Babies, Banquets, and Blessings!
Anyone who knows all that goes into the preparation of an event like our annual Christmas banquets, knows it is not the work of one person. There are many, many people involved in this special ministry. My children, the ladies in my Sunday School class, their husbands, young people in the church, even ladies in the States…all form a team, each with his and her unique part.
My son, Philip, who is also the pastor, made a trip to a nearby town last Thursday. When he returned, he was excited about having visited a pastor friend, who also runs an orphanage. There are about 21 children, ranging in ages from 12 years to a baby a few months old. He and his wife are in charge of this challenging ministry. It was his wife who invited the first lady of their town to attend our banquet last year, and she did. I’m sure they work closely with the DIF, an organization which among other admirable achievements, is in charge of looking out for the welfare of needy women and children. The first lady of every city, and the first lady of every state is the head of this government organization, which is what makes it so easy to get in contact with them.
Philip suggested that we have these orphans attend our banquet. “They sing, and I believe they would be a blessing to the ladies. And they’re very well behaved.” At first, I didn’t know what on earth I would do with twenty-one children…not during their time on the program, but for the other three-plus hours they would need to be at the hotel.
This brings me to another challenge we face every single year: what to do with babies of mothers who are actively involved in the program, namely my grandchildren. All the ladies in our church, and the teenage girls, have either bought tickets, and/or will be busy during the evening. This year our choir will be performing, so there go our baby sitters. So I came up with a bright idea about a month ago:
Why not reserve rooms for my four children and their spouses who will be attending? In years gone by, the hotel is kind enough to give us a “courtesy room,” which is a regular room. We have all these children in one room, with four sitters. The mothers feel compelled to relieve the girls once the program is over, and dinner is being served. This makes for chaos, since babies are then brought into the banquet room. The mothers are not really able to enjoy the most relaxing time of the whole evening, because they are looking after babies, and sharing the food on their plates.
Because each of my children and their children will have their own room, they will be able to: check in as early as 12:00 noon. They can give their children lunch, put them down for naps, and leisurely dress for the banquet. Instead of loading up babies, banquet equipment, baby equipment, evening attire, and accessories, etc., they simply step out of their rooms, and into the banquet room.
Eight girls will be assigned as sitters for the evening, two for each room of babies. They will be able to rotate every hour, and will be seated at a table at the back, so as not to disturb. This way, the girls will be able to enjoy the evening, and so will the mothers…but more than that…so will the babies. After the evening has ended, my children return to their rooms, babies in jammies, and they don’t have to drag them through the cold to take them home. Except for the time at the first of the program, when they will be singing, they will be in their rooms, with their own sitter.
But what to do with 21 orphans, remembering that they also have to be fed? My girls plan to feed their babies in their rooms…cereal, yogurt, sandwiches, juices, fruit, etc. But the orphans will have to be fed from the hotel menu, since they will not be in a private room. At the beginning of the year, before I came up with the idea of reserving rooms for my children, I reserved a big play room. So we plan to use that room for the twenty-one children during the time they will not be participating. We have two major…I hate the word problem, so I’ll use challenges: what to feed them, and who to keep them.
Mr. Administrator? Philip has assured me that he will take full responsibility of this part of the banquet, so sure he is that this will be an unforgettable feature. So do I! He has already arranged for one of the men to drive the church van over and pick them up, and return them afterward. I know the other two challenges will be solved, also, very efficiently and competently.
This Banquet is geared to women…women’s needs, their challenges. And I also appeal to their nature. I believe just seeing these children, hearing them sing, listening to the pastor share where they come from is going to touch even the coldest heart that evening.
Music sets the atmosphere, and my grandchildren will touch hearts that evening, as they did mine last night during rehearsal. When hearts are moved and stirred, I believe it is easier for the Holy Spirit to speak to them.
I tell the ladies in my class: “These socialites are invited to more events than they could possibly ever attend. So why do they keep coming back year after year to this particular one? They tell me the reason every year when they tell me good bye: ‘Thank you, Billie, for a wonderful evening. This is the highlight of my year, and I would never miss it. My heart is always stirred when the evening is over.’ That’s why they keep coming back.” And that’s why I’ll keep giving them, as long as I’m able…even with all the challenges of babies at banquets…it’s the blessings.