Another way for you to make a difference…

Our in country director, Bintu, is always on the lookout for ways to improve the education of children, youth and adults in Bukavu, DR Congo. When she visited our home in Holland last year, we took her on a tour of the first-class international school our sons attend. Most of the decor in the school is student art blown up on huge canvases or framed originals. An idea was born.

An American artist friend here heard about our education center and asked, “What about art supplies? Could you use those?”

“Yes!” A generous gift of two stacks of stretched canvases went into my suitcase my next Congo visit, and now you can see some of the results. Small but delightful, these pieces are featured at our center to tell the world how proud we are of our students, the team that supports them, and how a little goes a long way.

Here are some of the pieces:

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Do you have an interest you would like to share with our students in Bukavu?  February is the next mission trip, and my suitcases are standing ready to receive your post. We find ways to use most everything.

Even better, come with us on this or a future trip to share your talents directly with your choice of students, children, youth or adults.

Contact me through our website (futurehopeafrica.org) to help.

Kristin

 

1 Peter 4:10  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

 

 

How Your VBS Differs from Congo VBS – Part 5: Field Trip Time

Your Vacation Bible School probably doesn’t take the children on a field trip, but your local schools probably do. If you’re from a small town like I am, the field trips may not be every year. Instead, class trips are organized for certain groups such as the very memorable 8thgrade trip to Washington D.C.

Imagine a place where few parents own cars, where family vacations aren’t an option for most, where most of the children never go beyond the walking area of their neighborhood, where green grass is rare.

Our Vacation Bible School in the Congo is not a church organized outreach, rather it is a summer extension of the education and family support we provide all year long at our Future Hope Africa education center.

Where most east DR Congo schools don’t have a library, we provide a library. Where there are no tutoring programs, we provide adult tutors and mentors. Where schools lack resources for music, crafts, or art, we provide what we can within our budget.

No School Field Trips? Our Operations Director, Bintu says,

We always try to choose a theme that teaches something useful for the community. The field trip comes at the end as a day when we show practically what the theoretically discussed theme means. It is also a treat for most of our children who probably never take a trip to go on vacation or any place else. We offer them a day out.

The Congo VBS field trip not only demonstrates the theme, it opens the children’s eyes to the world beyond their neighborhood. One past field trip took the children to the local airport where they touched planes and heard about the jobs available and what education it takes to work there.

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Past field trip to a local airport.

Children in desperate situations desperately need hope for the future. A field trip beyond the borders of what they know can give them a vision, a goal, a new idea of the possibilities that are very much within their reach.

Isn’t that something you’d like to be a part of? If so, please “Share” Congo VBS on your social media sites and with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are so grateful for your thoughts and prayers. We’re coming to the close of our Congo VBS Crowdfunding campaign and you’ve made it a success. With your support, we have reached our goal. The children will have the supplies and snacks they need, our helpers will have all their bus fare to and from our rented facilities covered.

The helpers had their first training session, and each person knows you are thinking of them, praying and wishing them all the best. They go with God, confident in how He provided through you this year. I cannot say thank you enough.

We’d love to keep in touch with you and share the latest news from Bukavu. Click here to Keep in Touch with Future Hope Africa.

Thank you again for your prayers and support,

Kristin

Previously:

Congo VBS – Training our Workers

Congo VBS Workers trainingThis week we gathered all the workers and helpers who will be assisting us next week for VBS and gave a two day training to make sure they’re all prepared for the big event.

We went over all the lessons and verses and activities and explained the schedule to them. We are pleased to have young people who are so enthusiastic about our VBS program.

– Please pray for all our workers and helpers as they prepare their minds and hearts for next week.

– Pray for the workers to have an abundance of energy since, as you know, teaching a class for VBS takes a lot of stamina.

– Pray for the children and their families that the daily lessons will touch their hearts and lives and create the kind of change only He can bring about.

Congo VBS training 2

How Your VBS Differs from Congo VBS – Part 4: Two Week VBS?

Your Vacation Bible School is probably one week long from 9-12 or perhaps your church holds an evening VBS. That one week is full of joy and challenge, and at the end of it I, for one, am always fairly exhausted.

With four children of my own out of school and at home, I searched out other
activities in the US such as the Summer Reading Program at the Public Library, days at various parks or museums, swimming at the community pool, and maybe one week of camp. None of these are options for the children in east Congo, so our team works to meet their needs.

That’s how Future Hope Africa always operates.  See a need, try to meet it.

Two week VBS helps meet a need while giving the children twice as many days to play, learn, and worship.  Like yours, Congo VBS has a focal Bible verse and lesson each day that falls under the theme for that summer.

I wrote previously about how the team prayerfully chose our theme of Leadership and wrote our VBS program. When I think of what Africa needs most, I think it is good leaders. Help us raise them up through these daily VBS lessons.

Day 1: Be Humble – Proverbs 22:4 and 18:12
Day 2: Be Courageous – Joshua 1:6
Day 3: Be Honest – 1 Kings 1:52
Day 4: Be Proactive – Proverbs 6:10
Day 5: Be Orderly & Tidy – 1 Cor. 14:40
Day 6: Be Positive – Mark 11:23
Day 7: Listen – Proverbs 1:5
Day 8: Work With Others – Ecclesiastes 4:9
Day 9: Be a Servant – Matthew 23:11-12
Day 10: Keep the Environment – Numbers 35:34

Two weeks also means twice as many bus trips to budget for the helpers, twice as many snacks to provide (but for three times as many children this year), and more buses to rent for the VBS field trip.

What? Your VBS doesn’t have a field trip? Then I better make that the topic for tomorrow.

Please share this post and others. Help us get the word out. Congo VBS kicks off this coming Monday and our crowdfunding campaign is still short.

Only 1 day left* to double the impact of your gift to our campaign so, please consider giving a gift that will impact the lives of the children in Bukavu.
*Our anonymous donor will match your gift dollar-for-dollar until Wednesday 7/20/16.

Click here to visit our Razoo Campaign page.

Kristin

Up Next: Why a VBS Field Trip?

Previously:

How Your VBS Differs from Congo VBS – Part 3: Budget for Volunteers

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If you’ve ever helped with Vacation Bible School, you know it’s an all hands on deck endeavor. Every paid staff member of the church contributes with most putting in over-volunteer-time. In that respect, our Congo VBS is similar, except the paid staff are those from our Future Hope Africa education center.

Two aspects of our helpers’ situation probably differ from your VBS, though.

First, a portion of the budget that we’re crowdfunding (visit our Razoo pg) for is for the volunteers. Wait a minute, you’re probably thinking, volunteers don’t get paid, so why is there a volunteer item in the budget?

As we attempt to open our Congo VBS to three times as many children this year, we had to rent facilities, which means the whole shebang is taking place in a different location.

Unlike most of the staff and volunteers at your church VBS, our folks do not have their own transportation. In fact, I only know of one staff member who owns a car.

Since we moved to a larger facility (See VBS Part 2), we have to consider the burden we place on our volunteers and staff to get to and from the rented school. Thus, we have a budget line for volunteer transportation that we’ll use to pay for their bus rides to and from VBS each day.

Second, you may recall your church asking for VBS helpers right up to a week or two before VBS. That is completely understandable considering summer schedules and the great number of volunteers it takes to bring these programs together for the children.

This is sort of backwards, though, from Congo VBS. You probably had your funding early in the year and bring the help in later. We’ve had our full cohort of workers since April and are now only 7 days away from VBS and still asking for funds.

I hope my posts about Congo VBS will inspire you to click the Share button. Let others know that they can help children halfway across the world have the same great encounters with God that we and our children have at home. I’ll keep writing about the differences and count on you to share them.

Maybe one of your children loves VBS and would like to help by hosting a lemonade stand or bake sale?

There are only 2 days left* to double the impact of your gift to our campaign so, please consider giving a gift that will impact the lives of the children in Bukavu.
*Our anonymous donor will match your gift dollar-for-dollar until Wednesday 7/20/16.

Click here to visit our Razoo Campaign page.

Many thanks to each of you who have already shared, given and are praying for our children and workers. I wish you could see the glow on their faces when they realize people far and wide are thinking of them.

Kristin

Next Up — Why do we have a Two Week VBS in Congo?

Previous posts:

How Your VBS Differs from Congo VBS – Part 1: Theme

How Your VBS Differs from Congo VBS – Part 2: Facilities

 

How Your VBS Differs from Congo VBS – Part 2: Facilities

Your Vacation Bible School:

– is probably run by your church or chapel and held at those facilities.

– the classrooms used are the same ones used for Sunday School and Life Groups.

– the tables & chairs are rearranged and everything decorated.

– the church kitchen is snack central.

– the sanctuary is the site for opening and closing ceremonies using the sound system.

– you pray for good weather so game time can be held outside in the grassy areas around your building.

This is how I remember VBS in the US, but it’s not like that in the Congo.

Vacation Bible School is actually a bit of a foreign concept in many parts of the world including east DR Congo. The churches do not put VBS together.

Bintu, our Operations Director, volunteered and worked many Vacation Bible Schools while attending international churches in Europe. She saw what a fantastic program this is for children, and returned to Congo determined to provide children there with this special summer time learning about God.

So it is not a church that does VBS, it is our very own Future Hope Africa folks who put this all together. Although we rent a small building from the church next door to use for our Tutoring Center, we do not have access to numerous classrooms. Our facility has only one room which can only be divided into two sections.

Facilities we often take for granted in the US and joyfully fill to capacity each summer aren’t available in Congo without going out into the community to find, negotiate the use of, and rent a place.

Previously we had to turn children away from VBS, because we just could not fit anymore in our building. This year our FHA team found a school willing to rent to us for a very small feel, because they’re willing to help support our summer program.

There are so few productive activities for the children of Congo when school is not in session. During my visit I saw no parks, no YMCA or recreation areas. In fact, the church and school next door to our Tutoring Center had no grass. Classrooms opened on barren ground and some of them had no doors. The long row benches could not easily be rearranged.

Was there a kitchen? Not at our building. Only one lone sink in the single restroom for almost 60 children.

Our team has organized this summer’s VBS to take place at the local school, rotating through classrooms and operating a little more like you and I see in our communities. It is a fabulous blessing! This blessing of space so that we can have three times as many children this year. With helpers and children, we are touching 200 lives. Your prayers and gifts make this expansion possible.

We only have 7 days left for our crowdfunding campaign and every gift is currently being matched.

Click here and check out our crowdfunding page:
https://razoo.com/us/story/Congo-Vbs-2016

Please think of us as you reflect on your VBS this summer and please share about Congo VBS with your church family and friends on Facebook, in email and other social media.

Thank you so very much for your support.

Kristin

How your VBS differs from Congo VBS – Part 1: Theme

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If you’re familiar with Vacation Bible School in the U.S., you know that there are lots of curriculums to choose from each year where the theme, Bible verses, songs, crafts, mission videos, etc. have all been pre-printed with lots of visuals and extras for the teachers and students including decorations for the church. The image above shows eight of sixteen options for sale on Concordia Supply.
Isn’t it particularly savvy that a couple of the themes are deep water oriented in a summer where “Finding Dory” is being released? The creators are drawing interest based on popular culture, and hopefully that will draw the children to God’s words for them.
If you do a quick search for VBS curriculums in French, you’ll find they are almost non-existent. In fact, I found one forum trying to figure out what the French equivalent would even be named. “Bible Camp” was the closest translation. If the curriculum exists, shipping it to the Congo (DRC) is expensive and very problematic as would having the office supplies to print, cut, glue, tape, staple, hang, display, all those typical VBS supplies. What great blessings we take for granted every day! Thank you, Lord for each staple, roll of tape, ream of paper, and the hands that use them.
What do we do in the Congo for Vacation Bible School? We still have the hands, those workers willing to serve. My soul-sister and FHA’s Operations Director, Bintu Mujambere, is not one to let “doesn’t exist” get in the way of serving the children and families in the community around our project.
What do we do?
Our Future Hope Africa staff and volunteers write our curriculum each year. Yikes! Sounds daunting doesn’t it? I am so proud of them. They don’t look to pop culture or what others are doing. Every year they prayerfully consider What does our community need to understand from the Bible? When I say FHA is grassroots, this is what I mean. Our local leaders and staff seek local needs and how we can answer them together. With us, you are going straight to children and families that we know by name. You support a project driven by godly men and women who live, work, raise families along side those you are helping. Thank you so much. I am so grateful for your every prayer, thought, donation and telling others about this kingdom work you are involved in.
This year our team considered one of the greatest needs in DR Congo as well as across Africa. It is a global need, however, it is especially dire in the Congo where institutions from the government to the local are often rife with corruption. What is our theme? Leadership. In fact, Congo VBS 2016 is called the Young Leaders School.
What does the Bible say to us about leadership? Our central verse says a lot:

The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)

Are you saying to yourself This is terrific. This is the kind of thing I want to help with. Then please donate to our crowdfund, share this post, and pray for the project and each person involved. Visit https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Congo-Vbs-2016 where every gift is being matched.

Kristin