Well, things got ridiculously crazy for a while there, but now they’re finally beginning to settle down and we’re in the last couple o’ week stretch before the long trip home. The biggest event here was Vacation Bible School, which took place between August 6th and 10th. Seems like such a short time as I look at it on the calendar, but there were many times when I thought it would never end…
VBS was the main reason that we came to Korea. Galilee Methodist Church puts on a hugely massive English VBS every summer, an they refer to it as “the flower of Galilee”. We literally spent over a month preparing for the 5 day event, with excruciatingly long rehearsals two to four times a week going into the night night.
I was placed on the drama team, and my job was to narrate the three Bible plays that a gaggle of church members acted out. Rehearsals would often start up to an hour & a half late and my script was edited and rewritten at least once per practice, sometimes multiple times. It wasn’t until the final days before VBS actually began that my frustrations with rehearsals would subside because the time crunch made everyone actually want to get things done. (I’m sorry to sound so complainy, but if I’m asked to work on something, I want to do good productive work, and in about 80% of the rehearsals literally nothing was accomplished and it drove me crazy!)
Everything wonderfully came together by the 6th however. We had over 250 kids enroll and morning started early with blurry eyes and lots of coffee in order to keep up the ridiculously high amounts of energy throughout the day. We were using the Kingdom Rock VBS theme. Honestly, I had no idea there was even a market for a VBS theme; every VBS I’ve ever helped out with in the past was extremely DIY compared to this. But for a price churches apparently purchase a VBS “kit”. My DIY self was irritated. Here’s the Kingdom Rock kit that we used.
The kit included an armload of new songs along with some Sunday school classics accompanied by hip fun videos of kids doing loose dance moves at a rock concert, or amusement park, or, I dunno… hiking in the mountains? These songs were all on a constant loop blaring throughout the church for literally a month before VBS. Galilee employs two professional dance instructors who made up some crazy intense choreographed dances to every single one of the songs, and not only were we learning them during Sunday school a month in advance, but the VBS staff also was required to go to special dance classes to make sure we could flawlessly execute these complex moves once VBS got started. Most of them irritated me, especially when I considered that the kids were getting so frustrated trying to keep up with the staff that they spent next to no time at all actually learning the words of the songs. On the other hand, I did really love the Kingdom Rock rendition of Soon and Very Soon. It’s a classic, and the dance was decent.
*Bonus: They did make Eric & I dance on stage twice for the entire church congregation. If you really want to know more on that, ask me later.
Since there were so many kids, they all got divided up into groups of 50-70 and rotated around the church to different stations. Which meant we had to do each of the three plays we’d been practicing 4 times a day. Eric was on the welcoming/opening/closing team, He had to do skits and jump around on the main stage in the sanctuary and get the kids’ energy levels up. Then one by one the groups would come to me and my station and we’d teach the kids a Bible verse in the form of a song before letting them in to see the drama of the day. We performed the stories of Queen Esther saving the Jews, Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and King Josiah destroying pagan idols. Each drama also had an activity that I led for the kids to do as well. And don’t get me wrong, I did love working with and hanging out with the kids. I needed to continuously remind myself that the reason I was doing this VBS was for the kids, and to try to not let my frustrations with how the entire program was being run that get in the way of that. Because seriously, the kids are adorable and awesome.
One of the oddest things about this VBS was that, despite preparing, decorating, rehearsing, and learning dances for over a month, the entire thing was only three days long! Ever other VBS I’ve ever been a part of has been at least 5 days, sometimes even going into the weekend. But the one at Galilee was only August 6th to 8th, and just like a sudden whirlwind, it was over. They had a big talent show type event during the closing on the last day. Still need convincing that Korean kids are the cutest? Check these pictures out:
Although the Galilee VBS was only Tuesday through Thursday, a small amount of the staff did head across town to a much smaller sister church on Friday & Saturday, to do a shorter and more condensed version of the VBS for the handful of kids that live in that area. I actually liked these two days at the smaller church much better. While Galilee is the Korean equivalent to a rich mega-church in the States, this smaller church was just recently planted in an extremely poor neighborhood on the edge of town. Many of the children were neglected and shy. After the first day I was informed by my good friend who was also in the drama station with me that most of the kids at this church had never met a non-Korean person before us, and that’s why they seemed so afraid of us. During these two days we were all encouraged to turn the excitement way, way up and to make sure that the kids felt welcomed and loved. Doing stuff like this, being there for kids that really just need love, made the entire exhausting VBS worthwhile to me.