Written by my oldest daughter, Jackie of Keepin' Sane with Littles
Missionary familes have a lot of talent. If you've ever been at a missions conference before you know what I'm talking about. Mr. Missionary stands up and introduces his large family. They are imaculatly dressed and perfectly behaved. Mr. Missionary calls Mrs. Missionary and all the Little Missionaries up to the platform where they sing a song. Oh, but they dont just sing a song because every single one of their children (all eleven of them) can play a different instrument, and play it well. They sing with harmony, and then, after the song, because it wasn't cute enough, the Youngest Missionary (about six months old or so) recites Psalm 23. Most missionary families are like that, great voices, and amazing music abilities.
Then there was the Vernoy family. We all have decent voices....sometimes. Depends on what mood we're in I guess. As for playing instruments? Dream on. We were too busy reading books to learn an instrument, plus we lived in the Amazon and there's a shortage of piano teachers out there. Not to mention pianos.
So, in many missions conferences we sat and watched yet another amazingly talented Super Missionary family sing lovely songs in multiple languages. Then it was our turn to do something. But what?
It's not that we didn't have talent! Oh, we have talent. We even held talent shows in the jungle...the Indians loved them! They were usually held on weekends, when our house was especially full. They would start crowding in, thumbing through our old National Geographic magazines, and then some brave soul would ask my sister, Jewel, if she could do a one handed cartwheel. Always eager to please, Jewel begin to tumble about the living room which would bring on a chorus of "ooh's" and "aahs." Not to be outdone, Jayde would impersonate Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, or do the split on the cement floor. The split was always a great big hit. Indians are strong, and muscular, but not flexible AT ALL. Flexibilty is something everyone in my family is blessed with, and the Indians were always impressed. I would sit with my legs crossed "indian style" and then walk on my knees, or put lay flat on the floor, face down, with my legs behind my head. This made quite an impression. The talent show was only getting started! When my mom's turn came she would raise one eyebrow, or while standing with one foot pointed forward, twist the other foot completly back. I share that talent as well, but would let her preform it since I already had so many others. :-) Joshua always added a colorful piece to the show with his accurate impersanation of the village witch doctor, which always brought lots of laughs. My Dad was the biggest hit when he would stand in a doorway, his back towards the barefoot audience, and hug himself with his arms. They thought that was hilarous!
We would continue with our antics, my hog calls, Jewel shimming up the center pole of the house, Jayde throwing her legs over her arms and walking on her hands (it's really hard to explain,you have to see it) Yes, our talent shows were very cool. The coolest thing going on in that village anway.
As "cool" as we thought we were, we just didn't think churches would appreciate our kind of talent during their conferences. I can picture it now. The pastor gets behind the pulpit, "Why, thank you Super Missionary Family for that lovely rendition of Amazing Grace in five langues,with twelve different instruments. Truly a blessing. And now, our next family, the Vernoys, will be doing their hog calls, and their youngest will finish off by swinging from the rafters while singing 'Crazy' in her Patsy Cline voice."
Hmm...doens't seem very likely. What usually happened was my dad would stand up, introduce and say, "We just dont' sing...but we have some stories we could tell you!" Or, as one missionary friend put it, "I would sing a special for you, but it would probably be more special if I didn't!"