Polish Teen Camp

Another Life-Changing Week

Posted on Updated on

Polish Teen Camp is drawing to a close, and we are packing up to begin our trek home.  If you saw my brief post yesterday, you know that yesterday’s invitation was moving and ended with many decisions.  Tom’s testimony is another powerful example of a life dramatically changed by Christ followed by a tragedy that God used to deepen Tom’s understanding of God’s love and continues to use to grow the Kingdom.  Several of these kids do come from Christian families and are involved in church, but I have no doubt that this week will still serve as a spiritual marker in their lives.  In Bible times, alters would have been built to worship and denote that this was a place where someone experienced God in a significant way.

We’ve held a variety of roles in this week.  I have continued leading crafts and creating the daily picture video.  These are two time-consuming things that keep me from being in all of the group activities, but I was still able to get to know our “Hulk Team”, and spent a lot of time praying for each of them.  I will miss their beautiful faces and hugs.  Ben has continued working on projects around the camp like fixing the floor of the gazebo, build campfires, and lead a baseball workshop that seemed to be a hit (pun completely intended) and help with archery.  Anna helped with the Snack Shack each day, made a lovely string-art salamander to help illustrate the theme for the week (regeneration) and worked with Lydia to decorate the dining hall for the final dinner tonight.  She also participated in the team activities when she was wasn’t doing those other things and when the language barrier would allow.  Ethan has continued to spend time with Ben and Klara and will miss them terribly.

One of the greatest things about coming here is all of the great people we get to minister alongside.  I’ve really enjoyed this team of Polish counselors, some we have worked with before and others we just met.  There have been a lot of laughs, but they are also very deep and committed people who are living and loving in big ways.  One of the hardest things about coming here… having to say goodbye.  That just happened since we are leavin

g camp very early in the morning to make the trip to Warsaw (it is 1 AM here as I post this).  We get a few more hours with Tori, Nathan, Kyle, and Tom before those goodbyes have to be said.   For now, I must get a few hours of sleep before the long journey home begins.   Prayers for safety and unstressful travel appreciated.

   

Pawel

Posted on

We have the privilege of doing camp with this guy this week. What a great example of a life changed by God’s amazing grace. Check out his first recording, which I hope won’t be the last. The title translates to “There Is No Past”. Thank you for sharing your story and your talents with us, Pawel.

A Real Update

Posted on Updated on

We’ve had just over 24 hours between ending the camp for Ukrainian children and the start of a new week for Polish teens, but I’m currently caught up (I think) so I thought I’d take a few minutes to write a real update while the teens are arriving and getting settled in.  

The last two weeks have been exhausting, but wonderful.  The Holocaust Survivors were very open to having us here and we enjoyed many smiles, hugs and attempted conversations with them.  Kazik was bold with his message from the start.  Sometimes New Testament teaching is reserved for the end of the week because it can put up walls if they feel we are trying to make them abandon their Jewish faith.  But the majority of this year’s group are non-practicing Jews and were less offended by mentions of Jesus.  It is always hard to get a report of how the week affected them, but we did hear that there were some asking questions and showing interest in “our church”.  There were many expressions of how loved they felt.  If nothing else, I think that is something.

If you’ve been following our posts, you’ve seen hundreds of pictures from Ukrainian Children’s Camp.  What an incredible week!  As always, I was pretty emotional saying goodbye to them yesterday.  We had nearly 70 kids, most of whom have not been in church.  We taught lessons on the Fruit of the Spirit with a theme “New Me”, focusing on how God grows good things in our lives so we come to know who He is and can reflect who He is to others.  I was able to teach the first lesson, introducing the theme and teaching on the first “fruit”, Love through the story of Zacchaeus.  I also led crafts each day and put together the daily picture video for our evening session.  These things kept me pretty busy each day!  We were able to take them to a water park, which was something many of these kids have never had a chance to experience and had a day of giving away lots of clothes, hats, hair bows, balls, etc.  Thank you, Patsy Rockhill, for the adorable dresses I was able to give to the girls.  A couple of the counselors even fit into them and were super excited about them!  A few left-over dresses are on their way to Ukraine now to be given away in the community.

The final lesson was on gentleness and self-control.  Sandy taught that lesson and did a great job transitioning to a decision time by talking about how Jesus demonstrated those traits leading up to the crucifixion.  She encouraged every camper to take the next step in their relationship with Christ and the seats were nearly empty.  22 of those were first time decisions… day one of their “new me”.

     

Throughout all of this, Ben has been working on some projects around the camp with his buddy Wojciech – like building new benches for the campfire amphitheater.  We celebrated his birthday yesterday by squeezing in a pizza lunch at a restaurant in town.  Ethan has contributed his usual pine cone pickup, turned 11 (celebrated with McDonald’s), and spends time with Ben and Klara Korytkowski between sessions.  Anna helps Lydia run the snack shack and helps out with various things as needed.

One of the great things about being here is all of the incredible people we get to minister alongside. There are interns and camp staff that are here through all of it with us, but also different teams that come in to lead each week.  We were reunited with some old friends and met new ones from Savannah, GA for the week with the Holocaust Survivors, along with a few other additions from US and Poland; enjoyed a fun team from Rhode Island for the Ukrainian Children’s Camp plus the Ukrainian leaders that came with the kids; and now we are getting to know this week’s speaker from Connecticut and a group of Polish leaders.  One of the members of the Rhode Island team surprised us (and her daughters) with a decision to be baptized in the lake one night.  She had been sprinkled as a baby but had never made her own commitment through emersion. Brooke said she has been thinking and praying about it for a year and just felt the moving of God in this place to a point that she didn’t want to wait any longer.  What a great night that was!


   

… ok, ignore the first paragraph.   It’s been hours since I started trying to write this post!  We’ve now finished the introductory session of the teen Camp “reGeneration”.  Anna was brave enough to join me on “Team Hulk” (green) with one Polish leader and seven polish teens.  This is a smaller group with around 30 campers, but I’m hopeful that means better relationships can form.  Please join me in praying that God will move in the hearts of these teens this week.

On a personal note, we could also use some prayers in situations that make it hard to be so far from home.  Ben’s grandma passed away last week.  It was hard to not be able to be there for family or attend the funeral.  We’ve also learned that my grandma is not doing well and hospice has been called in to help with her pain.   I’m grateful we fly into Indy (instead of Chicago) in a week and I am hope I might have a chance to see her.  Prayers appreciated.