Over the past 5 days, for the 2nd year in a row, I participated as a volunteer worker in Vacation Bible School at Oakland Baptist Church.
Last year I was a "jack of all trades". I went to the individual classrooms to perform ventriloquism, counted the offering, and anything else that needed to be done.
In 2013 I had a more specific and bigger responsibility. I taught the children the words and choreography to the music written especially for the VBS program.
Now I'm no music expert, to say the least. But I have had some experience. In 2010, I taught music during VBS to a handful of children at a church started by members of Oakland Baptist that same year.
Last summer I taught music to the children in a small church in Moorehead, Kentucky as part of an OBC missionary trip.
But this was different than those experiences. You see the highlight of the closing ceremonies of OBC's VBS each year is the musical performance by the children.
I say "the highlight" because it's where all the parents get the chance to get out their devices (cameras, mobile phones, tablets, ect.) and make a video of their child singing on stage.
So the "pressure" was on. This was an important part of an important event in my home church.
Also different this year, was the fact that I had to be at church by 9AM, teach until 11:30, and then had to go my job and work from 1 to 10PM.
All the other years I've been involved with VBS, I've not had to work for one reason or another. This week wasn't easy but it was worth it.
The VBS curriculum the church used this year was called "Colossal Coaster World". It used the fear of riding a roller coaster as a metaphor to teach the children about trusting God no matter how they feel or what happens in their life.
The songs helped to reinforce the points of each day's lessons and were all very good.
I decided to teach the children just two of the five songs. My helper for the week was a young man named "Eli". He did his homework and knew the songs much better than I did.
Over the course of the week I had a total of just a little over 2 hours to teach 3 groups of children (4th, 5th & 6th graders; 2nd & 3rd graders; and 1st grade & kindergartners) the words and motions to a pair of 3 minute songs.
I used the promise of a pair of passes to Beech Bend, the local amusement and water park to the most "fearless" participant as a way of keeping up their enthusiasm and encouraging their participation .
The children's degree of interest in the music and the videos was in reverse proportion to their ages. The oldest kids were a bit "too cool" to be totally into it. But the youngest more than made up for it.
The 5 &6 year olds were the last class of the day and they always left me feeling like I was being an effective teacher. I "thanked" them by letting their pal Cecil the turtle, my most popular ventriloquist puppet, visit them on Thursday.
After one final day of rehearsal on Friday, I still wasn't convinced the kids were ready for their presentation to their parents that night.
I guess I did an adequate job of teaching them because at the closing ceremonies the children gave a performance that made me proud. And, yes, there was a plenty of parents and grandparents pointing phones and "making memories."
As I write this post I'm just starting to feel the effects of keeping such a busy schedule this week with less than adequate sleep. But I'll be okay in a few days.
Another year of VBS is history. I guess I did a good enough job (even though I think I could have done better) being the OBC VBS music teacher.
Being around the kids was the best thing about being involved. I just hope I managed to give them even just a small degree of the joy they gave to me.
I can't help but entertain the possibility that maybe one of them will one day share their memories of the Colossal Coaster World songs with their children. Realistically, most, after a few days, will not give the music another thought.
For me, every time I listen to "Ride Of Your Life" or "Change My Heart" on my Ipod, I will remember what a blessing this week has been.