Praise the Lord for another opportunity to serve and minister to children that He so dearly loves!
Today was the first day of the Hualien VBS! In the morning we spent some time in quiet devotion and prayer. We then prayed together, specifically for strength and wisdom to lead the children well, continued well being, and for the weather (it seems to rain here everytime we go outside and the rain is supposedly acidic in Taiwan).
Because the children who attended the Taipei VBS would arrive at church extremely early, when 8:30 (registration) rolled around and there wasn't a single child in the sanctuary, we were a little bit worried. Thankfully, kids began to show up around 9:00!
An hour or so into the VBS, however, we realized (particularly Jess/Betina/Tasha's small group) that our numbers were off. We were supposed to have fifty children in total but most of the five small groups were missing children -- one group had more kids missing than kids that had showed up! We were later informed that the significant decrease (from 50 expected kids to 33 present kids) in numbers could have been attributed to the fact that the church did not ask for a deposit during registration. As a result, the parents that signed their children up, or the kids that had originally wanted to come, were able to change their mind without consequence on their end. We were all definitely shocked at our unexpected numbers but the ordeal was solemn reminder that even having a single kid at VBS is a work of grace.Though the flock wasn't as big as anticipated, God has still brought His precious lost lambs here for us to love, serve, and share Christ with them. At the end of the day, we were informed that more children should be joining us tomorrow -- our Gospel presentation day!
After icebreakers and welcome/rules/whywearehere presentations, worship began! Perhaps it is the culture difference, but it was amazing to see pretty much every child sing and dance to "Sumberged" and "新的事". In Taipei, particularly on the first day, there would be quite a few children who were unwilling to dance and seem "undignified" (though everything was forgotten during Sharks and Minnows).
The nearly one-to-one ratio for some groups was a nice, though unexpected, change of pace (reminiscent of our VBS-es back at home haha). Today's skit was about Zacchaeus and his infamous sycamore tree. In small groups, Group 5 (Jeffery/Waveley/Rita's group) discussed the concept and issue of sin in humanity as a whole as well as in our individual lives. We demonstrated how God, someone whose dignity and glory infinitely exceeds the most powerful rulers' dignity and glory (or "地位") can not tolerate even the "smallest" sin and why the punishment for sin is so severe (Romans 3:23). We seemed to have cleared up some misconceptions and were able to discuss some difficult theological questions as well (i.e. Why did God put the Tree in the Garden of Eden in the first place? Free will vs. Sovereignty of God? Short answer: we're not sure but God is good, all-knowing, and all-powerful).
During the English rotation, we went over the VBS's central verse ("Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me. Lead me in the way everlasting" Psalm 139:23-24). It is our hope and prayer that this week, the children will take this verse to heart -- that they would meet and love Jesus and open up their hearts to the Lord for searching, testing, and leading!