by Kelly J. Larson, Coordinating Council Media Specialist
PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — In lieu of a big Christmas party, a ward congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints in the Round Rock East Stake hosted a pandemic-friendly alternative celebration. An estimated 800 guests showed up on the first night for a drive-by nativity, complete with narration and a QR code to scan in order to navigate to the next display.
The four night event started on Dec. 19 and will end on Dec. 22, beginning at 2413 Pauma Valley Way in Pflugerville. The complete tour goes to eight homes within a small area (5.8 miles), and takes about a half hour to complete.
This website link provides a digital program and a Google map to each home, a narration recording to go along with the theme and an accompanying song.
Many volunteers spent the last month preparing, designing a website, building wooden structures, creating artwork and further planning.
Full-time missionaries assisted with graphics and suggested implementing a central website with only one QR code so people would not have to scan it at every house.
Tristen Fielding, a software architect, contributed significantly by building the website, a first for him.
Stephanie Tietjen and her daughter, Ginger Tietjen, 13, came up with the innovative idea of the drive-by nativity with narration.
“Our family loves to drive around to look at Christmas lights. We especially love the ones that have synchronized lights. My husband (Ken Tietjen) is also the bishop and the ward council was having a hard time figuring out what to do, so that’s why we started brainstorming ideas,” Stephanie Tietjen explained.
Stephanie’s son, Nathan, 20, built all but one of the structures, while developing a new skill in woodworking.
The Tietjens and others worked diligently to implement the vision and solve each problem, including how they could transmit narration, how people could access it, etc.
Stephanie added, “I really felt like the Spirit prompted us to ask specific people in our ward to help and they would each add a brilliant idea and make everything go smoother.”
As a result of their efforts, hundreds more individuals have been able to benefit from what would have been a usual church Christmas party. Instead, many friends and neighbors from the community have been able to participate easily in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Missionaries Sister Margarite Alise Degarimore, Sister Kennedi Janson, Sister Hannah Coleman, Sister Laura Green and Sister Shelby Stubbs, greeted and welcomed carloads of visitors on the first night of the nativity, keeping track how many participants attended.