Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lenten Project: Day Four

Being a missionary kid is pretty awesome, and there are plenty of great experiences that come with a life of world travelling.  But there are some things which, it turns out, are not so awesome after all, though I believed so as a kid.  Some of those things are just plain weird, and not really in the most positive of ways.

One of those weird things is how we kids used to be told to "sing for our supper" when being fed in American Christians' homes while on furlough in the US.  Dad would say, before or after we'd eaten (and we had to eat everything we were given, even if it was horrible), "Okay, girls, time to sing for your supper!"

We dressed the part--missionary barrel clothes!

Maybe he was joking.  But disobedience was never an option, unless we wanted a beating.  Besides, we thought we were incredible singers.  Everyone who heard us called us the Von Schaefer Family Singers.  It definitely went to our heads, because we really weren't even that good.  


We've sung in churches and missions conferences and homes all across America, and in countries all over the globe.  We've sung indoors and outdoors, on street corners and in front of fireplaces.  We've sung with microphones and without, with accompaniment and a capella. We've sung in unison and we've harmonised in five parts (or more).

Still, we were untrained and had no idea what we were doing half the time.  We just made it all up on the fly, and it usually worked out.



We also can all play different musical instruments.  Yes, we were the archetype of the Independent Fundamental Baptist missionary family.  All homeschooled, too!  (But that's another story.)

I'm the eldest daughter, and I taught myself to play the piano; slowly and painstakingly figuring out how to read music while banging out hymns on an old baby grand in the vacant church building we temporarily lived in during furlough in 1999.  Then I figured out the organ.  I was given an old clarinet, which I taught myself to play (I fainted the first time I managed to get a good strong note from it, from all the blowing--it takes lung power!).  In Singapore, my parents bought me a cello, and I taught myself how to play that as well.  While in college, I dabbled in oboe and the harp.  (I am possibly an overachiever.)  I am an expert in none of those instruments.

Ignore the weird headcovering--post coming soon about that!

The next Schaefer girl down received a violin in Singapore, and she got lessons and everything!  I believe she's the only one out of all of us who ever got real lessons, outside of college.  The rest of us just muddled through and pretty much taught ourselves.

The third Schaefer girl played the flute and the trumpet.

Lizzy really could play very well.

The next girl played the piano and flute.

And the last two girls didn't have any musical instrument skills.  Well, that's not entirely true.  We older ones had the task of teaching the youngest ones our instruments, but the lessons didn't really "stick" in that the youngest girls didn't play any instruments when we performed together as a musical group.

Music is great.  Having kids learn to play various instruments is wonderful.  But, for us missionary kids, it was more of a useful talent--we were encouraged to play because we could then be used like items in a show and tell.  We were never encouraged towards music for the beauty of music's sake.  And I think that's rather a shame.  Always on display, always tools in our parents' ministries, it was easy to think we had no purpose outside of those ministries.

Mary and I prepare for a musical offering for church.

I am grateful for my talents in music.  Absolutely.  I do, however, wish I'd been allowed to sing something other than Baptist sacred music and hymns.  I wish I'd been allowed to play something besides hymns and classical music.  I wish my sisters and I could have had jam sessions to have a good time, not just to prepare for the next church service or sacred performance.  Music is so much more varied and wonderful than I experienced growing up.  It's a whole ocean of beauty and fun, but we only got a bucket-full and were told that's all there was.