After days of group preparation and training village Sunday School teachers, our first day of VBS was finally here. We had sunny days ever since we arrived, but we awoke to a light drizzle. This did not dampen the spirits of our mission team. We were all excited to meet the children and start teaching. On the way to the village of Misomali, it was announced that if it was still raining and the group was small enough, we would teach everything inside the church to one large group rather than breaking into 3 groups as planned. When we arrived, about half of the church was filled with waiting children. It was decided to teach the lesson to all the children at the same time. I had the "day one" lesson of Jesus Enters Jerusalem. Pastor Kambalame, the local pastor, started with prayer and gave a short devotion. Then it was time for me to start. Pastor Kambalame served as my interpreter.
It was fun to watch the expressions of the children as I walked down the aisle of the church, stopping at each row, so the children could see that I was carrying a donkey face mask on a stick. They do not have donkeys here. The children would stretch their necks and shift their bodies to see the donkey. When they could clearly see the donkey, they would give a big smile.
As I was talking, the size of the group grew. I am not certain how many children heard the lesson, but we had 325 children attending by the end of the day. Stefan and Kathy Felgenhauer, the On Field Facilitators, had cut some palm branches from their yard for me to use during the Bible lesson. I only had 10 palm branches for the approximately 300 children. As we walked down the aisle to distribute the branches, the children looked with eager anticipation for a palm branch. All of the children were polite, there was no pushing and shoving or complaining if they did not get a palm branch. Then it was time for "Jesus" to ride the "donkey" down the aisle. The children stood and shouted "Hosanna!" They waved the palm branches, and if they did not have a palm branch, they waved their arms. The shouts got louder and louder as the donkey passed by. It was wonderful to praise God with the children.
Near the end of the lesson, there was a review. Children took turns proudly and accurately answering each question. I was pleased and I am certain God was also pleased that the children were able to learn His word when the lesson was taught with an interpreter. The children also said the memory verse from 1 Chronicles 16:8 and did the sign language movements that accompany the verse.
We ended the session with singing "Ho Ho Ho Hosanna." The children found it amusing when I demonstrated a ho-ho-ho-ho-ha-ha-ha-ha-he-he-he-he laugh before we sang the song.
By this time, the group was too large to teach crafts to all of them at the same time. The group was split in two with the singers going outside into the drizzle and the crafters remaining in the church. There were 6 local congregation members assisting with crafts and others assisting with singing. It was rewarding to team with the people of the village. They were very eager to help. Before I knew it, the first day of VBS had come to an end. What a blessing the day had been.
Give praise to the Lord! 1 Chronicles 16:8