“It was a long, green boat, sailing gently along the river,” recalled 18-year-old Ana Barros (Portugal), as she described her dream to her mum, before ever seeing a picture of OM's Riverboat.
Ana had that dream the same night she received an email about the Riverboat from the OM Director of Portugal, who happened to be her godfather. Her godfather knew about Ana’s talents with stage design, and found it a relevant skill for the Riverboat, specifically for The Agency. However, Ana did not want to open the email. “I had the thinking that once you start being involved with OM, you wouldn’t be able to get out,” joked Ana.
After the dream though, Ana went back to the email and learnt about this green boat. The consequences were high for her – she would have to quit her professional job as Costume and Stage Designer in a theatre where she had invested four years of her life.
“But the dream and the email stayed in my mind,” said Anna. “Honestly, it was messing with my mind!”
Ana decided to have a chat with her boss, the Theatre Director, who is a non-believer and asked for advice. “Ana, but isn’t this what you have worked hard for?” she stated. “You have nothing to lose!”
It was true. Ana had gone into this specialisation with the intention of using it for God’s glory ultimately. Over the years she had somehow forgotten about this desire, burying herself in work. Now that the opportunity was placed in front of her, she was pushing it away instead of grabbing it.
As she read the scripture from Matthew 13 that talks about the Kingdom of Heaven one day, it became clear to Ana and she exclaimed to herself, “What am I doing? The Riverboat is what I’m supposed to do!” Ana quickly filled out her application and sent it in, giving herself no time for regrets. Subsequently, God’s provision financially was her confirmation to join the Riverboat.
Due to the cancellation of a conference, Riverboat community members arrived on board a week earlier than planned. In her first week, Ana felt bored and useless until Creative Director of The Agency, David Svenson (Sweden), asked loudly for help in designing one of the rooms known as the ‘control room.' Ana immediately volunteered saying, “I’m a stage designer and I can help!”
David went through the creative concept with Ana and how he visualised the room to be, adding that there was not a lot of budget available. With the vision and limitations in spending, Ana got creative using what she could find, like coffee, sugar and salt, along with paint and glue, to paint patches of grey and black in the ‘control room’, creating a feel of mystery and darkness. While doing so, she worked with other community members from different cultures - a new experience for her. Ana admitted that it was a challenge trying to communicate and teach others what to do in English.
In that moment, while designing the room, it dawned on Ana that she was mixing her two passions and worlds together – design and missions. “I was finally working on what I really love for God and I felt God in it,” shared Ana. “I knew I was in the right place.” Even though the work took long hours due to the impending launch of The Agency, often stretching till 01:00 or 02:00, Ana enjoyed herself immensely.
After the Riverboat, Ana will help OM UK build the set of the Global Village in a new location. It is also her heart’s desire to join the Global Village factory and its team in Sweden one day. Having tasted the best of both worlds, Ana cannot go back to something less, but to keep serving God, using her talents.