Throughout this VBS experience there have been many things that have showed me the grace and power of God. From the kids we met, to the places we have gone, and the people who gave us lodging, I can see God’s hand at work. There are two people that stood out to me and have touched me and truly shown me what God’s work looked like, Arlis and Marsha Diener from Argentine Mennonite. I could see God in them in the way they work for their church. The immense amount of time planning their events and participating in community outreach in order to bring more kids to God is amazing. I could see they have unlimited faith in Him and always trust God in anything they do. When we first got to Argentine they told us about their community outreach to bring kids to VBS and shared their faith that God will give them the kids. The first day of VBS we had a great amount of kids and the number went up after that day. Another time I could see their faith was when we lost the keys to the van at the church. Our whole group was looking for them and no matter where we looked we couldn’t find them. We were all frustrated and tired after a long day. Marsha and Arlis got us to sit, calm down, and pray to God so that He could help, sure enough the keys were found! We were thankful to them for getting us to calm ourselves and put our faith in God. They really challenged me by opening my eyes to see people who love God unconditionally with no expectation of anything in return. Arlis and Marsha do this hard work because they love The Lord and want to see His kingdom come to life.
When I began these 8 weeks of VBS, I knew a little bit about leadership and had multiple experiences that had allowed me to grow in my ability as a leader. I knew I would be challenged as VBS On the Road director, but I guess I didn’t expect it from the very start. When our team met up, one of the girls and I immediately clashed, in particular about the van keys. Our second day at Argentine Mennonite we were fresh on the job and there were more kids than we expected that night. We were overwhelmed. At the end of the night, we gathered together and decided to head to McDonald’s for ice cream. But I couldn’t find the keys! I could feel my team mates getting more and more upset. As I looked, I felt so foolish. I had set myself up as the leader, demanding that my teammates give me the keys, yet I was the one that lost them. After gathering for a prayer, we started looking again. Jenna called out “I found the keys!” and there they were in my backpack the whole time. We went to McDonald’s, where I awkwardly apologized and nearly cried. There were two things that impacted me throughout this trip from that night: first, that God is for us, helping us find keys when we can’t. Secondly, that God is for me, helping me gain my teammates trust in unusual ways.
The Rey de Gloria (King of Glory) congregation has taken the leadership in providing a summer daycare program for children whose working parents are unable to provide for adequate and safe daycare, including meals, medical/social services, worthwhile activities and learning opportunities.
The Schowalter Foundation has been unusually generous in providing substantial financial assistance for several years, but this year, with a reduction in funds available to grant, they have provided about half the amount given in prior years. Rey de Gloria thus needs to raise about $14,000 to cover the costs, which do not include many hours of volunteer labor including our traveling Summer VBS team which will be helping out later in the summer.
If you would like to help this ministry continue please send checks to South Central Conference PO Box 564 Hesston, KS 67062 designated Rey de Gloria Daycare.
The following flyers can also be used to share this opportunity. They can be downloaded in full color online at the following links:
Over the course of this amazing summer, we have gone through many experiences, both good and bad, and it is difficult to only think of one thing to write about. One of my favorite experiences occurred while we were in Brownsville, Texas, before the second week of VBS had begun. We had decided to go to a park to play basketball, talk, and spend some time together. To make a long story a little bit shorter, a child wanted to join us in playing basketball, and, of course, we could not turn him down. Soon, one child turned into two, then two into five, and eventually we ended up with fifteen to twenty kids who were all playing basketball with us.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else have that much fun playing basketball while also trying their hardest as those kids. I even had the pleasure of getting dribbled under as one of the children went between my legs, himself and the basketball. Those kids loved to have fun, just like any other kid would. Before they had to leave, we learned that all of those children were foster children, which is something that didn’t hit me lightly. In the short time I had been with these great children, they made me realize a few things. When I saw the children interact, even though they didn’t always get along, I could tell that they all loved each other and had each other’s backs.
That is something we should all try to replicate. What was pretty sad, though, was that here are these kids caring for each other, and the “border wall” for the U.S. is literally twenty feet away from where we were playing. Is keeping others away from ourselves a loving thing to do? The other thing I realized was that maybe sometimes as Christians we focus on religion more than on relationship. As evidenced through our time with the kids at the park, we can minister to others without being at church or forcing religion on them. How else are we to win others to Christ if we don’t love them and make relationships with them first? I am thankful to those kids and God for one of the most real, genuine experiences in my life. Moments like that are part of what makes life truly special.
VBS on the Road 2016 Staff