Today was my last day of Vacation Bible School. The official last day is tomorrow, but as I will be attending Synod Assembly and all the meetings and discussions and whatnot that accompany one of those, I will not get the chance to see the wonderful children one last time.
Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy Synod Assemblies. The large worship services, the networking and schmoozing, the booths and tables advertising different religious organizations. It has the potential to be a lot of fun. And, as the subtitle of my blog states, I am a church nerd. So why wouldn't I love the Synod Assembly?
But, I enjoy (even more) Vacation Bible School. I was talking to some of the youth who have volunteered this week and I said that I wish VBS ran all summer (granted I did not have a hand in the organization and running of VBS, but I did have to put on clown makeup everyday and endure the onslaught of pokes and pulls and grabs). I just enjoy being in that sort of atmosphere with youth who are excited to be there, and VBS always seems to pull in quite a few youth who aren't regular attenders. But it goes beyond that. VBS has always been a good thing for me. I remember, in days of yore, going to church with my sack lunch and learning and playing and then eating my lunch outside on the church lawn. I remember, in high school, being in charge of recreation and taking the kids outside to play and running amok in the field and the park with them. I remember leading arts and crafts one summer and helping the kids make eyes of God with yarn and tongue depressors, or plaster of paris hand prints, or any number of really neat activities that seemed to only come around during that one week of summer. I admit I LOVE Vacation Bible School.
And granted I have had to put on clown makeup everyday, which in itself is not so bad. But getting thos triangles above and below your eyes just right with a stick of makeup the size of a large crayon is no easy chore. And then comes the running around on a warm summer day in a wig, and thick cakey makeup and really hot socks that come up to above your knee. Then there are the children who want to unhook your suspenders, or snap your suspenders, or take off your wig, or think you should make them ANOTHER balloon animal because their's popped when they were using it as a weapon against another child, or who won't listen to a word you say (because you're a clown, and thus not an affective authority figure), or the endless scrubbing scrubbing scrubbing to get the makeup off of your face so you can continue your day and make your hospital visits without scaring people to death.
But then there are those moments that make it all worthwhile. When a small child shares an animal cracker with you. When you walk into a room and it is filled with excited shouts like, "There's the clown!" or "Clown Mark!" (I was unimaginative with a clown name, plus most of the kids already knew me so I figured just go with the name ya got). There are the times when you hear through the grapevine about how people are so appreciative of the clowns, and that word has gotten to parents and grandparents about the fun clowns at VBS. Or when the church secretary comes into your office and says that she has been hearing all about how you are so good in interacting with the kids. Or when a small child comes up and gives you a hug. Or when you hear the laughter of 75+ kids as you do a goofy little dance in the front of the sanctuary. Those are the times when the makeup and the scrubbing and the poking and the snapping and the sweating and the itching seem to fade away and you are just so thankful that you have been blessed with such an amazing opportunity.