Friday, August 29, 2008

Selawik VBS Captures Hearts

The theme for this year's VBS, directed by Julie Marsh (from Palmer, Alaska), was "Castles and Crowns". Focusing on Bible kings and queens, the stories, songs and skits aim to win the hearts of children to the love of Jesus.

Our first day of VBS opened with over 75 kids in attendance. Fortunately, we had the use of the Selawik school gymnasium, so we had adequate room for the group. However, the acoustics and smooth-rolling floor made for distracting background noise and lots of kids using "heelies" (heel roller skates in their shoes). Nevertheless, we noticed most of the kids actually joining in and singing the songs by the end of VBS, and we pray that there will be a lasting impact on their lives here and for eternity.

Our Bible stories were masterfully told by Rhonda Kack and Heather Merrill (with a brief stint by yours truly-- I need to beef up on my interest-holding techniques for kids). Our songs were led by Heather Merrill, with assistance from myself and the girls. Our skits had Hannah Merrill and Madelaine Kack as King and Queen, and Kyla Olson as Jester "Jane". Verity and I had a short stint as Queen and King as well. We split our group between crafts and games, with Julie leading crafts, and Madelaine, Hannah and Holly Merrill leading games. Meanwhile the rest of us assisted wherever needed. Brian Banning was a very important "behind the scenes" helper, assisting with everything from carrying food and crafts (heavy lifting), policing the building (keeping kids in order, gently but firmly), assisting with the computers and sound system, to washing dishes. Yes, dishes!

One thing perhaps unusual about our VBS is that we provided a full meal for the kids. Our first day, we started with the meal, but subsequently, we put it at the end, to provide a cleaner start to the VBS. Having the meal was not only a draw for the kids, but it also helped provide for a real need, and gave us time to get to know the kids better. It definitely doubled the amount of work needed to put on the VBS, but after seeing the blessing it was this year, we plan to do it again next year.

Lest you think VBS itself was the whole story though-- we must assure you that there was an exciting back story to the occasion. The story involves two sets of missed flights, delayed luggage, lots of last minute work, each of us alternately getting sick during the week, borrowed puppies, lost puppies, borrowed babies, ... Well, you'll have to ask the participants for more of the details than I can share in this brief blog!

However, one of the exciting things we had was that a Buckland elder "happened" to be seated next to Heather Merrill on the flight in to Kotzebue. Not only was the meeting encouraging to both Heather and the elder, but he gave our group an invitation to come to Buckland for VBS. We want to begin planning early next year so we can do a VBS in both Buckland and Selawik.

Plan to join us, in person if possible, and with any other support you can give if not. Keep God's mission in Arctic Alaska in your prayers.