It’s Friday evening here in Homer. VBS is over. After months of planning, preparation, anticipation, and prayer, just like that…it’s over. No one on the team can quite believe that we won’t be getting up and driving to Anchor Point in the morning to see ‘our kids.’ No one seems quite prepared for this experience to end. Today, there were hugs, and a couple of tears, when is came time to say ‘until next year’ the children and their parents and grandparents. There were thank yous going in all directions. There were gifts and more hugs. There were sentiments of regret that our time together was over and expressions of anticipation when thinking of coming together next year. And, there were more hugs…
During our week of VBS, each day centered around a theme. These themes were interactive, and were highlighted at each station. Sitting here reflecting, after the sets have been struck, the materials sorted, and the luggage repacked, the themes this year feel particularly relevant to our time here with our Alaska family.
Jesus gives us hope. Our team has talked a lot about hope this week. Each one of us has encountered someone in either Anchor Point or Homer experiencing a significant difficulty in their lives. To be able to share the hope that comes from our relationship with Jesus is an incredible privilege and responsibility. I think everyone on our team also came away with renewed hope. We saw that in spite of the difficulties some of our families were facing, they showed up each morning eager and ready to be taught about Jesus, the light of the world.
Jesus gives us courage. Six strangers from 3000 miles away arrive on your doorstep and ask you to leave your precious children in their care for 3 hours a day – and you let them. That takes courage. It also takes a lot of courage for a group of Christians from Missouri to travel to Alaska, into unknown circumstances. By the team and families turning to Jesus for courage, four years later that initial act of courage has blossomed into something truly dynamic.
Jesus gives us direction. Life is filled with tough choices. Too many times we choose what’s easy or feels good rather than what’s right and pleasing to God. I am continuously amazed by our students here at Anchor Point. Every year we hear stories about how the students look forward to attending VBS and prioritize it above other experiences, asking parents to change plans in order to attend. From the mouths of babes. In a world of endless distractions, our kids in Anchor Point seem to have a pretty good handle on who to turn to for direction.
Jesus gives us love. Over this past week, our team has experienced one demonstration of love after another. We have been blessed with being the recipients of the time, talents, and treasures of the families in Anchor Point and Homer. The support that we’ve received from our families up here is beyond what any of us would have expected. Growing up in Illinois, my church was my family. I have been blessed to be able to extend that family to Campus. And over the past 4 years, my family has continued to grow to include Anchor Point and Homer. The love that our team has been on the receiving end of during our time her has truly been a reflection of Jesus perfect love for all of us.
Jesus gives us his power. This is my 4th mission trip to Alaska. Each team has been unique and special. But the one thing that they’ve all had in common is the size of the team has been significantly smaller than what we use to stage the VBS at Campus. But, through our connection to Jesus, our 6 voices were able to reach over 30 children this week. And we could definitely feel Jesus’ power in the joy and enthusiasm every morning with the kids.
Once again, I find today to be a bittersweet day. I have loved working with this team of dedicated Christians. I have loved seeing the familiar faces, both students and parents, and the growth since the last time we were together. I have loved teaching the students about salvation through Jesus Christ. And, as sad as I am that Anchor Point VBS 2016 is over, I have the hope that through Jesus love and power that we will all have the courage and be lead in the right direction to be together again next year.