Rome was built in a day during vacation Bible school

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Who said Rome wasn't built in a day? It wasn't the children who, in August, gathered at the Spangdahlem Chapel for Vacation Bible School, themed "Rome, Paul and the Underground Church."

Rome was built in a day, at least a depiction of it as the chapel was transformed into different Roman scenes including Paul's' underground church, a Roman prison, and a marketplace.

Paul is an Apostle in the New Testament of the Bible whose life was transformed by God.

Schawann McGee, VBS director, said she wanted to bring the children from the Spangdahlem and Bitburg community together through this experience. The VBS was open to all Saber children and saw an average of 145 children a night.

Spangdahlem has held VBS annually for more than 10 years. There were 10 family group leaders escorting children through the various stages of the event this year teaching children lessons from the Bible.

Each family was distinguished by their Roman name and the color sashes they wore, and there were 10 Roman families. During the course of events, families went to the "marketplace" where the children purchased crafts with gold coins and put them together with their Roman family. Every night there was a new lesson and events to include apprenticeship games, watching dramatized skits, visiting Paul in prison and going to Paul's underground church.

"One lesson that I wanted the children to learn was that giving is a life-long lesson," said Mrs. Mc Gee said.

Heidi Downer the Protestant parish coordinator performed a puppet show to motivate the children to help raise 1,000 food items for the Bitburg Tafel, a local food bank, and every night, children from every Roman family brought in food items. The children ended up brining in 1,052 total food items.

The groups were split up, with 14 to 16 people per family including a family helper. There were two different sessions for family time where the children and family group leaders bonded by learning God's word, helping each other, listening to one another, responding to one another and sharing personal testimonies. The children had a different Bible point every day. They reviewed the lesson from the day before at the beginning of each class and were given a Bible verse and a Roman postcard giving them a daily challenge they took home.

Also in the marketplace were daily dramas performed by teenagers. One drama involved a man getting caught stealing bread from a woman, but instead of getting arrested, the man was forgiven, his debt was paid, and he was free to go. In this drama, the prison guard tried to apprehend the man, and the woman was trying to stop the guard. The children also were shouting to the guard to let the man go. Later, during family time, family group leaders explained to the children it wasn't OK to steal, and how important it is to show mercy to others when you are wronged.

"I enjoyed the Roman crafts, the daily dramas in the marketplace, the songs and the apprenticeship games," said Elizabeth Wong, an 11 year old who attended VBS, had only been here for a little more than a month.

Tech. Sgt. Monique Duboise, whose 4-year-old daughter loved the songs so much she wanted a personal copy of the music, said, "It was huge to see the volunteers dedicate their time to our children."

Parents, children and volunteers can take part in next year's VBS, scheduled for the summer of 2010.

"I'm completely satisfied and consider Spangdahlem's 2009 VBS to be a very big success," Mrs. McGee said.