Ahoj! Good evening from Night #3 at the Pardubice English Camp!
We have gotten into a rhythm at camp and have begun to experience multiple different fun activities with students. After two nights of Bible discussions, we have had the opportunity to have several deep conversations with our groups.
On Sunday night, we looked at the truth that Jesus sees our needs. Each of us has needs and Jesus responds with compassion to each of them. What an opening discussion, right!? It has been an emotional camp when it comes to night discussions thus far. The reason for this is that the camp theme hits right at the heart of the issue in each of us. We all want to be seen, we want people to know our needs, and we don’t want to be outsiders.
During our Fellowship team time, we got an opportunity to hear back from how discussions went on Sunday night. For one of our advanced level English classes, a camper discussed the problem of evil and processed with the group how does God exist when they have to go through such difficult family situations? My advanced class walked through the aspect of depression and how it seemed that no one was there to help. The needs here at camp are real, and our team has been dropped in the middle of a group of campers who have huge spiritual needs. On a lighthearted note, our beginner class had a different experience during their first spiritual conversation. A girl from their group wondered out loud in Cesky (Czech language) whether she should eat more pretzels because they make her fat. Another conversation veered off and ended up being about tape and the many ways you can use it. These types of discussions give us relief from harder topics.
As a team, we talked today about the importance of being able to sit in the tension of emotion and brokenness. The hardest thing for our team to do is sit in silence and not try to “fix” the problems in the room. An interesting thing happens when our team members wait: it gives other students time to respond. It also gives Czech mladez (youth group) Christians an opportunity to be a light in a dark place.
There have been a lot of tears from campers so far, and the discussions will likely continue on this path. We talked about understanding that we can’t just give Sunday school answers to Czech campers that will inevitably end the conversation and our opportunity to be a part of it. (We also shared this doesn’t work in the real world back home either.) But part of communicating hope is caring enough to see and feel the pain people are going through. We are building trust so that the hope in Christ we share later in the week will have a natural progression to it. As Ken says each year, “You have to trust the process. It works.” That wisdom is important for us to implement each day.
English classes in the morning are focused on teaching different aspects of photography through the lens of conversational English. Our game activities at camp keep things funny and exciting. Monday afternoon featured a survival race, where the finish line featured the worst concoction of blended food any of us has ever had before. Tonight we just finished a Lord of the Rings-themed night game where we ran in the woods and found glow sticks. I would tell you what the game was called, but the instructions were given in Cesky, so we’re both out of luck.
Hike day is tomorrow. While it’s not the longest distance ever, we are indeed Americans. It is always suspicious when the Czech leaders tell us that the distance isn’t “that long”.
Here are a few ways that you can partner with what God is doing in the Czech Republic this week:
—Please pray for wisdom in conversations – for us to be willing to be silent and allow for students to process their thoughts and emotions. Also for wisdom in allowing the Spirit to guide us when we share the story of who Jesus is and that He is inviting them into relationship with Himself. Each class situation is different, so wisdom and discernment leading each of them are important.
—Pray for continuous energy. We have a young team that has not hit the wall yet, but typically it comes after hike day.
—Pray that we will rest well at night and make ourselves available as conversations deepen each day.
Our team is doing well and it is evident that we entered this trip with people who genuinely like to be around one another. There are typically relational obstacles with each team, but we have been blessed with a unified team in how they serve and work together in a selfless way. We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow, but in the meantime, below are photos that capture some of the moments from English Camp thus far!
– Alan Greenwood