Monday, December 20, 2010

Having a little fun during the holidays

When the apostle Paul said that he became all things to all people that he might be able to win some of them, my friend Randy Sweet and I decided to take this admonition to what some might say is an extreme. Over the past few weeks, Randy (Santa) and I (Buddy from the move Elf) have been making appearances in different places throughout Utah to spread Christmas cheer and, hopefully, get people to look at a website to see if they're on the naughty or nice list. Randy plays an awesome Santa, and I portray the innocent, fun-loving Buddy in an extreme manner, with anonymity as my cover to allow me to be ridiculous while having a lot of fun. Developing answers to their questions ("What's your favorite color?' "Does somebody need a hug?" "What's your favorites food?") and having creativity to banter back and forth has been a highlight of this Christmas season.

The first time we played the roles was in Provo in front of the Missionary Training Center. For about six hours one Saturday, we stood on the front sidewalk, waving at the passing cars, handing out candy, and talking to those MTC teachers who continually passed by. There were a number of good conversations. Although we were hassled in the beginning (an off-duty police officer, or so he claimed, threatened to arrest us for standing on public property), we ended up developing a good relationship with the MTC security detail.

The following week, we spent some time outside Alta High School as well as a busy street corner in Draper and the area around the Draper temple. In fact, it was at the latter place where we were able to have our picture taken with a young girl (whose head was shaved) who apparently is battling some form of cancer. She was as cute as a button, so it was special when she grabbed onto Santa's legs and wouldn't let go. Mom took a picture, and we hope this brightened her day. We knew the present this family wished for this Christmas.

On Friday, we went to Temple Square where a concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was taking place and 20,000 people were in attendance. We soon realized that everyone, and I mean everyone, wants their picture taken with Santa and Buddy, so we soon found out that instead of having to hand out Santa Million Dollar bills willy-nilly, we were able get them into the hands almost solely of those who had their pictures taken with us. We stood right outside the Temple Square gate (just across the street from the Conference Centery). Sometimes there were 3-4 families waiting in line for their turn; we estimate that we posed some 300+ times! The power of the symbols we represented was incredible. What was best is that everybody had a good time while we were able to spread some holiday cheer and get tracts (with a solid Christian message) into more than 1,000 hands! All in less than five hours. We were all exhausted, but it was a great feeling.

This is positive evangelism at its best. We plan to go out again on Dec. 23, then possibly to a childrens' hospital or retirement home on the morning of Christmas Eve. Already our minds are working toward how we can do more next Christmas.

What a pleasure to serve the Lord while being creative at the same time!


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