The long awaited hour of our speaking engagements was approaching quickly. While Kalyn and I were not nearly as nervous about speaking at the Hamilton, Ontario Acquire The Fire as we had been at our first event in Massachusetts, we were still under the effects of quite an adrenalin rush.
Since the announcement of the location change for the parents’ session, we had been scurrying around trying to move all the equipment and the book sales tables to our second floor outdoor patio. This would certainly be a new one for me: 450 chairs in rows on what felt like a rooftop setting. But at least the temperature had risen, I reasoned, so I think we will be able to coax the POTS (Parents of Teens) out of the arena hang out. They would probably enjoy the fresh air and unusual setting.
Poor Samantha, who was responsible for all sound and video set up, had her hands full. The outdoor wind effect was wreaking havoc on the self-supported screen on which we were supposed to see the faint images of my PowerPoint presentation. She went in search of some rope to tie down our screen lest it take off in the wind like a sail. My team set out all the workshop handouts on the seats and waited for the anticipated guests.
I just love handouts. My assistants may think I am a bit obsessive. But I figure, since ladies all like free stuff at least the Moms will love my giveaways. The wind had an interesting effect on the handouts, so we opted for weighing them down carefully with the heavy booklets from Teen Mania on top. With mission accomplished and all props in place, we had just enough time to grab a quick lunch before our scheduled event at 2:20 pm. As I gathered my purse to walk away, a random thought hit my mind: I wonder if anyone has checked the weather forecast. The last I had heard, no rain was expected until nightfall.
Lunch was served as usual in the team room. A wonderful crew of volunteers from a host church lovingly prepared two and a half days worth of meals for a large traveling team of Teen Mania Ministries interns as well as the bands and speakers. The regional variety was delightful as this time we got some Canadian fare.
I had just decided to pull out my notes for my last minute review when the ministry team member who had first announced our meeting location adjustment came flying through the door shouting. “Quick, all ministry team to the patio! It is pouring down rain!”
Young adult legs began scrambling for the escalator in full battle speed. My team consisted of Nathan, Adam, Kalyn, Lilibeth. I threw our food in the trash and scurried in pursuit. Obviously, we had significant trouble on the veranda.
The courtyard scene would have been hilarious if it had not been my pile of soggy brochures that the interns were carrying in to lay on the floor of the hallway like some sort of ceremonial offering. Head shakes and “I’m sorry’s” filled the room. The “higher ups” would have to be called again. What were we to do with 450 wet chairs and sound equipment on a veranda with one hour till meeting launch off?
As they debated the possibilities of moving us again inside to the basement or trying to shove us all into an upstairs hallway where some previous smaller meetings had been held, we hurried to try to sort, dry and salvage the brochures. Ridiculous. Options such as hairdryers were abandoned as impractical.
After 15 minutes of debate, seat testing the outdoor chairs for rear wetness discomfort, and consultation with a Fire Marshall who wouldn’t budge from procedure, the verdict was in. We would forgo the PowerPoint, re-set a basic sound system, hand the wet brochures out at the door and try the patio again. Tough to lose my PowerPoint, but I was grateful to not lose the whole meeting!
With full steam ahead and less than 40 minutes until show time, we scurried into action again.
But at 30 minutes to show time….it started raining AGAIN! With this down pour, the arena officials wanted the 450 theater style chairs brought inside immediately. The army of interns reappeared with the folding chair carts. The higher ups were summoned back to our scene. The minutes kept ticking by.
Perhaps the favor shifted or the irony of the situation brought compassion, I am not sure. But with about 18 minutes to go, we took the last available option and chose the cramped hallway. In a flash, the sound system, PowerPoint, soggy brochures, extra chairs, and sales tables were all moved again. I had no time for last minute notes review or hair checks. I picked up the microphone to check for sound, and the announcement came. The POTS had been dismissed from the main arena. They were on their way!
This is part eight in the ten part series on my ministry trip to Ontario. In the last post I greeted the POTS—parents of teens—as they entered the conference arena, and learned that our meeting location had been changed. Start with the first post if you’re new to the series.
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