What VBS looks like in India!

I wouldn’t say that my trip to India was a vacation.  It might look that way since I was with my husband and didn’t have to change diapers, but it was still not a vacation.  Visiting the organization Harvest India in Tenali, India was life changing- so much that I wont be able to completely explain it to people, let alone write my feelings down.  Either way, I will try my best to highlight the exciting, hopeful, overwhelming, heart-breaking and eye-opening parts of our trip.  First up, Vacation Bible School!

The day after we arrived, a two-day VBS started.  I planned the VBS off of last summer’s theme and was able to give everyone enough training and short prep to run a rotation or lead a group of kids around.  After VBS ended I came to the conclusion that just like nothing can really prepare you for a VBS in the States until you actually experience it, the same goes for a VBS in a foreign country . . . kids are wild everywhere.  Let me just share the craziness . . .

We ordered crafts and supplies for 350 kids, knowing that they have 300 orphans in their homes and that they also invite kids from around the town.    We showed up to 800+ kids.  They also don’t hold three-hour summer camps like we do at home.  We would arrive at 10:00 to find the camp already in session with the kids singing Bible songs in their language, and would end our day anywhere between 4:00-4:30.  High energy for 6 hours, with 800+ students. 

Did I mention the language barrier?  The kids were great at copying the verse in English, watching skits and listening to the Bible story be translated.  It was also helpful that with the few translators we had they could listen to the instructions to start the rotation off, but then it was the group of 24 of us- trying to tell or show 3-18 year olds what to do the rest of the time and making sure they made it to each rotation without trampling each other in the crowds! Whew.

We were exhausted, (because of course we had late night outreaches after VBS as well, but that’s another post) . . . but the exhaustion was so worth it for the awesome and rowdy time we spent with these kids. The kids, and they didn’t turn anyone away, were provided a huge lunch where they could have as many “seconds” that they wanted.  They were so eager to be touched and hugged by our team.  The students were all in a line, girls on one side and boys on the other, all the way to the tent when we entered the property- it was crazy to see this huge line of kids welcoming us with flowers and high fives as we made our way to the stage.  Like American rock stars, totally unreal and unworthy of that entrance.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard the words “Seestah, (sister) what is your name?”  A chorus of boys and girls would ask, hold your hand and smile, and then share their name with you- that you could sometimes understand.  Anytime our worship songs required the students to lay down for a fun-moving up slowly to the music type of thing- I would immediately have ten faces in my face asking me “Seestah, what is your name?”

I honestly thought I would cry seeing so many orphans and poor kids at VBS.  That I would cry watching them fight over a piece of string left over from a game, like it was beautiful jewelry.  Or when they would ask you to be their mom, since they don’t have any parents.  I thought I would cry seeing their rusted, rotted, dangerous holes everywhere playground, glancing at all of their bare feet, or watching some of them eat like they wouldn’t have a meal at dinner.  But I didn’t shed a tear, not one surprisingly. 

I could cry because the students at VBS were so full of Joy, and their cheerful spirits were a blessing to our team.  The way they sang songs and participated in our games and activities, it was like they were at Disneyland, they were ecstatic.  They proudly memorized the verse each day and there was a sense of hope that you felt in the presence of these children.  They were so thankful for the small things, and held on to cheap oriental trading toys for dear life . . . it was a little unfathomable, especially knowing how blessed our kids are in the States.  Spending time with these kids started off our trip in an amazing way, and I am so thankful to have experienced a VBS in India.

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”
Our welcome.

The chicken dance works everywhere!

Sack races are also easy to understand.

Our very own Zacchaeus, you should have seen the look on the leaders' faces when he climbed the tent pole!

Don't mind Mandy the balloon girl, but this is the part where we lay in the song, and all of the kids get in your face:)

Bishop Suresh Kumar, the President of Harvest India, and his loving wife Christina.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pictures and I really enjoy reading about your mission trip! Can't wait to read more about it :)
    Thanks for going and serving, Sara!