Monday, September 3, 2012

Lennette Randall: God's Faithfulness -- The Place Where Courage Grows

When a foolhardy wasp dove into Lennette Randall’s salad, her fingers dove in right after it and plucked it out. Eight of us had been shooing away wasps as we ate, but only Lennette was brave enough to nab one with her bare hands.

That wasp-catching episode is a picture of Lennette`s courage in facing life’s greater challenges.

Born in Sierra Leone, Lennette moved to the U.S. when she was 14. After high school, she went to live with her dad in England, and finished a communications degree. In 2006, she heard of Rosebud School of the Arts – a tiny school in a faraway Canadian village -- where they offered performing arts training with a Christian worldview.
But “all Heaven broke loose” and family and financial issues got in the way of her attending.

Two years later, Lennette considered Rosebud again, but the obstacles still seemed insurmountable – until suddenly they disappeared. A visa that should have taken 6-8 weeks arrived in 7 days. Lennette found a ridiculously-cheap plane ticket for £199 ($400 Canadian). She was on her way to Canada.

She arrived in Rosebud with enough money for one semester, hoping she could stay a year. Four years later, she’s still here -- and is about to graduate.
Lennette cherishes the high degree of investment her instructors have given her, but she emphasizes she hasn’t been “babied”. Living in a tiny village has also been an education, as she’s observed how people relate to each other and how each person finds a place.

Most of all, she says, it’s required “a lot of work and trust” day by day, year by year, to watch God provide – through scholarships, jobs, and an ability to work.
This summer, for example, Lennette worked three different jobs, in addition to playing Mrs. Spencer in Rosebud’s Anne of Green Gables, all while writing and developing her final student project Under the Mango Tree. Since she describes herself as a person who “needs to know what’s happening every day”, it hasn’t been easy.
Two years ago when her aunt died, Lennette went to Sierra Leone for the funeral, using money she’d saved for school. She returned to Rosebud with no way to pay tuition – until she discovered that generous friends had collected and donated money on her behalf.
She has learned to “trust every day” that God will provide.

During the past three years, Lennette has lost her grandparents*, as well as her aunt, so when she began her final project she wanted to honor them by retelling the stories they’d told.
But the project didn’t come together smoothly or quickly. Lennette started with the idea of an eight-member cast and a back-up choir. Early in her drafts, an unexpected male character “appeared”.
As Lennette worked with Kelsey Krogman, her dramaturge**, Under the Mango Tree gradually evolved, keeping the male character but leaving out the choir. The final version includes Lennette and Conrad Belau, who make audience members laugh and cry as they perform outside under a graceful, old, easy-to-climb tree.

Under the Mango Tree’s universal themes of cultural and family conflict; sorrow and loss; friendship, forgiveness and loyalty resonate deeply with viewers. I hope this play’s life extends far beyond the planned performances that took place this weekend.
In the meantime, Lennette will complete two more written projects and an oral exam before graduation at the end of September. Then, after she’s had REST, she’d like to look for work with a company -- perhaps in Canada, perhaps in England -- that uses performing arts as a communications tool.

It’s my prayer that Lennette will continue to use her remarkable writing and performing abilities and convey her keen insights into human nature by telling stories that express our unfailing need for God, and remind us of His unfailing faithfulness.
*Under the Mango Tree is dedicated to the memory of Lennette’s aunt and grandparents.

**A dramaturge supports a playwright, ensuring the play maintains a plotline, stays true to characters, etc.

-- Reenie

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