Pleasant Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in Happy Valley, Oregon, has started a new program to reach out to our youth and children in these difficult times of coping with ever-changing restrictions and rules for in-person meetings. Thus the Kids JAM (Jesus and Me) vespers and nature activity combination was born.
About 12 children and 14 adults attended Kids JAM on Nov. 14, 2020, and felt blessed to be able to worship in person using COVID-19 safety measures. The theme for the night was marine animals. Emily Ellis, pastoral intern, began with a worship thought. Then Alvin Nakamura, OB-GYN, showed how the salinity of water makes things float.
Outside under a covered awning with a propane heater, Zach Nakamura, a biochemistry major, and Morgan James, a marine biology major, disected specimens for the children. Alani Nakamura, along with Alvin Nakamura, did additional dissections for the children.
The children were very interested and even made specific requests, like wanting to see the inside of a shark's eye. This allowed the children to see the wonder of God’s design in nature. There were multiple stations with different marine animal activities, such as naming parts of an animal.
Meanwhile inside, multiple “no-sew” fleece quilts were knotted to give to foster children. Ben Lundquist, pastor, and church members Donna Lewis and Kimberly Lundquist provided pizza and snack bags for the children.
“The goal was to provide a connection to Jesus through nature, connect back with their local church and outreach to others via a project,” says Julie Nakamura, church member. More events are planned as a way to keep the connection between church and family strong as they navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic.