Well friends, our VBS ended last Friday.  The end of VBS is always bittersweet but we had a good week.  There were so many ways that I saw God working but I’ll share just a few:

Our volunteers were rock stars!  They were so ready to jump in and serve in various capacities, whether leading games, helping to keep our building safe, leading meaningful discussions, being crafty, serving snacks or making sure that our sound was up and running.  In fact, many of them took time off from work to be with us for the week.  It was great to see our volunteers come together to make the week great!

Hearing stories of meaningful conversations happening at VBS, in the car or at home were so inspiring.  Children were asking good questions and really grappling with what they saw and heard.

Seeing children worship was great!  They were not only singing, they were worshiping.  I know that God was pleased.

Here are a few pictures from Day 5:

Our thank-you gift to our fabulous family leaders (A Pinterest-inspired idea)

Our thank-you gift to our fabulous family leaders (A Pinterest-inspired idea)

Our family leaders made VBS s'more fun!

Our family leaders made VBS s’more fun!

 

All week, our children were asked to bring in food for a local food pantry we support.  Humphrey the Camel liked what we collected. :)

All week, our children were asked to bring in food for a local food pantry we support. Humphrey the Camel liked what we collected. :)

Day 5 also included taking down much of our decor so that we could prepare for our Friday night celebration service and picnic.  This was the first year that we held our closing worship service on Friday night – we usually hold it on the Sunday following in lieu of our ‘normal’ worship services – but because of our church’s core values is connecting, we wanted a way to connect families to each other as well as to their child’s leaders.

The service lasted approximately 40 minutes and highlighted many of the songs the children learned in addition to a special visit from ‘Moses’.  Our picnic (complete with inflatables, games, prizes and food) was a great ending to the day.  Seeing families connect was a beautiful thing.

All in all, when I think back to the week, the two words that come to mind are grace and beauty.  I described grace earlier in the week (you can read that here) but here’s how it was beautiful.

Seeing inter-generational ministry happening is one way that our VBS is unique.  Seeing teens serve with older members of our congregation is one of the strengths of our program.  Because of this, our VBS is something that seems to rally our entire church like no other event.

Seeing our staff come together and support our VBS makes me grateful to serve alongside my colleagues.  Every department in our church made a contribution to our VBS.  It truly is an all-church, all-staff endeavor.

Seeing the giftedness within our congregation makes me thankful that God makes us all different.  Some have a knack to make things pretty; some are extremely organized; some are fun-loving; some are deeply passionate about seeing children learn about God in a Bible-based environment and want us to keep the main thing the main thing.  VBS is truly a collaboration of gifts and talents.

Seeing the Holy Spirit move in the hearts of our children reminds me that despite all of our efforts, it is the Holy Spirit who prompts children to be receptive to the message of the Gospel.  We want children who don’t know Jesus to accept His free gift of salvation and we want children who know Him to know and love Him more.

I am truly thankful to my fabulous team who worked so hard and tirelessly to make it a fabulous week.  Once we all recover, we’ll celebrate! :)  To God be the Glory!

“I will bless the Lord who guides me.”

Psalm 16:7

In my experience with VBS, Day 4 (Thursday) is usually the hardest day, but with God’s help and supernatural strength, we made it! (Read about Day 1 hereDay 2 here, and Day 3 here.)

By Thursday, I usually feel like I’ve been hit by a ton of bricks.  I know that many of our volunteers feel the same way. so we usually try to be very intentional in keeping momentum going with volunteers who might be growing weary.  Here’s what we did today to fuel and re-energize the team:

We asked volunteers to arrive 30 minutes earlier so that they could enjoy a light breakfast (bagels, coffee and juice) with us. We then made a few important announcements before leading the troop in a pep rally.  I recruited one of our more energetic leaders to lead us in an energizing chant, complete with noisemakers!  It was awesome!

We also began assembling gifts for volunteers.  Our craft team leader assembled these gifts for her team:

Contents of these small tokens of appreciation: toilet tissue tube wrapped with paper, a tea light candle, a mint and chocolate kisses.

Contents of these small tokens of appreciation: toilet tissue tube wrapped with paper, a tea light candle, a mint and chocolate kisses.

 

The finished product and a note

The finished product and a note

 

We are all exhausted but we’re hearing stories of life-change and it makes it all worth it!

Verse for the day:

” ‘For I am with you and will save you,’ says the Lord.”

Jeremiah 30:11

We are half-way through our week of journeying with Moses and the Israelites.  Day 3 of our five-day Summer Bible Camp (aka VBS) did not disappoint!  (Read about Day 1 here and Day 2 here.)

There were many highlights but before I share some of them, I wanted to talk about the different Israelite Camp (crafts) we offered this year.  The different options were designed to stand alone but several of ours were combined to better suit our needs.  Here’s what we chose (some of our crafts were altered from those suggested in the curriculum):

Tent Cleaning & Operation Kid to Kid:  Wandering in the wilderness can make for lots of dirty, sandy feet and clothing. At this tent, campers get to learn about the importance of having clean water.  They engage in water activities and fold paper to make a cup to drink from.

Tent Cleaning & Operation Kid to Kid

Tent Cleaning & Operation Kid to Kid

Music & Camel Herder:  The children made tambourines and camel bell jewelry at this area.

Camel Bell Station

Camel Bell Station

Sand Artisan:  Sand was added to homemade colored clay and provided to campers and could be molded into any creation they chose.  Most children chose to make medallions or pots.

Sand Artisan tent

Sand Artisan tent

 

Some of the treasures created at the Sand Artisan tent.

Some of the treasures created at the Sand Artisan tent.

 

Baker/Butter Making Tent:  Here, campers work together as a group to make butter by shaking a large mason jar filled with heavy whipping cream.  The butter was then spread onto slices of bread.  Yum!

Bakery & Butter Making Tent

Bakery & Butter Making Tent

 

Rope Making:  Campers make their very own jump ropes at this station.  What makes these jump ropes unique?  They are made from plastic grocery bags.  Yes, our crafts team leader cut 900 strips of plastic by hand – we love her!

Rope Making Tent

Rope Making Tent

 

A close up of a jump rope, complete with our day's verse attached.

A close up of a jump rope, complete with our day’s verse attached.

Now for a few highlights:

Since our volunteers are so valuable to us, we offered them very special chocolates.

Sweet treats for our volunteers

Sweet treats for our volunteers

Our morning celebration is always one of my favorite parts of the day.

There's something amazing about worshiping with hundreds of children and volunteers - it's a great start to the day!

There’s something amazing about worshiping with hundreds of children and volunteers – it’s a great start to the day!

Our tummy-filling (aka snack) team makes yummy snacks for our 500+ campers and volunteers each day.

Healthy snacks for our wilderness journey

Healthy snacks for our wilderness journey

 

One of my favorite parts of the day was seeing our custom “Hump Day” video made by our Middle School Director and a few of our student leaders.  If you have ever watched the Geico “Hump Day” commercial, you will get the idea behind this – Humphrey the Camel was awesome!

Verse for the day:

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13