Expedition Norway

Lastt week was a very strange one for an abundance of reasons, due in no small part to VBS with my church. The theme for the week was “Expedition Norway” and, in my opinion, far superior to last year’s camp theme. I thought it was bizarre that a VBS would be themed after a “nowhere” country like Norway. I would think that it’d be designed around more well known countries and themes like Egypt, France, pirates, castles, etc. That being said, I loved the exposure. I thought it was super cool that the kids (and everybody else) got to learn just a little bit about Norway, such a different culture. Beyond learning about Norway, this VBS was really great and that’s what I wanna talk about today.

Lets start with the children. This is the third time I’ve done VBS, but the second at my current church. Last year was a little tougher because the kids were rowdier, so I was very happy with the group of kids that I got this year. Most of the time they listened perfectly and they were very into everything. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves and participating and they brought their bibles, memorized verses, and even offering. They were silly and thoughtful and just a great group of kids, even though on the last day there were 11 of them. Even if its only for a few hours, watching and managing 11 children is very difficult, but it was oh so rewarding to see them having fun and learning.

The next thing is the pertaining to Norway. I have a friend who, just this summer, has gone to Israel and is now in Europe getting to go everywhere I want to visit. My church friends are going to Mexico, and that has been eating away at me because I’ve been beating myself up over it. When the time came, I elected not to go for personal reasons, but now I look back and want to punch myself in the face. I want so badly to go to Mexico, but it’s far too late and every time I hear people talking about going to Mexico, it just reminds me that I’m not going and I hate myself a little bit. I have some of the best times in Mexico and now I’m regretting my decision. Next year though… I will not make this mistake again. Anyway, that was all to say that I’ve had travel on my mind a lot and it’s really inspired a wanderlust in me. I want to learn a new language and go experience a new place in the world. It’s just been surrounding everything I do lately, and VBS just reinforced my curiosity for the world and its people. I’m working and thinking of a way to travel more because now’s the most opportune time to do it.

Lastly, I want to just touch on what VBS did for me personally this year. In being a leader, especially for children, it becomes necessary to put them above yourself. Because they looked up to me, in more ways than one, it was my responsibility to be an example to them even if I didn’t feel like it. I had to put on a mask so none of my junk would get in the way of what they were learning. By wearing that mask, I naturally began to look at myself in the mirror and I noticed the mask definitely didn’t match the rest of me. This is all metaphor of course, but I’ve been on a kind of nose dive for weeks, months, I can’t remember how long. But I signed up to help my friends and these children. It made me realize just how far I’ve strayed. Every day I would drill into the children’s heads how important it was to memorize verses. Every day I would repeat the mantras like “When life changes, God is good,” or “When life is good, God is good.” In my own time, I wasn’t ever thinking that. I wasn’t memorizing verses, telling myself how good God is, praying, or looking for God. Have you heard the phrase, “Fake it till you make it?” That’s what started to happen. I started making it. Instead of all of those things I should’ve been doing (including countless other things), I was reading Game of Thrones theories instead of reading the Bible. I was telling myself God doesn’t exist or isn’t good instead of saying he’s good no matter what, I was talking to friends and my family and being lazy instead of praying, and I was looking at screens instead of God’s creation and gifts. All of that wasn’t really holding me together, it might’ve even been pulling me apart.

All these lessons that the kids were learning were speaking to me as well. I needed to hear from people indirectly that God was good, but I also needed to be telling someone else. I needed to be reminded of all the good things God has done for me and for everyone else. I needed to see these familiar faces and put myself into service of others to take the focus off of myself. It eats me up that I passed on Mexico this year. I made a huge mistake, and this is one of the repercussions. Now that VBS is long over though, I still don’t think I’ve made the changes I need to. I’m not loving this adulthood thing. I don’t enjoy having to keep everything together myself without help. I don’t know how to ask for help, and I can already hear people telling me to do what I know I should be doing: take it to God. I should be praying and seeking help from His word. The theory is always easier than the practice though isn’t it. How fallible am I, a meager person.

That is to say how powerful VBS is. It’s not only for the children and I think that it can serve the volunteers as much as it serves the children. It’s an extremely valuable ministry and even though it was tiring and I wasn’t always into it, I am extremely thankful to have been a part of it yet again.

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