Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CLOWN (02/13/20)
TITLE: Rainbow Ralph
By Robyn Harbour
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Each Tuesday I ran the Good News Club for the forty or so children of this large village of shanty houses. The houses had dirt floors and were made of bamboo, wood, plastic, iron, or whatever could be scrounged nearby. Families had left the islands in search of work. There was no work in the city and they didn't have the money to return to where there were housing and food gardens for them and a much better way of life. To survive the children would go out at first light and steal food from the food gardens.
Pastor Colin was a children’s pastor from our home church in Australia. We had invited him to Vanuatu to speak at a Royal Ranger camp and he suggested we might like him to bring his alter ego, Rainbow Ralph, with him. I jumped at the chance knowing that Rainbow Ralph would be a treat for my Efkotau kids.
So here we were walking the 4 km from our flat at the Bible College in the humid heat, Colin sweating profusely. His orange wig made of nylon curls was hotter than the cap he usually wore. The white face paint on his face was threatening to melt. His bright red mouth and large red nose made him look very scary to the locals we passed on our way who would cross the road before they reached us. Rainbow’s multi-colored pants were held up with bright red braces and he carried a bag full of tricks.
The outfit frightened the dogs who gathered at the intersection of the track and barked at us. Village dogs are not that friendly as they are half-starved and ill-treated. I was always frightened if bailed up by the dogs when walking alone.
The children had been waiting in front of the church as always. They were always early as this was the highlights of their week. They didn’t attend school as education was not free. They were mostly illiterate as were their parents. The children enjoyed singing and doing craft, and keeping me on my toes, as I normally ran this group singlehanded as committed volunteers were hard to find.
As we approached the church the children ran away screaming, they certainly were frightened. They had never seen a clown before. The group cautiously returned with Freddie in the lead. Needing to allay their fears, I asked Rainbow Ralph to pull off his wig and nose. I couldn’t do much about the face paint. I had to prove to them that Rainbow Ralph was an ordinary man under the paint. The children relaxed and laughed as he replaced them on his head.
The meeting started and the children lost their fear and everything went well until Rainbow took over. I warned him that for each sleight of hand he did he must show them in slow motion what he did. Something he would not normally do in Australia. Magic is real in Vanuatu, those that work magic do get results, as the devil is an imitator.
The children were very scared when he did his first illusion and I could see them poised to run out of the church. He quickly showed the children how he had done the illusion and asked them to watch his hands carefully as he did others to see if they could work out how he did it. The children didn’t need to be confused about the power of God. By the end of the hour, the children were standing close to Rainbow Ralph and trying the various tricks he had shown them. Their fear had abated.
As we walked out of the village the children followed us to the main road, laughing and chatting away. This had been an awesome experience for them, one they would talk about for a long time. For months I kept getting asked: ‘Wetem bigfala clown, him kum bakeagen?’
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