Kids at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church took a trip to the arid desert of Israel this past week, with the help of a few sheets of Styrofoam and some wadded up paper bags.
Volunteers for the church's vacation Bible school spent hours readying the scene of a re-enacted Jerusalem marketplace. In it, children encountered a burlap-covered tent and walked past flapping palm trees and sand-colored "stones" on their way to experience food and crafts dating back to biblical times. The theme is "Holy Land Adventure: Jerusalem Marketplace."
"It's all foam - Styrofoam," said Denise Zirbel, a Good Shepherd member who lead the charge in decorating for this year's VBS. "We had a video, and we just kind of followed the video a little bit and changed it to fit our needs."
The Styrofoam stones, which cover one wall of the fellowship hall and decorated a mock well in the middle of the room, have been molded into flat rock shapes and painted. Zirbel added that the palm trees were constructed out of carpet tubes and scrunched up paper bags.
In the end, the decorating effort took 15 people; there were more than 30 volunteers for the week of VBS.
"We cannot do it without the volunteers," she said.
Children moved from area to area, one day learning about carpentry and making a dreidel, another day making pottery in the "pottery shop" and sampling food similar to what was served in biblical times. They had necklaces, cloth amulets of herbs and even traditional costumes to transport them back in time. The opening and closing of each day's school is marked by blowing a shofar - traditionally a ram's horn but organizer Pam Jovaag has appropriated a conch shell for the job.
"I made a necklace and a bracelet," said Bree Schlabra, 9. Although she added that she wasn't too impressed by the food of the time.
"The bread's good," countered Karey Davenport, 8.