Storyteller, humorist, and Messiah member Kathy Hoffman "re-counts" her 2019 VBS experience in journal form.
Glory to God Who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by God's power at work within us.
Day 1 – Go beyond with Faith – Daniel in the Lion's Den
The Tall Assistant looks at her clipboard. It was the first day of Vacation Bible School. She had never been surrounded by so many four and five-year-olds. There were 45 in all but as she counted the names on her clipboard she realize there were only 12 in her class 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 - 12 - 13! Uh-Oh! She counted the parents' signatures 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 - 12. Twelve children had signed in. She counted the children again 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 - 12 - 13! Thirteen children were present. She was horrified. Had she failed to get a signature with an incoming child? She started matching the children to the signatures. They were all new to her. She was forced to read the name tags on the front of each t-shirt. One by one she checked them off: Mary, Jenny, Carl, Grace, Mike, Mary … wait she had already checked Mary. The children were moving randomly all around the classroom! She had to start over. Eventually, with the help of the Kindly Leader, she discovered that Greg was an extra child … not on her list. Where in the world did he come from? Frantically, she ran to the next room.
"Do you have a Greg?"
"Yes, but he's not here!" responded the Room Assistant, quickly and apprehensively.
"Oh good, we've got him. Let's let him stay in our classroom until it's time to go home."
The Assistants had come to an agreement. (It turned out there was an adjoining bathroom between the two rooms unbeknownst to the leaders, but definitely beknownst to Greg.)
The day continued peacefully enough. The Tall Assistant did whatever the Kindly Leader beckoned. The Youthful Helper worked well with the children. The Three formed a good team. US against THEM, they thought, and US is winning.
Bible story, lineup, process to Sanctuary, return … oh my goodness, where did the snacks come from! "Wash your hands before snacks," reminded the Kindly Leader. Crafts, outside play time, Bible story recap then dismissal. During the Bible story recap, the Tall Assistant repeated the story. It was time for donations, but only one child had brought donations. The Tall Assistant scratched her head and mused: This will not do.
Day 2 – Go Beyond With Boldness – Queen Esther
(Greg tried to get into our class three times but we were wise to him.)
The Tall Assistant grab the clipboard and counted the children 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 - 11. Then she counted the parents' signatures 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 - 12. Oh no, this time she was missing a child. She peered over the bookcase on the right … not there. She peered over the bookcase on the left … not there. She re-counted 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 – 11. Still not good enough. She frantically enlisted the aid of the Youthful Helper. "2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 – 11," he counted. "Oh wait," he said, "there's another one in the back corner." Finally, all was as it should be.
The retelling of the Bible story got much more interesting when the Tall Assistant revealed a Ziploc bag full of pennies. Students who remembered portions of the Bible story were rewarded with a penny or two. There was one little Socialist who repeatedly asked for a penny without answering a question (he must been four). After a good number of pennies had been distributed, the Tall Assistant told the children they had earned their money and could keep it if they wished … however … if they wanted to donate to help sick people they could put some or all of their pennies in the donation cup. "I'll keep my eyes closed," she said, as she held out the cup. Pennies clattered into the cup like popcorn popping. As the clatter slowed, she opened her eyes. "Your eyes are open!," someone cried. She closed them again. Finally, it was quiet. She opened her eyes and looked up at the Kindly Leader … they both grinned. (The Kindly Leader later told her that the faces were full of grimaces as many children struggled with the concept of giving.) Good-Byes were said, children were logged out, another day was complete.
Day 3 – Go Beyond With Kindness – The Good Samaritan
This day preceded with no snags. It was a very pleasant normal day. During the recap of the Bible store, the Tall Assistant passed out another handful of pennies and invited the children once again to donate their booty to the cause for sick people. She closed her eyes, passed the cup and was a little surprised to hear only a little dribble of pennies hitting the bottom of the cup. Well that was interesting, she thought,they're getting wise to us.
Day 4 – Go Beyond With Thankfulness – Jesus Heals The Lepers
(US against THEM: US were still winning … THEM didn't realize the power they wielded.)
When the time for retelling the Bible story came, the Tall Assistant passed out pennies as usual. Looking at the penny bag she realize there were way too many pennies left in the bag. She invited the children to say their special Bible verse: anyone who could say the verse would get five pennies. The excitement was unbelievable. After about 3 responses, the children were jumping up and down screaming "Glory to God … Glory to God!" Amazingly everyone … including the Socialist … earned 5 pennies. Once again, the Tall Assistant closed her eyes and passed the donation cup. She anticipated a barrage of pennies. But could almost count them individually as she heard only about 5 pennies being dropped into the cup. Well, she thought, that backfired.
Day 5 – Go Beyond With Hope – The Walk to Emmaus
(One of the girls had gone camping so there were only 11 children participating.)
The children were beside themselves with happiness. They were enjoying Vacation Bible School. They knew they were coming to the last minutes, but there was no sadness. They were fully present in the moment. With the retelling of the Bible story, the Tall Assistant passed out a handful of pennies, and then stood up to her full height. She asked the children questions about the whole week. The remaining pennies tumbled from the heavens. The children were so excited they could hardly hold it in. The Tall Assistant took the donation cup. She told children there's a verse in the Bible that says: God loves a cheerful Giver!
"Now you say it," she challenged.
"God loves a cheerful Giver," came a few responses.
"Say it again!"
"God loves a cheerful Giver," they rang out in unison.
"ONE MORE TIME!"
"GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER!," they screamed.
The Tall Assistant invited them to keep their money or donate it for sick people. She closed her eyes and held out the cup. Pennies flooded in from all directions. The cup got heavier and heavier. The children were truly Cheerful Givers. The Youthful Helper dipped into his pocket and pulled out a bill. Into the cup it went. The Kindly Leader scurried over to her purse and came back with another bill. The Tall Assistant realized it was time for her to pony-up. She put in yet another bill. The cup was passed around so that the children could feel how heavy it was. They were so excited to be giving their money to help sick people … cheerfully.
Afterwards, everyone went over to the Sanctuary. Two boys from the class were selected to take the donation cup up and pour the contents into the large communal fish bowl. Soon they were back in their seats. 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 – 10! Oh-no, not again! she thought. "2 - 4 - 6 - 8 – 10!" The Tall Assistant looked to the Kindly Leader. Up there, the Kindly Leader indicated. The Tall Assistant saw the tiniest of the children standing up by the fish bowl, her body contorted as she was attempting to get the last of the pennies out of her left hip pocket with her right hand, to be deposited in the fish bowl.
A march across the parking lot, the final snacks, the final craft, the final play period. Decorations came down, hugs were given, 11 children were checked out to 11 parents, blinds were closed. It was a very satisfying week.