Matthew 19:14-15, “14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”
The first week of July, I had the privilege of serving at a VBS in Nataline, a village 535 miles from Lviv….a 20 hr. train ride away. Our church has been sending teams to serve at this VBS for the past 6 years. A lady in our church and one of our youth are from Nataline. There is one protestant church in this village that is made up of about 6 people, but despite their small size, they each save their money individually and are committed to doing this VBS each year. They open up the camp to children from their village and also a number of other nearby villages, and they usually end up with about 50+ kids. This year, we had 54 kids ranging in age from 6 – 14 years old.
We arrived Saturday morning and had that day to rest. Sunday and Monday were spent planning and preparing, and on Tuesday the camp started. Our days began with Bible, music, and craft, groups. The kids were split into 3 groups – oldest, middle, and youngest – and they rotated between the stations. After lunch, we had game time and team time, and in the evening we had an evening service to recap the Bible story and sing songs.
I was in charge of games – 2 hours, with 54 kids and games appropriate for the entire spectrum of ages we had. I’ll admit, it was a challenge! But it was so fun! I actually only had to plan games for 2 days, and on the 3rd day we did a photo scavenger hunt. This was the first time the kids have played a game like that, and they loved it! They had so much fun running around the village and looking for the different things on their list to take pictures of. I do believe that might be a new traditional game. On the last day, the camp leaders had planned another type of scavenger hunt game – each leader was a character from Esther, and the kids had to find each leader and fulfill an assignment they were given The kids had lots of fun, and thankfully we made it through all the game times with no injuries! Praise God!
On our last day though, one of the older boys – about 13 or 14 – was playing on the swing set, fell, and hit his leg really hard right below the knee. No on actually saw it happen, but one of the other leaders found this boy, Sasha, in the bushes sobbing. He got him to come out, we found out what happened, and then he began to tell us, “I can’t feel my leg below my knee.” Someone began to explain to him that he was in shock and that the pain was going to get much worse before it got better. After talking with him a few minute, I asked him if I could pray for his leg, and he said I could. After praying, nothing seemed to have changed immediately. Everyone moved on to different things, and about 15 minutes later, I see Sasha up and walking….barely even limping! I found it a little curious, but thought he may just be hiding the pain and trying to look strong. But, the next morning when we arrived, I noticed he was up, walking without a limp, and even running!! I truly believe God healed Sasha’s leg, cause I never saw it get worse before it got better….it just got better! Glory to God!!!
In addition to leading the games, I also got to help each day with craft time, and one day I helped out with music – teaching them the English
version to one of their songs. It was such a blessing to serve these kids, to see how they grew to love us more with each day, and to see some of them realizing the Bible is an interesting book. One of the girls went to the camp director one day and told her, “I can’t wait for tomorrow to find out what happens in the story!!! I didn’t know the Bible was this interesting!” Now that we have all returned to our homes, I’m praying that the seeds that were planted would be watered and grow. God spoke to me one day about how important these kids really are – they are the future of these villages, both physically and spiritually! I’ve already ‘reserved’ my spot on the team for next year. 🙂
By now, you’re probably wondering what on earth spiders and frogs have to do with camp. Well, those were the not-so-lovely little critters I discovered in my room! I had a great little room all to myself that was off of the summer kitchen. This room is apparently not lived in very much and the spiders have moved in. For those of you who don’t know me very well, I hate spiders and usually have to get someone else to kill them for me. Well, the first night there, when I went to pull back the covers….something big and black went scurrying across my blanket! Being that I was alone, I had to muster up all the strength I had to fling it off the blanket and kill it. God is a good and understanding Father though, and I never saw anymore spiders in my bed. I actually didn’t see many more spiders in my room at all! Then one night, as I was sitting in my room, I looked up to discover a frog on the floor! Being a city girl, I have no clue what to do with frogs or how to get them out, so thankfully my friend came to my rescue and got it out….but not without some shrieking from both us. It was great week though, seeing yet again how people live differently. There were no indoor toilets – only outhouses – and even the showers were outdoors. A little wood or brick structure, a plastic barrel on top, a shower head inside, and voila – you’ve got a shower! The only problem, the spiders take over those places too. But, I got used to them.
Thank you again for your prayers. With each step of this journey, I am so grateful to know that I have people praying for me! And with each step of this journey, I am grateful and humbled by the knowledge that I am only here because of the financial support y’all have given. If it weren’t for those 2 things, there would be no way for me to be here. I am constantly amazed, with each new opportunity that God gives me, that this is really my life. I absolutely love serving my God and I am so thankful He finds ways to use me. I am so grateful that our God loves to use us, His children, and puts each of us exactly where He wants us. He is so good!!! Thank you also to those of you who have sent or contributed to packages. Each small item in the boxes we receive are such a blessing and bring a smile to our faces! We are so blessed by y’all and so thankful to call you our friends and family!
Honored, humbled, and grateful,
P.S. I’ve added some more pictures to the post “Unexpected Blessings“.