Written by Andi Gorton,

This year’s VBS theme, “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth” (the Fifth Mark of Mission), is a powerful message to bring to the children in the Dominican Republic. Why? These children mimic what they see, so casually dropping trash instead of using a trashcan is the norm. Last year, the country started a clean streets campaign that made a visible difference. The streets and sidewalks of Santo Domingo, the capital, have traditionally been full of trash, litter, and garbage to a degree that we, as Americans, would find surprising. But it takes a while to help children understand the importance of caring for creation. We are hoping this may be a pivotal year for the children who will attend VBS.

To help with this, Anita Lantigua, a young Dominican, was asked to write stories that explained responsibility. The following, translated into English, is Anita’s story for Day 4: Water is a precious gift from God; we have a responsibility to use it wisely: “Did you turn off the tap after brushing your teeth?” was the question that Mark heard every time he came out of the bathroom. He always forgot to turn it off. And not only in the bathroom, but he used to waste much water every day. Mark arrived home from school and took a long bath. Then, leaving both the sink and bathtub taps running, he went to bed. The next morning was Saturday. Mark did not have school and could sleep longer, but it was so hot that he had to get out of bed quickly and take a bath. Then he realized there was no water. He went to the kitchen to take some from the refrigerator but there was none there either. Mark began to worry and ran to his neighbors to see if the same thing was happening to them. It seemed that not only were the neighbors without water, but everyone! In the news the alarm went out that the world had been left without water. It seemed that people were not aware of the value of water and were wasting it uncontrollably. Mark could not believe what was happening. A WORLD WITHOUT WATER. This idea kept turning in his head. The heat was unbearable, and people went without bathing; plants began to dry up; rivers and lakes were empty, it was chaos! Mark was so surprised, so hot and thirsty, had not taken his bath, was sad for the dry plants and the animals who had no water. He closed his eyes and cried out to the heavens, “I will never leave the tap open again, or waste even a drop of water!” When Mark opened his eyes he was in his bed. It seemed that it had all been a dream.

Our 19th VBS Trip to the DR
What: For the 19th year, a team from St. Peter's will travel to the Dominican Republic to teach Vacation Bible School.

When: July 14 through 21

What else: The St. Peter's team is creating the story booklet that all U.S. mission teams will use this summer in VBS in the DR. This year's theme is "To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth." That's one of the Five Marks of Mission, the priorities widely used around the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.

Learn more here. Thank you: To everyone who brought in crayons, pencils, glue sticks — all the things we need for a successful VBS. In some of the churches where we offer VBS, the children are accustomed to sharing a crayon — yes, a single crayon, not a box of crayons. Your generosity makes a big difference.


We’re Off to the DR for the 19th Year of Vacation Bible School

Our annual VBS mission team will again be at the churches of St. Luke (San Lucas) and The Annunciation (La Anunciación) in Santiago, the Dominican Republic, from July 14 through 21. This will be our 19th year in the DR, our 14th year in Santiago, and our third year of being tasked with creating the booklet that will be used by all of the U.S. mission teams that offer Vacation Bible School in the DR.

The stories were created by our Dominican colleagues based on the Fifth Mark of Mission: “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Over the last five years, the concept was to cover each of the Five Marks of Mission, the mission priorities used widely around the Anglican Communion. This final one, the fifth mark, is very relevant in today’s world as we determine how each of us can make a difference.

To help the next generation understand the importance of what God has created and has given to them to care for, the lessons include: God’s Creation — It is very good; Humankind was given dominion over creation — This also gives us a responsibility to care for and protect everything; Before the great flood God instructed Noah to gather two of every living creature – We have a responsibility to protect all living creatures especially those that are endangered; Water is a precious gift from God – we have a responsibility to use it wisely; and, People are part of God’s creation – we have a responsibility to care for those least able to care for themselves – the widows and orphans.

Two of the stories we will use are the Bible stories — of Creation and of Noah. The other three stories were written to illustrate the meaning of our responsibility to care for and protect creation, to use God’s resources wisely, and to care for those who cannot care for themselves. To reinforce the lesson, the children will answer follow-up questions; and work an activity, such as a word search, crossword puzzle, or word scramble. They will also have pictures to color and they’ll assemble a craft that corresponds to the daily story.

Our Outreach Opportunity for May invites you to donate school supplies: Crayola-brand crayons (please, Crayola only; other brands melt in the heat), colored pencils, #2 pencils (sharpened), children’s scissors, mini-staplers, pencil sharpeners and glue sticks. We gratefully accept cash donations to buy supplies in the DR, since there is a weight restriction on airline baggage.

We will hold our annual “Craft Night” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 26, but come when you can that evening. We will provide food and beverage. We will prepare the craft supplies, which involves cutting yarn, punching holes, gathering pieces, counting, and bagging enough for 240 children. That way each day’s materials are ready to go. It is not hard; it IS a lot of fun and a great time of socializing with others. You can do this! Please plan to join us.

VBS in the Dominican Republic (Outreach ministry)

In support of our companion diocese in the Dominican Republic, we send a short-term mission team to assist with vacation bible school (and sometimes tackle work projects such as painting and cleaning) in the summer.  The team works in conjunction with their church parishioners (most of them teach in the church or public schools) to offer a week-long program to over 200 children ranging in age from 5 to 17.  There are daily bible stories with coordinated activities including memory verse, games, puzzles, coloring pictures and crafts.   Come share an amazing experience in the love of Christ with other Episcopalians in another country.  The short-term mission team takes VBS for a week in July.

Contact Andi Gorton     agorton@spcathedral.com