Sunday, June 25, 2017

VBS + work = exhaustion

Last week was awesome, fun, tiring, and uplifting. It ended with a 14 hour work day that lasted long into the night but it was well worth it … at least that is what I keep telling my exhausted mind/body.

See last week my church had Vacation Bible School. It was not only my first time experiencing VBS at my new church but it was also the first time I led something at my new church. Future Note to Self: don’t dive in with both feet, sit back, help out but don’t lead that’s how the pressure gets to you.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a GREAT week and the kids seemed to really enjoy it but the unknown of it almost did me in before we started. See this church uses a VBS kit which comes with ideas for Music, Crafts, Science, Bible Study, and themes for the week. We decided on Super Heroes for Christ which was right up my alley. Finally those DragonCon Tshirts were going to be put to use during the week not just on weekends as I run errands.

When flipping through the pack I thought Science sounds cool. Another lady in the church said she’d help me with it, I was like score let’s do it. Then life happened. Each group (3 varying age groups for the kids, 1-5, 6-8, 8-10 or something like that – the piece of paper is on the other side of the planet and I’m being lazy (AKA it’s it in the other room) had a “leader” and 2 helpers in which one of the helpers was a youth (aka too old for VBS but still wants to participate, but not quite old enough to be a leader). We ended up being short 2 leaders so I lost my original helper. I was assigned a new helper and she was …. Great … when she was there. Night 1 she brought her husband and a dice game that she was more interested in than helping (tho in her defense she didn't have a lot to help with (more on that in a minute), then night 2 when I really could have used her help she was sick, and night 3 she was very helpful, then night 4 she had bingo and didn't come, tho she had told me earlier in the week that would be the case. So at least there was that.

Our VBS was 4 days long, with the last day a “pizza party” in which the parents got to see all that the kids did during the week. This meant I needed 3 days of activities. This being my first time I decided on one experiment a night that I could really practice and know how to do for all age groups. This would be mistake #1. Future Note to Self: Next year think about the age group you will be doing the experiment with and then adjust accordingly.  

Let’s start at the beginning shall we. I knew VBS was coming, I had a plan, I checked in with the VBS leaders to make sure it was a good plan and they all agreed that it was. I kept asking how many kids do I need to plan for, they kept saying the year before they had over 30. I was like um…ok….how does that work with each group, which is my largest one? How long do I have to entertain them? What happens if they start to get on my nerves? What happens if I ruin these kids for life? What if they hate me? What if they won't listen to me? What if they listen to closely and the adult in me says something only adults should hear? I worried that they wouldn’t be interested at all or that they would be too interested and ask questions I couldn't answer. My church had never done Science before as part of Bible School so really no one knew what to expect so not much advice for me. Could I deliver?

I was pretty sure I drove them all insane ... but I was scared ..... mostly of the unknown, I kept telling myself I’d be fine after night one. Frankly, I was doubting myself and part of me was hoping I’d break a leg, get in a wreck, and would get out of it all together. I think I scared the preacher cause he kept checking on me between groups, he could tell I was nervous, he could tell I was freaked out, but he kept telling me I’d do great...relax.... which was oh so helpful. Don't tell someone having a panic attack to calm down that's not helpful at all and I was most definitely in panic attack mode on several occasions. To his credit he did spend a lot of time in my room on day 1 but I think that was more moral support than fear I’d screw up one of the kids. At least that’s my hope. I think he really likes me, I hope so cause I think he and his family are fantastic. I’m really glad I found this church, and I think they are glad I found them too, which is nice.

So the Friday before VBS started on Monday I ran around town in a downpour buying my supplies, horrible rain would be a theme of the week I would learn. At one point there was talk of cancelling VBS for fear no one would come in the monsoon that settled over the City that week but they came, Gosh love them they came every night. A lot of what I needed I already had at the house, that was by design as Marcy’s funds are low and I didn’t want to beg the church for money cause I wanted their money to go to the other groups. This being their first time with Science I didn't want to take away from what they normally do for this new thing. On that particular Friday I was also assigned a submittal that would have to completed in less than a week with a PM who is notorious for not completing things in a timely manner. Add to that another submittal (that goes in this Tuesday) which I hadn’t really started yet, because of a different submittal/PM not deciding what he wanted yet, and it was shaping up to be a really stressful week that would start before 6am and end after 9pm with no lunch break which has made for a zombiefied Marcy this past weekend. That being said I did go to lunch one day, well actually my friend forced me to have hearing that I hadn't eaten anything but popcorn for 3 days.

So Monday came, and I was physically ready, mentally was another can of worms. I had a plan I just had to execute it. I left work about 4 because they wanted everyone there early for registration and to make last minute plans. I had told my boss about this and he was A. shocked a science class was going to be taught at a church function, he even asked if it was legal. I said I think so. B. when I actually got up and left at 4 with no prompting from him he was shocked. He was pretty sure he was going to have to kick me out of the office. He said he was proud of me. ha!

Monday – activity SINKING SODA - Did the can sink or float? Why!?
Bible Study 1 Samuel 16:1-12
In our Bible Story, God told Samuel “Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart”

This experiment tackled the idea that while they look exactly the same they reacted differently when put in the same situation. That they would prejudge these soda cans and be shocked by how they acted in the water because it didn’t do what they expected. Basically, don’t judge a book by its cover. I liked this idea. The idea that they need to look into the persons heart not solely base things on outward appearances. In this day and age and with these grade groups this can not be restated nearly enough.

Why I chose this ….. frankly I wanted something I could control. I wanted something that if we were running out of time I could just end, I wanted something that was easy for night one. This would be mistake #2. Future Note to Self: Easy is not always the best option. The biggest problem with this experiment was that it just didn’t take up enough time. Not even a little. I mean come on Marcy you are dropping cans in a big bucket what did you expect. My group ended early which threw everyone else into a tail spin cause then kids were in the hallway making noise distracting the kids who were still in class. I felt awful, I felt I had let everyone down. (which may have been the other reason the Preacher spent most of night one assuring me that everything was going great). I also didn’t buy the right cans. I had a good variety, but I should have bought better. All floated except one, the coke. I should have had a better variety which might have sparked more conversation. After a while they all guessed that they would float cause ... well.... they all floated.. and these kids weren't stupid.......... argh....... Stupid…stupid…stupid (bangs head on wall in frustration). Lastly most of the kids were more interested in if I would give them the sodas or dropping the cans into the bucket, and splashing the water than they were in why they floated or sunk. It got away from me really quick. I am not going to lie, especially with the little kids who discovered early that If they dropped all the cans in they could almost overflow the bucket. It was a tough night 1 yall. I’m not going to lie.

Here’s the experiment if you are interested ….

Tuesday – activity Balancing Hex Nuts – the power of magnets

Bible Study 1 Samuel 25
In our Bible Story, Abigail became a hero by using her courage and inner strength

Why I chose this ….. cause I thought it was cool. Basically you have to balance hex nuts on the edge of a cup. Something I showed the kids the night before and none of them believed they would be able to do it. I was determined they would all be able to do it. Group 1 realized they could stack the hex nuts on the magnets then place the entire contraption on the cans (which were reused from Night 1) and move them down to the cup. I thought these kids are geniuses. It never dawned on me to flip it over. Then they also flipped over the cup. So instead of balancing it on the edge of the cup with a large margin of error they had a large flat surface to deal with. Again brilliant. I’ll never forget when a kid who struggled with it was finally able to do it and was jumping up and down so excited and I high fived him for a job well done and for not giving up. Ironically the little kids did the best with this but of course they required the most hand holding. The older kids quickly turned the magnets into cars and could care less about balancing anything. I just let them do their thing, they had a ball and I relaxed and talked with the other adults for a bit. Ironically the older kids did the exact same thing the preacher did when I first handed him the magnets. It was kind of funny.

Here’s the experiment if you are interested ….

Wednesday – activity making their own Silly Putty  

Bible Study James 1:5
Believer asks God for wisdom and understanding about daily decisions. There is one requirement for this help however, the request must be made with no wavering or doubt as a doubter isn’t sure whether God hears him or if God even understands his problem. Such a man is double minded; he attempts to divide his trust between God and himself.

Why I chose this ….. cause I thought it was cool and I also wanted the kids to have something they could take home to remember the week by. I spent the week hyping this up, on Tuesday night after getting home from VBS I decided to try out my plan, thank GOD for this. My plan sucked. It didn’t work at all it was beyond awful. I was super stressed. I had 6 hours to come up with plan B. I wanted something that would allow me to use as much of what I already had so panic was really setting in. I felt unprepared and angry with myself. Then I found a video online that saved me. See the original plan called for Corn-starch and water. However I wasn’t aware there was this thing called “liquid starch” which is apparently what I needed not powder starch which is what I had. Powder starch and water creates a hard rock that when you are moving it around is fine the second you stop it immediately goes back to a liquid, incase you are interested. I have a Walmart that opens at 6am. I was there when they opened the doors buying the DAWN that was going to save my life. I bought two giant bottles and another thing of corn starch just incase. I then went to work and stressed about it all day long, I was like ok this is it...last night and I'm going to fail and make a fool of myself. I left the office at 4 went right to the church and tried the new recipe. This one required faith on the part of the kids cause there was no real recipe to follow. It depended on how much corn starch you added vs how much soap was added and how fast the kid was stirring. So huge margin of error. This too went sideways very quickly, especially with the little kids. They made a HUGE mess, there was cornstarch everywhere and of course we were in the middle of the worse week of rain in our little city all year and the bathrooms started overflowing so on a night when I really needed to get in there to wash little hands we were unable to. I ended up having to take them into the men's room which prompted lots of "what's that" questions when they came face to face with a urnial filled with gross looking water. In the end it all worked out and every kid took some putty home but the stress of this day will be with me for my entire life. I hate feeling unprepared and I was definitely not prepared for this but it was fun and all the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves.

Here’s the experiment we ended up doing, if you are interested …. This girl saved my life !

The one thing all week that I kept forgetting to do was the “bible study” part of everything, you know the REASON for VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL in the first place. I was so excited about getting to the activity that I often blew past the reason those kids were there … learning about Jesus and God. This would be mistake #3. Future Note to Self: Next time have the Bible Study first then do the experiment, cause doing it after never worked.  It was hard to get their attention back once we were in the activity, then before you know it the session is over and they are leaving. It was a disaster.

Mistake #4: Time management. The way the schedule worked out, I had a break between each group, which was nice. I wish I had used it better. To eat, to relax, to reset up for the next group, to clean but mostly to walk around to the other groups to see what they were doing. How they handled their classes, what they did to get the kids to pay attention, what they were doing in general etc., Future Note to Self: spend some time walking around to see what others are doing so you can do better for your group. Or so you can see if you were doing exactly what you were supposed to be doing. Peace of mind always results in relaxation moving forward.

At the end of the week they asked the kids what their favorite activity was and I was told Music always comes out on top, this year however they all yelled science. I wasn’t there to hear it as I was trying to clean up the giant mess of cornstarch left in our room, but it made my heart swell that they all felt that way. The man who runs the VBS program gave me a huge hug and thanked me for all I did. He said I can never leave now. Which made me feel really good.

So while it was a long stressful week it was a great week and I’m glad I helped out. I did end up having to work until 9:30 Friday and will also be at work 7am Monday morning but after Tuesday I hope to get back to a more normalized schedule. Zombiefied Marcy will have to last a few more days, I miss sleep, I used to enjoy it. I hope to do so again one day. Unlike Golden I am NOT a member of Team No Sleep. I am very much PRO-Sleep and if I were being honest I also like pants.

Anyway … that’s been my last week …. Hope you all have a fantastic week ahead.


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