Monday, August 1, 2011

A Wild Week Indeed

VBS 2011 is over! It was a great success with very few mishaps. Our theme this year was PandaMania. We've known for over a year that this would be our theme. In January 2010, the Children's Pastor, his wife, and I were invited to be part of a focus group from Group Publishing. The asked for input and ideas regarding this theme. We got to pick what fonts, characters, etc we liked best. It's so cool to see how this theme evolved into the final product.

I received the big tin full of curriculum in March and immediately got to work. Yes, I've been working on this project for 4 months. No, I do not get paid a single penny for any of it. I do it because I love this outreach and know what an impact it has on children's lives. I see how much my kids, who have grown up in church, love this week of fun, games, Bible stories, etc. I can only imagine how exciting it is to a child that has never experienced something like this before.

We spent 3 days transforming the church. The children's pastor, John Cruz, heads up the decorating and always has phenomenal ideas! This is a corner of the children's building.

Here is the check-in desk in the children's building. I absolutely love the panda taking a bite out of the sign. We did the same thing in the main foyer over the Welcome Center.

Here is part of the foyer. Pastor John networks with other churches in the area to share set decorations and supplies. This large canvas came from another church. We are passing it on to another VBS when we are done. It saves us lots of money to be able to share. It's also a very smart idea!

I had over 70 amazing volunteers this year. I am always so humbled when people are willing to take a week out of their lives to minister to children. I had group leaders, station leaders, childcare, registration, worship team...and the list goes on. I started a tradition 4 years ago when I first began directing VBS. I love to give all the volunteers a VBS Survival Kit. I fill it with goodies that fit the theme and pass them out during our big volunteer meeting. This year, all volunteers received a Chinese take out box (donated from a Chinese restaurant) and it contained Panda cookies, a fortune cookie, Spearmint gum, Hugs chocolates (because they are black/white), and Hershey miniatures. Everyone also got a set of Panda ears. We like to spoil our volunteers as much as we can. We also give them a Thank You luncheon on the Monday after VBS. We had yummy Chinese food this year.

Pastor John is on stage doing a pre-assembly warm up.

During assembly, our worship team launched shirts into the crowd of kids. They LOVED it!!!

We rented this Panda costume from another church. He made appearances all week long!

Preston enjoyed the costume as well!

Day 1: God Made You

The kids decorated faces as their craft. This is Kaitlyn's craft.

Day 2: God Listens To You

We have different themes Tues-Fri and gives the chance to dress up. Tuesday's theme was Mania Day. Preston and Kaitlyn loved dressing up for this day.

The Panda Kazoo was the craft. Like I told my volunteers, I didn't hear any complaints about this craft. A lot of parents told me "Thanks a lot for giving this to my child!" (wink, wink)

Day 3: God Watches Over You

I have amazing leaders for the Bible station. This day was about Jonah and the Whale. They constructed a whale's mouth out of PVC pipes (PVC was borrowed from another church). The kids had to walk through this as if they were going into the belly of a whale.

The glasses were the not-quite-as-noisy craft.

Wednesday was also Bring A Panda Pal (bring a friend) and dress in black/white. The Chick-Fil-A cow also came out and handed out stuffed cow toys and coupons.

The absolutely best part of the day happened when VBS was over. Pastor John and his wife Christi celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. As a complete surprise to everybody, including Christi, John asked the youth pastor to officiate as they renewed their vows. Their 4 kids stood up with them and the witnesses were some of the VBS volunteers. It was pretty awesome to witness! The funniest part was how the looked. They were both dressed for Black/White Day and still had their Panda ears on their heads!

Day 4: God Loves You, No Matter What

It was also Orient Day. My friend brought me some slippers from Singapore. I wore them all day and then the bottom of my feet turned pink!

Thursday is always the day we talk about Jesus and accepting Him into your heart. The kids loved the scratch-off ornaments as the craft!

During closing assembly, things get pretty serious as Pastor John shares the most important message that kids will ever hear. We had almost 60 kids go up to the altar to accept Jesus! That's the whole reason I dedicate myself to such an important week!

Day 5: God Gives Good Gifts

By Friday, everyone is exhausted and pretty much runs on adrenaline for the day. The youth leaders decided to have an impromptu 80's day and had a quick dance party before opening assembly.

These are the awesome Bible station leaders. Two of the youth are dressed up for the story about Hannah.

The kids made pretty cool panda masks.

Friday night we have one more big event. It's our Family Fun Night aka Bamboo Bash where the entire family comes out for concessions, games, prizes, etc. The kids get to go up front and show parents some of the songs they've learned. Kaitlyn is on the top row looking right at the camera.

Throughout the week, we collected offering each day to go to BGMC.

Our female youth leader, Caitlin, collected more offering in her bucket than our male youth leader, Chris. So Chris became a human sundae during our Bamboo Bash!

What a great sport!

We also had volunteers for our dunk tank. Craig was one of them.

Down he goes!

This is just a small handful of the volunteers. Thank you all again for an awesome week! We could not have done it without you!!!

Now time for a much needed vacation!


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