No Room at the Inn

One of the most memorable young women activities I can remember (during the Christmas season) has to be "No Room at the Inn". There wasn't actually an official name for the activity, but this suits it well. I am losing my memory, so if there are small details I have forgotten or remember wrong - please forgive me. This is how I remember the night. :)
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"His Name Shall be Called Wonderful" by Simon Dewey
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I do not recall who to give the credit to, though I believe it may have been the current young women president, Stefanie. There were many hands involved it creating an atmosphere worthy of the spirit. I was serving as a young women advisor at the time.
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The young women and leaders (who were not involved in the planning of the activity - myself being one of them) were simply under the impression that the activity for the night was caroling. We grabbed coats, our scarves, our gloves, and our knitted hats... it was typical cold winter's night in Utah Valley.
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We gathered at the church and decided on the carols we would sing, then we ventured into the cold night air. It was one of those nights you could see the air with every breath and every word spoken. Crisp, to say the least. Despite the chill, the night started with a group of energetic young women and leaders. Excited to sing together door to door, for family and friends.
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We knocked on the first door and no one was home. It seems that the second door was quiet as well. The group was not discouraged, their enthusiasm was strong as they locked arms and skipped to the next house where the lights were on and was clearly occupied.
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The home was of one of my friends from high school, Marianne. The girls knocked on the door, ready to finally burst out in song.  Marianne open the door - holding a baby in her arms, she looked frazzled. Another child was yelling in the background. As we started singing, she cut us off, shook her head, and told us it was a bad time. You have to know, she is one of the sweetest, easy going, fun loving women I know... I think we all thought she was joking. And anyways, music soothes the savage beast, right? :)  We kept singing. She shook her head and shut the door in our faces. I thought to myself, "How rude!" and I wasn't the only one. Shock and disappointment entered the mood of the group.
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We continued on to the next home, only to find that they were in a hurry to get somewhere, keys in hand and heading to their car. They didn't even offer the courtesy of listening to one carol. They actually got in their car and shut the door as we tried to sing to them anyways. The girls were no longer skipping. Their smiles and enthusiasm were diminishing. And honestly, so was mine.
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I believe we experienced one more disappointing door, where the usually sweet sister was on a long distance telephone call and could not take the time for her visiting carolers. She simply pointed to the phone at her ear and shut the door.
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Remember, it was cold. It was dark. And now, we were discouraged. The idea of ending the activity and going home had been discussed. But we were encouraged to try one more door. It was the door of a new family to our ward. They didn't speak much English, lived very modestly - still trying to get on their feet. We thought they might be grateful for our visit. We walked up the street, passing homes where the porch lights had been turned off, until we reached their home.
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Without much hope of a warm welcome, one of the young women knocked at the door. After a brief wait, the porch light turned on and the mother open the door with a smile. As we began singing, she invited us into their humble home. Though she didn't communicate it with words, she obviously knew we were cold (to say the least) and wanted to give us a place to warm ourselves.
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We were a little confused though, she lead us right through her home and into the unlit garage. There a string of white Christmas lights had been strung. A simple backdrop (possibly a sheet), and Mary and Joseph looking sweetly at baby Jesus laying in a bed of straw. (members of our ward playing the parts). We were all in awe at the sight.  Stefanie, the young women president, shared briefly the experience Mary and Joseph must have had, and the story of our Savior's birth.
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I don't believe there was a dry eye, or a heart that was not softened and touched by the spirit that night, as we quietly sang together the sweet carols of Christmas... such as Silent Night and Away in a Manger.
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The night ended as it began. Despite the chill in the air, our hearts were warm, and excitement in the season returned. We shared hot chocolate and hugs. We laughed at the thought of all the phone calls and preparation, the "acting" from the usually sweet sisters who turned us away so rudely. This was not just another activity, it was an amazing experience never to be forgotten.

8 comments:

  1. I love the thought of this activity. But what I wanted to happen was that after the first obviously busy/frustrated house, that the YW would turn around and go in to help with the children and the cleaning. How great would that have been.

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  2. That would have been wonderful. I am sure that gesture was offered up by at least of those wonderful young women. But, everything that night was planned ahead of time. Marianne still would have not let them in. :) It was all staged.

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  3. I teared up just reading this, what an awesome activity.
    Thank you for sharing this :)

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  4. This is really sweet. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. We did this activity tonight it was so amazing. The YW never figured it out until we were invited in until the last house and we told them it was staged. This was a great reminder for me as a leader how they would've felt thanks for sharing.

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