This — this! — is rural VBS.

It’s Vacation Bible School week at our church.

Hope is three miles from a tiny town and five miles from our school town, so not in any town at all. This area is actually riddled with rural churches. If I tip my head to the side, roll my eyeballs oddly, and think for a second, I can count, um, five rural churches within 11 miles of my house, which itself is 11 miles from town.

I have good memories of VBS on harvest — Trinity Lutheran in Burkburnett, Texas, had a fantastic VBS that I remember very well. We went to VBS several years in Kimball, Nebraska. Sometimes we went to the Church of Christ VBS in Clovis, New Mexico. Anywhere there was a VBS when we were there, we went.

In hindsight, every week we went to VBS was probably a miniature vacation for my mom at the trailer. Ha.

But back to our VBS. There was a time (three of my kids ago!) that we at Hope had no VBS. And then the right team took it on and — oh my goodness — it’s a little hard to explain how much I love it.

“It takes a lot of energy to be positive. A lot.” I’m fairly sure that Bill was talking about something else altogether when he said this, but it applies to VBS. It’s not a job; it’s a joy.

My role at VBS is to take photos, and man, do I ever. I like it. It’s kind of like journalism. By the end of the week — or, really, by about the third day — I’m a fly on the wall that the kids don’t even notice. This week on Tuesday I came home with a photo dump of 721 shots.

There’s an official part of this that happens first thing after the opening: Taking photos of a group of kids (different every day) for a slideshow that illustrates the Bible story of the day. Thursday’s story is always the salvation story. Then from all the photos from the day, I edit down for a dozen or so on Facebook and sort out another handful for a slideshow for Friday’s program.

We are fortunate in so many ways. Tons of kids come out from town in the Viking Van and other people’s private vehicles. I’d guess 30-some kids who can catch a ride are able to come even though it’s a five-mile trip out. Many, many of the kids who age out of the classes enroll as group leaders, and not one of them is turned away. The program has grown every year. There are 750ish people in town, and we get 175ish of them every day for a week.

This year, our ages span from almost-born to about 80. We always have one or two or three babies. (Since we missed last year, this is the first year I haven’t had a toddler at my elbow the whole time.) We always have grandpas in the Bible story room. We always have grandmas as directors and in the kitchen.

It’s intense. It’s amazing. It’s exhausting. It’s rewarding.

God is so good.

Five of them are mine 🙂 but I love all of them. And I don’t like kids. But VBS isn’t kids. VBS is the Spirit.

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