre-k is a special progam in the district.  They had some start-of-day work, calendar time, centers (which included a lot of play centers), song time, wrap-up, and take them outside to the playground to wait for buses.  The morning was actually a little different than the afternoon.  The primary students (K-2) were preparing a musical show for Thursday night and the preschoolers were given their own bit for it by doing three songs of their own.  Two were counting songs (the duck with five chicks and one runs away, leaving four, then three, and so on, and a similar one with frogs jumping in the water- glub, glub!) and the third was a weird version of “Singing in the Rain”.  The other two had some movements the kids were given to do, but this song has them in the song ala “Hokey Pokey:”  thumbs up, shoulders back, knees together, butt out, tongue out…  All given one at a time and added on to the rest so by the end it’s a true video-moment seeing the kids doing all of that.  Those of you with kids might know the song I’m talking about.  They also practiced these songs during the song time.  For morning, the rehearsal took the place of the start-of-day work and caused centers to be shortened. even though we only stayed to do our songs and then left.

Right after calendar was read-aloud time.  In Spanish.  With a tape (whew…)- I only had to hold the book up and turn the pages.  Apparently the title was funny- I just wish I knew why, but I forgot to ask the assistant.  I read Spanish about as well as I speak it.  For my center, they worked on making ducks with construction paper.  The outlines of what to cut out were already drawn for them so they just had to cut them out and glue them on in the right spot.  I added a 3-D element by folding the beak, feet, and wings so they stuck out.  As par for course, there were things glued upside down or lopsided, or even in the wrong place.  Most did fine though.

At the end of the day, they went outside to the playground.  This was the easiest part- just watching them to make sure they didn’t get hurt.  After this, I had to strap in a bunch of students in the bus.  They put their seatbelts on, I had to tighten them.  For about ten kids each in the AM and PM.  One also had additional gear to attach him to the seat which fortunately I had seen before in the mentally impaired classrooms I’ve worked in so I knew what to do with this.

Again, thanks to the help of the assistant I survived the day.  Next up, 5th grade then 8th grade social studies.  Tomorrow.  Three posts is enough for one day, for me at least… 🙂

The Real Christmas part 1

Well, this being the last weekend before Christmas it is time to start talking about what’s been going on in Christ’s house, eh?  At least the particular earthly house of His that I visit on a regular basis- I can’t speak for any of the thousands and thousands of other ones around the world.  Aside from advent, which began at the beginning of the month, the real show began last weekend.  At the, er, other branch of this house that I attend.  That is to say, the worship service including the choir was on tour with two stops.  I did not take part in the choir last weekend as I am also involved in children’s ministry and I needed to be at my usual place.  That was okay because although the other church is larger, the stage is smaller so not all the members of the choir would fit.

Since I wasn’t there I’ll just skip ahead to this weekend.  We sang three choir pieces, all of which had to be memorized, and five worship songs, which the entire congregation sings.  One of the songs was from a previous year so I more or less had it memorized already, meaning only two songs for me to work on for the last month.  One of the interesting things to note about this choir is the altos seriously outnumber the sopranos and the tenors outnumber the basses.  The women of course outnumber the men.  Now I couldn’t do anything about the altos vs. the sopranos, but as a lyric baritone (tenor II) I dutifully stepped down to the bass part.  This wasn’t at all unfamiliar territory since I had sung baritone in choir for years before my tenor range opened up.  The choir songs were The Night that Christ was Born, a strange up-tempo rendition of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and Light of the World.  Now I said that we did one of these songs before so I knew it (the first one I listed), but really we did two of them before.  The other one though had a very different choir part so the choir part (most choir songs we do are solos/duets with choir background) was new.  I lasted for the Saturday night service and the first Sunday service.  After that my voice started going- the upper range.  I just don’t have the endurance I should.  I should exercise my vocal muscles more.  Well, I should exercise all my muscles more, but that’s going a bit off topic here… 😛

Following two of the choir performances I rushed to serve in the 4th/5th grade room, where I made it for the lesson and small group time (the important part).  While past years have often meant a video during this weekend and cookies, we had a real lesson this year instead of the video (still had cookies at the end- yum).  It was on patience.  Zechariah and Elizabeth had to wait several decades for a child before God finally gave them one.  The Bible says they were “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” and so their childlessness wasn’t due to sin in one of their lives.  Eventually, God gave them the son they had waited for all of their lives into their sixties.  Naturally since it was customary to name the son after the father he would have had his father’s name, only Zechariah the Baptist isn’t a name we know.  Rather, God had them name their son John of course.  In fact, these were the first words out of Zechariah’s mouth after God allowed him to speak again (his disbelief over having a child at his age earned him the inability to speak until John was born- good thing he wasn’t in a choir, at least that we know of! 🙂 ).  So in small groups then we talked about how patient they, as 10- and 11-year-olds, tended to be.  They got to rate themselves and talk about what kinds of things makes them impatient.  Waiting for big gifts like video game systems topped the list, but there were other things like healing.  Two of my kids are actually going through cancer in ther families- an uncle and a mom.  Big ouch on the mom.  If anyone wants to add these two to their prayer lists their names are Daniel (mom) and Matt (uncle- currently not responding well to treatment I understand).  This while my pastor and associate pastor are both being treated for prostate cancer… 🙁

Christmas part 2 coming later following Christmas Eve service.

Happy Easter!, continued

I just wanted to get that Godtube video up before continuing writing.  I can’t believe it’s been three days since my last post (not counting the first Easter post of course!).  Well, yesterday was a busy day.  Friday was, well, Good Friday.  Like a Good Friday should be, it was a very dreary day outside- snowing for most of the day.  After shoveling (for the last time until next winter I hope!) I headed out to the church.

The service that day was like a tour.  The first stop of this “tour” was worship time.  They basically played a loop of songs.  From the bulletin we were given, it looked like they played the same five or six songs over and over for the five hours (with periodic breaks of just instrumental music).  I hope they switched off bands throughout the night- playing the same songs for five hours straight would be kind of grueling.

Anyway, the songs would prepare our hearts for the next part of the “tour”, which we could skip to at any time.  This part had signs and card packets all around telling us why Christ had to die.  There was even a projected image of this on the wall.  There were many, many reasons along with Bible verses supporting each reason.  I think I read maybe half of them as I walked through.

Next was a meditation area where we would see constant changing images of Christ’s “trial” and execution.  This actually wasn’t working for some reason when I arrived, but they finally got the projectors going before I moved on.  Step four of the our had us write our own sins and nail them to a large wooden cross.  There was a long wait for this as there were I think only two or three hammers.  We could also leave the cards in a basket at the foot of the cross.

The final stage was communion.  We would go in the room, grab our own bread (small cracker) and wine (grape juice) and take some time to reflect, pray, and take in the two elements all on our own time.  All in all it was a very somber mood throughout the evening, befitting of a day like Good Friday.

Saturday I was at the church after 1:30 (supposed to be at 1:30, but as usual I was late) for choir rehearsal.  The worship music the day before had been somber, but the Easter music we had been practicing was anything but.  Where Good Friday was a time of reflection, Easter is a celebration!  We actually did very well according to several people.  It was a lot of singing- not just the four special songs we were doing as a choir, but five worship songs as well.  It was near constant singing from almost the time I got there on Saturday until after 5:30, and again today.  The well-wishers’ critiques must have been spot on as our time to be there this morning was pushed from 7AM to 7:25, but it was still a bit grueling with so much singing- two services plus the rehearsal (similar to what felt like two rehearsals last night plus the service).  I was actually supposed to sing at the end Saturday night (about 6:25ish) but I felt I was needed in the children’s ministry as there was only one leader besides another choir member and myself there, and the other choir member went back down to sing the final song.  I was able to sing this song the two Sunday services however.

So here we are, voice resting for now.  I really should practice singing more often.  My voice held out this time, but there have been times in the past where my endurance didn’t last through all the services.  I remember particularly from when there were four services at one time before the second campus opened and many people went there instead.  That one extra performance turned out to be a killer of my voice.  But I don’t sing in the choir all for me.  It’s about giving back to God.  He gave me this talent, so it’s only right to use it to give some back to Him.

Once again, HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY!!!

Resurrection Day is coming!

I say Resurrection Day because the word Easter is used in reference to the spring celebration with eggs and easter bunnies.  Resurrection Day rather refers to the holiday we Christians celebrate at the same time, the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  He was murdered on a cross by a reluctant Pilate at the insistence of the Jewish leaders who were blinded and could not see that He really was the Messiah they were waiting for as He came in humility rather than in power, to teach rather than to conquer.  There will come a day of course when He does finally come to destroy the ones who reject him and build a new Heaven and Earth for Him and His people, but for now we wait and celebrate what He has done so far in offering a way out of the darkness we call sin.  That He was resurrected shows all that He has victory even over death, what many think of as the final conclusion to ourselves.

First of course we must remember His death- His unfair trial, His suffering, and his being nailed to a cross in the most brutal form of execution know in those days.  Good Friday, as it is known except by school districts that now refer to it as a “non-attendance” day, is the day we remember this horrible death.  I of course have the bonus of it being a day-without-pay so I can really feel the suffering. 😛  Kidding of course, but it is a serious day.  Our church is actually doing something a little bit different this year.  We are still called to attend wearing black, but instead of a drama (I was in it 7 out of the last 8 years!) and a message it is apparently an open-ended service where we can come at any time within a 5-hour window.  More on this after Friday as I really don’t know anything more about it.

We are preparing for Easter with the choir and it is coming along nicely.  Of course tonight we will probably have a train wreck as we’re told to sing from memory- no sheet music for us when we’re up there!  Of course the train wreck will be followed by further improvements as we improve in our confidence of the music and, just as important, will actually be looking at the choir director instead of the music! 😀  And once it’s over, a week of (unpaid) rest follows…

When teachers go missing

Okay, they didn’t go missing they just got sick, but “when teachers get sick” didn’t quite have the same ring to it. Besides, they were missing tonight because they got sick.

So when I arrived at church tonight there were already about five kids waiting outside the door. Not a good sign as I was a few minutes late myself and someone more punctual than myself should have been there. I checked the kids in and waited for other leaders to arrive. And waited. Eventually Steve, the one in charge of the kid’s ministry, popped in and informed me that the one set to teach the lesson tonight called in sick and asked another leader to fill in for him. And she was, up until about an hour and a half before the service, then she called in too. Now this was a bit unusual, and ordinarily Steve would then fill in since it was so last minute, but tonight he had other obligations, so the duty of teaching the lesson passed to me. Well, I didn’t study the lesson beforehand knowing I wasn’t on for this weekend, but I could do this- I’ve done it before. Hey, I’m a sub, remember? Thinking on my feet is normal practice :). So I had to miss the game time and study the lesson. No biggie- just another game of dodge-ball and I’m usually doing drama at this time anyway (we’re off this month). Oh, I guess I should mention that another leader finally arrived and handled the game time. So anyway, They got back up, sang a few worship songs while I kept on studying, and ready or not I had to teach. It didn’t go too badly but when we broke off into small groups (well smaller than the large group anyway, there were only the two of us after all ;)) a couple of the boys mentioned they thought I was boring. Sigh.

Fortunately the other leader saved my ego and said she thought the lesson went well :D.

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Church

Yes, tonight I went to church service.  It was actually a sort of unusual service in that all of the children’s ministry was asked to attend the main service.  Ordinarily the 4th and 5th grades would be in service anyway as the last weekend of the month they go to service with their parents (in preparation for junior high when they always attend regular service), but this time it was kindergarten all the way on up in a family service.  It made sense though- the series my pastor is currently in is about family.  What this meant though was there was no drama and no kid’s ministry for me to be involved with this weekend.  In fact, there is no drama for the next month.  Though drama is fun, I appreciate the break.

Tonight they also did an “impromptu choir,” meaning they called on people to come up front and sing the worship songs in the choir risers, children included.  Well, because the children were part of the service, they chose a few children’s worship songs in addition to some regular songs.  During the kid’s songs, they had one boy who came up, a 4th grader, stand in front of us (yes, I came up to sing!) and show the motions that the kids do when singing the songs.  It was so cool- this boy has no trouble in front of large crowds- he actually has been doing drama with me for the last couple years.  Incidentally, his dad was one of the worship leaders which probably gave his confidence a boost as well.  His dad must have been quite proud of him (the good type of pride for another, not the selfish pride the Bible speaks against).  Unfortunately he ran off the stage before I could give him a high five for doing it (and doing a great job at it too!) so I guess I will have to catch him next week in class.

Not just a sub…

Well, I suppose since this is my blog I can write about more than just subbing.  There is the retro-gamer in me, and I might say a few things here and there about it, but I think I should really just start another blog about it once this gets going.  There is also the church-goer in me.  I sing, do drama, and teach 4th/5th grades there, so it is sort of on-topic anyway, not that on-topic is a requirement for me… 😉

Tonight is the first night for Easter choir rehearsal.  Now, my church is a very large church meaning I will be one of 100+ in the choir, or one of about 30 men.  I will find out tonight whether or not I can actually do it- it all depends on whether or not we would have to sing at the end of the service- they do that from time to time.  If we do, then it would conflict with the kid’s ministry.  I can always be a little late to the class (I am one of several leaders actually as there are around 40 kids in the class each service) especially since they start with a game time, but it would be irresponsible of me to not show up for the teaching and small group times.  This is especially true on Easter, one of the two days of the year when typically more people show up than the norm.  To you who do: Jesus wants to see you in his house more! 🙂

Beyond choir, I also do drama for the younger kids, but we have next month off from that so there is no interference with it.  Well, gotta go.  It’s nearing rehearsal time.

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