My purpose in the VBS was to put together the music portions of the day, as well as teach songs that the kids would sing for a final devotion for their parents. One of the other helpers in the VBS, Jon, brought his guitar along, so I found songs that would work with him accompanying us. We sang "They'll Know We Are Christians" and "Tell About Jesus", both of which were hits with the kids. I'd learned from experience not to pick songs for the final performance until the kids had a chance to sing all the songs, and it was clear that these were the favorites.
I also had the chance to help with Bible lessons and amazing art projects that were coordinated by Ed, the leader of our group, play on the playground court during "gym," and get to know the two pastors of the church, Petr and Martin. Both of them were such huge helps putting everything together, and they helped us understand the relaxed nature of the Czech people. It took me a bit to get used to (I'm a Type A for sure), but I mellowed out over the trip.
One of my favorite memories of the trip was snacktime. The kids would bring in whole lunches for snack, which surprised me the first day! But when some of the girls were done, they gathered around the keyboard with me and we sang a bunch of songs together. I wasn't asking them to do it - they just wanted to. It gave me joy to be able to do that with them.
Another favorite memory of mine was the Sunday afternoon before the VBS started. All the helpers were gathered in our spacious apartment at the school getting everything ready. Jon was practicing guitar chords, Ed was gathering the materials for the art projects, I was organizing all my sheet music, and Jenni and Clara were studying lessons. We were focused on the upcoming adventure, and all had the same goal in mind: to share God's Word with these wonderful Czech children. It was a great moment of togetherness.
Now we didn't just spend a few weeks in the Czech Republic and only teach a VBS! We also did a lot of sightseeing. One day we took the train to Prague, which is currently my favorite European city, full of history and modern culture. On another day we went to Karlstein castle, which has beautiful views of the hills surrounding it, as well as a fascinating background. In the afternoons during the VBS we would take shorter trips closer to Plzen. One day we saw the Pilsner-Urquell brewery, another day we went to the Kozel Castle, and another day we went to Petr's family's home and hiked around the neighborhood.
While I had spent time in China and ate some unique foods there, the Czech Republic served a lot of meat and potatoes, which I didn't mind at all. I tried to have some sort of potato dumplings at every meal, since I discovered on my first day that I loved them a lot. We also had pizza, which seemed to be something that the locals wanted you to eat, even though you can have it any time back home! I enjoyed the food, but having beer at almost every meal took some getting used to.
I was so thankful to get the experience to take such a trip, and hope that someday my finances will allow me to take it again. I'm thrilled to hear how the VBS is still going strong, and that there are many ambitious plans in the works for future trips. It warms my heart to know that these kids are getting a chance to hear about Jesus in such a wonderful way!