Ahoj! Here is an update from the Pardubice English Camp!
TONIGHT is Gospel Night! At about 1 PM CST, we will be sharing the Gospel with our Pardubice English camp. After the Gospel presentation, campers will have the opportunity to walk through a personal reflection time in an environment called labyrinth. These are great opportunities for intentional conversations afterwards, and it’s something we are asking you to pray for.
We are past the halfway point of camp and group discussions continue to get better for each of our groups. With each group, the goal is the same, but the experience is varied upon English level and familiarity with camp. For our lower English level groups, the conversations move to Cesky and our team members have been patient to sit back and allow Czech leaders to guide. For one of our advanced groups, their discussions have carried over into English Class the next morning – with campers begging to continue discussion. The common themes among each group is this: our Czech translators are really doing a great job in their role, and our campers are becoming more comfortable in opening up.
In each of our discussion groups, knowing how to guide them is difficult, because each situation is unique. This will be a prayer request moving forward in the final stretch of camp. When we talk with people who have never heard of Jesus and never considered concepts like absolute truth and sin nature. It is a talk that begins at the foundational levels.
With Gospel Night happening tonight, we spent time yesterday in our time as team discussing the process of salvation and the foundational elements that must be understood. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that we are saved. We looked at Ephesians 2:8-9 and recognized the beauty that is found in our relationship with Jesus. The funny thing about mission trips, is that when you leave and embark on being a part of what God is doing, you tend to think of the experience as being about someone else. Each time I have been at Czech English camps, it has been refreshing to be personally convicted by what God has to say. Our team is not only pouring out, but also experiencing the blessing of being in the presence of God. It has a way of changing us and our mindset that God wants our hearts and devotion too.
Also during our time as a team, our adult leaders spent time encouraging the Fellowship students in their class. Each of our adult leaders had intentional, encouraging things to say about each of our FSM students. Each year, one of the things our students battle through is wondering if they are doing a good job or not. It seems simple, but to hear encouragement from an older voice is an uplifting, transformational time for students’ morale. I love this time every year, and love how God uses it. Here are some insights and thoughts about each of our team members:
B ryan Abramovitz – Bryan has been a great team member throughout our trip – both as a friend and as a servant. His discernment on how to guide his advance class in discussion has been exactly what his group needed. Bryan is quick to do whatever is needed – pick up plates, have intentional conversations with Fellowship students, wear a dress and wig for the morning program, and dance like there’s no tomorrow at night. To know Bryan is to know the two sides of his personality – our camp is thankful for both.
Cade Stuart (or “new Cade”) – Cade has been a great asset to the advanced English class night discussions. He is bold to share his faith and explain the deep theological truths, which have been vital to their group each night. Cade is quick to jump into afternoon sports activities and has done a great job using his sports background to build relationships.
Hayden Burbank – Hayden brings timely fun and jokes into the conversation in a way that balances the group. He is quick to serve behind the scenes and patient to get to know students in his class, which both have helped improve group dynamics. I wondered when I would see Tim Burbank come out in his son, and it definitely happens when the music comes on.
Cade Griffith (We call him OG Cade – “Original Griffith” or “Old Cade”) – Cade has a kind and compassionate heart for every person he encounters. I have had the privilege of being in a group with him for two straight years and he always seem to amaze me at how deeply he wants people to know the love of Jesus. It is easy to come over to Czech with facts; Cade comes over with compassion.
Amanda Abramovitz – Amanda has been a kind, sweet team member to each of us. It is evident that God put her and Hannah together in a group for a reason. It is fun to watch her engage in conversation with one student – paying attention to every word and getting to know them by listening to their story. With a chaotic routine and schedule, Amanda has been a great example of what it means to slow down and walk alongside people in a genuine way.
Hannah Martin – Hannah is one of our veterans and this year it has shown in all she has done. Over the past year, Hannah has done a great job of staying connected with campers, and those connections have grown even deeper this year. Hannah has led the camp dance for a second-straight year and takes the initiative to lead without any prompting from our adults. Hannah is also the best wiffleball batter at camp – by a long shot. (no pun intended) Chuck – all of those softball lessons are really paying off at Severomoravska Chata!
Morgan Thomason – Morgan does a ton of relational work behind the scenes for our team. To lead a team, it takes people who are willing to be vulnerable and honest, and she has helped foster a team environment where we can do both. It is fun to work with people who come at things differently than you do, and Morgan is the perfect complement to our Czech team. This team has benefited greatly from having Morgan with us. On a side note, you have never seen Morgan more worried than when she is chosen for a Czech game at night where she has no idea what is about to happen.
Sam Watkins – Sam is the unpredictable, always ready with a one-liner, sarcastic team member that keeps everyone laughing all week. He has been a fun contrast to our team, and has stepped into helping with the camp dance and introducing it each night. Sam is always ready to go the extra mile in making camp fun and he is exactly the type of person we needed on our team.
Maggie Thompson – Maggie is a calming presence on our team and in her group. She is relatable to all students and willing to enter into tough discussions. One of the best features about Maggie is the fact that she empowers others to be themselves. This quality is such a powerful trait to have when students are at one of the most insecure times in their life.
Beth Milligan – Beth is a rock star. She is the main event of every camp and for the third-straight year, she has been a great team member and leader at English Camp. Beth is leading a sports class this year – one of which she was given little prior information on how to lead. Here is a small picture of what it’s like to watch Beth teach wiffle ball: Beth pitches to the batter, serves as the umpire on the throw, coaches the fielder and the runner simultaneously during the play, and encourages every one that they did a good job – all at once and with ease. That’s Beth. She can be funny and caring and a physical therapist all within the hour. And she all of this, while her hair stays in perfect place. That about sums it up!
Adlee Watkins – Adlee has been the camp musician from day one and has done a fantastic job! For the past several trips, this has been a spot taken up by a seasoned veteran. Adlee has stepped into the leadership role and excelled each day. Of all the things I’ve been most impressed about Adlee, is the way he has carried himself. With a primarily female camp, Adlee has been a gentleman and servant leader with music and also in the sports class.
Monica Thompson – Monica is our calm, steady presence on the team. Nothing fazes her at any moment and she keeps the bigger picture in mind at all times. She has been consistently patient during her beginner class discussions when most of the night conversations have happened in Cesky. Monica has led Hadleigh well and is the type of adult you want on a team with a large group of high school students. It is almost as if she has six kiddos at home of her own? I am very thankful that Monica has joined us.
Hadleigh Austin – Hadleigh literally knows no stranger at this camp. From the moment campers got off the bus, Hadleigh met ten of them immediately. Each time you look up, she is surrounded by a group of people. Hadleigh has been a great team member, because she makes people feel welcomed and heard. If we had a welcoming committee on this trip, she would be the head of the committee.
We will “share” the Gospel presentation tonight, and this will be a powerful time for those who have not heard before. For this team, the presentation has happened throughout the week as well. English Camp students have “seen” the power of their servant example of what it means to live a Gospel lifestyle. Words are important in communication, but when actions line up with words, it’s a powerful combination. This team has exemplified both and it has shown in the fruitful conversations.
While I’m writing this, I have listened to the songs “Kiss by a Rose” by Seal, “I’d Do Anything for Love” by Meat Loaf, Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind“, and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven“. The Czech Republic really gets it – 80’s and 90’s music is where its at.
Please pray for the following for our team:
- Gospel Night – Please pray for campers as they reflect on the hope and life found in Jesus with Gospel truths in the night talk and experience it during Labyrinth. Please pray for the hearts and minds of our Czech campers. All that we have done at English Camp has been built up to tonight.
- Wisdom and Discernment – Please pray for our team as we seek the Spirit to provide guidance in how to navigate conversations.
- Pardubice Mladez – We want to hand the baton off to the Archa Church youth group at the end of this week. Please pray for each of the leaders as they seek to make connections with students that we hope will last beyond this week. We are here to serve and come alongside Archa and want them to feel empowered to lead.
- Energy – It goes without saying, our team and all campers are tired. It has been a great week and we want to finish strong these last two days.
It’s been a fun week and the best is yet to come. Thanks for being faithful to pray for us. We are humbled to have the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing here. Talk to you soon!
– Alan Greenwood