Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree VBS 2018

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers for the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Vacation Bible School (VBS) that was held this summer the week of July 23-37, 2018. This “Scripture Engagement” event is the second in a series that got its start when the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team in Kingfisher Lake expressed their hearts desire for the children of their community, their next generation, to hear the message of the Gospel in their own language. This year, the Oji-Cree leaders met with us in March to confirm their desire to have us come and help them again this summer. The topic chosen for this summer’s VBS was the life and teachings of Jesus, with the two greatest commandments as their focus ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:28-34) and “Love One Another” as the theme for the week.

Travel to the North

Kingfisher Lake is an isolated First Nations community in northern Ontario, where the Oji-Cree language is spoken. On Friday morning, July 20th, the six travelers met with loved-ones and members of the Simcoe, Ontario Immanuel Church for prayers and farewells before we drove to the Toronto Pearson Airport for the first leg of the trip, a 2-hour flight to Thunder Bay.

Eric Stevenson, Amy Lewis, Bill & Norma Jean, Elizabeth Jancewicz, Jacco DeBruin

Immanuel church has been praying and fundraising so that they could send two of their youth, Amy Lewis, and Jacco DeBruin. Our daughter Elizabeth Jancewicz has been working for months helping with the plans and creating the culturally-appropriate visual images and crafts for the program. This year we were so happy that her husband Eric Stevenson could come to provide help with games and music. Norma Jean was the overall VBS coordinator and liaison with the Oji-Cree team.

Amy and Jacco wait for their first flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay

Because of flight connections to the northern communities, we spent the night in Thunder Bay at a hotel and got up bright and early to take the morning flight to Sioux Lookout on Wasaya Airlines, a First Nations-owned airline that services the northern communities in Ontario and Manitoba.

Elizabeth & Eric

Amy and Jacco

Due to weight limitations on the smaller plans to Kingfisher Lake, Jacco volunteered to surrender his bag as “low priority”, which meant that most of our priority VBS supplies could arrive on time. Jacco’s bag did arrive in Kingfisher lake two days later.

The weather was fine for all the flights from Toronto to Thunder Bay, to Sioux Lookout, to the little Oji-Cree communities of Summer Beaver and Wunnumin Lake, and finally to Kingfisher Lake by Saturday afternoon.

Bringing welcome treats to Kingfisher Lake

 

So, after three planes, six airports, 1100 miles, 14 hours, two time zones, and one sleep all in one and the same Canadian province, we made it to the Kingfisher Lake community in northern Ontario.

Vacation Bible School

We were met there at the airport by our good friends from the Oji-Cree community along with Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and their family, the Wycliffe team newly assigned to assist the Oji-Cree Bible translation project. They brought us to our rooms at Mission House, where we all began to sort and organize the VBS materials, and plan the week with the local translation team.

100 Hoodies!’

On Sunday, the team had an opportunity to do a “dry run” of the VBS program when the local church leaders invited Norma Jean and the team to teach Sunday School at the Mission House. We were able to meet some of the children who would be attending the VBS program during the week.

The team planned the VBS program for two different age groups each day: Kindergarten through grade 3 in the mornings, and grade 4 through grade 8 in the afternoon. Each group had an age-appropriate song time, Bible story, crafts time, snack time and game time during their session every day. Besides help from the Oji-Cree translators and the Windsor family, we also had assistance from ministry workers with Northern Youth Programs (Ann & Lynnette) as well, who were in the Kingfisher Lake community for several weeks of service.

Registration

Every day we met the children at the door, learned their names, and gave them name-tags in the shape of a heart.

back row: Eric, Norma Jean, Bill, Caitlin, Hazel, Ann
front row: Elizabeth, Amy, Jacco, Lynette

Song time

Eric led a fun singing time as the children gathered each day.

Bible story

Norma Jean told a Bible story while Elizabeth drew an extra-large “colouring poster” that illustrated the story. During crafts time, colouring the poster was one of the options.

Crafts time

There were different crafts prepared each day that the children could do that were related to the topic or the VBS theme.

One of the major crafts was for the children to screen-print their own “hoodie” sweatshirt, with help from Elizabeth and all of you who contributed to the hoodie fundraiser. These were appreciated by all the children and leaders.

Snack time

To keep everyone’s energy up for all these activities, snacks were prepared and served to the children each day. Everyone pitched in with the crafts and snacks.

Game time

Eric was a wonderful game leader and the children had a good time playing old games (musical chairs) and learning new ones (blob tag).

Story Review

After game time, everyone sat down to hear Norma Jean re-tell the story, asking for the children to fill in the details with the help of Mr. Beaver and Mr. Moose (Eric and Elizabeth).

Answered Prayers

All our travels went reasonably well. More children came every day, and really seemed to enjoy all the parts of the program. The VBS staff from outside worked together well with the local VBS staff, and along with the ministry workers from Northern Youth Programs as well, who were in the community for several weeks of service. It was wonderful serving along side Matthew & Caitlin Windsor and their family, now living at Kingfisher Lake and beginning their service there as Bible Translation facilitators.

When we met with the Oji-Cree translation team leaders, they said that they were pleased with the program and asked us to consider having another program like it in the summer of 2019.

Prayer Requests

Matthew & Caitlin are still looking for permanent lodgings in Kingfisher Lake. Please pray that God would meet this need soon.

The Oji-Cree translation team would like your prayers as they seek to grow their team in numbers and capacity.

Pray for us as we think about how God would have us meet the needs and requests of the Kingfisher Lake community in years to come, and as we begin to plan our next trip north, to the Naskapi community in Northern Quebec at the end of this month (stay tuned!)

Serving with you,

Bill & Norma Jean for the entire Kingfisher Lake VBS team

 

 

 

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