Our one week in North Carolina was a week that will never be forgotten. On Sunday the 26th of June, a batch of eight eager Vacation Bible School leaders and volunteers headed on a lengthy ride to Greensboro. With a few more volunteers to follow, we were undermanned yet excited to see familiar faces of the children we had met about two years ago. The week ahead was planned out with each detail set in stone, from leaders manning stations, who the cooks were and which individuals would take care of each group of children. Little did we know what the next day had in store.
In 2014, our church, the Southern Asian Seventh-Day Adventist Church, held a VBS program in Greensboro, North Carolina for the Nepali refugee children. Evangelistic meetings were also held later in the evening for the remaining parents and adults. Throughout that week we had experienced an overflowing mass of running children, tiring days, sleepless nights, lots of laughter, and tons of hugs. Each day brought in new challenges. This year nothing much had changed. The children were filled to the brim with energy and excitement, not only to play dog and the bone, but to perform the actions to the songs and answer questions about Bible stories. All of the kids were beautiful and intelligent, which made it extremely hard to hear the stories of how their lives were back in the camps and how their family conditions were. They were not only eager to play simple games and run around, but were eager to receive love, love that could only be shown through our care and compassion, love that might not have been shown to them unless we had held this Vacation Bible School. Those hours drained us physically and emotionally.
This year, the first day presented us with many challenges. Though we were short staffed, we did our best to multitask as well as stay sane. With about 80 children, ranging from the ages of four to 16, we were experiencing a tumult of commotion. However, once story time came around and the biblical character of Joseph was brought to life by one of our ecstatic volunteers, the children remained captivated.
Although we had three main rotations, between crafts, games, and family time, controlling each group and station was more than a handful. Crafts consisted of Egyptian basket weaving, collar making, assembling hieroglyphic name pendants and coloring. Games, dealt with mummy making for the teens and round after round of duck-duck goose for the little ones. Story Time was led out with a small skit and narration of the story of Joseph, describing his journey from prison to palace. The children were asked basic questions to which they always had the right answers. Celebration time entertained everyone with their interactive songs. Each child sang and promptly performed each corresponding action.
During our time in North Carolina, the children not only learned discipline, but were faced with learning basic manners and common courtesy. Certain things that seemed ingrained into our minds and the minds of our children can be foreign tales to those who have not had the simple privileges that we often overlook. A single week strengthened the ties we had made with the ones we had met two years ago, and with the new faces we met.
Each day brought in new surprises and circumstances. Every volunteers was faced with different and important responsibilities. Building tentative driving schedules in order to pick up the Nepali children from their neighborhoods was a large chunk of what a few of us had to do each day. Driving duty was not only important, but it was necessary. We were not only able to pick up the children who attended the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, but were able to go out to neighborhoods that held Nepali Hindu’s as well. In welcoming those children they were able to commune with their Christian friends and learn a few fundamental principles as well.
Our Nepali family in Greensboro has grown to become a substantial part of our own lives. We keep in constant touch through our mobile devices, social media and occasional phone calls. Each member in the community has had an impact on us in some way or another. The importance of coming to know Christ and to build a relationship with Him is not only what we have tried to verbally share, but what we have tried to actively show. Through our words and deeds we have been able to express God’s love to those that He calls the most precious, His little children.
This past journey came with its ups and downs. Initially, we weren’t sure that this trip would have been possible. With God’s blessings we were able to venture out and touch more lives in His name. Each day was a step to further the work that the Lord had started by using us.
On the Sabbath of our VBS presentation, the story of Joseph had come to an end. In the skit Joseph embraces his brothers and directs them to the land that Pharaoh had assigned for them to prosper. Joseph had gone through immense difficulties in his life, his very own had betrayed him. Yet, forgiveness, compassion, honesty, and love remained as strong pillars throughout his journey on this earth. Most importantly, he had given the Lord all the glory and praise. As the children ended their last song they came up beside us and crawled onto our laps. The bonds that had formed between each one of us will always remain and prayerfully each one of them will continue to grow in God’s love.
Story by Carol Thapa