Missions, Missions, Missions
So that became our children's outreach to replace VBS, and of course, since I was supposed to be in charge of the outreach event, I was put in charge. I was a little ticked off. It was not what I had envisioned, and it certainly was not what I had agreed to do. Ever felt that way? It seems to happen to me a lot. But in hindsight, it was God's plan. So I encourage you to be sensitive to God when plans don't go as you had planned. What follows is the inter-generational event we came up with before we had ever even heard of the word inter-generational.
I always work with a planning committee for events. Some people hate committees, but I love them because you get so many good ideas and you develop things together. That is what the church (body) is all about, working together to do more than we can do alone. I try to look for a lot of ideas and bring them to the meeting and then let the team go crazy. Usually that means they tell me to keep my feet on the ground. But I love the process of working through plans with other and seeing our dreams come to life together.
Since I am writing this during the pandemic of 2020, most of this event could not be done as we did it. However, I encourage you to be creative and figure out ways to adapt some of it. Check out the adaptation article I wrote for lots of ideas as to how to make this festival "pandemic friendly."
PASSPORTS: We created "passports" for the children. They were required to visit each booth once before they went back to a booth a second time. They got little international stickers at each site. Here is the PDF we used. We ran the covers off on card stock.
TAKE HOME BAGS: We purchased balloons that looked like a globe (earth day balloons) and ordered a helium tank from a local welding supply company. The plan was to bag up leftover odds and ends from previous carnivals and attach them to the inflated balloons as an anchor. The balloons were displayed in the sanctuary on both sides of the platform. This was for a photo opp of the whole group at the end of the event which we submitted to the local paper.
DOOR PRIZES: We had some large items donated, so we decided to offer some door prizes. You got tickets for registering at the front door and kids could put them in the prize bucket of their choice. We awarded the prizes in the closing assembly, which encouraged people to stay. You had to be present to win.
FOOD: We wrote to the missionary that would be coming and asked for some recipes. We chose empanadas for Argentina, and then added a few other countries with recipes we already had. The internet is a great source, as is your local library.
Here are the categories of what we planned:
- Food - we had empanadas (Argentine style), Brigadeiros (a Brazilian sweet), alfajores (a Peruvian cookie) and pizza.
- Argentinian Experience - this one wasn't listed in their passport, but our missionary brought items from Argentina and clothing. He explained the different items to children and let them try on the clothing. It was a big hit.
- Service Activities - since this festival was missions themed, we included some activities that taught the children to give to others.
- Card Making - we made cards for a local nursing home. We got a list that had the name of every resident on it, and made sure that cards were made for every single one. Even our adult helpers made cards when they had a chance. The residents loved getting them. Children not only made the card, but many wrote a little note in their card.
- Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes - we had a whole room set up with items they could fill boxes with. This project took a lot of preparation. Our youth group had a bottle drive to raise money for it. Then the youth went shopping on a Saturday morning at the Dollar Tree and each one was given about $25 and some guidelines for what to buy. We also used some of the money they raised for postage to help mail the boxes. The congregation brought in items as well and also plastic shoe boxes for the event. As children filled a shoe box, they brought it into the sanctuary where we made a big pyramid of them for a photo op at the end of the event.
- Craft - I found a book at the public library (every frugal children's workers favorite place) called Around the World Art & Activities: Visiting the 7 Continents Through Craft Fun. Children made a Gaucho Belt. The kids loved these. It took a lot of prep work, but we had youth help one night, and we also sent some home with our older women who liked to cut things for us. I will give a separate post as to how to make them. This book is out of print now, and very expensive to buy used. I suggest the library. Most libraries can borrow it from another library if they don't have it in their collection. I have included detailed instructions in the Gaucho Belt post. (coming soon)
- Games - we used two games from South America and then included some regular carnival games.
- Brazil - Hit the Coin. You had a dowel with a coin on top of it and children threw a small rock to try and hit the dowel and knock the coin off. We have flag stands for small flags, so we stuck a dowel in this to make it stand upright. You could also use a bucket of sand.
- Brazil - Peteca. This used a Brazillian shuttlecock we purchased online. You just had to toss it into a basket, but it was a piece of equipment the kids had never seen or handled.
- Duck Races - this was a fun one. We had a kiddie pool full of water and ducks floating in it. Each child got a water pistol and had to squirt their duck across the pool against other ducks.
- Face Painting
- Bean Bag Toss
- Open Doors - This is another fun one. Someone made a little cabinet with a door on it that had a real doorknob on it. Kids were given a ring of keys and two or three chances to try and find the right key to open the door. If they got it open, they got a small prize that was inside. Otherwise they got a consolation prize.
Children visited the booths for 90 minutes (this was actually longer than necessary). Then everyone gathered in our sanctuary and the missionary dressed a few children up and then spoke to the group about Jesus.
After our missionary shared with the group we had a couple of drawings (this encouraged people to stay for the whole event), we took a picture of the children with the OCC boxes and then all of the children took home a helium filled balloon with a bag of goodies attached to the ribbon, acting as a weight.
I had a lot more pictures from the event, so I made the video below to give you an idea of how it went.