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Children learn about Jesus in two languages

June 14, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- After a disappointing false start to getting a bilingual Vacation Bible school off the ground last year, the congregants at Iglesia Bautista Hispana de Hagerstown and Virginia Avenue Baptist Church succeeded this year.

Aidsa Zambrano was one of the organizers of last week's ambitious program. She said she is pleased with the response to the English-Spanish format.

On Wednesday evening, a younger group of about 10 elementary school-age children was busy working on crafts that reflected the theme -- "Boomerang Express: It All Comes Back to Jesus."

Children on one side of a table at Virginia Avenue Baptist Church were working on a journal in Spanish, while another group constructed English-language journals. They were interacting with each other and the helpers in both languages.

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"I was born in Puerto Rico, but have lived in the U.S. since I was 11 months old," said Gabriel Zambrano.

The 8-year-old Hickory Elementary School student said English is his primary language, but both of his parents speak fluent Spanish and English.

"I learned Spanish from television," Gabriel said with a smile.

He was all decked out in a cowboy hat and T-shirt reflecting the theme of the Bible school as he worked on his craft.

Lena Lanza, 8, was a third-grader at Maugansville Elementary School in the school year that just ended. She was born in the United States and has learned Spanish from her parents, who speak both languages.

"My journal is also in English," Lena said, adding that she also was enjoying the parts of the Bible school that were in Spanish.

Children in various age groups moved between activities throughout the building -- from crafts to Bible study to recreation and snacks.

Working with the different age groups was Estefany Zambrano, the 12-year-old daughter of the pastor and his wife. Estefany coordinated a lot of the bilingual activities for the weeklong Vacation Bible school.

Also helping out was Tracey Sisco, 19, a summer missionary from Mississippi who is living with the Zambrano family. She is in the area with three others from her community.

"I'm learning some Spanish," Sisco said, adding that she was enjoying working in both languages with the children at the Bible school.

For two years, both congregations have been sharing the building at 17426 Virginia Ave.

Ender Zambrano is the missionary/pastor of the Iglesia congregation, which meets at 11 a.m. Sundays on the second floor.

Downstairs, Virginia Avenue Baptist members meet on Sunday mornings with their pastor, Aaron Miller.

"We feel welcomed at the church," said Aidsa Zambrano. "We're part of their church family."

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