Singing Unites Whatcom Generations
Singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” with gusto and with rhythm instruments in hand, children of the Bellingham, Wash., area enter a local rehabilitation center. They gather into formation and then offer to share their instruments with the residents so they too can sing and play along.
“We encounter visually impaired also and assist them to feel their instrument for the first time,” explains Diane Vyskocil, Bellingham Church member and ministry coordinator. “To accommodate those hearing impaired, we sing 'Jesus Loves Me' twice, including sign language. I reference it as 'singing with our fingers.' They love it.”
“I felt really happy singing to the elderly people and loved to see them smile,” says 13-year-old Laura.
The Sabbath afternoon program, scheduled for every third Sabbath, usually includes acknowledgement of those who served in the military. At different adult care and rehabilitation centers in Whatcom County, the Bellingham children and youth will often find a World War II veteran and practice their salutes with respect. Then the choir, with much energy and accompanying motions, sings, “I’m in the Lord’s Army.”
“At first, I didn't want to go, but once I started singing I was glad I came,” says Sorrel, a junior high participant. “I think this was the best Sabbath afternoon I've had for a while.”
Emma, 8, adds, “I liked talking about Jesus to the people, and I wanted to help spread the joy of Jesus' life to them.”
Danny, 7, agrees. “I like singing with the other kids to the elderly," he says.
“We sing Bible-based songs, knowing that exposure to God’s Word positively affects the mind,” Vyskocil says. “We are very aware that the vibrant energy of youthful voices coupled with interaction time effectively lifts the spirits of these residents.”