Thanks to Ilona Rasa-Trupa, the children and youth programme which The Salvation Army runs in Latvia is, in my humble opinion, absolutely superb. It seems that no sooner has one activity finished than Ilona has planned the next one. She could have been forgiven for taking a relaxing pause at the end of a busy summer programme when she had run camps, bike rides, supported corps and centres with their children’s holiday clubs, and supported the Musical which I’ve recently written about. Instead, this autumn saw her organising a Bible Day for children which was held at Skangaļi, a Salvation Army centre in the east of Latvia.
Some time before the event the Bible subjects to be studied were sent out for the children to get prepared. This year the theme was about animals in the Bible, and amongst the animals featured were a donkey – Balaam’s ass, and a lion – Daniel in the lions’ den. I’m pretty ignorant about what and how they studied their Bible animals, but I do know that on a couple of occasions recently I have been to corps and centres where they have said that the children were busy preparing for the competition.
I arrived in time for lunch on the day of the competition, and the dining room was full of children and their ‘skolotāji'(teachers) who had taught them and were supporting them. Part of the competition had already taken place, but after lunch we reconvened, and in imaginative and creative ways the children were quizzed on the Bible subjects they had been set. Around the walls of the gymnasium where we were meeting were pictures drawn by the various teams, projects that they were required to complete in readiness for the day. It seemed that generous amounts of sweets were being given out as rewards for correct answers, but these were saved up and counted at the end, presumably to see which team had got the most! I was amused at the end of the contest to see one girl sitting meticulously dividing her team’s haul of sweets between each of the team’s members!
In the end, everyone was a winner, and each participant was presented with a Diploma and a book about animals. The teachers were each presented with a prize, photos were taken, and a great time was had by all. The Bible Day is over for another year.
So what’s next? I was in Ilona’s office today and remarked on the Latvian translation of Max Lucado’s beautiful book for children ‘You are Mine’ open on her desk. ‘I’m thinking of using this as the theme of the Christmas programme for the children’, she said