My apologies for the very long stretch between posts. My computer will not turn on. At all. This is a major problem. Especially since it isn’t actually mine. I wonder if Jill Wiram or Phil Harrison will see this post. 😬😳😣 But beyond that, my lesson for the upcoming camp is on it. It might sound silly, but will you take a moment to pray for my computer? I need it constantly for the next camp, as I also use it to do the daily picture video. There are other computers I can borrow, but having my own would be best.
Over the days since I last wrote, we have finished our time with the Holocaust Survivors, “flipped the camp”, said goodbye to the first short-term team, and began preparations for the Ukrainian Children’s camp starting Saturday. If you can only pray for one thing, forget about my computer and pray over the kids who are soon to make their way here, many of whom are refugees. If you can pray for two things, pray for the next short-term team currently on their way. (If you can pray for more, please include my computer. 😉)
Here are some pictures from the last few days!
Two weeks from today we will be on our journey back to Poland! The whole family is ready and it is a daily topic of conversation as we begin preparing our teaching lessons, crafts, encouragement for the church leaders we will visit, gifts and lift it all up in prayer as always.
We know from experience that a good number of ministry opportunities will pop up during the time we are in Poland. Our God is way too cool to be limited to a list of our plans! But here is what we are expecting for our 2017 trip to Poland. Prayers are welcome and appreciated!
- We will serve in Poland for the month of June (give or take a day or two)
- We will travel to and encourage Christian churches in Poland, planted and/or supported by Polish Christian Ministries.
- Kosazlin Messianic
- Kołobrzeg (Piotr Karel’s church supported for years by RCC!)
- Polczyn Zdrój
- We will do everything we can to help with upkeep and projects at Ostróda Camp, including:
- yard work
- preparation of cabins
- fixing stuff
- tech help
- prayer room
- encourage and support our friends who do full-time ministry at the camp year-round: the Korytkowski Family, Oksana Bilous and Kyle Duba.
- We will spend time growing relationships and serving the Holocaust Survivors who will travel from Israel. Although some of these are Messianic Jews, many of them do not know Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
- We will serve during the Ukrainian Children’s Camp alongside a team from a US church – teaching, baptizing and discipling children and teens. This year’s camp will include refugee children from the war in Ukraine. Our involvement will include crafts, teaching and getting to know the kids in small groups.
- We will connect with friends met in the past who have suffered infant loss, as well as looking for other opportunities to minister through Embracing Grace.
- We will pray for unexpected opportunities to serve and minister – asking God to provide them, open our eyes to them, and give us what we need to act on them.
Tomorrow is the last day of the Kreo Camp for Polish Teens, and our last day in Ostróda. Tonight, Dr. Isabella Drake, the scientist who has been challenging the campers all week, came to some important illustrations. It’s late and I’m very tired, so I won’t go into the whole explanation, but the short story is that she came to see things a little differently today. She gave a science demonstration that illustrated the gift of forgiveness through Christ and highlighted important truths about relationship, love and purpose in life. Tomorrow will be a lesson on the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, as well as an invitation time. I know there are a lot of kids really doing some deep thinking. Please pray that God will work in their hearts and that this camp will become a point in their life story where they first came to know God or grow in their faith.
If you haven’t already seen them, here are the picture slideshows for this week (so far). Watch them and pray over these young men and women with me as we bring this camp to a close.
You can also be in prayer for Ben as he continues to work to finish the new camp sign and get it up before our time is up. Saturday morning we leave for Warsaw, and Sunday we fly home. Although we are exhausted and spent, we can’t believe it is time to leave already.
Tomorrow, we will host a 45th Anniversary Celebration of Ostróda Camp. We’ve been busy making preparations for this big event – making sure the grounds look great, designating the roles each of us will play and practicing a special song for the grand finale. (I promise I have been working just as hard, but no one has taken my picture to prove it!) Ben has been challenged with a special task that I think he is especially gifted to do. He is making a new sign for the camp using the logo he designed last year! The hope is that the new sign will be able to be up for this milestone event.
The celebration will include 4 sessions, one for each decade. The first is the 70’s, with music and interviews of people who were major contributors to the camp during that time. Then 80’s and 90’s and ending with the “New Millennium” and a banquet. I have personally witnesses the impact this camp has had on hundreds of people in the five years I have had the privilege of being involved, and I know how much camp influenced me as a child and even in my college years. I can only imagine how many lives have been changed because of this place since it was established in 1971. I am happy to be part of the celebration of such a great ministry, and look forward to what Ostróda Camp will bring in the next 45 years.
One quick prayer request… I posted the other day that I’ve been messaging my friend Iwona, though I haven’t been able to see her in person yet. If you’ve missed previous post about Iwona, she is a lady I met because of our shared experience of having lost a baby at birth. I’ve been meeting and writing with her for several years. Today she sent me a message that she is meeting with a young lady who recently lost a baby. She asked that I pray for God to give her the right words to share. They are actually meeting right now at the time of this post, but prayers would be wonderful anytime. Pray for God to grow seeds that are planted and bring healing to this young lady.
We’re here! Our 26 hour journey back was exhausting, but went smoothly – van, plane, train, bus, plane, train, foot, train, bus, van….geesh! We were happy see Sandy waiting for us at the airport to help us get to Ostróda (thank you, Sandy!), and happy to find the entire Korytkowski family came to pick us up at the bus stop. Then there were hugs from Oksana, Sasha, Tanya, Maxim, Kazik and the returning members of the Savannah team. It felt like coming home in a sense. We arrived during the final session for the Holocaust Survivors’ camp. We were so sad that we weren’t able to spend time with them this year, but encouraged to hear that it was a good week. Most of this year’s group were new people we’ve never met, but Oksana told me this morning that one of the ladies had been before and was wearing one of the bracelets I made and gave them then. She was asked about it during the week and shared with the whole group that she wears that bracelet to remind her of the good time she had when she was here. ♥ That makes my heart so happy!
This morning we said goodbye to them and worshipped at Ostróda Christian Church. Ben stood and gave his greetings to the congregation from us and Rockville Christian Church. (I just love that… just like in Paul’s letters). Pastor Zbigniew welcomed us back and said that he thinks we belong as much to them as RCC. Awe. How sweet. It was great to see the familiar faces of the congregation, but sad that there were so few of them. Our group (us along with the team from Savannah Christian, the interns and interpreters and Korytkowski family) probably tripled the attendance. Please pray for this congregation. I think they are fighting some struggle and need the prayer support of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray also for Beata, a wonderful lady in the congregation that we’ve met several times. She helped organize the event we held a couple of years ago on losing an infant, and helped with last year’s Ukrainian Children’s Camp. She is currently fighting cancer and is in the hospital. I was very sad to learn of this recent diagnosis and the terrible road she’s had of late. She is just in her mid 40’s. Please pray for her.
The remainder of the day was mostly R&R, which we really needed to regain some of what we lost during the trip here. This included Ethan getting buried so deep in the volleyball court sand that Kyle (new camp staff) had to help dig him out! We did collect trash and linens around the grounds, but that was no big deal. After dinner we gathered in the chapel to watch Woodlawn (great movie, by the way). Now it’s time for sleep. Andrzej has a LONG list of work projects for us tomorrow as we prepare for the arrival of the Forever Young group and the camp’s 45th Anniversary celebration!
In the cool of the basement, we listened to Oksana share her personal testimony and experience working at Ostróda Camp full time. “It’s just like it says in Matthew, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’” (Matthew 9:37) With our hearts full of love for God, Poland and the ministry we’ve been involved with for several years now, we can’t imagine not giving a portion of our year to be those workers. God has given us the time, ability and passion to go, disciple and serve. He’s given others different gifts. Some are true prayer warriors, fighting the spiritual battle that rages on unseen. Some are encouragers, healing and lifting up those who are beaten down. And others have been given a generous spirit to give whatever they have financially – big or small. When it comes to missions, we often think of the people who get on a plane and go. But it takes the whole body of Christ to grow the Kingdom of God, and the ones who send play just as important of a role. It doesn’t matter how much we want to go if we can’t buy plane tickets or if Satan steals our passion.
Will you prayerfully consider joining us in ministry? We are seeking partners (individuals, families, Sunday School classes, small groups, churches, etc.) who believe in the power of missions and will come along side us to share the love of God. We need you – whether you can give of your time (you could go with us), commit to regular prayer, or help us financially. On the money side, we hope to have a few people who will commit to monthly donations. If we can find just 20 partners who can give $50 per month starting in October, we will have our airfare by the end of March when we need to buy. If you can’t commit to that much, don’t let that stop you! God blesses even the smallest gifts when they are given from the heart.
Becoming a ministry partner is easy. Just fill out our simple form. In about a week, you’ll receive your partnership packet with everything you need to stay informed, connected and able to support us in the way God has called you. With it comes the gratitude of a family that just wants to obey God’s leading, and the countless people who will be impacted by what He has planned.
In His Service,
Ben, Rachel, Anna and Ethan Porter
After enjoying a day and and a half taking in the history and culture of Warsaw, we fly out tomorrow morning. Although we are ready for some of the comforts of home, we wish we could have stayed longer to continue work on the multitude of projects still in need of completion at Ostróda Camp. But, we were able to be part of the construction of new beds and a new dock, a carpet ball table, and updated prayer room and stepping stones that will be the start of a prayer walk (which will be one of our projects next year). We were also able to be part of two very different camps, and form relationships with amazing people spanning four generations and five countries.
We aregrateful for the opportunity to serve in this ministry, and are very much aware of how blessed we are. We left work clothes, dear friends, and a little piece of our hearts in Ostróda, so we are already praying that God will keep the door open to journey back next year.
Prayers for safe and uneventful travel tomorrow are much appreciated! I’ll post more pictures when we’re home. The hotel WiFi is being less than cooperative!