Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Vacation Bible School - Getting It on Paper

Hello again! I hope you are joining us again this week as we talk more about the planning of a schedule for a VBS program on your mission field. If you missed last week's post, I advise you to read it since it gives more information regarding the first steps of planning. This week, I hope to help you get all the ideas flooding your mind onto paper so that you are well prepared for the week of VBS to arrive!

One of the first things we must talk about is the THEME of your VBS program. Now, as I told you in the previous post, my husband and I hold a week long program in the summer; so I will use a week-long program as the example. Remember, you can hold a VBS program anytime of the year as long as you can be sure the children are free to attend. We have been dreaming of a winter program as well, but we have some work to do before we have a building where that could take place! Initially you must determine the time frame you want to use to hold the daily activities i.e., morning, afternoon, evening? Then, it is important to choose the length of time you will be using to keep the kids looking forward to each day, enjoying their time, and wanting to come back for more! Don't make each day go too long. We feel an ideal time frame is two hours. IF you are able to do a craft, three hours is sufficient if you have the craft set up ahead of time.

So, on to the THEME. This is one of the most fun things about planning, but it also requires a whole lot of time and thought. I will say one thing here that might surprise you! It is great if you have a theme with daily lessons that flow beautifully and oh, so smoothly, but honestly...the kids don't care as much about that as you do! Please don't misunderstand me. It is great to have a theme, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in the theme that we forget to strive EACH day to use the story or lesson, no matter what it may be, to teach and share the Gospel. Also, it is not always easy to translate or convey our American 'play on words' in the daily themes; so be aware of not making your decor and ideas too "American." Now, I want to share a few themes that we have used here in Russia in our VBS programs. The details are too lengthy to list in this post but I will be posting the detailed daily lesson plans in posts to come.

2007: Jesus Gives Salvation - Verse: Luke 19:10
2008: Jesus Is the Light - Verse: John 8:12
2009: Bible - A Living Book!
2010: How Decisions We Make Today Affect Our Future - this was not printed any where on the flyers or worksheets, but each day we taught about important decisions that affect our lives, i.e., Choosing proper friends, Listening to good advice, etc.
2011: The Heart - Verse: Proverbs 4:23
2012: Olympic Theme
2013: Laboratory of Fun (Science experiments)
2014: 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus - lessons based on Christ and what He can do!
2015: Little Wonders of God's Creation - Insects
2016: To be announced! :)

Once you have a theme, you must decide on a DAILY SCHEDULE of events, remembering that you have already determined a daily time frame which you need to be sure you can fill completely with activity but not go over.

Remember: Plan to keep the children busy at all times.
Busy children = control!

Here are the activities we include daily in our schedule:
*Registration (we will talk more about this later)
*Introduction/point tabulation time
*Song time
*Bible lesson
*Review game
*Craft time
*Snack time
*Game time
*Object Lesson (we haven't done this every year)
*Dismissal time - gives you a few minutes to hand out worksheets/invitations for them to give out and remind children to invite friends and come back the next day.

VBS 2008 Puppet show

The first couple of years, we also had a daily puppet show to help drive home the point of the day's theme. Puppets are a great way to keep the kids coming back each day by having their dialogue or story continue throughout the week. Also, if you do not have access to puppets, skits are another wonderful tool to help illustrate the daily lessons or themes.

At this point, you will do yourself a huge favor if you take the time now to determine:
your logo for the program which will be used in the printing of the flyers and worksheets,
each song to be sung,
each Bible lesson (obviously this is the skeleton that you build everything around),
daily worksheets (if you plan to use them),
a daily review game,
a daily craft (if you have the space and workers to complete one),
plan the snacks and drinks for each day (and who will bring them),
and four or five daily games (always plan for more than you need, just in case).

Trust me! Making all of these decisions now will be such a relief to you as the coordinator. It will give you more time during the week for all of the last minute problems you may have to fix, allow you more time to tally points (if you choose to use a point system), and allow you to focus more on any teaching you may be doing during the week. (Sometimes the coordinator wears many hats!)

Now that all of these decisions have been made, you can begin the paperwork part of preparing:
*Flyers and posters to be printed.
*Songbooks (will they be printed professionally? by you? What will be the cover design?)
*Daily worksheets (more to come on this in future posts)
*Verse lists for the children to have a concise list of all the verses they will hopefully memorize throughout the week!

Now, once you have jotted down some notes regarding which activities you wish to include each day of VBS, print out copies of that daily schedule for each of your workers. Here is an example at the end of this post of one for you to see from a previous VBS we held. I translated most of the important information for you into English. 

Please stick with me as we continue next Wednesday talking more about VBS! Again, if you have any questions or would like to know more about anything in these posts, please write me. I would love to hear from you!


VBS – Day 1
Jehosophat  - Choose your friends wisely.  
Memory Verse: Proverbs 13:20 - “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
“Общающийся с мудрыми будет мудр, а кто дружит с глупыми, развратится.”
Программа (Program):
1.         Регистрация - Foyer        (Dee/Nancy and Lydia)   20 мин(11:00 – 11:20)
2.         Предисловие-Main Hall  (David/Dee)                    30 мин.  (11:20 – 11:50)
Молитва (Prayer)   (David)
Explanation of Points (Dee)
                        Song of the Week: “Мы Бодрей на Жизненном Пути Пойдём ”
Object Lesson: (Dee)
Songs: (Dee“Если Счастлив”, “Да Любит Он!”, Счастлив Я Всегда! 

                                                                        Divide into groups
Younger 6-8 years (Lydia/Dee) – smaller auditorium
Older 9-up years (David/Nancy) - main auditorium

3.         Lesson – Jehosophat/Verse: Proverbs 13:20               15 мин.  (11:50 – 12:05)
4.         Review Game: (Nancy-Older kids/Lydia-younger) 15 мин.  (12:05 – 12:20)

(Nancy, Lydia, Elizabeth - set up for snacks in foyer while Dee sings with kids)
Соединить (Regroup)   - Everyone in foyer for snacks

5.         Snack time         Gather point cards                10 мин.  (12:20 – 12:30)
 (Nancy, Elizabeth, Lydia - Set up for craft in smaller auditorium)

6.         Craft:  Friendship - Hands (Everyone help as needed)   30 мин.  (12:30 – 13:00)
7.         Games  (David, Nancy, Elizabeth, Lydia)                        45 мин(13:05 –13:50)     
8.         Dismissal  Main auditorium                                          5-10 мин.  (13:50 – 14:00)
                         Домашнее задание  (Give out homework sheets)
                        Молитва (Prayer)       (David)    

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Homemade Cheez-It Cracker Recipe

This week I am just passing along a recipe I found while searching the internet to find a snack food my husband loved and missed from the States. I originally found this recipe here. Although there are several variations of how to make homemade Cheez-it crackers, I know this one works and tastes great.

Author: Veronica

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins


2 Cups Sharp Cheddar, shredded ( I used Gouda)
¾ Cup flour, plus more for dusting
4 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces (I use unsalted butter and add 1 teaspoon salt to it)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon whole milk

**(I apologize for not having any photos to show of this process. If you follow the link above you can see photos of each step.)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (350 degrees F).
In a food processor or using a handheld electric mixer as I did, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and pepper in 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the milk and process until the dough forms a ball, which takes about 10 seconds.
On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 13×7 inch rectangle that is about 1/16″ thick. I used a pizza cutter to trim off the sides but if you have a serrated cutter you can use it to make the serrated edges of the crackers.
Next cut the dough into 1×1 inch squares.
Transfer the crackers, carefully, to a parchment-lined large cookie sheet.
Using the dulled end of a skewer make a hole in each cracker and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly on the cookie sheet. (Tip: remove crackers when they are still light as they will darken when cooling on the cookie sheet.)
Serve at room temperature and enjoy.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Do You Remember Your First Bible?

We work in a small indigenous community of about 300 people here in Australia.  God has blessed us to be able to hold Sunday morning service, Wednesday night prayer meeting and Kid's Club, and Friday night Teen Group all within the community.  We are also blessed to be able to teach Religious Instruction in their public school every week. 

Teenagers are probably my favourite group of people to teach.  I can't help but think of my teen years and how God used the people around me to help guide me into my adult years.  I fear what my life would have been like had not some godly people taken a special interest me.

I was so excited when we started a teen group at our church.  I look at these young men and women and can't help but think that this is the next generation.  These are the next leaders of the community and hopefully our church.   

Last week at our Teen Group we gave our teens their very first Bible.  This photo is so precious to me.  Look at those smiles!  What could make me smile even more?  Seeing those boys walk into church on Sunday morning proudly carrying their new Bibles!

We have enjoyed teaching them about the Bible.  Think about not knowing how to find Psalm 23, or that there are two testaments, or what is the first book of the Bible.  This is all new to them, and I am so enjoying being there to teach them all of this.  Don't take these things for granted.  Sometimes we are so spoiled.  Many of us have several Bibles.  I hope you know what a precious thing it is to hold the Word of God in  your hands.

Do you remember your first Bible?  Was there a special story to go with it?  Please share in the comments, I'd love to hear about it.   I shared a Bible story over on my blog.  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Her Story Quotes by Shari

What an awesome privilege we have as missionaries to physically stand in the place of Jesus, many of us in lands who for the most part have never heard of Him.  I get asked often by the Thai people, "Why?"  
"Why do you live here?"
"Why do you teach children for free?"
“Why are you willing to pick up my child when I am not available to bring them?”
“Why don’t you charge for the meal you provide after your church service?”
 “Why do you want to learn our language?”
“Why do you come visit in my neighborhood every week?”
“Why do you open your home to everyone?”
On a weekly basis I get asked one of these questions or something similar. And just today, after a lady found out that I had helped to purchase new school uniforms for a couple girls, took them on a small sight-seeing trip yesterday to visit the summer palace and the sea, and let them spend the night at my house last night, I was asked, “Why do you help those two orphan girls?”
For the most part, those that come to live in Thailand often fall within one of these categories: people looking for pleasure that is readily available, people looking to escape their past or start over, or people looking to build a business and make a profit
I don’t fit into their concept of a “farong” (foreigner), and so they are skeptical of my motives.  To answer these questions, I most often say something about wanting to be a help to anyone I can.  After a bit of thought and looking at me somewhat sideways they usually say the words, “Jai dee” which means “good heart.” It is then that I have the opportunity to tell them that, no, it is not that I have a good heart, but that God does.  He is not the aloof being that they pray to in fear and think doesn’t hear them or understand their life or situation.  He loves them and wants to have a close relationship with them, and He sent me here to Thailand to tell them about Him and to show them His love. What a joy it is to see them mull that over in their minds and then readily open their hearts to hear what else I might have to tell them about God and His love for them.
I’m thankful for each of you who stand in Christ’s place all over the world, and how grateful I am that He allows me to stand in His place here in Thailand.
Matthew 25:34-40  
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me:
I was sick, and ye visited me:
I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them,
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the
least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

No, You May Not

We are right on the brink.

Furlough is mere weeks away.

It sounds easy enough, right? Buy plane tickets, pack, and head out.

I wish it were that easy. Instead we have to arrange someone to stay in our home. We have to make sure those working in the church in our absence are ready. We have to design updated prayer cards, display banners, and make a new video. We have to schedule meetings with churches. Furlough preparation is a lot of work!

And then there are the little things. Very... important... little things.

There are little things like training our children to re-enter American culture. (And reminding ourselves about American culture, too!)

It seems easy, right? After all, we are Americans.

But increasingly, I find myself saying, "Oh, we can't do that in America." Around the dinner table it seems I have noticed how much we have adapted to the culture. It's great here, but on furlough?

For three and a half years, we have lived among a people who have completely different manners and different standards of what is acceptable. So how do we train our children for furlough? How do I prepare my college-bound son to reintegrate? How do we prepare ourselves?

The conversations go a lot like this:

Son, in American you cannot wear that. It's fine here, but athletic socks with your church clothes and shoes will not work in America.

I know usually I tell you just to pick it up and eat it with your hands, but in America they rarely use their hands for things like that. So let's practice how you have to eat this in America.

It's no big deal here, but please don't ever talk with your mouth full when we are in the States.

Michaela, we are going to have to practice reaching out to shake men's hands without looking like we are touching a dead frog. It's normal for men and women to shake hands there.

Yes, you will have to wear your shoes in church there... and, no, you may not take them off when no one is looking.

Burping is rude in America. So, let's try not to do it here. It will be good practice.

Don't stare.

No, you may not wear socks with your sandals in the States.

People in the States are very sensitive about their weight. Do not call anyone fat. Yes, I know it's a common conversation here. Yes, I know people call us fat here. America is different. Let's just treat that word like a bad word while we are in the States, ok?

No, you most certainly may not walk all the way to the store in the States!

Stop staring.

Don't slurp your drink. You cannot do that in the States. If the straw makes noise, it means you are done. (And, no, it doesn't matter if our national friends think this is the stupidest rule ever.)

People in the States have an imaginary three foot bubble around them. Stay out of their bubble. No, I am not joking.

Um, if you see two men or two women holding hands in the States, it doesn't mean friendship. So, don't do that.

In the States... Always... flush... toilets.

You don't have to turn the water off in the shower while you soap up there.

I said no staring.

No, you don't have to wait for the power to come back on to do that there. The power stays on there.

Stripes and plaids do not go together there. And you can't wear the same clothes two days in a row there.

You have to get a clean plate each time you go for more food at a buffet restaurant.

You have to wear a seat belt. It's the law. Everywhere. Yes, in every State.

There is a seating capacity in the States. You can't just keep piling people in the vehicle. There has to be a seat belt for each person.

It's rude to talk in another language other than English in the presence of someone who doesn't know that language. No, I don't know why.

Are you still staring? You gotta stop that.

No, you cannot wear your tennis shoes with your nice church dress there.

Never reach across someone at the dinner table. You have to ask for what you need instead. I know they see it as laziness here. Remember the three foot imaginary bubble?

And, yes, we will sit on pews... no, you may not sit on the floor. The pews are padded. You will like it.

Stop staring...

There is no need to carry toilet paper. Every bathroom has some. Why are you looking at me funny? I am not kidding!

Stand in line, and don't jump to the front. Don't forget the three foot bubble. No, no one is going to jump in line in front of you. People in America all stand in lines, and they get crabby if someone breaks that rule.

They will not know what petrol is. You have to say "gas." And we have to pump our own "gas."

It's o.k. if you forgot the English words to the song... they will have hymnals in English there.

Just remember, America needs Christ, too, and there are brothers and sisters in Christ there who will love us no matter how quirky we have become.

Are you STILL staring?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vacation Bible School - Scheduling (re-post)

I originally wrote this post and several others regarding the planning and execution of a Vacation Bible School program about two years ago. Since that time, some new ladies have joined our BMW group and have asked that more information regarding these topics be shared. I will begin by re-posting many of the previous posts and hopefully add to them as questions come in. I pray the lessons we have learned in the building of a children's ministry might be helpful to you in your ministry.

--Originally posted on February 27, 2013

One of the most effective ways to boost your Sunday school class attendance is to hold a Vacation Bible School during summer school break on your field of service. I say that because summer is not June, July, and August for all of us around the globe! For the next few weeks, I am going to share my experience in planning and executing a VBS program on the mission field. I pray these posts will be most helpful and encouraging to those of you who have been wanting to plan such an event in order to help grow your children's ministry.

My husband and I have been working in Russia for fourteen years. Just over seven years ago, we moved out to a village to begin a new ministry. After getting settled in a bit as a family, we secured a room in the local House of Culture to meet in for services. We immediately started a Sunday school class which met in the same room, just before the main service. Upon getting to to know a few families, we planned our first VBS program in 2007.  Since that time, we have held week-long VBS programs each summer. God has blessed, and these programs have become a favorite summer activity for many of the village children!

VBS Children and Workers  - 2007
In order for a VBS program to be a smooth success, most of the preparations are made in the months prior. Although you may be nervous about it all coming together at the last minute, I can honestly say that if you have prepared well enough ahead of time the problems (if any) will be minimal during the actual execution of the program. Then, as each day passes, you can relax a bit and enjoy the week more!

Very first day of our very first VBS 2007
Starting from the beginning of the planning process and building up to the week of the program, I will break down the planning process into several sections. In this first post, I would like to cover the scheduling part of the program.

Months ahead of time:
1. Determine WHERE you will hold the VBS program - Ideally you should have several rooms inside a building (in case of rain) and a nice yard or open field outside for more active games and activities. IF you have a situation like ours to where you do not have a building available and must meet outside, don't forget to have some sort of  tents or shelter in case of light rain.

2. Determine WHEN you will hold the VBS program - Planning the date requires much consideration. If you are in a smaller city or village, check with the school administration to find out their schedule so that you don't schedule a VBS program during the same hours of the school's day camp program times. Here in Russia the children also attend long summer camps. Often there will be a general date when most of the children leave for camp. Being aware of these dates helps you have more children in attendance and prevents them from missing either the beginning or ending of the program.

3. Determine HOW LONG the program will last (which days of the week and hours per day). We usually hold VBS on Monday through Friday from 11 am until 1 pm. If we have a daily craft time, we extend it until 2 pm. Speaking from personal experience, that is plenty of time! You may only be able to do three days a week. Whatever the case, do your best to ensure the best time frame for the most children to be able to attend. Also, remember you want to have a FULL schedule with little to no downtime. It is best to keep the children busy and not give them time to wander around because wandering results in a quick loss of control! Strict time frames help them stay busy, help the time pass quickly for them encouraging them to come back tomorrow, and help you maintain order.

4. Determine WHO (workers) will be involved. This is a big decision! You may not have anyone to help besides yourself (husband and wife); maybe you have several missionary families in the area, or maybe you have a few nationals to help out. Whoever you have as help, make sure the duties are distributed accordingly. A new missionary that has not yet learned the language will not feel comfortable leading the songs! Also, if you are helping another missionary and your job/s have been assigned to you, be sure to see them through to the end. If you volunteer to do something, do it! There is a balance that is necessary when working with other helpers in these type of programs. For one, people (nationals) are watching! They are watching the faces, personalities, expressions, body language, and interaction between the workers. They are watching how well the whole program is thought through and organized. They may not be able to pull something off like a VBS program, but they will sure be there to watch how you pull it off! Trust me, if you hold your VBS program outside, they will come to watch! That can be a good thing or a bad thing. The Lord can use a well-organized plan to help you win the hearts of your neighborhood, village, or city. The Devil can use a poorly organized program against you. Doing things 'decently and in order' (I Cor. 14:40) will be a huge benefit when you go to introduce yourself to those parents and grandparents later. When everyone understands what is expected of them and is committed to helping in whatever capacity needed, the whole program can run like a well-oiled machine!

Next week, we will discuss more of the paperwork involved in planning a VBS program. We will view a sample schedule, talk about themes, teaching materials, and such in order to work out the details of VBS planning.

In the meantime, please feel fee to write me at: with ANY questions, concerns, ideas for discussion that you would like to know more about so that we can be better prepared to use one of  the greatest evangelistic tools in Children's ministries - Vacation Bible School.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Children's Ministry and Growth {Guest Post}

Children’s Ministry and Growth

Not everyone is called to work with kids or youth. I am so thankful that God did put that love and desire in my heart to teach kids and mentor teen girls! I always look forward to Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings with “my kids.” I wanted to share a few things I have done since being on the field.

This was the start of my kids' class when I first arrived. It ranged from ages 2-17. Of course the 17-year old is more my helper and crowd controller!:) As the church itself started to grow we started to get more kids coming to class. I started a points system with my class. You get a point for attendance, bringing your Bible, memorizing your verse, bringing a visitor, helping with weekly outreach, and singing special music in the church service. The reward would be at the end of a specified time period. The winner would get to go out to eat at the restaurant of their choice. I have found that food really is a great incentive for kids! Not too long after I started teaching the kids' class, we held Holiday Bible Club (Vacation Bible School). After a great week of Holiday Bible Club we had added two more girls to the class. We were then able to start Thursday night youth class. Thursday evenings give me a longer time with the kids, and they get to play games, learn music, and learn a lesson from God’s Word.

Over Christmastime, the kids got to decorate their own full-sized gingerbread houses. I don’t think they had ever done anything like that, and they seemed to have a blast. Once again I implemented a points system for Thursday nights as well with a reward “of their choice” should they win. We will know this June who the winners are for the first half of the year. It has been so much fun seeing the kids grow and learn. Sometimes we as teachers wonder if they are getting or understanding anything, but time and time again they prove to me they do hear and it does click. I love the looks on their faces when they make the connection that one lesson we had coincides with another lesson months down the road. Of course we had a Christmas program as well. They did such an amazing job with their lines and songs. For me programs are so much fun. Parents get to see their kids in action and hear the Gospel!

As we began the New Year we also began a monthly Youth Fun Night at my place. Once again, I wanted to give the kids another opportunity to get together, get to know one another, and possibly invite friends who wouldn’t go to church but who might feel more comfortable at a less “formal” gathering. Each time we meet, I do an object lesson that helps to share some truth from the Bible. Some of the themes we have done are Movie Night, Ice Skating, Game Night, Make Your Own Pizza, Play the Wii, Basketball, and Badminton.  Of course my house cannot accommodate basketball and such, so we rented a community room for that. I have seen an increase in attendance to our Youth Fun Nights by some who are not youths, but my goal is for those who want to come to feel free to come. Some of the young adults who come are not faithful yet to church, so I know they are at least getting something when they come for the Fun Nights.

We just passed the time that we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. Once again the kids did a special program for that. It is such a blessing to see them get excited about inviting their family to see the presentation. One of our newer girls had her parents come and watch. I do not believe any of them are saved, but they heard the Gospel that day and are planning on coming again! As I look back on these last seven months, it is so clear that God is at work. It is nothing I can do and nothing Bible Baptist can do, but God is leading and guiding. Ladies, especially those like me who are serving single, don’t give up! Don’t believe the lie that Satan tells you about it not being worth it. The hard work, the tears, and the happiness are more than worth our time. These precious children want to learn and grow. They want to have fun while learning. It has been a stretching experience to learn to adapt my lessons to such a large age group and yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you are struggling for ideas I would happy to be of help. Or if you have ideas you would like to share, I am all ears! Just know that God has called you to the place you are. Some of you feel you don’t do well with teaching kids, but that is where God has you. That is ok! One thing I have learned, kids really don’t judge you. They will never know your worry or fear over whether you said or taught exactly what you were ‘supposed’ to teach. Let God lead your lesson. I have found that I planned on going the way the lesson plan was, and while teaching, God led it a different way. Just be willing to serve and watch God give the blessings and results!                  

Guest Post by Deana Hewston, Missionary to Scotland