by Liz Lass Our week has simply flown by. When we arrived on Sunday, we were unsure of what favela we would be doing VBS in. That day Jay informed us that we would be working in Rio des Pedras (City of Rocks). Several of us returning members were disappointed that we would not be returning to the City of God, but our God had a plan. And that plan has been good.
Our first day was chaotic. We quickly realized the children we would work with were unlike any kids we had served with in Brazil before. They were smart, a little nervous and didn’t seem very enthusiastic about our presence. Needless to say, we were slightly bummed out. Why didn’t they love us? Why did we only attract 30 children who were minimally interested at best? I struggled with how best to serve these children. Our entire team did.
On our second day, the pastor of the church in Rio des Pedras that we had been working with told us that our VBS was too simple. It was about fun and games and not very gospel-focused. Talk about painful. As the kids leader, I was unsure of how to feel. I wrestled with admitting the truth and being disappointed and feeling like I had failed. After some much-needed prayer and counsel, I corralled the team and we discussed how to better serve these children here.
Our third day, we emphasized prayer in all our activities. How to pray. What to pray. We prayed with them and for them. It was glorious. We saw children opening up. More smiles and more joy. We were connecting.
During a team debrief, we discussed the stark contrasts between City of God and Rio des Pedras. Rob graciously pointed out that in the City of God, where we were met with warm hugs and lots of love and joy, it was easy to build up our own kingdoms. To praise ourselves for the work we were doing. It was easy to forget how much we need the same Jesus we were preaching about. In Rio des Pedras, we did not have that luxury. We were constantly reminded of how desperately we needed to preach the kingdom of God, and not of self. Today was our last day of VBS. To say it was fantastic would be an understatement. When we arrived there were about 50 children anxiously waiting for us. We only had an hour, so we threw a skit together and simply preached the gospel. Our skit was about the death and resurrection. The children have never been so quiet. Afterwards, T.J. did a fabulous job of asking them interactive questions and reminding them about the hope of the good news. Praise the Lord. When we left there were many tears from both parties.
As we were pulling out, I was struck by a thought. It is easy to say we trust God in hard times. It is not so easy to admit we still need to trust God in times of disappointment. We did not trust God our first day of VBS. We did not trust that we were exactly where He wanted us to be; where His kingdom needed to be proclaimed. After a week, it was easy to see how the whole time God was working not just for our good, but for the good of His kingdom and His glory. Praise be to God!
Tomorrow is another full day and we will head back to the States in the evening. Please pray for a safe journey.