My first Army VBS

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One of the activities for Sense of Resurrection was a praise party.  We were learning about the triumphal entry.  The goal was to make paper palm branches and then wave them as you listened to “Hosanna.” Clarissa enjoyed it so much that I started searching for kid’s praise songs on YouTube and we spent a good twenty minutes jumping up and down and worshipping Jesus with our paper palm branches.

One of the songs we found was “Jesus you’re my superhero.” The whole process reminded me of my children’s ministry days and especially vacation bible school.  So,  even though it was the beginning of March,  I knew that I wanted to volunteer with vacation bible school this year.

A few days later,  I was at PWOC and Sherrey mentioned that the Chapel was still looking for a director for vacation bible school.  I thought it might be fun,  but kind of shrugged it off when we started our worship service that morning.

By the end of the worship set,  I knew.  God had been preparing my heart for this.  So after worship was over I told Sherrey that I was interested but needed to discuss it with Tim first.  Tim and I talked it over and decided that I should go for it.

When I led vacation bible school at KPC, it was way different. God had given me a vision for it. We called it Family Fun Night and held it every Monday for the month of July. The whole family came and ate dinner and attended the event together. It was a great time for everyone. It was the first time our church had done a VBS in 10 years. So I could do whatever I wanted and everyone was excited.

I was also on staff at the church at the time. I was in charge of the budget and the spending. It was my job to run the background checks for volunteers. I knew the families so I knew what they needed and what they liked. And they loved me. So even though there was a lot of work involved, I really enjoyed it.

Fast forward four years. Leading vacation bible school for an army chapel as a volunteer with a two year old was very different. When I volunteered to lead VBS, Clarissa was napping (or at least resting) and mostly sleeping through the night. By the time summer rolled around, she wasn’t doing either. That alone made VBS more difficult to plan. Add to it that I had to submit things and wait around for them to be approved weeks later before I could purchase things or wait weeks for background checks to be completed.  Plus I had never met half of the volunteers. It made life way more stressful.

Statistically, they have about 150 kids at VBS. I walked in and found out that our population of kids was 600 and wanted to increase our capacity. But they said no. And I just prayed that God would bring the number of volunteers we needed and the kids He wanted to be there. We ended up with 116 kids and the exact number of approved volunteers we needed to make that work.

Clarissa missed the age cut off for VBS by three weeks, but I wanted her to attend. There are perks to your mom running the program…On Monday, she was so overwhelmed. She was the youngest kid in the cafeteria and there were so many big kids. She ate snack with her group, but ran around with me the rest of the day. On Tuesday, she went to two stations. Wednesday she almost lasted the whole day, but then she saw me during the fourth station so she was done. Thursday and Friday she went to a different group with one of her friends and stayed with them the entire day.

Going in to Vacation Bible School, I was really curious about what Clarissa would do. Both Tim and I got saved at about 3, so I was hoping it would be an important week for Clarissa too. On Monday we had a conversation about how God was good and Jesus was bad so I knew she wasn’t ready. But she did learn that “God gives us hope” and she can sing “for I know the plans I have for you says the Lord…”

It was a good week for me too. Part of me was disappointed that I didn’t get to have my own small group. I did enjoy walking around all day and getting to watch the children and teachers at the various stations. It was funny to be like the principal and talk to all of the kids who needed reminders about the rules. My teacher voice even made a few kids cry, which was hilarious to me. I am glad that I made myself the emcee for the music time. I really enjoyed interacting with the kids and getting to teach a little bit.

We had an altar call on Thursday afternoon. I had been running around like crazy that day and didn’t really get a chance to think about what I was going to say beforehand. But God planted all the seeds already so I just got up there and started talking. And then I asked if anyone wanted to stand up and start a relationship with God and they just started standing up. We only bought 25 Bibles and looking around the room, I knew that I didn’t have enough! What a good problem to have. So I had the kids come up who didn’t have a Bible at home and gave away all my Bibles and took names to bring more the next day.

Friday was so good. The kids all behaved really well so I got to really enjoy watching them rotate through each station. They played games, had a snack, learned a Bible story, and made a craft each day. As we were singing a song, God gave me a new lesson for them.

I think next year I would prefer to be a small group leader. The chapel is getting a Director of Religious Education, so they should be the director next year anyway.  But doing VBS reminded me of how much I enjoy children’s ministry. So I’ll have to find ways to bring that back into my life. It looks different now as a mom, but Clarissa rolled with it. Sometimes I held her while I was talking into the microphone. And the other kids thought she was the cutest thing ever.

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