Calvin Wyatt, pastor at First Baptist Church in Hotchkiss, said that the Bible School program presented during the week of June 16-20 had been in the planning stages for about a year.
As other Hotchkiss churches were not planning Bible schools this summer, a session at the Baptist Church was feasible. Aware that some children in the area were not regularly exposed to Bible teachings, the board decided to go ahead with the project.
Pastor Wyatt contacted his grandson Eli Wyatt, associate pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Farmington, N.M., to ask if his youth group could come to Hotchkiss to conduct the classes. Eli agreed, saying they would like to include an outreach project in the area while they were here. Members of the youth group in Farmington had trained and conducted vacation Bible schools at their church each year in the past. They had also traveled (for two summers) to help with cooking, serving, and cleaning in a soup kitchen and helped with yard clean up following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
The vacation Bible school theme for the week, “Custom Garage — Loving God, Serving Others” compared customizing a car to making changes in our own lives. Daily sessions led by trained enthusiastic young leaders conducted the sessions teaching principles of loving God, serving others, standing strong in your beliefs, wisdom for living from God’s word, and God’s love helping us to love our neighbors. Scriptures, stories of the day, crafts, games, activities, even snacks and songs tied into the theme. Video segments encouraged scripture and learning related Bible stories.
Some of the new upbeat Tune-Up Tunes learned were: “Custom Built Heart,” “High Performance Mind,” and “Rev It Up.” Music videos provided visual stimulant to the learning process.
Tires, posters, signs and other items, borrowed from a local service station, carried out the garage theme.
Vacation Bible school was held each morning. Service projects were completed in the afternoon. When an emergency situation came up, Eli Wyatt needed to return home. The remaining 16 members of the youth group and four adults from New Mexico continued their planned mission project. With their leadership and assistance, local young people from Hotchkiss completed projects for some local seniors. They painted the entire interior of a house, mowed lawns and ditch banks, trimmed trees, did some house cleaning, maintenance, and replaced a glass window.
Some of the out-of-town members stayed in the house they painted. It’s also the place where everyone was able to take showers. Adult supervision at night was provided for the girls to sleep upstairs at the church, while boys slept in a designated area in the church’s basement.
As each child registered for a morning session, their name was added to a container. They could add their name again to increase their chances to win new bicycles by bringing a friend to class. Names were drawn on the last day of the program to determine the winners.
Four new bicycles, provided by the Crossroads Community Church in Farmington, were awarded to Emily Kolb, Jared Cantell, Takoda Madsen, and Jysten Madsen.
Jysten had promised a friend, “If I win a bike, I will give it to you.” Jysten’s name was drawn and her friend received a new bike as promised. Another bike was later presented to Trever Wingﬁeld, for his enthusiastic daily participation throughout the entire ﬁve-day session.
Proceeds from offerings collected during daily sessions are designated as seed money to start a fund to purchase playground equipment to be installed next door on a lot owned by the church.
Feeding all of these extra people could have been a big undertaking. This chore usually falls to the women of the church, but asking them to help feed 20 extra people for three meals a day for ﬁve days or more was a bit much to ask. That problem was solved when Aja Wyatt, the pastor’s granddaughter, agreed to do the shopping and cook lunch and dinner for everyone. Church women took care of clean-up following each meal. Aja is a professional chef, who during the school year provides meals for a large sorority house in Greeley. Time off in the summer allowed her the opportunity to volunteer here this past week.
Pastor Wyatt and his wife Marilyn hosted breakfast at their home each morning.
In addition to vacation Bible school, revival meetings were held at the church each evening. Ministers from other churches in the area took turns at leading the services. On Tuesday evening, a youth group from Delta attended a session.
Pastor Wyatt and the congregation at the Hotchkiss First Baptist Church are reaching out to expand their local youth group. Hopes, dreams, and prayers are to have youth in their own church take an active part in vacation Bible school and perhaps one day return the gesture by helping others with an outreach project of their own, to fill the need somewhere else.