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UCC Day 3

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I’m missing campfire right now, my very favorite part of camp, because I seem to have caught the bug that’s been going around here.  Tori and I were discussing that there must be different viruses in Poland because we get sick at some point every year.  Tomorrow the group goes to Gdańsk, but the Porter family will stay behind – getting well, catching up on laundry, spending some time with each other (we hardly see each other at all when camps are in session), and starting to pack up.

Here is the picture video from today.

The First Day of the Last Camp

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Do you ever have one of those days that feels like at least two days?   Today was one of those.  As I prepared the video of the awesome pictures the Jones family took, I could hardly believe that the Ukrainian kids just got off the bus this morning.   As much as the day was long, it was also wonderful.  But I’m too tired to write any more.  It is midnight and I teach tomorrow. Just wanted to ask for prayer that God will give me His message to share.  You’ll get a good idea of the day from the video.  

Oh… and please pray for Ben’s back.  It’s giving him lots of trouble and pain. 😕

Dishes & Pinecones

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Yesterday was a work and errand day. Between camps, there is no kitchen staff, so April & Kyle have the added responsibility (on top of all their other tasks) of feeding themselves and any volunteer workers that are around (like us).  And cleaning everything.  And getting the grounds ready to host the first full camp.  Wojtek, the camp’s maintenance guy, has a long list of stuff to buy, fix, replace, etc.  Oksana & Andrzej are swamped with paperwork and phone calls.  The first short-term team arrives today, so there are rooms to prepare and a bigger crowd to feed tonight.  So yesterday we all rolled up our sleeves and tackled the list of things that needed to be done.  I helped prepare breakfast for everyone, Ben did the dishes, we all grabbed rakes to clean up pinecones so they wouldn’t get caught in the mower, and the kids pulled weeds from around the chapel.  Then there was grocery and supply shopping that took us in different directions. Today I’ll start working on the supply room that needs some serious sorting and organizing, and set up the prayer room.

Many people are disillusioned about mission work.  I’ve seen it in the interns and short-term workers we’ve met over the years and, it has been part of several conversations with friends at home.  There is a glorified perception that it is going to be entirely sharing Jesus all the time.  But that isn’t the reality.  In education training, we learn about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – that children can’t learn if their physical, mental and emotional needs are unmet.  The same is true in ministry.  If the camp is falling apart, dirty and broken, the people won’t be able to come and receive the Message we came to bring.

Jesus tried to teach us this.  “…he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”   John 13:4-5.

We want to teach God’s love, but first, we must live it out.  We want to bear witness, but it often begins with picking up a toilet brush and mop.  We came to serve, not to be served.  To give, not to take.  Jesus calls us to follow his example.  To humbly serve whatever the task, and to remember that He who sends us is greater than those who bring the message.  (vs. 16).

So we pick up pinecones for hours in the dust and sun, scrub backwash from glasses and cobwebs from the rafters.  If that isn’t spiritual enough for you, the work time is a perfect opportunity to pray for the coming groups of workers and participants.  But make no mistake, it’s all a part of the mission.

Prayer Requests:

  • For the family of Beata Kołak, a young ministry partner who passed away last week
  • For the team from Compassion Christian Church ( Savannah, GA) traveling and arriving today
  • For Kazik Barczuk, one of the directors of the Holocaust Survivors Camp, whose mother just passed away
  • For the Holocaust Survivors arriving at Ostróda Camp Monday
  • For my friend Iwona who was hit by a car crossing the street the other day.  She is ok, but badly bruised and banged-up.  She is a working mom with two small children.

Dear Grace,

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Embracing Grace

My Dear Grace,

Today, on the day you went to be with Jesus, I’m preparing to celebrate the life of a sweet lady who now joins you in heaven. In a way, Beata knew you. Several years ago she was instrumental in helping to organize the event in which I shared your story with the city of Ostróda.   She knew there were many families who had suffered the kind of loss we experienced when you left us, and she wanted to help me share that God’s love is unending, even when we face this kind of tragedy.  Beata leaves behind a husband who loved her and a college-age son who will terribly miss his Mom.  But she is free from the pain and suffering of cancer, and has now regained the joy that I always think of when I think of her.  Just as God has done with you…

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Camp in Full Swing

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The camp for Polish teens is now well underway and we are all filling different roles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 3.51.26 PMBen is still working hard on the new camp sign because it was decided to that it would be better to make the sign two-sided and turn it 90° so that it can be clearly seen from both directions of traffic. (I joked with Ben after he made the first one that he needed to make another side, and that idea seems to have taken root and doubled his work!)  He’s drawing up a great design with a roof over the top and flower box around the bottom.  It’s going to be awesome.

I’m carrying out several tasks related to the week of camp.  Paula and I lead craft time each day and I put the amazing pictures Sasha and Tori take each day into a “Pictures of the Day” video that is shown at each evening’s session.  I taught the morning lesson yesterday – Day 3 of Creation and what we can learn from Noah’s Ark.  I had this idea to mark out the dimensions of the Ark on the field and send each group to one corner so the campers could really see the size of it.  But apparently, I was one who needed to learn more about the size, because it wouldn’t fit on the camp grounds!  I had to use a Google Earth image to show it!   So we just marked out the width, half the length and used helium balloons on a 51-foot string to help them see how tall it was too.   Anyway, the biggest point of the lesson, of course, was that God rescued Noah because he had a relationship with him in a world where everyone else had run away from God.  And he does the same for us.
IMG_8260I’m also playing a character – Scientist, Dr. Isabella Drake.  She appeared the first night of camp wanting to know if this was the “Kreo” camp, where they were teaching that God created the world.  She is an arrogant atheist who keeps showing up each day to show that she can create things too, and to explain the scientific explanations behind things like the formation of clouds and rainbows – trying to discredit what is being taught.  Dr. Drake is assisted by two young scientists, Flint and Spark.  They have been attending lessons and taking notes to report back to her each day.  Soon she will hear the lesson of the cross, and will start to see some things differently.  By the end of the week, she’ll realize that she isn’t creating anything new but only manipulating what already exists.  She’ll come to understand that there has to have been an original Creator, and she’ll start to feel something in her heart that she can’t explain with science.

Anna is also helping out with the “Snack Shack” and crafts.

There are many teens here who are asking great questions and opening up.   But the ways we are contributing take lots of preparations and time.  Combine this with the language barrier, and it is very hard for us to really get to know these campers. Relationships are building between them and the Polish counselors that are here, which is good.   Our work behind the scenes and teaching the lessons can provide the scaffolding.  And we can pray – for walls to come down, and for hearts to be softened, so that nothing will hinder the message God is speaking to each individual here.  Please lift these prayers with us!

But First… Euro Cup

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So we’ve flipped the camp again and been very busy with cleaning, projects and preparations for the Polish “Kreo” (Creation) Camp and that starts today. The teens started arriving around 1 and camp officially began with obiad (lunch). Our first session, where we form teams and get to know one another should be going on right now. But… Poland is playing Switzerland.  Colts fans, March Madness, Hoosier Basketball – none of it comes close to the hysteria of European Soccer. The game is 1:1 in overtime. There is no way we can start camp now.  It may seem silly, or a poor choice of priorities to many. But these kids don’t have to be watching the game right now and almost all of them are here in the chapel. They care about it. I’m thinking about the 15 year old boy that didn’t really want to come to church camp but LOVES soccer. Maybe the fact that we started camp by watching the game will help him decide this isn’t so bad, that we care about the Euro Cup because he does. Maybe it will break down some walls.  So Satan, if you planned on using soccer to derail the start of this week… you lose!

Polska! Polska! Polska!