Monday, May 22, 2017

New Godly Play Storytellers in Minsk!

The Godly Play family is growing! There are now 14 more certified storytellers in Mink, Belarus. 

Eleven women and three men attended a three-day Core Training May 12-14 led by UK/Germany Trainer, Helen Spencer, and myself. With this group, we did some serious playing! We laughed together quite a bit, and wondered about a great deal of things. Our unofficial motto was "Godly Play, not Godly School"!

Our lively group was made up of children's workers from 5 different churches: 

One of my favourite parts of any training is when the trainees experience a full Godly Play session for themselves as participants, often for the first time. Here Helen shares "The Great Family".

Many people come to Core Training having only assisted children in the Response Time, or never having seen a real Godly Play room.  It is fun to observe and assist them during their first Response Time for themselves.

We wondered about Children's Spirituality, 

the roots and influences on Godly Play, 

and about which of the Montessori principles in Godly Play we liked best. 

Of course, there was time to learn and practice our stories, 

and to share them with our peers. Depending on the person, this can be a lot more challenging than sharing the stories with children! 

Pictured below, Helen and I are with Sveta, Irena, and Alesya, who did all of the legwork for us, and without whom we could not have offered this training. (There is one other Sveta not pictured, who also went above and beyond the call of duty to serve us!)

Core Trainings go all day and involve lots of sitting. Sometimes it wears me out, because I don't get enough exercise. There was nothing to fear at this training, because Alesya walked me an extra 8-10 km each evening after the training ended to make sure that I saw all of Minsk. (This was my third trip here, but the first time that I actually saw the city!) 

Here I am at "Ploshad Pobedi" (Victory Square). 

Alesya and I on top of the city library building, one of the most excellent views town.

And I had some amazing food while I was there as well! Here are some "draniki", a type of Belarussian hash brown with lots of sour cream and smoked salmon. Yum! Yum!

So privileged to have shared this time with such special people!

Aufbaukurs in Halle / Godly Play Training & Retreat in Halle

Godly Play Germany offers Taster Days and Core Trainings all over Germany as well as a bi-annual conference. Over the years, though, the Godly Play community has expressed a need for other things like further training, community with other storytellers, and spiritual retreats. Because of this, the trainers have developed something called an "Aufbaukurs", a weekend that includes a new aspect of Godly Play to explore, some training, and many elements of a spiritual retreat. 

Villa Jühling in Halle, Germany, where we stayed. 

In March, my friend Heidi, who is a trainer in Wittenberg, and I led such a weekend in the city of Halle with 10 other women from Saxony, Berlin, and the Black Forest. Together we explored the Old Testament enrichment stories that deal with suffering and conflict: The Garden of Eden, Ruth and Job, and some Godly Play-inspired stories about the teachings of Jesus: The Lord's Prayer, The Sermon on the Mount, Blessing the Children, and the Emmaus Disciples. 

I'd like to tell you about some of the highlights. One was the community aspect. While some religious movements divide people over doctrine and other issues, Godly Play really brings people together. The twelve of us were from different backgrounds and confessions, but each woman came with a genuine openness that quickly established a trusting, sharing atmosphere. 

Our Wondering conversations after each story were thought-provoking and uplifting. Most of the time, I wonder with children and people that are new to Godly Play. I learn so much from these two groups of people, but it was really different to wonder together with a group of diverse, mature women who practiced Godly Play themselves. 

We also experienced two full Response Times sessions, where each of us could creatively explore however we wished. For some of the women, this was challenging, because they are usually accompanying children, and the children are the ones doing the creating. For others, it was pure joy to be able to sit for a longer period of time and creatively respond to the stories  without being interrupted. It was freeing for me, because I realized that I don't often regularly make time for a creative response to Scripture. One of the things that I am "bringing home" from this weekend is to make time for that on a weekly basis in response to Lectio Divina.

Our time ended on Sunday morning with an interactive, ecumenical worship service centered around the Lord's Prayer. Each of us then made our way home with our spiritual tanks filled and excited about our further path with God and the children in our lives. 


Friday, May 5, 2017

Easter Club 2017 Week 4

In der letzten Woche vor Ostern haben wir "Das leere Grab" gehört. Diese Geschichte ging natürlich um die Auferstehung Jesus, aber auch darum wie die Jünger u. Jüngerinnen erstmal nicht glauben können, was ihre Freunde über Jesus erzählt haben. Wie sie als Community langsam gelernt haben zu trauen, was sie gesehen, gehört und gespürt haben.  Our last story in Easter Club was "The Empty Grave" about the miracle of Jesus' resurrection and how the followers of Jesus had a difficult time at first believing the reports of their friends having seen Jesus. 

Danach haben die Kinder fleißig Projekte fertig gemacht und neue angefangen. The children were especially productive in this last week, making and finishing all kinds of projects.

Nähprojekte . . . 
Sewing projects . . . 

Osterbaum-Anhänger . . . 
Easter ornaments . . . 

und noch gespielt . . . 
and playing . . . 

Die armen Eltern müssten dann einen Weg finden, alles nach Hause zu transportieren! The parents had quite a time figuring out how to get it all home!

Als Abschiedsgeschenk hat Melinda, meine Co-Begleiterin, eine Osterüberraschung an jedes Kind gereicht. My co-leader, Melinda, prepared a special Easter treat for each child as a parting gift.