The theme of the Ukrainian Teen Camp we just finished was “Unplug” – focusing on breaking addictions to social media and technology and plugging into God instead. This is one reason why I haven’t posted even picture updates much. Plus, I think I get a little worse about blogging each year we come to Poland. I’m so sorry about that. During weeks of children/youth camps, it is very hard to find time to do so. It only comes at the sacrifice of sleep, which is something I seem to be more desperate for each year. We are only a couple of days away from returning home and I’ve only made one post! 😳 So… this might be a bit long as I try to catch up!
We have completed both Ukrainian camps now – one for children and one for teens. God did amazing things, as He always does. Several kids shared about how the week impacted them, but my favorite was from Renat, the cute kid in the picture with me. He said, “I had a feeling. Something touched my heart. I thought it just seemed so, but then it was repeated twice and then I realized that it was God touching my heart.” There were many decisions made this week as well. I had the privilege of praying with three girls that came forward. All of them said they were already Christians, but had a burden for friends and family that didn’t know God.
I was given the charge of teaching the introductory lesson for each camp. Because of the need for a translator to repeat and interpret everything, I script out my lessons in full detail. So if you’re interested in a better picture of the themes of each week, you can read the lessons! Who knows, maybe God will even have something to say to you through it. I know every time I teach, God takes the opportunity to teach me as well.
My other responsibilities during both weeks included craft activities and making a video of pictures for each day. I put these on share sites that the leaders and campers can all access.
To me, this is important because it can serve to remind them in the future of the things they learned, songs they sang, and the commitments they made at camp. Ethan learned the process quickly and took over this responsibility by the second week of camp, which was a great way for him to be involved. Anna participated in small group activities, took pictures, and ran the “snack shack” (canteen) each day. Ben miss the children’s camp completely (see my previous post) and didn’t have as many projects waiting for him as usual, so he participated in devotions, sessions and played soccer with the kids.
It has been great to have my parents with us for teen camp this year! They are longtime camp experts and just fit right in along the way. They taught a great lesson about what we are created for – how we often use social media, money, fame, etc. to try to meet a need that only God can fulfill. They’ve also just been terrific at loving on kids.
We traveled back to Warsaw yesterday after tearful goodbyes and LOTS of hugs. Today the team is doing a prayer walk for a new PCM church plant in the Wilanow district. The Americans are partnered with Polish church leaders to walk through the neighborhoods throughout the day, praying and observing the needs and dynamics of the community this new church will serve. Tomorrow, we will get to worship with this young congregation. The kids and I begin the trek back home Monday morning, while Ben goes on to other service projects and initiatives in other churches and cities for one more week.
Thank you to all who have been praying! We appreciate your support so very much, and God is moving in the hearts of these people as well as our own. ❤️
This year’s mission is certainly off to an interesting start with some crazy unexpected twists. First, we received confirmation last Tuesday that Ben’s passport was not going to arrive in time for our Thursday flight. The Department of State let us know that processing times had increased and his would still be another week at best (if we paid additional funds to expedite it). This meant that we had to pay for an additional airfare and quickly change plans. We’re still waiting to hear if the flight insurance we had purchased will refund the cost of the first ticket, so that’s something you can be praying for! Ben will now fly on June 20 with my parents and arrive in time for the Ukrainian Teen Camp. That same day, I fell about 6 feet off a ladder while trying to do a little home improvement to increase the marketability of our listed house. Instead of getting the window trim painted, I spent the day in the ER. Although bruised, sprained and strained, I am incredibly happy to report no broken bones and that I was still able to fly out with the kids on Thursday.
I’ll be honest, leaving Ben behind for the first week of this trip has been pretty hard on us both. We are life and ministry partners, and being split up just really stinks. But we’ve had several confirmations that this wasn’t a fluke or unanswered prayer. I think it may be one of those instances where God’s answer to our prayers is “no” because He just knows more than we do. Being home meant that Ben was able to attend an elder’s meeting he would have missed, visit a student in the hospital, get some extra days in at work (which may prove crucial later in the summer), take care of a home repair that may have been quite costly if he hadn’t been there to discover it, and be there for our niece and nephew’s baptisms. Those are just the things that have become evident so far. It seems crazy to think that God’s plan would be for Ben to miss a week on the mission field, but then perhaps we need reminders that the mission field isn’t just in other countries. God knows what He’s doing.
Here in Poland, the kids and I have now spent a day preparing with the rest of the team, have welcomed the Ukrainian kids and completed our first full day with them. They are so sweet and full of life. I had the privilege of teaching the first lesson today. Our theme is Exodus to Freedom, where we are teaching the story of Moses leading the Israelites out slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land and connecting the parallel to our own slavery to sin and the freedom that comes when we let God rescue us. Even in this short time, there are signs that the Message is resonating with them! Please keep praying for the Love of God to penetrate their hearts and minds this week. Several of them have mentioned “The Americans” (which is more than just us, for the record) as one of the things they are excited about or thankful for. I don’t know why they find us so intriguing, but I have no doubt that God can use that to get their attention for a far greater purpose.
Enjoy today’s camp video and please pray for each of these sweet faces you see – including the adults!