Okay, this is what you’ve been waiting for—our top 10 list from VBS. Drum roll please . . .
# 10 — Hunt the Duck (dodge ball . . . sort of) – I think it’s called this because two people stand on either side, while the rest of the kids (ducks) are in the middle. One throws at them and then the person on the other side retrieves the ball and throws it back at them until everyone has been hit. So the children in the middle are “sitting ducks.” The kids love the game and what is neat is that the big kids don’t throw the ball too hard. I’ve also noticed that when someone is hit they quickly (and quietly) go sit on the porch and wait for the next round—no whining or complaining!
# 9 — children’s eagerness to please – Every teacher is familiar with the two or three kids in class who are eager to please. They’re the ones who want to make sure they’re doing things right, they want to show you their work, etc. It seems as if we have a high percentage of children who fit in this category.
# 8 — universals – This is a bilingual VBS, which as you might imagine keeps things interesting. A few of the children are fluent in English and help those of us who are limited to one language quite a bit. We also have bilingual adults who are usually around to help translate. But there are some universals that need no translation: a smile, a thumbs up sign, slapping hands, laughing, etc. There’s something magical about communicating with anyone anywhere in these ways.
# 7 — respect – One of the most pleasant surprises has been that even though our class has twenty children in a very small space, there have been no discipline problems. What there is is a pronounced respect for adults. (I thought I might be misinterpreting this so I checked with my wife, who is a third grade teacher, and she said she had definitely noticed the same thing). Just as pleasing is the corollary—the respect the children show for each other. They take turns, follow the rules, share supplies, etc. Don’t get me wrong—they’re still kids, but they’re kids with respect and that makes the experience so enjoyable.
# 6 — balloon game – We did a team building exercise where the kids have to hold hands and then keep a balloon up in the air. It’s challenging because your natural tendency is to hit the balloon by yourself but the moment you break hands your team is eliminated for that round. Since they are competing against other teams, they work hard to work together. There might be a lesson or two there for the rest of us.
# 5 — bowling – They absolutely love this. Of course, it’s a scaled down version of the real thing but that doesn’t matter to them. I’m not sure why they like it so much—maybe it’s because it doesn’t really matter how old or how big (or small) you are.
# 4 — pride in their work – Our theme is spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6, so one of the learning related activities is that each day they color the part of the armor we’re highlighting. Then they cut it out and paste it on a picture so that they’re putting together a soldier for the Lord. We thought the kids would color, cut, and paste in just a few minutes. We were wrong! They take ten or fifteen minutes and use multiple color combinations. They call us over as they are working to see what we think. It’s obvious that they take pride in their work
# 3 — joy in simple things – I’ve seen only one ITouch and no cell phones. They’re not nearly as wired as we are in the States. Perhaps that’s the reason the kids seem to take such joy in simple things. I’m not against technology, but when kids can’t have a good time without it, something is wrong. And when they find joy in simple things, something is right.
# 2 — global ball – We have a blow-up globe that is the size of a basketball. We used it initially to introduce the song, He’s got the whole world in His hands. Since then, I’ve started using it to toss to the kids every morning when they come and sit down before we begin VBS. Plus, global ball combines two previous categories: universals and joy in simple things, so you can’t go wrong with it.
# 1 — opportunity for good/God – It’s just VBS, nothing to get that excited about, right? Well, we traveled 5,319.21 miles to be here (according to a site called mapcrow), so I guess we have a slight bias in regard to this question. But when you look at the faces of the 30+ children we have each day, you never know how this will affect their life. You never know how God will use this you—just know He will and that’s exciting. This is why we came to Oradea, Romania!