So… we had thought we might take a break from going to Poland. Our involvement began in 2009 with Ben’s first trip, and we’ve been spending half of our summers there as a whole family since 2013. Anna only has three more summers before she’s moving into a dorm room and our little birds start leaving the nest. 😢 We’ve not had real family vacations in all of this time because all of our time and money go to this. It seemed to make sense to take a break. (If you sense a “but” coming, you’re right… keep reading.)
But, God. As we’ve prayed over this decision, we have felt God saying otherwise. There have just been some signs and an inner nudge that tells us God isn’t quite done letting us be part of this and we need to journey back in 2020. Ben has been asked to come to Ukraine prior to the children’s and teen camps, and Anna felt a whole new level of involvement this past year and doesn’t want to give it up yet. Ben and I have also served in some new behind-the-scenes roles that we think might still be needed.
So we will obey. Let the fundraising begin! If we’re reading this wrong and something redirects us along the way, at least we’ll be able to provide scholarships for lots of kids to experience a life-changing week of camp! Stay tuned for many fundraising posts to come or jump on over to our financial support page now! Straight donations are the biggest blessings!
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. ❤️