Mission in the Park—Part 1

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Michael Arthur Patterson carefully lifted one finger at a time off the holes in his recorder. Each time he lifted another finger, the note he played was higher. He was practicing his scales.

It was pretty boring. He would rather have practiced his new song, Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, but there was a place in the song where the notes went up and down several times very quickly. He hadn’t had much success with that part, and his teacher had told him that if he practiced his scales, playing a little faster every day, the song would get easier. He reached the C note at the top of the recorder—a little tricky, since you had to switch two fingers for that note—and began putting fingers down again, going back down the recorder and down the scale.

Mike heard feet running up the stairs to his apartment over his dad’s florist shop, Lilies of the Field. Taking the recorder out of his mouth, Mike listened. He was pretty sure the running feet and panting breath belonged to Kenya.

“Hey, Mike! You up here?”

Yep. Kenya. “In here. I’m practicing.”

“Oh. Well, when can you come out to the park? We’re all meeting there, and I’m supposed to bring you.”

Mike opened the face of his special watch.

“Nine forty-five,” Kenya said. She was in a hurry.

“Fifteen more minutes, then,” Mike told her.

Kenya sighed impatiently, but waited while Mike played some more scales and then tried his song. Sure enough, it was easier. Still not good, but easier.

“That’s pretty, Mike!” Kenya said.

“Thanks, but I want to play a lot better than that.”

“Come on, let’s go!” Kenya took Mike’s arm and walked with him down the stairs and through Lilies of the Field, even though he knew his way around there without any trouble.

“I’ll be at the park, Aunt Rose,” Mike called out.

“OK. Have fun.”

When they reached the park, the other kids were waiting for them. “About time! Come on, we’re going to play Silent Tag.”

Silent Tag was a game they had made up. Everyone except Mike had to close his or her eyes. Whoever was It had to try to catch the others by sound alone. The rest had to be silent enough so that “It” (whom no one could see) couldn’t catch them, while they were also trying not to run into each other. It was pretty hard. Of course, Mike usually won. Kenya always got caught first because she couldn’t keep from giggling.

They played on the slides, the merry-go-round, and the jungle gym. Finally, too hot to play anymore, they sprawled on the grass in the shade of a big maple tree. Mike inhaled the smell of warm grass and dirt and some nearby roses. He could hear a robin singing in the top of the maple tree and feel a breeze cooling his sweaty face. The wind made him think about the story they had studied for Sabbath School. Rather dreamily, he asked, “Do you think the Holy Spirit is always a big, loud wind like in the upper room, or do you think He might sometimes be a quiet breeze?”

“I think He’s usually a quiet breeze,” Susannah answered.

“I think He’s more like sunlight.” That was Kenya, the creative thinker. “Because He’s always there, and keeps us alive, and everything.”

“I don’t think He gives gifts to everybody like Ms. Kimoto said,” Matt said. “At least not until they’re grown up. I don’t have any.”

“Yes, you do!” Mike heard Susannah roll over. “You’re good with animals, and you can build things.”

“Sure,” Matt scoffed. “With Legos! How can I serve God with plastic robots?”

“Maybe someday you’ll build a robot missionary,” Mike offered.

Everybody laughed.

“Maybe you’ll build a church in Africa,” Solly suggested.

“Build it in an Arab country,” Kenya put in. “Then Solly can preach, since he has the gift of languages.”

They laughed again.

“Seriously,” Susannah said thoughtfully, “I’ve been thinking about it. Can’t we think of some kind of project we could do for God? Something that uses all our different gifts?”

“Well,” Mike pointed out, “mission projects aren’t just for overseas. Right here is a mission field too.”

Kenya looked around. “Right here in the park?”

Susannah popped upright. “Why not? I have an idea! Couldn’t we have a play, or a show, or something, right here?”

“Here?” Solly protested.

“Right in front of everybody?” Mike shivered at the very thought.

“Doing what? Building plastic robots?” Matt demanded.

“I think it’s a great idea!” Kenya clapped her hands. “If we invite our parents, we’ll have an audience we aren’t scared of, and then if other people want to listen and watch, too, that’s OK. We can sing songs.”

“I’ll write a poem,” Susannah decided.

“Mike, you can play your recorder!” Kenya was getting excited.

“Wow, look at the time!” Solly exclaimed. “I’ve got to go home!”

When they realized it was almost suppertime, the group broke up quickly.

“Everybody plan something,” Susannah called.

Walking away with Kenya, Mike suddenly thought of something. “Hey, when is this thing supposed to be?”

“How about Sabbath afternoon?”

Everyone agreed, although Matt, Solly, and Mike were still nervous about the whole idea.

Well, Mike thought to himself, it’s true we’re supposed to be willing to use our gifts for God. That’s why He gave them to us. I guess if Dad and Aunt Rose are there, it won’t be so bad. But what could he do? Maybe if he practiced really hard, he could play his new song.

“Hurry up, Kenya, I have to practice,” he said, quickening his steps.

Continued next week.

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