Monday, August 07, 2006

VBS updated

Our church held Vacation Bible School during the last week of July. Either VBS has changed a lot since I was a child, or our church came up with a fantastic way of doing it.

I attended VBS back in the '60's. For the seven summers that I attended VBS, the schedule was the same. We went to VBS every weekday morning for two weeks. Each day's session lasted 4 hours. We were served a snack which didn't vary: Kool-aid in plastic Tupperware-like cups and cheap creme sandwich cookies in which one side of the cookie was chocolate-flavored and the other side was vanilla-flavored. Mothers, grandmothers, maiden aunts, and teen-aged girls volunteered to teach, do crafts, and play outdoor games with us.

I was 10 the last year I went to VBS. My cousins came to stay with us for the 2 weeks of VBS, and my cousin Alex and I were in the same class at church. Up until that year I had loved VBS. The lessons and activities were fun. Seeing children in our rural community who *only* came to church for VBS and re-establishing friendships with them was great. The ladies and girls who taught us were kind and patient and made me hope I would be like them when I grew up.

My theory is that the VBS principal ran out of volunteers that year and had to ask for more workers. Alex and I had Mrs. S for our teacher. Although she was sweet and bright to the other adults there, she was a different person in her class with the children. Her attitude, her tones, her words made it very clear to us all that she did not want to be there and she resented the time spent with us. After a few days she was quite unpleasant, and Alex and I decided we weren't going to spend the rest of VBS being miserable under the rule of Mrs. S. We approached my mother and appealed to her to allow us to "drop out" of VBS. We explained why we were so unhappy, and promised to be good and sit in the house while everyone was playing and having fun at VBS if she'd just not make us go back to Mrs. S's class.

Mom didn't think dropping out was a good idea, and I shudder now to think of the position we put her in: How to explain lovingly and diplomatically that she was taking two of Mrs. S's VBS children and having them sit at home during VBS? (Because Dad was the pastor we lived next-door to the church, so Mom could pop in and check on us or we could run get her if we needed to - that was our childish way of thinking.) Mom's solution was to ask Mrs. M if Alex and I could come into her class. Mrs. M taught the class of children slightly younger than us, and I think Mom asked if we could be "junior helpers" for her. Mrs. S was fine with us leaving her class and Mrs. M was fine with us joining hers. The very next day God was back in His heaven and all was right with our world, to paraphrase Robert Browning. Mrs. M was cheerful, even joyful!, and made us useful, but loved us, too. She loved the Lord with everything she said and did and we loved being in her class.

Since growing up and having children I've never been in a church that has VBS. I did know that most churches now have VBS (if they have it at all) in the evening for 3 to 5 evenings for about 2 or 3 hours each evening. I know from reading blogs and some lists that VBS is very unpopular with lots of mothers. And I know from *my* experience that when unhappy moms are "helping" in VBS, they are like poison to their classes.

Our church announced VBS back in June and my children asked if we could go to it. I hesitantly said that we probably would. We did go - every night from Monday through Friday, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. We all agreed it was great! David, Sam and Marley enjoyed their classes. Jacy, Sarah, and Joan enjoyed helping in classes, in the kitchen, and best of all, in the nurseries. Steve and I enjoyed every minute of each evening and came home feeling like we'd been to "Vacation Bible Spa." No, we didn't have massages and pedicures. We had fellowship with everyone in the body AND wonderful teaching from various pastors in other churches in Alabama AND coffee and dessert every night!

Here's what the VBS schedule looked like:
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. .... Supper
6:10 - 6:30 p.m. ....Opening (prayer, singing, Scripture, and a skit)
6:30 p.m. .... Children to classes
6:30 - 7:00 p.m. .... Adults (and anyone over 12 who wished to participate) have coffee and dessert.
7:00 - 7:45 p.m. ....Teaching for adults
7:45 p.m. .... Children return to their families
7:45 - 8:00 p.m. .... Closing

I think most everyone in our church was there - from the bitty babies to Miss Jane and Miss Ruth, darling widows in their eighties who participate in everything. I managed to meet some people during dessert time that I hadn't gotten to know yet, and we tried to sit with different groups at supper each night, too. It was so nice to have families with children, couples without children, college students, and widows and widowers all enjoying VBS together - and a brand-new experience for me.

It was a refreshing week for everyone in our family and we look forward to it again next summer.



Blogger Tammy said...

That sounds great!
Actually, I have never heard of evening VBS, so it must not be the thing in my area. Every year, my oldest was going to the VBS held at a smaller church where I had attended MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) and we loved it. This year they couldn't get a coordinator so it was cancelled, but both girls did attend VBS at a large church. I never saw such a crowded VBS! It was pretty wild, with the "pirates" leading singing at the beginning and end. Not really my personal thing...but if it really did get kids excited about the things of God, then I was for it!

And as I think you know from one of my previous posts, it helped to introduce another little girl that I was watching that week to the Lord.

Your VBS sounds absolutely wonderful, though! Glad it was a much better experience than your childhood one with Mrs. S!


12:54 AM  

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