Sunday, October 27, 2013

Learning to Fly: Core Training in Minsk

Some of you may remember that I attended a course last December to become an accredited Godly Play Trainer. I also wrote at the time that learning to be a trainer would be a process and a journey - just like everything else in life. (And yes, the title of this post is both a metaphor for this journey and an allusion to the Pink Floyd song!)

I got my feet wet a week and a half ago in Minsk, Belarus helping train 10 new storytellers from Minsk, Moscow and Central Asia. My colleague, Heidi from Wittenberg, and I co-led the training after months of preparation. Not only was this our first time to lead a training since becoming certified, but we had to do it all in Russian! That aspect made it more fun, but way more challenging as well. 

Core Trainings are really meant for people who have read the books, have a basic understanding of GP, and been practicing on their own for a while. In fact, in the UK and Germany, it is required to attend a "Taster Day" where you get introduced to the basics, before you can attend a core training. And one of the reasons that this training was so successful was that our dear friend, Helen Spencer, from Teach Beyond, had already laid a foundation with this group of women by having taught several workshops over the course of the last two years. And almost all of them have been using Godly Play regularly in their work with children. 

Heidi, my Co-Trainer, and I

Heidi and I arrived in Minsk in the evening, grabbed something quickly to eat, and started the training a half hour later! After a "getting acquainted" round, Heidi spoke about creating sacred space for children and the set-up of a Godly Play room. But a GP Core Training is not about sitting around and listening to lots of theory - it's very practical and hands-on. So as our first assignment for the ladies, we put all of the story materials in the middle of the floor and asked them to arrange them in the correct places in the room.

Here I am teaching on the elements of a Godly Play session using a visual aid that I learned from Rebecca Nye at my Trainers' Training.

In between the theory, Heidi, Helen and I presented stories from each genre. Here Helen presents the Parable of the Great Pearl. Nastya, who is sitting beside her and translating, organized the logistics of the training for us. 

Then, it was time for the participants to get to work! They each picked a story and then had about an hour to prepare. Afterward each presented her story to the larger group with a "Wondering" session at the end. 

Here Irena presents the Parable of the Good Shepherd. 

Sveta's presentation of the Baptism story was one of the most beautiful renderings of that story that I have ever seen!

This is Asmic from Amazing and Amusing presenting the "Circle of the Church Year". This is one of the hardest stories to do at a training, because the text is long and the wooden blocks can be awkward to handle the first time. But Asmic managed to tell the whole story by heart and with grace!

When Tanya got ready to prepare "The Holy Family", we realized that I had forgotten the wooden Risen Jesus/Cross in Germany! So we quickly improvised and made a 3-D one using paper and wooden corks. 

Tanya also did a great job with her story and we all got a lesson in preparing materials in the process!

There were gifts, storyteller certificates and many wonderful memories at the end! 

I will always remember this stop on my journey with Godly Play, and pray that God would bring long-lasting fruit in the lives of many children through our work! 


  1. You go girl! How exciting! Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. This brings back happy memories of my own training. And I can't believe I've somehow managed to miss Asmic's blog until now. THANK YOU for linking to it!

  3. Thanks, ladies, for all of your encouragement and support!

  4. Ah, so good to see it all again! Great memories!

  5. Thinking about it again, I'm so impressed you girls did it all in Russian. What preparation it took to learn not only the scripts, but all the terms to be able to talk on genres and roles, etc. and to lead the Wondering. Great job, ladies!

    1. Thanks, Asmic! We are both so thankful that we had the opportunity to stretch our language skills in this way. It made it even more fun!