Three Oranges Save $100 for VBS

April 24, 2019 | Youth | Jim John

As the camp meeting team loaded eight totes of Vacation Bible School (VBS) crafts, fresh fruit and warm clothes onto the baggage scales at the Anchorage International Airport, one of the totes was 3 pounds over the 50-pound limit. “You’ll need to pay $100 for that tote,” exclaimed the attendant. After quickly opening the tote and transferring three oranges to their carry-on bags, the relieved team avoided paying the $100 and boarded the plane for Bethel, Alaska. 

The community of Bethel is located in southwestern Alaska and has been the traditional place of Yup'ik people and their ancestors for thousands of years. Today Bethel is the largest community (population 6,080) in western Alaska and is located approximately 50 miles inland on the Kuskokwim River and only accessible by plane. The March 22–24, 2019, camp meeting revealed the depth of the work being done in Bethel as the small church was packed into the foyer and kitchen with sincere and joyful worshippers of all ages.

The camp meeting team included a rich and vibrant VBS program for the many smiling children of this close-knit community. The word quickly spread as more and more children, and their parents, came to hear about God’s love and share in the deliciously prepared dishes garnished with fresh fruit — a rare and expensive treat that caused one young girl to joyously exclaim, “Look at the fruit!” 

The work in Bethel is led by Arctic Mission Adventure volunteers Vecous and Loretta Waite, who are daily demonstrating the love of God through their hands-on, selfless, efficient outreach to precious souls who live in difficult circumstances. The results of caring for the physical and spiritual needs of remote communities like Bethel was not only apparent in the large attendance at this brief camp meeting but also in the celebration of six baptisms on Sabbath morning.