Not Your Typical “Marshmallow Message”

    Today, I went to a luncheon for the missionaries working in the church. After a delicious roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, we were to play a team-building game called “Marshmallow Majiwari (fellowship).” We were split randomly into teams and each team was given a handful of raw spaghetti pasta and a bowlful of marshmallows. The goal was to build the tallest structure we could in a limited time frame. OK, this sounded like fun and something that I and the folks in my team could excel at.

    The four people in our team just began to plan how we were going to construct our marshmallow-pasta towering masterpiece when one of the members had to leave to take photos of the event. Undaunted at the loss of a key member, we attacked the problem head-on and decided to build a large triangle shaped base and then connect it to a smaller triangle shaped level above it with triangle braces and continuing until the pyramid of pasta (tetrahedron, actually) couldn’t take any more height.

    With an idea somewhat understood, we began creating the base and connecting it to the first level. Because we first stopped and planned, we were slow to start but were quickly caught up to the teams next to us, who were already showing some structural problems. And as we moved to building the next level, we saw an added bonus, our fourth team member returned from taking pictures. But as the clock quickly ticking away, our culinary wonder of the modern world soon began to look more like the leaning tower of pasta. We were in a panic and with only moments left we began scrabbling to cram the remaining marshmallows and pasta in to create some kind of support to random looking upper levels. With the time up, we were forced to let go of the weakened top and watch with heavy hearts as the weird shape sagged and snapped off the oddly placed pasta as it fell… defeat.

    What happened!?! Everything was going so well. We had a good plan and the team was in agreement on how to carry it out… We should have won! However, midway we had overlooked a very fundamental problem that would be our downfall. When our fourth team member returned, we handed them the job of building one of the sides. So, our team-mate began adding pieces in what even fashion seems to work at the moment. Why? Because they had no idea what we were doing! We had become so busy that we did not take time to explain to someone who was not part of the planning. In doing so, we seemed to save a few moments of time by not explaining things but ended up losing the contest for the very same reason.

    This little exercise seems to have parallels in my work and ministry in Japan. It seems I have found myself in positions, like our fourth team-mate, were I had little idea as to what is going on and everyone around me so busy that they didn’t have time to explain it. And also, in the position of incorporating a new member into my team and forgetting that they don’t know the “history” yet.

    So although it is so easy to get caught up with all of our current projects and pressing deadlines, let us never forget that we are to be “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” – Eph 4:15-16