For the week of June 12th through the 16th, right off of Highway 12, near Warrens, Saint Matthew Lutheran Church, in the town of Kirby, near Warrens, was holding Vacation Bible School (VBS) for children of the congregation. Outside, the picturesque scene of lush green trees and rolling hills framed the church, complete with a mini-petting zoo, referred to as the Palace Playground, for the events final day, on Friday.
Amy Sharpe has been with Saint Matthews for 15 years, and has been serving as Director of Education, as a board member, for five years. Sharpe sat with the Herald and explained the goings on of the five-day festive interaction. She explained that each day, the cheery learning of the Vacation Bible School started at 8 a.m. and lasted through 11:30 a.m., but that those were general guidelines, as breakfast was held at 7:30 a.m. and lunch went from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
Sharpe said that 35 kids, ages 3 to 12, were enjoying the week and having a great time. “We have seen a lot of smiling faces throughout the week,” Sharpe said, in the closing hours of, the final day. “The kids have enjoyed all aspects that we have offered them.”
Sharpe mentioned that each year there is a specific theme that the VSB follows. “We usually follow a certain character in the bible. This year we are following Daniel in the Lion’s Den.”
Sharpe informed the Herald of the many activities that the kids partook in, during VSB. “The kids have been going to the different Market Place Shops, like the metal working shop, an astronomy school, a jewelry bazaar, and arts and crafts. Within the astronomy art class, we informed the kids of how important stars were back in Daniel’s time.” For the astronomy class, Sharpe said that the kids pinned holes in aluminum foil, creating constellations. The foil would then line the inside of a jar, where an LED light would light up the constructed constellation.
Many the arts and crafts were centered around the theme of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, such as the paper plates that were painted yellow, with brown yarn skirting the edges, serving as the mane of the lion. Then googly eyes were glued to the golden-art piece and a nose drawn in marker, bringing the depicted lion into full view, as a beast to be reckoned with.
The new guy
Father David Weber, at the time of the Herald interview, had been with Saint Matthew for only a month and a week. Father Dave held his first mass on the first Sunday, in May. He had served the parish of Our Savior Lutheran Church, in Manchester, Iowa, for 25 years. Father Dave plans on being at Saint Matthew, until he retires, anywhere from 9 to 10 years.
Father Dave says that the week had gone smoothly and that the kids loved attending, running into the building each day, laughing and excited to see their friends. Highlighting the event for Father Dave was the kids getting into the presentation of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. “One of the highlights was when the soldier took Daniel away in chains to the lion’s den, and he told the kids they had to go away. The kids yelled ‘No, we will stay and protect him!’” Father Dave told the Herald that this was performed each of the five days during VSB, and that the kids really threw themselves into the scene.
“We really enjoyed having the kids and their energy and excitement about this week,” said Father Dave. He then went on to explain another key component of the week: God sightings. “God sightings is one of the things that we have been stressing throughout the week. We explained that God was not just at work back in Daniels time but is still active today, throughout the week, they have been looking around to see what things are God sightings. One day it was the rain, and that God listened to our prayers and sent us rain. Sunsets, birds singing, they are watching for God at work, in the world today.”
Palace Playground petting zoo
While there was a lot of activity inside the building, outside, on Friday, was the Palace Playground, a petting zoo. Jenny and Darrell Chambers, who reside across the street from Saint Matthew, brought some of their animals for the kids at VSB to pet and familiarize themselves with.
Kids attending the VSB had a choice of petting a sheep, Nigerian Dwarf goats, bunnies with floppy ears, or a very calm dog which stuck with the Daniel-in-the-Lions-Den theme, by wearing a knitted mane.
“Our goats pretty much run loose at home,” said Darrell. “We have the whole place fenced and a gate on the driveway. We live right across the street, which made this quite easy.”
The Chambers told the Herald that the sheep was actually quite shy at first, but when the kids left it started bellering, wanting them to come back. Their sheep had previously performed at Saint Pauls, in their Journey to Bethlehem play. While this was the first time Darrell and Jenny Chambers held this set up for an outside event, they said that they are open to doing it again. If you would like more information, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Sharpe said of VSB, “We are one of the only ones that do it this long, and include the breakfast and lunch. We also hold penny wars for our mission projects. We provide bibles to other kids and countries where they do not have them, and in their language.
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