Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Countdown Drumbeat

The first seminar in Tainan will be starting in four weeks. Boom. The staff team will be gathering in 3 weeks. Boom. Our early registration deadline is in one week. Boom, ba da Boom.

Every passing day is like a drumbeat, reminding me that the 2012 Taiwan Children's Institute Ministry trip is fast approaching.

This time of year has always been a test of faith for me. On the one hand, there's the worry that you won't be able to get everything ready in time. On the other hand, there's a worry that can be summed up in a single word.

In the past, the largest CIs and adult seminars
were held in arenas like these.

How many people have registered? Do we have enough teachers? Will we have more children teachers? When will we break 50? Can we make at least a hundred at each seminar? Will we be able to break even in the end?

Looking back at the difference between the CIs then and the CIs now is disconcerting. That was the age of the mega seminars, the gigantic CIs. Back then, it was normal to have a CI with more than 1000 children. Though it was almost 20 years ago, I have vague recollections of attending the CIs of yore: the hordes of children, the cavernous auditoriums, the maze of teams separated by pipe and drape, the distant projections on gigantic screens of the action on stage, the armies of teachers required to keep everything running smoothly.

Taiwan CI attendance over the years
Now, instead of children in the thousands, we are lucky if we break a hundred. Instead of a large auditorium, we now comfortably fit into a classroom. Instead of needing an army of teachers, we can get more than comfortably by with a modest sized team.

Even though the seminars are smaller, that doesn't mean they are any easier to put on. Each year, we still have to scramble to line up the details, wearing ourselves out in the process, all the while praying our bodies will manage to stay healthy until the end of the trip.

After reading this, you may wonder why we keep doing the CIs year after year: that's a good question, this is something I ask myself too.

Bonding with the 2010 Taipei CI Student Assistants
Though I may have doubts, thought it can be easy to be caught up within statistics, I have to stop and remember the many blessings God has shown us year after year.
  • The joys of close intimacy and fellowship that comes with having a smaller team of teachers.
  • The greatly simplified logistics when you don't have to deal with moving several hundred bodies from one place to another.
  • The connection that you can have with a crowd of children when you can recognize every face by the end of a week.
  • The thank you letters from parents and children who are touched by the lessons they learned while attending the seminar.
  • The excitement that comes from knowing that everyone, children AND teachers, are learning and growing in the ways of God together.
So, onward the march to next year's Children's Institutes!

Timothy Chen