By Malinda Wheeler
The decorations for our room were pretty straight forward. We had panels that looked like a rock wall that were hung at ceiling height along the perimeter of our room. They were hung with fishing line and stapled onto the ceiling for added height. On the floor in front of the panels we placed silk and live plants to add dimension to the panels. We had a tomb insert that could be seen from the door and was illuminated with a small light as to cast a shadow into the area of the tomb where the cloths that covered Jesus were displayed.
Near the exit door we had our Mary sit on a rustic seat to read her script. Next to Mary we had a picture of Christ leaving his tomb illuminated on a table.
The simplicity of our decorations were great. We put our panels up in order, and they interlocked a little which helped with alignment.
And we used a small coffee table behind the panel for Jesus’ resting place where we laid the cloths. We added all the silk plants that were donated. We had a large, mostly dead ficus tree in the corner of our room which added much desired depth and interest to our garden. Our script seemed to hold people’s attention. The emotion included in the reading really added to the spirit of our room.
During the evening our panels shifted as the staples pulled from the ceiling. They completely came down during the night and needed to be hung back up and repositioned for the Saturday evening tours. The inset for the opening of the tomb was a bit awkward. Frankincense was burned for about 2 minutes and people could smell it on both nights. Our room was small when the tours were 8-10 people.
Improvements for next year:
I will add a simple framing system so the panels can be hung better or set flush against the wall even though the curtain rods and chalkboards protrude from the walls. The inset for the inside of the tomb will be on the right side of the room inside the partition. No fragrance will be used to add to the depth of the room. When these changes are made the room wouldn’t take more that 2 hours to set up.
Overall comments about the program:
Before painting the panels that surrounded the garden tomb I studied and prayed about this period of time. I watched videos that depicted the garden tomb as to get a picture in my head about what historians and other artist have done in the past. I enjoyed painting them for the program and felt I was actually giving a tangible birthday gift to Jesus this year, not just one from my heart. I had a great time participating in the set up and helping guide tours on Friday night. The spirit was strong during every
aspect of the program from set up to take down. There was usually at least one person singing a Christmas carol and the excitement of
Christmas could be felt throughout the building.
I originally didn’t want to help set up for the program because you could say I am anti-Christmas. I have always dreaded the season because I know My Jesus wouldn’t like the commercialism of today’s celebrations. Santa Claus, long shopping days, and over eating and over gifting are not a part of the original Christmases. This year for the first time I caught the Spirit of Christmas. The true meaning; service, fellowship, missionary work, worship, fun, food, family and friends, laughter and work. Those who worked on the program couldn’t help but feel the Spirit. Most people had smiles on their faces. Isn’t that the best gift we can give each other and the Lord? I am thankful to have been invited to help.
Ideas for next year:
I was a tour guide on Friday and so my perspective comes from my observations during my tours. I suggest that the entrance to each room be indicated in some small, subtle way. For example, of the entrance door is slightly ajar and the exit door is closed the tour guide can see if the previous tour is finished and know when to lead the group. If there is a small string on the doors handle they can also see that it is the entrance into the next room. On one tour I completely missed the room because it is difficult to help a group stay reverent, lead them, feel the spirit and count doors. Once I entered the exit door instead of the entrance because that was the door that was open. I am the kind that can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, but I heard others also passed up a stop along the tour.
The narrators should be asked not to have family members keep them company in between tours. On one tour a woman was in the Garden of Gethsemane room and the room was completely quiet and dark except for their conversation. While was ushering my tour in they finished their conversation and with gestures I tried to usher her out the exit part of the room, instead she opened the door to the loud, bright cultural hall wide. The spirit was lost a bit, which in the big picture a moment is hardly anything, but we are talking about improvements. On another room the narrator’s child was definitely center stage. The group wasn’t listening to the narrator, they were watching the son bounce and play with the props.
The only other comments I have is to help the Spanish speaking guests. Next year our little branch will have grown and I’m sure more will participate in the program. Spanish speaking tour guides need to be available for Spanish speaking groups. With a Spanish speaking guia, there is someone to read the script to the entire tour group. I think if there is someone in the group who doesn’t understand Spanish then they should listen to the entire presentation in Spanish, then go again if they want to know what was said in English. On Saturday I brought a Spanish speaking friend because I was told the Spanish speaking elders would be the guides. There was no tour guide for the group, so I led everyone to the different rooms. The group had a few Spanish only people in it. The rest of the group were English speakers bringing guests, like myself. The narrators didn’t know what to do with us, so they did their presentations in English, which might have been fine, but they didn’t realize that they needed to speak slower so the Spanish speaking guests could understand. In one room the narrator could have spoken Spanish, but the one man who didn’t know any Spanish asked for him to narrate in English. One woman was given the Spanish script to read, when I thought it should have been read out loud so everyone could hear. I made comments when I could, but I didn’t want to detract from the spirit, so I wasn’t as assertive as I could have been. While in the restoration room I did ask the elders, who were narrating, to speak slower a couple of times. The only thing my guest understood was Joseph Smith.
The Walk With Christ Program is an excellent way to let the community know we ARE Christian, that we believe in an follow Christ. The program reminds all who participate and attend that Christmas is about Christ and not the hustle and bustle of parties, shopping, cooking and getting ready for Santa to come. The program being at the beginning of the season is a tool to put all who participate in the true meaning of Christmas.
Thank you to all who helped plan, pay, participate in the program. This program will continue to grow each year as members gain moreunderstanding of the program and more confidence to invite others. I hope next year all the wards will support the program. I know one of the Fayetteville wards had an open house at the same time as the program, hopefully next year more members will be able to participate.