The Mission: throw a baby shower in a culture that doesn't normally have them for a large group of people that don't all speak the same language.
Status Report: Successfully completed!
One of our Arab coworker's daughter is having a baby in less than five weeks! A few American friends thought it would be fun to throw her a baby shower. But due to some strange circumstances that I don't even know about, they had to back out, placing all the planning and responsibility on the mom (my coworker). However, this isn't a culture that typically has baby showers. They are becoming more common as women here learn about the tradition, but for this mom, the whole thing was overwhelming.
That's where community comes to the rescue! We stepped in and took different responsibilities. A couple of the girls made decorations, others bought gifts, and someone went and got a couple cakes since there wasn't going to be enough desserts. My job- games.
I spent most of the afternoon researching popular baby shower games online. Let me tell you, there are some strange ones out there. But now I feel completely confident in planning games for a baby shower in America. Doing it here, that was a different story. I had to take into consideration, cultural differences, the language barrier, and age range (I think we went from age 9 to around 70). This meant very different mobility levels. Did I mention there were about thirty in attendance? Yikes!
So here is what I came up with... the every popular, put a whole bunch of baby items on a tray, briefly show the audience, then recover it up and have everyone try to remember as many things as they can that were on the tray. We decided to use this as our icebreaker game. It actually went really well! I didn't have all the normal baby items, so I printed out pictures of a pacifier, bottle, booties, stroller, and crib, attached them to a little stand I made out of a cut up toilet paper roll and added other items like a diaper, Big Bird Toy, safety pin, baby spoon, baby lotion, etc.. to a tray. The Arab women really liked it! They all laughed at how few most were able to get. But our winner got 14 out of the 17 items! I was really impressed. She was the Aunt of the mom-to-be and is sharp as a tack, despite her age. (I am not saying that old people aren't smart. I'm just saying that it is common knowledge that the memory starts to slack off once you get past sixty. )
After a yummy dinner or various Arab foods, we brought it back in for Baby pictionary. I brought a little white board and markers. I split the group in two teams. Arab speakers on one team and English speakers on the other. I would have preferred to mix everyone up, but it was too hard to know if they guessed the right answer! Thankfully there were also a few girls on hand to help translate. This also went over well! I was really happy with how willing they were to step up and participate. Everyone really enjoyed it and was sad when I ran out of phrases or words.
To conclude the night we gave this first time mom some essential baby items and some blessings for the baby. Each of us from Shevet prepared either a song, verse, poem, or prayer to say to the mom and baby. The challenge: some of the women in attendance are very strong Muslims. We were requested not to rock the boat by using Jesus' name or pulling out a Bible. So when I read part of Psalm 139, I had it written on a sheet of paper and didn't say the reference. Others who prayed, read their prayers with their eyes open. Also since God's name translates directly to Allah, a lot of what we said the other women really agreed with. I know this is a great ministry opportunity for my Christian coworker and her believing daughter. I think the things we shared helped to break down cultural barriers so their witness can continue.
All in all, it was a great night! The women thanked us as we left. One even invited us to her daughter's wedding! It was so cute. Who knows if we will get to go. If we do, I'll bring my white board and we can play some wedding pictionary! Ok... draw a wedding cake, flowers, wedding gown. No, those are too easy. I'll have to keep brainstorming....