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By Betsey Reznor
Mélanie and I looked over the items in
the car one more time. Food? Check.
Tent and ministry supplies? Check.
Toilet?!? Yes, we had a toilet in the car.
Well, not a real toilet, but a bucket turned
toilet. We were heading north to Rapids
Seven for a week of VBS in the bush with
missionaries Dave and Marsha West,
and that meant tent camping. Neither
of us had been camping before. I think
the closest I ever got was falling asleep
once on a trampoline. But we were
excited about the prospect of spending
a week with the Wests, helping out with
their VBS in the bush. We had been told
that, along with our other equipment, we
would need to take our own toilet. So,
into the car it went.
Dave and Marsha West are missionaries
serving the Lord in Malartic, Quebec.
They work mostly with the Cree and
Algonquin tribes. In the summer, many
of the First Nations people head to their
camps in the bush, so the Wests head to
the bush, too. They hold a morning VBS
for the kids and evening services for the
adults. Of course, if a few adults show up
for the morning VBS, they are welcomed.
Mélanie and I found out quickly that the
boys and girls always came back in the
evening for the “adult” service.
After setting up camp, we all met
together in one of the larger tents that
6 would serve as shelters for VBS classes
in case of rain. Pastor West went over the
daily schedule with us and with a group
that had come up from Pennsylvania.
They were camping with us that week,
too, and we were all there to help the
Wests with VBS. As the week passed, we
got to know each other better, and we
all became one team serving the Lord
together. The fellowship was great.
The daily schedule was simple. After
eating breakfast and spending time with
the Lord, we played with the children
as they started arriving for VBS. Each
person helped out in whatever way was
needed (handing out materials for crafts,
telling a missionary story, singing at the
top of one’s lungs, playing in the sand
with the little ones). Then came lunch
and maybe a shower (really a swim in
the lake) or a nap. Dinner was followed
by an evening service. Since most of the
kids came back for the evening service,
we all took turns sitting with them and
helping Mrs. West with the little ones.
After everyone went home, it was time
for marshmallows, fellowship around
the campfire, and bed.
One thing I loved about VBS in the
bush was how relaxed everything was.
Sometimes, a little one would break away
from his class and toddle over to where
his mom was listening to the evening
service. She would pick him up, put him
on her lap, and go on listening. No one
minded that the little one had wandered
into service. They were there to hear the
Word of God. Everything else was just not
and the result is that they know their
people well and everyone there knows
The week also changed my outlook on
ministry. I came back with a renewed
sense of the importance of what we all as
Christians do by teaching children and
reaching out to others in genuine love. I
was reminded once again that God can
use anyone in His service. Anyone can
sing loudly with the boys and girls, hand
out craft supplies, open popsicles for snack
time, play volleyball, or dig in the sand
with the little ones. Everyone can smile
and greet those who come to services or
show a child love. We all can have the
privilege of participating in God’s work
here on earth.
And Mélanie and me? We survived the
week with nothing more than a few
scratches and some mosquito bites. We
even got to leave the bucket toilet in the
car! It turns out that Pastor West had
made an outhouse on the campsite.
It was amazing to see the results of years
of work as parents brought their children
to the very VBS they had attended when
they were kids. The Wests have been
faithful in this very difficult mission field,
So the bucket came back unused. But it
was not the only thing we brought back.
We also brought back new friendships
and wonderful memories of a place that
will forever remain special in our hearts.
Would we do it again? In a heartbeat!
In spite of the mosquitos and roughing
it, Outreach + Outhouse = One
(Betsey Reznor is a missionary helping
churches in Québec through child and teen
outreach. Mélanie is one of the teens in her