Vacation Bible School at Saint Michael and All Angels in Corona del Mar, CA occurs on two Friday nights in mid-July. The children arrive at 5:30 PM and leave at 7:45 PM, freeing up parents to enjoy Friday nights out on their own. We serve dinner, enjoy 30 minutes of music, followed by our program. This summer we ‘Journeyed with the Saints to Alaska.’ We heard interesting facts and stories about Alaska and God’s handiwork there. I enjoyed sharing about the incredible Alaskan wildlife: bears, otters, bald-eagles, seals, whales, caribou, moose, and walrus. We learned from the Inuit and Aleutian native people groups, appreciating the dramatic Inuit ceremonial and cultural artwork of the Totem pole with their eagle and bear faces. Glaciers, lakes, and mountains are part of Alaska’s beauty, and we transformed our California church campus to reflect it. The children instantly loved the Iditarod because of their affinity for Huskies. The aura borealis is stunning for all.
As in previous years, the children’s Friday night pilgrimage begins with a play passport that will take them from Vancouver to Juneau, on to Anchorage and an imaginary flight on a seaplane to land in Alaska’s Twin Lakes, Clarke’s National Park. They then watch a ten-minute segment of the DVD “Alone in the Wilderness.”Kim taught the children about Richard Proenneke’s cabin that he built by hand and lived in alone from 1968-1998. Peggy shared geodes, calcite, and crystals from her collection.
Then on to the whale watching skit where Elizabeth, Zuri, and Amari shared about orcas, beluga, and baleen whales. I almost missed the sharing of Saint Herman by Brooke due to the last-minute pilgrimage path change. I had forgotten this stop! Another redemptive moment came, after her forgiveness, when a visiting Bichon Frisé nestled his way right into the circle of children. Petting the fluffy white pup was an unexpected, yet welcome, addition!
This year, two teenage brothers who had attended Vacation Bible School as young children returned as volunteer helpers. I am fully in favor of signing off three hours of community service hours for middle and high school students! They served the church family well. Massimo and Julian stacked chairs in the gym, arranged sets, rolled out the canvas labyrinth on loan from a Methodist church, handed out backpacks, water bottles, passports, and name tags. A huge lift. And when the children walked past two incredibly sharp cactus plants near the sidewalk, I stationed the two brothers as guards.
“Isn’t there a story about guarding some kind of tree?” Julian asked.
“Yes,“ I replied. “There are the two trees in the Garden of Eden. The Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. You two are angels!”
The two brothers looked pleased.
“Can I be Saint Michael?” Julian asked.
“Yes! And your brother can be Gabriel.”
They gave each other a high five. When it came time for dinner, Julian the younger, shared this tip with a third grader sitting across from him.
“Yes, mac and cheese is what made me this tall.” Julian said, taking another bite from the large plate of creamy noodles in front of him. Both brothers are over six feet tall.
Later Julian asked, “Do you think,” his tone was very serious, “that we could play basketball?”
“Of course!” I said, so appreciative of all the work that they had done that evening. I looked at the gymnasium and the half court covered with the canvas labyrinth. I accelerated with the cleaning up so that they could have a chance to play basketball before the parents started arriving.
As I coordinated the clean-up, I watched a four-year-old having the time of her life. She was driving a Mercedes! Early in the day, unexpectedly and a Godsend, someone dropped off two motor-powered child sized cars by our parking lot trash bins. These two cars weren’t in working order as the batteries were missing, yet I saw the memory making clear as day! What child wouldn’t want to sit in the front seat, hands on a steering wheel of a child size Mercedes or Tesla!! Sharing the front seat with a pink stuffed unicorn!
I finished the evening with 16,836 steps or 7.6 miles on my phone pedometer. I enjoyed watching the confetti pour down over the evening’s trek. When I took off my shoes in the evening, my legs were exhausted but my heart was very full with our Journey with the Saints to Alaska!
Next week, Part II of Journey with the Saints to Alaska, we will discuss the Episcopal Church in Homer, Alaska and the UTO donation of $60,000. There will also be more Kraft Mac and Cheese, fish sticks, tater tots, and watermelon! And Ice Cream sandwiches. All of which will make them grow an inch taller!