Assembly of God puppetmaker lends a hand at Baptist convention
By Craig Bird
Texas Baptist Communications
LUBBOCK–When it seems there is no way, God will make a way. And sometimes God will make a puppet–or at least send a puppet maker.
At least, that's the way Kelli Watson sees it.
Which is why the Plainview woman showed up at the BGCT annual session in Lubbock, even though she attends an Assembly of God church. She grew up in a Baptist church and graduated from Wayland Baptist University.
When lingering health problems prevented Watson from going on a mission trip to Haiti last summer, she sent four surrogates in her place. Unlike the rest of the volunteers, the puppets Watson handcrafted all stayed behind to continue helping Mission of Hope share the gospel with children in a town just outside Port Au Prince.
|Kelli Watson and a friend from her church show off some of the puppets Watson makes for use in churches and in missions settings. The puppets feature unrealistic skin colors as a means to make them cross racial boundaries.|
“I'm kind of a child of puppet ministry. My youth group really got into it … in the 1980s,” she said. “And I kept doing puppets until a few years ago when I got rheumatoid arthritis in my wrists. Even then, I really missed it.”
An article about a missionary in Vietnam who was allowed to witness in schools through puppets planted the idea that she might could buy puppets for other missionaries to use.
But she was shocked to learn how expensive puppets are. So when her daughter asked her if she would make a puppet for the trip to Haiti, inspiration matched up with motivation. “It took me about four days to work out the design and pattern for the first one. Now it takes me about three hours to make one.”
She uses donated material whenever possible–“giving new life to all those double knit scraps your grandmother has in her closet,” she said.
Those fabric scraps also impact the look of the puppets.
“I was looking for something that could be used with all cultures and ethnic groups, so my puppets don't have skin tones,” she said. “I tend to give them blue skins whenever I can.”
It was her dream to send puppets to mission fields around the world that landed her in Lubbock.
“I called, and there was no exhibit space available, but the BGCT folks said I should just come down and see who I could meet.”
She offers puppets free to missionaries upon request and will sell to churches and individuals at significantly below standard retail rates. All the proceeds from her church sales go to pay shipping costs for missionaries and to buy more supplies.
Watson may be contacted through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.