Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Easter Party

The first part of the Easter party was an egg hunt for the kids. It was kind of chaotic, as all egg hunts seem to be, but I think the kids all had fun. We had kids three and under in one area, kids four through seven in another area, and kids eight through eleven in another.

Andrew was out getting ice so I was left to divide myself between three children during the egg hunt, which doesn't work out so well if you do the math. I helped Miriam figure out what to do—pick up the eggs, not that difficult—and then left her in the care of her Sunbeam teachers while I went to check on Rachel.

A sweet young woman in our ward had taken the responsibility of supervising Rachel and Rachel couldn't even stop to give me the time of day, though she was being very successful at finding eggs. I left her with Lauryn and returned to Miriam who had by this time collected so many eggs that her basket was overflowing.

Not entirely sure what to do next, she began taking eggs out of her basket and chucking them back onto the lawn for other children to find. Her teachers kept retrieving her eggs, saying, "This one is your egg, Miriam!" but she kept tossing the eggs back on the lawn.

Eventually she was left with what she considered a good number of eggs and we declared the hunt over and went inside the building for dinner. On our way in I remembered—when I saw my friend Tiani set her baby on the ground to take some pictures of her "hunting" eggs (as only a nine-month-old can)—that I also had a nine-month-old and this was also his first Easter egg hunt.

I quickly borrowed an egg from Miriam's basket, handed it to Benjamin, and snapped a picture—solid evidence of his first Easter egg hunt (the duration of which he spent strapped to my front, completely forgotten about). Sorry, third child—that's just how life works.

Here's Rachel showing me all the eggs she collected:

The kids weren't even at all upset to find the eggs were empty. They enjoyed the game and we probably could have just left it at that, but we had candy for them, anyway. I was talking with my friend Magie on Friday morning about Easter traditions. She's from Mexico so I asked her if they hunted eggs in Mexico—because I really had no idea—and she said that they don't and that she finds the tradition so weird, but also fun.

She said in Mexico things are much more centered on the Passion of Christ—there's a processional reenactment of the Savior bearing the cross and people even go so far as to actually nail themselves onto crosses (though she thinks that's going a little overboard) and there's not a lot of talk of the Easter bunny. And she kind of misses taking time to just think about the Savior without having to worry about candy and toys and things (though those things are also fun).

That's kind of how we were feeling when we planned the activity, so we planned a little program to help us remember the life and sacrifice of the Savior.

Somehow or another, I ended up volunteering to write a program. I had a few ideas swimming around in my head and thought I could put something together pretty quick but when I actually sat down to write it, it was rather difficult. We wanted to incorporate music and scripture but didn't really have time to do rehearsals or teach the children any new songs. I finally was able to pound something out and found some wonderful actors to portray different characters from the scriptures bearing testimony of Christ's resurrection.

First the children sang If the Savior Stood Beside Me:

After they sat down, Marian, our primary president, got up and asked the kids what they found in their Easter eggs. The kids didn't know quite how to answer, so she decided that instead of asking them as a unit she'd ask them as individuals.

"Rachel!" she said, "What were in your eggs when you opened them up?"

"Nothing," Rachel shrugged.

"That's right. Lily—what were in your eggs?"


She went through several kids until she was able to get all the kids to chorus, "Nothing!" in answer to the question of what they found in their Easter eggs. She then said, "That's right. You opened your eggs expecting to find treats inside and they was nothing inside. They were empty. I have a special guest here today who was also expecting to find something inside...but instead found it empty!"

She introduced us to Mary, played by the wonderful Celeste.

I asked her to retell John 20 as a first-person narrative. This is the script I gave her, but with instructions to change it to suit her preferences (as long as it still followed the scriptural account):

I will never forget the day they nailed the Savior to the cross and hung him there to die. It is a dark and painful memory. I sat, weeping, at the foot of the cross with his mother. We were so helpless; there was nothing we could do but watch him give up his life and, when he had done so, helped to prepare his body for burial.

I was there when the Lord was lain in the tomb, shrouded in white burial linens. I watched as a giant stone was rolled to seal the entrance to the tomb. Guards were placed at either side of the entrance to keep watch. You can imagine my surprise, then, to find an open tomb when I came to visit my Lord’s grave early on the first Sabbath morning following the Savior’s crucifixion.

As quickly as I could, I ran to Peter and John the beloved, and said, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.” The disciples raced back to the tomb and found it empty, save for the burial clothes, which had been folded and left in place of the body. Peter and John left to tell the news to the other disciples but I couldn’t bear to leave and stood outside the sepulchre, weeping.

I stooped down to look into the sepulchre and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had lain. They said unto me, “Woman, why weepest thou?” and I replied, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

Still crying, I turned to leave the tomb and saw a man watching me.

“Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?” he asked.

“Sir,” I said, thinking he was the gardener. “If thou hast moved him, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”

Then he called me by name—”Mary,” and I knew it was Him, my Savior.

“Master,” I said, turning toward him.

He forbade me from touching him, as he had not yet ascended to his Father, but instructed that I should find the disciples and tell them that he was about to ascend to his Father, and my Father, to my God, and your God.

I’m on my way to do that right now.

At this point, Peter, played by the talented Jeff, began his account of the Savior visiting the disciples while they were out fishing (John 21):

Our nets weren’t the only thing coming up empty when we went back to fishing after the Savior was crucified. Our lives seemed rather empty, too. But you have to work to eat and so to work we went. One morning when we’d pulled our nets back into the boat—empty again—a man on the shore called out to us with a bit of familiar advice:

“Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.”

So we threw our nets into the water and when we went to draw them up again we could not because they were so full of fishes. It was John who realized it first—”It is the Lord,” he told me and I immediately jumped into the water and swam to the shore, so eager I was to have another opportunity to sit at the feet of the Lord and be instructed by him.

After we’d eaten some of the many fish we’d caught, the Lord turned to me and asked me a question: “Lovest thou me more than these?”

“Yea, Lord; thou knowest I love thee,” I said.

“Feed my lambs,” he said.

Three times he asked me whether I loved him and each time I told him I did he instructed me to feed his lambs or feed his sheep. That reminds me of another time he told me about his sheep:

“Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold,” he told me. “Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

At this point we travelled off to the lands of the Nephites. Originally Kim was going to play this part but she had to leave before we could do the program so she enlisted Lauryn, that same young woman who helped Rachel hunt for eggs. Lauryn was a great pinch hitter—Kim basically handed her the script and her costume and ran out the door (to her son's soccer game)! She gave the account found in 3 Nephi 15:

Darkness covered the land for three days. People gathered around the temple to talk about the prophecies we’d heard concerning Christ. A voice sounded from heaven—so quiet I could hardly hear it, and yet it pierced my heart. The third time I heard it quite clearly. It was the voice of God. “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.”

A man descended out of heaven, wearing a white robe. I was sure it was an angel, but he introduced himself and said, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.... Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the tails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.”

I was one of the many who was privileged to touch his wounds and learn of him while he visited my people. He taught us many things—that we were the other sheep he told his disciples about and that one day the gentiles should be brought to a knowledge of Him through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Then we heard Joseph Smith's testimony, as told by Justus, from D&C 76:

"After the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!"

Then we all joined in singing I Know That My Redeemer Lives! (Andrew played the piano for us).

It went well, I suppose.

Like I said, I'm glad it's over! It was so stressful to plan a party this big, even though I wasn't the only one planning it.

Before I got married, I remember my mom warning Andrew about my propensity to worry.

"Nancy worries about things a lot!" my mom said. "She worries about things she needs to and she worries about things she doesn't. She's just like my sister Arlene—always worrying about something."

Andrew nodded. He'd never met Arlene and didn't know what he was getting into.

"Just help her not to worry too much," my mom pleaded.

On Friday night after we'd finished cleaning up the church and were loading the kids into the car, I sighed, "One day our girls are going to get married and I'm going to have to plan their receptions and I really don't know if I can handle that."

"Nancy," Andrew said gently, "Our girls are five and three. You really don't have to worry about whether or not you can plan a wedding reception right now."

I suppose he's right.


  1. The girls will probably also help you plan their receptions. :)

  2. the bit about planning wedding receptions. It seems like you are really good at this kind of thing. Great program!