the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Tag: kids

Vacation Bible School 2009

April is summer break here in Thailand, so this year Paul and I decided to do Vacation Bible School Camps for couple of the Akha villages in our area. While we played games, sang silly songs, ate snacks & did crafts, the highlight, for me, were the teaching times. The challenge of, as our old pastor used to say, "taking the cookies off the top shelf," or simplifying a Biblical Truth so that everyone (kids included) can understand it, was exhilarating. And, of course, doing it all in the Akha language made it even more exciting when I looked out and saw a glimmer of understanding dawn on those little faces. However, I think one of the best stories came from a moment when the kids where having a hard time understanding...

One of the teachings we did was based on the story of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18. We talked about how important each person is to God and that God loves everyone and seeks a relationship with everyone! After the teaching, we split the kids up by age groups to do the craft and work on the memory verse for the day. I was working with the older kids (age 9-13) and we were learning a separate but related sheep verse, John 10:27, 28. After repeating the verse several times, I asked the kids if they understood what it meant. They all stared back at me blankly (not even a glimmer of understanding!)

As I struggled to find the right words to explain this metaphor to kids who had never seen sheep, one of the kids piped up and asked a village grandpa (who was there repairing our roof from the storm the previous night and seemed to be enjoying eavesdropping on our little lesson) if he could explain the verse. Sure enough, he had the perfect illustration! He explained, "You know that if a chicken wanders off, and it's owner goes looking for it, the owner doesn't only look with her eyes, but she calls 'Ku Ku Ku'. And the chicken knows the sound of its owners voice and will come running when it hears its owner calling. We can know God's voice just like that chicken!" Simultaneously, the kids all had an "Ah-Ha" moment! Three cheers for Grandpa! This is what I love about living in a village; nearly everything is done with a little help from our friends!

In the end, we did a VBS in three different villages and ministered to about 90 kids (not to mention many parents and grandparents who hung around to enjoy the fun!) This was the first year we have done this and we were really pleased with it's success; I'm sure it will become a yearly tradition!

Red light, Green light.Rice sack races!Duck, Duck, Goose!Lining up for Snack Time!Silly Songs!Lori Teaching the Wordless Book LessonAkah coloring sheets!Craft time: Cotton ball sheep!Everyone gathered under the village hut to hear the lesson.

Best Buds

Oh, how I wish this picture wasn't so blurry! But it is so cute, I'm posting it anyway! This is Abi and her best friend Mary (or Ma-li in Akha) who is 3 years old. Ma-li lives across the road from us in the village. Her and Abi have become great friends in the past few months since Abi has started walking. If Abi is ever out playing in the village common area, she will always head strait to Ma-li's house to look for her! We're thrilled with this friendship; Ma-li is an absolute sweetheart and loves Abi like a sister! Also, she holds a special place in our hearts because she was the first baby born in the villageafter we arrived.

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Signing Time!


This is A-Paw. She is hearing impaired. When we first arrived in the village three years ago, she was an outgoing, playful little four year old who had no idea that there was any difference between her and her friends. Unfortunately, without any exposure to sign language, in the past three years we've seen her eyes glaze over and her temper flare more and more often as she realizes that she doesn't really understand what's going on around her and that she can't adequately communicate her own wants and needs.

Kids watching Signing Time!

After visiting us last fall, our good friend John really wanted to help A-paw and her family, so he donated the first six DVDs in the Signing Time Series. Now that we have our new house built, we've brought up an old TV and started showing the series once a week to anyone that wants to come! A-Paw is a brilliant little girl and, after only a few lessons, has most of the words memorized. We're hoping that this, admittedly limited, exposure to ASL (although slightly different from Thai Sign Language) will give her a bit of an advantage should she ever end up at a school for the hearing impaired. If nothing else, we hope that she can have a few more words with which to communicate with her family and friends.

Signing Time notes

The added benefit of the Signing Time series is that it's a great way for the hearing kids to learn a bit of English. Our village has been nagging us to teach English ever since we've arrived, but we've been reticent to start official lessons, knowing that most of the kids in our village go to Thai school all day, and then head off to Chinese language school for three hours every evening. We just couldn't imagine that they would have any time or brain power left to sit through another lesson! Luckily, Signing Time seems to be a great solution because it makes learning fun! It uses songs and great visual footage to help the kids remember each new word, not to mention the, signs themselves, which are so intuitive and help the memory as well!

A Good Hair Day

This last month has been school break for many of the schools in Thailand. It's always fun for us to have all the kids around. During this break all the teenagers went to a camp run by Akha Christian Youth (ACY). When most of the adults had left for the fields we found ourselves with a large group of 8-12 year old kids. So all day long, while Paul played various games (mostly soccer and football) Lori took on the incredible effort of "doing hair" for all of the girls in our village. Akha women are amazing, they are incredibly strong and their daughters learn quickly how to work hard. But on this one occasion we were able to give them a chance to feel beautiful. Half way through all the hair-dos one little girl came up to the group. She is a particularly tough case, and lives in a difficult home in our village. We never see her smile and although she is intrigued by us "pa la" she usually observes us from a distance. Like many children in Akha villages she has very short hair (lice & scabies). She was watching all the girls and their fancy hair braids and was just stoic in her observations. Our hearts were broken and we knew we had to do something for her. Lori remembered she had a handkerchief in our house that she might be able to use. We pulled her aside and made a big deal out of her new "hair". Once it sunk in that we really thought she was a beautiful little girl, she ran off. When she came back she had cleaned herself all up and had put on a dress! This little girl who never smiled was grinning from ear to ear for days - knowing that she truly is lovely.

In the end, all the girls took their new hair-dos and made them Akha. Picking flowers from all around our village they made themselves laurels and - of course - wanted their pictures taken.

Akha Girl with FlowersAkha Picture of Good Hair DayAkha Village Girl PictureAkha Girl in Doi Mae SalongAkha Village girl, Flowers in HairAkha Girls smiling with Lori in our Village

A Little of What We See

We wish you all could be here to see the faces and lives that have been blessed by your support and encouragement. We took a day recently and set out to capture some of the sights we see.

Since our language is basically the equivalent to that of a three-year old (only we don't pronounce things as well as a three-year old) most of our friends are kids... so here are some pictures of our beautiful friends...

Akha Girls with Lori VernonAkha GirlAkha HeaddressAkha BoyAkha GirlAkha BoyAkha BoyAkha GirlsAkha Deaf Boy AWa with Paul Vernon

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