Learning about religion through friends, fun and fellowship

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dillon White
  • 341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Local area children and adults from the Protestant and Catholic Christian community participated in the Vacation Bible School at the Malmstrom base chapel June 18 to 22. 

This year's theme is "The Avalanche Ranch: A Wild Ride Through God's Word." Eighteen volunteers set up and orchestrated the Wild-West-themed school inside the base chapel. 

Janet Smith, this year's event coordinator, said it was a fun and exciting time to come together and teach the children about the love of Jesus through Bible study, games, music and a mission project. 

The 70 children ranged from kindergarten to sixth grade, and were divided into crews comprised of children from each grade level. Crews rotated through several different stations to learn the messages being taught, Ms. Smith said. 

"We're glad to be able to [host the event], and glad to minister to the children of our community," said Chaplain (Capt.) Shawn Bishop, 341st Space Wing Protestant Chaplain. 

The activities each crew participated in included Sing and Play, Bible Study, the Wild-West Theater, Horse Play Games and Chuck Wagon Chow. 

At the end of each activity, the crews all sounded a hearty "Wa-Hoo" before moving to the next station. 

"The children learned about the Bible and how to apply its relevant and applicable life-changing messages to every day living," Ms. Smith said. Each day, the children would have four or five ways to apply what they learned in Bible study, from giving a classmate a toy to praying for someone. 

"[My kids] are excited to show up and be here," said Cindie Latke, a volunteer and parent of two participating children. 

The crews made prayer bears at Cowpoke Crafts and Missions that will be sent to orphaned children in Africa. Each child wrote a short note to the recipient and drew their picture inside a French version of "The Survivor's Bible," a religious activities book which will be sent with the bear. The children here keep another bear for themselves as a reminder to pray for the child who receives it. 

"Making the bears showed the kids that they can always make a difference," said Linda Bivens, event volunteer. 

The children also made sheriff's badges and prayer journals as craft projects.
A Wild-West Theater was also on the list of things to do and starred "Chadder the Chipmunk." 

"Chadder wants to be a cowboy and throughout the show, Chadder shares his belief in God with people he meets," said Kari Hosmer, event volunteer. "We also do activities to show how Bible [messages] apply to real life." 

During one activity, Ms. Hosmer drew a face on the wall with an erasable marker, and turned to look at the children. 

"Oh no," Ms. Hosmer said, "What do we do?" The children all suspected that the marker was not erasable and suggested that she wash it with a cloth. Ms. Hosmer then erased the face and related the situation to the forgiveness of sins. 

Another station the children rotated through was Horse Play Games. In one game, the crew split up in a competition to transfer water from two pairs of containers using only a sponge. The children raced back and forth across the 10 feet of grass between the buckets, passing the sponge to one another, trying to beat the other team. 

"I move the buckets closer and give the kids more sponges in the middle of the game to show that Jesus helps them to get to Heaven," said Nick Spade, event volunteer.
The crews also played a modified game of tag. Each child was given a handful of ice they passed on to the person they tagged. 

"The discomfort they feel from the ice represents sin and at the end of the game they all put the ice down to represent Jesus taking their sins away," Mr. Spade said.
The crews had to stop and eat at some point, and Chuck Wagon Chow gave them the energy they needed. Each day the crews were fed different snacks relating to the Bible-study lesson they learned. 

The Wild-West Theater had to shut down, and the Chuck Wagon rolled out of town, but the children who participated in this year's "Avalanche Ranch" have made a lasting positive change and learned lessons that will remain. Until next year, "Wa-Hoo!"