It all started at one of our planning meetings in Texas, as we tried to learn a bit about what we were getting into, and what was expected of us. We learned and researched things about the local culture, we were told about the latrine project, and were told that we had been asked to run a VBS. Then Stephan (the man who was leading our group on this field service) asked questions about who had done what previously. When he asked who had run a children's program before, myself and Jillian put up our hands. I can't remember exactly how he worded the question, but in my mind, the Sunday School and Awana leadership I had done was fairly similar to what he was asking about. I was expecting the teachers (Amy and Kelly) to take leadership with the VBS, but neither felt they had the experience necessary.
So Jillian and I put our heads together to do some planning. Picture trying to plan a 5 day VBS in a third world country, with children not used to doing crafts, who may or may not speak english. No electronics available, and any supplies you want to use you will have to bring with you. And after planning it out, and buying supplies, we ended up NOT doing crafts, because we didn't want to overwhelm the community with STUFF.
Sounds a little silly, but I'll try to explain it. The community is poor. The school is poor. They buy one small package of paper, and it lasts the full school year. There are 176 children enrolled in school. If they buy a package of 250 papers, that's less than 2 papers per child... in a YEAR!!! So if we come in with mounds of stuff... we may place the school in a predicament where people start expecting or demanding stuff. At times, you have to be careful about raising expectations.
Now that I've bored you, let me make this a little more interesting...
Here's a shot of the school, chock full of kids! We learned quickly that the best way to get everyone quiet was what they called the "scientific clap". It's what their teachers did to get their attention and silence, and was basically clapping loudly a few times followed by outstreched arms with open hands (jazz hands style) while saying "shhhhhhh". They would all do it with you and be amazingly quiet after. Life saver! We averaged about 70 children showing up each day.... but we never did count. :D
It was a fun, challenging week. Sadly, I missed the last day because I was not feeling well. (I was told that we don't need heros, and I gave in and went back to bed, much as I wanted to be involved in the game. No worries, I recovered quickly and was back to normal by the next day)