MARINE CORPS BASE TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- In an effort to remind children of the lessons and enrichments of religion, the base Catholic and Protestant chapels teamed-up for the Combat Center's 14th Annual Vacation Bible School here last week.
The weeklong bible school dubbed "Jerusalem Marketplace" shows children the many sacrifices Jesus made for all people and how he and fellow Jerusalem citizens may have lived during that era.
The VBS was held daily June 13 to 17 from 9 a.m. to noon.
"The purpose of Vacation Bible School is to share stories from the Holy Bible," said Navy Lt. Catherine V. Pace, the base chaplain for the Protestant Chapel. "Each year we try to remind our children, volunteers, Sailors and Marines that regardless of our weather, Jesus is always with us ... his love and sacrifice remain with us forever."
With a combined effort from the Catholic and Protestant Chapel communities, parents, retirees, Marines and Sailors, the Protestant Chapel and a portion of the Village Center were transformed and decorated to reflect the Hebrew likeness of the times.
"It's really good that kids are able to experience this and learn about Jesus through games ... it's just incredible," said Pvt. Robert S. Sumner, a Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School student with Alpha Company and a VBS volunteer.
Groups of children were designated into small "Tribes of Israel" that rotated from one event to another to explore biblical times like Jerusalem gatherings, a village playground, a bakery, where volunteers and children sampled Middle Eastern snacks, singing and exploring traditional family life and much more.
"I think that the Vacation Bible School is fun because it helps us learn more about God and Jesus," said Adrianna Seals, 11, daughter of Staff Sgt. Robert C. Seals with Headquarters Company, MCCES. "We're able to go back to Jesus' time and learned how he lived and games he might've played."
At the Jerusalem Marketplace, children could become apprentices in the Carpentry Shop, witness real-life dramas in downtown Jerusalem and chat with shopkeepers about Jesus the Prophet, according to a flyer released by the Protestant Chapel.
"[Both chapels] agreed the key is the fact that we succeeded in placing the participants in the time of Jesus," said Pace. "Learning and playing the roles as well as watching His disciples in the community in which Jesus lived each day were invaluable."
Not only did Marines and Sailors dress in tunics, but participating children also picked out their cloaks of the day from the costume room.
While Pace and her volunteers successfully flashed-back into time providing a hands-on education on the ancient Jerusalem Marketplace, base residents can expect next year's VBS will be better with a much larger turnout of participants.
"It was great to see all the children, teachers and volunteers soak up the Hebrew alphabet and traditions that Jesus would have studied," said Pace. "We will keep the VBS going as long as the communities continue to support us the way they did each year. We would enjoy having key people chair the VBS next year."