Friday, April 25, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: The Brinkman Adventures

I am the ladies mission director at our local church and one thing I really try to do is get everyone excited about missions, and that includes the children.  I am always taking opportunities to share mission stories and opportunities for service with the kids we work with at church.  You never know how many of them may be our next generation of missionaries and giving them an opportunity to feel that call early in their life can be important.  So, when I saw that I had the opportunity to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24,  I was eager to do it.

The Brinkman Adventures is an audio drama series where you learn about real life missionaries through the adventures of a large and somewhat fictional family.  Each episode is based upon real life events and missionaries.  The names of some of the people and places have been changed, while other times they use the real name.  There are even times when the actual missionary "plays" themselves on the air.  They create the drama by mixing a little bit of fact and fiction to help both move the story along and add a bit of fun.

What I love about the The Brinkman Adventures is how this series wasn't made to simply entertain the audience, though they certainly do an excellent job of that. This series was created to tell the stories of missionaries to excite young people about missions so they will commit to the call, help raise awareness and support for missionaries, and to actually change people's lives.  To do this they share many resources online to help you do just that.

After each episode you can go to The Brinkman Adventures website and read more about the story you just listened to.  They tell you there which characters and events in the story were fictional and which were real. I was amazed to find out how much truly did happen.  Sometimes the events may have happened to different people than in the episode but parts that I often thought were made up turned out to really be true!  It is fascinating to learn about them afterwards!

While I haven't yet listened to season 1, it was easy enough for me to jump in on season 2 and know what was going on.  Of course, as with any series, there are a few events that continue on through previous episodes.  For instance in episode 13 (the first one for season 2) starts with a funeral service for the twins that Mrs. Brinkman miscarried.  I have a feeling that was discussed in prior sessions.  It was sort of a shock at first to have them deal with something so person and tragic off the bat, but that really did make me realize these are more about teaching faith than just trying to entertain.  I actually like that about them.  It was respectfully done and my daughter who has special needs didn't seem to be too grieved by it.  In a later episode the mother is pregnant again and their daughter Kate sings a song that she really wrote while her mother Susan was pregnant.  The full song is featured as a bonus in season 2.

Many of the adventures have two sets of stories going on, one a semi-fictional drama about the Brinkman family where the children struggle with decisions they make and learn to trust God and follow Him by the end of the episode.  The other is the missionary story where there is also a biblical lesson to learn.  Sometimes the Brinkmans are hearing about the adventure from someone else, and sometimes they are there in the middle of it.  In either case they are very entertaining.

There were short breaks in between the episodes like there would be if it were on the radio and a commercial were coming on.  During those times one of the characters would share a quick bible verse, encouraging story, or tell you about some of the other features on the website.  There were also times where they did those sorts of things at the end.  I particularly loved hearing them talk about what it was like behind the scenes.  I would never really have thought about how much time goes into writing and recording an audio drama.

I was really touched by the Sapphire Slaves episode which was a 2 part story.  Since this episode did concern some intense situations they begin with by telling children under 10 to make sure their parents are listening with them.  During the episode you are confronted with the very real fact that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in human history.  I learned this a few years back and am now very eager to find ways to help.  In this episode there are children working as slaves in a sapphire mine which are eventually freed by the "Mercy Justice Mission" which is a fictional organization based upon ministries such as IJM which I have shared about on my blog.  This episode was so captivating it had me on the edge of my seat as the rescue mission was under way.  Wait, let me correct myself, I actually left my seat and was pacing back and forth waiting to hear what happened to Pedro, Carlos, and the other children. I remember this because my husband teasingly smiled at me while I was doing it. I was surprised when I later learned that the children who played the parts of the slaves were from a school featured in previous episode Treehouse Academy which took place in Belize!

The neatest part about the The Brinkman Adventures website is not just about how you get to learn more about the real story but there is also information about how you can contact the missionaries you just learned about!  Sometimes you have to do that via the Brinkmans, but other times you can contact them directly.

My daughter and I listed to these in various ways.  Sometimes we just sat and listened to the adventure.  However, Gesserine has Down syndrome and simply listening isn't something she does very well for a long period of time, unless music is involved or she can actually read along.  So other times we listened to them while we worked or did some quite play like coloring or Lego's.  That was better for her.  I noticed that they have a few printables available to go with earlier episodes.  I would love it if they had some to go with these. Having a picture about the story would have really been great.  For now, I will just let her do whatever she wants, as long as she is listening.  This is actually good auditory processing practice.  I think typical kids will have no problem at all enjoying the adventure for 30 minutes at a time. I am planning on getting season 1 before we go on a long road trip next month.  I know we will all enjoy having something uplifting to listen to along the way.

The Brinkman Adventures provides great listening pleasure for people of all ages.  I know I enjoyed them tremendously.  The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 consists of 12 episodes which is over 5 hours of programming. The Brinkman Adventures operates on a donation basis and the suggested price is $25.00 for the 4 CD set or $17.00 for the MP3 Album.  To learn more visit their website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.

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