The weather Aug. 15 was perfect, the petting zoo had arrived, and Noah’s Ark was parked on the church parking lot. This was the setting for a one-day Vacation Bible School replacement organized by Bethel CRC and Wolf Creek Community Church, two Christian Reformed congregations in Lacombe, Alta. “Because of the uncertainties of COVID-19, the theme of "Safe in the Storm" represented by the story of Noah, became our focus,” said Harriet Luymes, a planning committee member from Bethel.
For several years the two churches have worked together to run a weeklong Vacation Bible School each summer. “VBS is a great opportunity to reach out together,” said Brittany Toornstra, another committee member from Wolf Creek. “With so many extracurricular events being canceled (this year), we felt called to reimagine what VBS could look like in a COVID world.” Luymes added, “The ideas and creativity that followed at weekly Zoom meetings was an amazing blessing to all of us.”
Noah’s ‘ark,’—a 30-foot flat deck trailer pulled by a one-ton truck—was lent to the churches by a local farmer. It shuttled participants from Bethel CRC to Cranna Lake, about a five-minute ride. Many stations were set up around the lake with activities. As they walked, people were asked to look for leaves, rocks, bugs, and flowers, for a craft later at the church. The final station was to make a dove kite. Back on the ark for a return trip to Bethel church, they could talk with Noah’s son, Ham (Wolf Creek member Darryl Klopstra), about what it was like to be on the ark.
“People were reminded that through all the years of building, gathering food, time spent on the ark, God was with them as he is with us now,” said Luymes. The outdoor setting provided opportunity for participants to stay at a distance from one another. Each station was sanitized between groups.
Most of the 16 families who participated were from the two churches; however, many intrigued passersby also participated in the various stations set up on the trail around the lake. In all, there were 68 attendees and 18 helper volunteers.
“The families that came through expressed absolute delight over the live animals, the ‘ark ride,' storytellers, puppets, and crafts,” said Toornstra.
Felix, age 5, said, “My favourite parts were making all the crafts and riding on the ark!” Amelia, 8, said, "Outdoor VBS was really awesome! I loved hammering the nails into the boards, riding the ark, seeing the animals, receiving balloon animals, and creating dove kites that actually flew in the wind! On the way around the lake we met Ham, Shem, and Japheth, and they told us different parts about Noah and the ark."
“Our team is so thankful for the opportunity to share God's stories with our community,” said Toornstra. Everything came together wonderfully, and it was a blessed day for sure!”