Pastor Adam and I arrived at Christ Lutheran Boulder City in August 2017. This is Adam’s first call and a revitalization. Upon arrival we learned the Preschool Director of 15 years was retiring, all the state licenses were about to expire and there was only 1 child enrolled for the fall. Pastor looked at my pregnant belly and asked me if I was up for the challenge. At the time Faith, our oldest, was 18 months and there was no licensed center in town that would take a child under 2 in diapers. I saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to meet a need in the community. We put the Little Lambs Half Day Preschool program on hold for the Fall and got to work attending state licensing classes, remodeling a classroom for diapering, and marketing our program in the community. On January 2, 2018, we opened our doors as a full time childcare provider and preschool serving 1-5-year-olds. I had hired an amazing lead teacher Crystal and we had 5 kids (3 were our own). By February we were up to 10 and hiring another teacher.
As word got out that we took kids in diapers and offered a great program more and more children came. By January 2019 we had 6 staff and were at full capacity (23 students). We had taken over the fellowship hall and 2 smaller classrooms so we applied for larger capacity and were granted 36. It is April, we have 55 children (48 families) on our roster and fill our 36 spots daily. People ask me how we have been so successful in such a short time. I attribute it to a couple of things.
First, Christ is working in this ministry. We have 3 new families attending church because of the program and the church is being used 60 hours a week to share the love of Jesus with kids and their parents through Little Lambs. Parents regularly refer to us as family and tell family and friends how loved and taken care of they are here. Our program has grown this large through family referrals. It’s not uncommon for Adam and I to be invited into lives of these families. It’s a privilege to be invited to birthday parties of 3 year olds. It would not be surprising for church families to invite Pastor and his wife to a birthday party. But it’s pretty neat when families who are disconnected from the Church invite us over for family BBQ’s.
Secondly, the church has embraced this program. Having Pastor’s wife as the Director definitely creates unique opportunities. We have members who volunteer weekly lending their musical talents in chapel, serving as aids, prepping lunches, and giving of their time and money for events and special activities. The kids refer to our congregational treasurer and his wife as Papa Ed and Grandma Susan.
Thirdly, Boulder City is a small town. The population is between 15k-16k. Although we’re only 25-30 minutes away from the Vegas airport, Boulder City has a different feel than Vegas. When people move here, especially young families, they are often seeking opportunities for community. We have a monthly event to keep our families in touch with each other. The community that is being built around Little Lambs is unbelievable. After our Saturday evening service, we have a communal-family meal. A couple in their late 80’s bring a crockpot meal, some families take turns bringing Chinese food or pizza and the kids eat and play and we’ll turn on a kids movie sometimes. Pastor tells them that what we eat isn’t nearly as important as us eating together.
Last week we completed a huge goal, Playground Resurfacing! We raised $5,000 and our LWML matched those funds so we could replace wood chips with poured rubber covered in turf. To save on cost we had volunteers come in and remove the wood chips the night before construction began. 30 people came made up of a variety of Little Lambs parents, church members, and community group members (Pastor has met through Rotary and Business Development.) It took 3 hours, 10 pizzas, beer and lemonade to get rid of 12” deep wood chips on our playground. Our parents are thrilled as clothes are staying clean, wood chips aren’t coming home in shoes and kids are working on some new gross motor skills because of the flat surface.
God is good. We are so thankful for the support of our district and especially Faith Academy Director Tonia Tate for all her wisdom and support as we got started, the Preschool team at St. Paul Lutheran in Orange for sharing their experiences with us and Rachel Klitzing for her constant encouragement. God’s doing some really cool things through this ministry and it seems like He’s just getting the ball rolling! Praise be to God!
Written by: Jessica Stetson