Expect the Unexpected

We have a guest!

Many of you have heard me talk about my daughter, Emily. In fact, it was in my last blog that I talked about waiting at the airport to welcome her back from a year-long mission trip with The World Race. Well, she's back and she's putting her skills to good use for Walk Thru the Bible! Read about her latest adventure with Walk Thru the Bible at the South Asia Regional Training Conference. Pretty incredible...

 If the World Race prepared me for one thing, it's to expect the unexpected. I'm planning to write a blog dedicated entirely to this in the future, but for now suffice it to say that we got asked to do some pretty ridiculous things that we were completely unqualified to do at the drop of a hat this past year. My team and I got pretty good and just saying yes and figuring things out as we went. So you would think that I would stop being surprised every time someone throws me a new curveball, but you would be wrong.

My parents and I traveled to India in mid January to attend the South Asia Regional Training Conference for Walk Thru the Bible. My dad came out with a new series on the life of David called Crucible this past year, and this conference was being held for the purpose of training the most influential leaders that Walk Thru has in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. They all came together in Khandala, India, a couple hours outside of Mumbai. In the past it was only the men who came because they were the ones actually being trained, but this year was special. When asked last year what one thing they most wished for the next year, the men unanimously requested that their wives be invited to attend the conference so that they could really understand the work their husbands are doing and be able to support them more fully by becoming part of their mission. So the staff from Walk Thru in the States donated money to pay for the wives to come to this year's conference. My father taught Crucible to everyone, and then during the sessions specifically dedicated to training them how to teach it, my mother took the women downstairs and taught them about how to help their husbands with their ministry. They were all so appreciative of being able to be there together. One recently married couple even thanked Walk Thru the Bible for providing the honeymoon that they had never been able to afford. (Note: This particular couple is from the Himalayas and had to travel five days by train each way to attend this conference which was by no means a honeymoon. That's right...they traveled for twice as long as the conference actually lasted.) All in all it was a beautiful time for these couples to come together and grow in their vision and ministry together.


So at this point you're probably wondering what I was referring to with all that talk about curveballs and surprises. This looks like it was just a great conference full of happy couples and lots of learning. Well it was...but what do you think happens when you invite twenty something men from all over South Asia to bring their wives who rarely travel with them? You guessed it...they bring along the kids too.

Rewind to the first day of the conference when my parents, Chris Tiegreen, Walk Thru's Communications Director, and I were standing in front of everyone being introduced. They explained that my dad would be teaching the men, my mother the women, and to my complete shock, that Miss Emily would be taking all the children for children's class for the entire week. My dad didn't even know there were going to be any children at the conference, so of course I had no idea that I would be teaching them all week. I came to India planning to follow Chris around and learn about photography from him, but apparently God didn't think that was a big enough challenge. So, with about 90 seconds of notice I was handed thirtyish children and expected to come up with a VBS plan for six hours a day. No problem, right? I've been asked to do way more outrageous things in the past year. Except this time I didn't have my team with me. I suddenly intensely missed my six teammates and all the gifts and experience they bring to the table. Where was Joy to corral everyone? Where was Brent, the elementary P.E. teacher to come up with endless ways to entertain the kids? Where were all of them? Not in India. I quickly realized that Step #1 needed to be crowd control. image-11No one ever told me how many children I was responsible for not losing, and we were decently close to a very tall cliff that dropped straight off into a valley, and BONUS...was inhabited by a colony of wild monkeys who I was informed "will attack if provoked." So losing a child was not an option.

I got down the hill to the pavilion where Children's Class was to take place, and I must admit I was still expecting five more adults to magically appear to help me, but instead I was met with my fifteen-year-old translator who promptly asked me every World Racer's favorite question, "What is the plan that you have for us?" There seems to be a widespread misconception around the world that when an American missionary shows up they must automatically have an awesome plan for everyone's lives. False. After years of anthropology classes, cross-cultural ministry training, and travel experience, I've learned one thing: you can't always make a plan and try to make it happen. And yet that is precisely what seemingly everyone expects from us.

So, in a matter of seconds I attempted to come up with something. We sang some songs (which I was attempting to translate from Spanish to English in my head so that the translator could put them into Hindi...clearly the most efficient way we could do things), memorized some verses (Note: this combination of children spoke probably seven to ten different languages so I was unable to determine if they actually memorized the verses), and played some games. The kids decided I was cool and named me Dede, which is Hindi for Older Sister. We had some fun for awhile, then it was business time when I was expected to actually teach a lesson. I glanced down at the spreadsheet schedule they had given me (yes, it's very formal...think former British colony) and saw under Possible Itinerary for Children's Class: Walk Thru the Old Testament Live Event. So although they had neglected to mention to my father beforehand that I would be teaching this class every day, they had left me suggestions of what I should teach. Excellent, except that I'm not remotely trained to teach it and haven't actually attended one since I was about twelve years old. But minor details like that won't stop me...I'm a World Racer, I've worked with way less. So I plunge straight into the OT Live Event.

The Walk Thru the Old Testament Live Event is supposed to take about five hours to teach, so ideally that would have used up quite a few sessions. Except that I really only know the 77 handsigns that teach the main people, events, and places of the Old Testament, but I don't know all the things that you're supposed to teach between each handsign. So instead of five hours, it would probably take me about thirty minutes to teach the entire thing. I got all the kids together and started in on the book of Genesis. We were zipping along, and their brilliant little minds were absorbing those handsigns at record pace. In about ten minutes we made it all the way from Creation to the exile in Egypt. That's about 23 handsigns, and they were doing them all perfectly. I must admit that at this point I did think to myself, "Well I know I'm not called to teaching, but I'm not so bad at this!" And that's when reality struck. I asked them all to stand up and review what they had learned so far. A little girl in the second row raised her hand. "Dede," she said, "I am afraid that you have forgotten Tigris and Euphrates." And then it hit me...I'm not really an awesome teacher...these kids already know this entire live event. They've just been playing along reviewing it because I asked them to. I asked them, "How many of you already know this?" All of them raised their hands. Of course they know it...their fathers are the trainers for all of South Asia. I asked them to show me the whole thing, and they stood to their feet and properly recited all 77 handsigns, including Tigris and Euphrates.


So my awesome lesson plan turned out not to be so awesome and also only lasted about fifteen minutes. As I struggled to come up with something else to teach, a very eager boy in the front row raised his hand so hard I thought his shoulder might pop out of socket. He excitedly asked me, "Dede, may we please have a Bible quiz?" "What kind of Bible quiz?" I asked him, wondering how exactly I was going to come up with questions off the top of my head. "Oh you know," he replied, "the basics...like who can name the twelve sons of Jacob in order the fastest!" Before I could tell him that I could not do that, another boy behind him stood to attention and commenced naming them rapidly. "No!" the first boy shouted, "Reuben was born before Naphtali! You have made a mistake!" At that point all I could think about was how quickly my father would be asking for a refund on the eighteen years of Christian school education he had paid for when he found out that I was the least biblically literate person in a roomful of children. I've taught VBS's all over the world, but this was hands down the most intelligent, knowledgeable group of kids I've ever met.

Once I realized that there wasn't much I knew that they didn't, I decided it was time to relax, stop trying to come up with a lesson plan, and just hang out with them. For the rest of the week we just sang songs, played games, and read Bible verses. They asked me things about the States and about my travels, and they taught me some Hindi words. They took me on a tour of the cliff so I could see the monkeys, and I let them play with my camera. We played blindfolded tag, and I was it for at least half an hour because they are all very small and fast and I was blindfolded (and afraid of walking off aforementioned cliff). They performed some of their native songs and dances at the nightly cultural celebrations and came to sit in my lap while their friends performed. Once I stopped trying to be the perfect teacher and come up with something new and informative to teach them, we all had a great time hanging out together and got to actually be Dede to them for a week.


Community Builder Avatar
Dennis Mumaw 13.08.2014 20:15  
Reconnecting with a Walk Thru Instructor Yes No   Phil,

Wasn't sure if you remembered me or not, but wanted to know if WTTB would be able to help my church (and me) with a ministry in Haiti. I would love to take the Walk Thru OT and NT seminar to some of the pastors and leaders there.

I am now a full-time pastor after serving in a bi-vocational role for almost 30 years.

Would welcome the opportunity to re-connect with you.

Dennis Mumaw
Report comment
Community Builder Avatar
Walk Thru the Bible 18.06.2014 12:38  
re: Phil's blog Yes No   It is great to hear from you! We hope you and Joseph are enjoying retirement. We'd love for you to be involved however you can so please keep in touch with us - we always love comments on blogs and newsletter articles, etc. Enjoy your summer in Maine!  
Report comment
Community Builder Avatar
Joyce Hardy 17.06.2014 16:42  
Phil's Blog Yes No   I have enjoyed reading your blog. I miss the wonderful conferences Joseph and I attended sat Walk ThruThe Bible. As Joseph is now retired, we don't have the income we had before, so we don't feel right coming to the conferences. I do keep up with you, via the internet.
You have an outstanding organization and we love to be a part of it when we can.
We now spend 5 months in Maine, and the rest in Tucson(guess which months!). Life is good, even though we have had some physical challenges.
Report comment
  • Smileys
  • :confused:
  • :cool:
  • :cry:
  • :laugh:
  • :lol:
  • :normal:
  • :blush:
  • :rolleyes:
  • :sad:
  • :shocked:
  • :sick:
  • :sleeping:
  • :smile:
  • :surprised:
  • :tongue:
  • :unsure:
  • :whistle:
  • :wink:
  • 500 Characters left
Submit to FacebookSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn