Jesus’s Love Through Kids

Can I be completely honest for a minute here?

Like, totally honest.

 

The idea of spending five days, three hours each day (and really early in the day, might I add) with a bunch of wild, energetic, crazy little kids sounds utterly exhausting. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago when I was that young, so I do still remember being absolutely crazy with energy myself, but since I’ve aged just a couple of years since my VBS-attending years, I’ve noticed my tendencies to act like a bear in the morning. This means that if anyone crosses my path before noon, there is a likely chance that I will either respond in grunts and very basic language, or I will be extremely grumpy. This is not at all like I was when I was younger when I could wake up at the crack of dawn with no problems whatsoever.

This is a recipe for disaster when they tell you you’re supposed to be cheerful with kids. Cheerful???? How am I supposed to be cheerful??? 

Did I also mention that I did Spotlight VBS this year? Spotlight VBS is where we take the bible story/lesson from the day and combine it with pictures to create a fun way to remind kids of what they learned in the day. The kids love seeing themselves on the screen so it’s something they really enjoy, but it requires a lot of energy.

From the moment I pulled out my camera and asked for some of the first pictures of the day, however, my spirit was lightened immediately. These kids not only have energy in general, but they have the ability to rub off that energy too. Day after day, I watched as these kids began to recognize me and get excited as they realized that if the photographer was around, that meant that they could get in on the slideshow. Seeing them excited over something I worked to do make me excited. That made me realize something pretty key- VBS is not just about adults and leaders teaching the kids about VBS- it’s also about the kids teaching us about Jesus.

I found Jesus in the hearts of every kid’s smile at VBS this week. I found that love of Christ every time they would get excited when I would ask for their pictures. I found God in these children every time I would hear their quiet murmurs as they saw themselves on the screens while I read the bible verse. These kids have that energy for God that is easy to spread, and boy did it spread to me. I got more and more excited to see the kids each day, and was saddened when it was over.

I guess the gist of it is this:

Adults are sooooo not the only ones who can worship God. Kids can love God and show his love too, and that is the number one most beautiful thing about VBS, even though we all might be a little in need of caffeine.

 

 

Indy and Anna Jones: Cave Quest

Indy and Anna Jones

This week we followed Indy and Anna Jones as they explored a cave in search of Lieutenant Lux Uri’s hidden treasure….

On the first day Ind and Anna are in the cave when suddenly they hear a cry for help! It’s Sal, the Salamander and he’s stuck in a hole! Indy and Anna rescue him and Sal helps them on their journey in exchange for saving his life. Throughout their journey they discover that there’s ghosts in the cave! Sal is unsure about what will happen to him after death but Indy and Anna assure Sal that if you believe in God you are guaranteed a spot in heaven! This gives Sal hope for the future.

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On Tuesday Indy and Anna follow Sal’s directions but end up unsure of where they are. Mawtha comes to their aid and agrees to lead them through the tunnels. They stop to rest and get Mawtha’s story. Mawtha tells Indy and Anna that God was there for him when he needed him and gave him the courage to be the bug he wanted to be. However, Mawtha was easily distracted and gets everyone lost…

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By the grace of God the next day they find Mawtha’s friend, Radar who can get them back on track with his hearing. It took Radar a while to warm up to the duo but eventually agreed to help them out. Radar explains how God gave him  certain gifts to help him with direction. Since Radar is nocturnal, they had to stop and rest for a bit but while they we’re sleeping someone stole their map!!

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They find their way back to the river with Radar’s help. The next day they get lost without Radar’s help, luckily they run into Oliver. Oliver is an ex-spy and knows every inch of the caves. He agrees to help them because Renee (the one who stole their map) is planning on demolishing the cave tunnels with the treasure money. Oliver wants to use alternative tactics to stop Renee but Indy and Anna convince him to let them try and talk Renee down from her plan. They succeed when they teach Renee what loving your neighbors really looks like and explain to her the repercussions of her actions.

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After Oliver leaves them they find themselves stumbling around the darkest part of the cave without a light to guide them. Suddenly they see a light in the distance that turns out to be Ray the glow worm who helps lead them to the treasure! Ray, Indy and Anna teach Renee the difference between good and bad kinds of power. They also explain how, even though everyone has special powers that God gives them God is the most powerful and has a plan for all his children.

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Indy and Anna Jones: Cave Explorers

For many weeks leading up to VBS  we have been teasing this year’s skit, the Adventures of Indy and Anna Jones. Now that VBS is almost upon us we can tell you a little bit more about our dynamic duo.

Indy and Anna Jones are sisters descended from the one and only Indiana Jones! (That’s quite a lot to live up to!!) Indy and Anna are cave explorers just like their dad and this week they are exploring he deep tunnels under Savannah, Georgia.

Georgia has some of the deepest and oldest tunnels in the whole world! Mix that with it’s rich history and culture and it makes for one wild ride.

Indy and Anna are in search of Lieutenant Lux Uri’s buried treasure. Lieutenant Uri was a commander in the Civil War but before he was deployed he buried his fortune deep beneath his mansion. To this day, no one has ever found it, that is, until Indy and Anna take a crack at it….

Taking Pictures… It’s What I Do

Being a photographer at the Rochester Servant Event could be viewed as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the photographer misses the opportunity of being in a group and experiencing the bond of teamwork. On the other hand, well… on the other hand, there are a lot of great things about being a photographer.

I was one of three photographers at RSE this year: myself, Heather, and Joann. One of the coolest things about being given that particular task is that I was basically on my own. My mom acted as my chauffeur (shoutout to my mom!) since I don’t have my license yet, but even with an adult getting me to each worksite, I had the freedom and ability to see all of the inner workings of such a big event. From the organizers to the group leaders to the youth, I had the third person perspective where I could be a part of any of the aforementioned groups of people and would fit in, despite being singularly a youth. So, being a photographer granted me this kind of special status of youth and adult, and there was no problem in my being both. (Thank the Lord- more often than not, we’re stuck in an either-or situation where teenagers are EITHER kids OR adults. Few people understand that we’re both.)

Being a photographer at RSE also gave me the unique opportunity to get to know more people. Because I was the photographer and had to wander here and there to get pictures, I had the ability to strike up conversations with anyone. (Which, by the way, is awesome!)

Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned this so I’m going to go right ahead and say it: I love photography. With all of my time in the school year dedicated to work and honors/AP classes (as well as a couple clubs), I had little time to do the things I love, and as I revved up my camera equipment and battery, I joked about my camera being a little dusty. RSE gave my sisters and I the opportunity to be placed where our hearts would be, and I’m glad it’s put me both in photography and my love of writing- which is why I’m right here. Right now. On this computer screen or phone screen or wherever you’re reading this.  

I could go on for hours about how great RSE is, but there’s one last thing that I feel is worth mentioning from my perspective and that is the Rochester Servant Event’s ability to draw people in. My sister invited a friend from school. People invited their friends to the concert. This event is the joining of young and old, Christian and non-Christian, and people of all types, and it is so, so beautiful. In this way, we worship Jesus Christ in a way that shows our love instead of just talking about it.

And let me tell you, that makes for a beautiful picture.
-Rebecca “Becca” Mennecke

 

Rochester Servant Event 2016

I am an adult.

Such a simple sentence, but such a strange concept. After all, what does it mean to be an adult?

For RSE this year, it meant I was a group leader. It meant I was in charge of paperwork, and watching kids who were almost my age, and having authority over them. It meant initiating conversation, knowing the right thing to do in any possible bad situation, and setting an example. On one hand, having all these new responsibilities is exciting.

On the other hand, being an adult is, frankly, terrifying. I’m not one of those “natural-born leaders.” I’m awkward and shy around new people. I’m 18 years old, and I still don’t have my driver’s license.

And I make mistakes. Lots of them. I forget paperwork at home. I say the wrong things. There are too many times I rely on others, to the point that I rarely rely on myself. To me, messing up is about as natural as blinking.

Which is why it was a relief that I had a familiar face as a co-group leader. I knew that with Michael Harvey in charge, both myself and the group would be in good hands.
Actually going out and working with the group the first day also helped ease nerves. Everyone worked hard, got along, and still had fun, telling jokes and having lots of interesting and fun conversations.

By about the middle of the week, I forgot I was an adult. Sure, I still had to make sure everyone was accounted for, and help lead devotions when discussion stalled, but I felt just like a part of the group. After all, weeding is weeding, no matter your age.

So it was a bit of a surprise when Josh handed out important papers for Wednesday’s worship service, especially since Michael wasn’t around so I had to be in charge of them for a bit. I was a bit flustered, forgetting them in the sanctuary at worship Tuesday evening, and accidentally leaving them at home Wednesday morning, but with Michael’s help, it all worked out in the end.

Overall, the whole week went pretty well – the group weeded, pulled trees, weeded, changed lightbulbs, weeded, planted flowers, fixed a screen door, and weeded. The girls in my group helped trim, pull, and carry so many overgrown maple saplings that Michael nicknamed us the “Lumber-Jills.” We had good, thoughtful discussions over devotions, handed out water bottles to construction workers, gave flowers to residents at Samaritan Bethany, and gave a plate of cookies to the fire station by Century High School.

In my life, God has always put people in my life exactly when I needed them, and this group was no different. They helped me gain confidence and maturity, and while I’m still not 100% prepared for being an adult, they definitely helped make the transition a lot easier.

 

–Carolyn Mennecke

Nostalgia

It’s a strange thing to look out into a sea of people and know so few. It’s even stranger to be sitting in the back of the crowd, monitoring instead of letting it engulf you. Being an adult instead of a youth.

I am 20. Too old to be a youth, but not old enough to have full adult responsibilities. I used to be good at being a youth. Despite my dislike of crowds, I used to be good at giving myself over to them. Being one with the people around me, whether I knew them or not.

But I can’t do that anymore. I am not an silly tween nor am I a carefree teenager. I have responsibilities, anxieties and prejudices that hold me back from trusting just anyone.  I can’t go back to that carefreeness of being a youth but I’m not yet ready to be selfless enough to become an adult leader. This puts me in an interesting position.

So, here I am. On the outskirts. But that’s ok. I’ve always enjoyed the outskirts.

I sit watching people let themselves go, give themselves up but I’m somehow out of the moment. Which sounds crazy because I’m right there with them. I’m doing everything they’re doing.

In order to find my place in these events again after graduation, I had to remove myself from them. In the beginning I thought it was necessary. In order to get respect from the people who have seen me grow up, I thought that my only choice was to remove myself and it worked.

However, I now know that removing myself doesn’t mean rejoicing or believing any less. It’s just where I fit. It’s where I’m comfortable. I know that these things are always about “pushing your boundaries” or  whatever but the truth is there’s nothing I hate the most than pushing my social boundaries.

If what we’re supposed to do it give up our baggage than here’s mine: I’m  a workaholic, whether it’s running a social media campaign, writing VBS scripts or taking painfully long shifts at my real job, I am a workaholic. I’m a control freak. Everything has to be planned to the minute or I WILL have a fit. I’m an introvert, which is why I’d rather snap and post pictures of other people having fun than actually engage in it myself. That sentence sounded sad, but it’s not. Too much interaction makes me physically tired.

My biggest bag is that I love my baggage. It’s what keeps me going. How do I give it up? Especially since I’ve gained so much more since the last time I let go.