Two Hesston roommates hit “The Road” to serve churches with children

By Risa Fukaya – Horizon News & Feature Editor

What do you want to try during your vacation? Hesston College sophomore Jenna Ratzlaff and her roommate freshman Louisa Angeline joined “Vacation Bible School on The Road 2017,” serving  Hispanic churches last summer for eight weeks. The two traveled throughout Kansas City, Kansas and Corpus Christi, Brownsville and San Juan, Texas.

Ratzlaff and Angeline with children in VBS. Photo courtesy of Jenna Ratzlaff.

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is an organization that creates experiences with one goal in mind: to help people develop relationship each other.  They cooperate with churches and provide children with educational programs. Ratzlaff and Angeline planned and taught classes and spent much of their time with children. They ate, played, talked and learned together.

Ratzlaff and Angeline decided to serve when they got an email from a VBS director at Hesston College. The message was clear:

“We need more help.”

They decided to join the program immediately.

“It was not so hard to decide to join it because I really like kids,” Ratzlaff said.

As a social work major Ratzlaff says she is interested in a job that allows her to interact with children. She also works as a volunteer with Big Sisters and  Big Brothers of Harvey County.

Children watching a movie with Ratzlaff. Photo courtesy of Jenna Ratzlaff.

Ratzlaff and Angeline built strong relationships with children during the program. The children were curious, and asked them many questions.

This was just fine with Angeline, whose first language is Indonesian.

“It helped me to develop my English skills,” she said.

She also said she had never met kids from so many different backgrounds. She tried to understand and reach them even though there were difficulties with language.

Angeline was in charge of crafts. It was great experience for her as a graphic design major, but it took some trial and error and a lot of questions: How could they craft something educational? How could she teach drawing to children? Ratzlaff  also led a video-watching program called KidVid. Children watched a movie with her, and discussed it afterwards.

Angeline helping children to craft. Photo courtesy of Louisa Angeline.

Angeliine said she experienced a lot of growth through the program.

“My parents are proud of me,” she said. “I had never been to anywhere when I was in Indonesia. Just going to school and going back to home almost every day. My parents seemed happy to know that I decided to try new things.”

Ratzlaff agreed. “My parents know that I’m someone who doesn’t like to stay at only one spot. I like to go and experience new things, places, and people.”

Another high point: Experiencing the generosity of their host families, who the two stayed with the entire summer. “Our host families didn’t know us but still welcomed us, spoiled us, and showed us love.” Ratzlaff said. “I hope that I will be able to welcome someone to my house in my future.”

Although the experience in VBS was totally new and challenging for them, the two roommates supported each other and completed the eight-week program. For Angeline, the biggest challenge was getting out of her comfort zone.

“She is shy,” Ratzlaff said.

Angeline smiled. She told me that the summer vacation is special memory for her because she worked together with her best friend, Jenna.

“Jenna always pushed me to talk to others.”

Ratzlaff and Angeline have  some advice on how students should use time during vacation.

“Find something that will fulfill not only your heart, but the heart of others,” Ratzlaff  said. “It doesn’t have to be anything big. By doing that, it impacts not only you, but the other persons you are helping.”

The options are endless.

“We never know what we can find,” Angeline said. “We are young persons with so much energy. We should use time wisely and keep looking for new experiences.”

 

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