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VBS Part 1: The Everlasting Love of God!
Happy Summer everyone!! We are right in the middle of the VBS camp season here. We had an incredible month of ministry and look ahead to continuing with VBS programs this next week as we will be joined by another mission team—more on that. As we prepared for summer VBS camps, we led our youth from Szentkiraly through a volunteer training day. The youth experienced their first ever leadership training session from us last year and we wanted to build off that this year to continue to disciple our youth to be Kingdom leaders. We walked the teens through various team building and leadership skill building exercises, taught on the call and character of servant leaders, and walked them through this year’s VBS curriculum, which is focused on the everlasting love of our God. It was encouraging to see the teens’ excitement to lead and volunteer as well as to see how much they are growing into incredible leaders!! They are such a servant-hearted group and it is an absolute joy to run VBS programs with them!!
To kick off our VBS programs, we were joined by a 9-person mission team from Aplington Baptist, Iowa. Aplington Baptist has and continues to be a huge supporter of ours, and the camp ministry and we were so blessed to have the opportunity to serve together on the ground here in Romania. They were quick to jump into leading in whatever way possible and we so appreciated the enthusiasm they showed while they served! A highlight was seeing their team come together for a game we call “Where’s Waldo,” which has the kids search for leaders dressed in various types of “Waldo” characters and catch them. We were blown away by their commitment to their costumes and characters! While they were here, we were able to run five 2-day VBS programs in five different villages seeing over 160+ kids within the week!! We saw God work in so many ways that week.
One way God was moving was as the Aplington team was preparing for the trip. They decided they wanted to bring some homemade backpacks for some of the kids they would meet during VBS. One of the ladies on the team sewed 72 bags. Later, as they continued to prepare, the team was given a donation of toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss from a dentist friend and it turned out to be the perfect number for 72 bags! Yet again in Romania, we decided it would be best to hand these bags out at the two gypsy villages we would be running our VBS programs in as the gypsy population is the most impoverished group in Romania. Most would not know how, nor have supplies, to brush their teeth. And sure enough, we had 71 gypsy youth come out between the 2 villages, which left us one extra to give out to our translator’s son who had been our special helper that week!! It is clear God had a purpose for those bags and specific children in mind!
Another way we saw God work was in the youth and kids we encountered. Each village and each child is different and we aren’t always sure if we are planting seeds, watering, or seeing a harvest, but as we were in the Gypsy region of the Simleu village, we felt God clearly pouring into the kids’ and youth’s lives! The day started with a massive rain and thunderstorm. We were worried because we knew we only had a tiny 25ft x 25ft room to run our program in. As we entered the village, we also entered the heart of the storm. Yet, as we began to unload our supplies and set up for the day, it was a like a switch of a light—the storm was gone. Next thing we knew, kids and youth started pouring into the church room for the program and pretty soon we were up to 50 gypsy youth plus 23 leaders crammed into the tiny 25ft x 25ft room—this number increased day 2 of the program! Over the 2 days we felt it was a significant time to hang out with those youth. We saw young kids and even older teens/adults who came 2 years ago return to hang out with us again. We saw teenage moms, who were unsure if their older husbands would let them join in, end up coming to our program. And we saw the storm’s outpour of rain, from our first day, turn into a spiritual outpour of the Gospel of love on these kids and youth through our message and also through our teams’ actions. It was such a chaotic and yet blessed time to be with those youth!!
Thank you for continuing to partner with us, for your support, and for your prayers!!
Tanya and Paul