Wednesday, July 23, 2014

English Camp, Round 2

In just about every way, our second camp was different than the first, while still following the same structure and still being great. 

Our American team was much smaller at only 3.5 people. I know in math when they teach you about counting they say that people are to be counted in whole numbers, but that is overly simple and this is not math class; it is my blog and I pick the numbers. That being said, 0.5 is a lovely missionary from the American church living and serving with the church in Olomouc, hence making her half a person for each team. The Arkansas team was composed entirely of graduated from college adults and they already had strong connections with the Olomouc church. Because the American team was small, we got to work with intern Team Lenhardt, our Ostrava roommates and beloved other half. 

I got teach with Chuck, the youth pastor from Arkansas, and we had a lot of fun co-leading discussions and English lessons. Our group spoke good English and we got to focus on learning new vocab and conversations. In our group of 9 students, all were Christians, which is a super rare environment for this part of the world. We were able to spend sweet time talking about our faith and encouraging each other. 

On our hike day, we were blessed with unexpected and beautiful weather. Since we were only about 5km from the border, we hiked to Slovakia, which was way cooler to the Americans than Czechs, and which may not sound cool to the many back home who still have yet to recognize that Czech and Slovakia are separate countries these days. 

The trail and view at the end were beautiful, and there was only one berry casualty. They warned us about how seriously berries are taken, but I never imagined they would require a dear fellow intern getting four stitches. Dan tripped in his excitement to run and share, holding tightly to the blueberries rather than breaking his fall. 

This church has been doing camp for years, but this was their first time doing it with JV, so we got to introduce new tools and structures. It was a great week filled with unity and fun between our intern teams, awesome conversations, lukewarm fruit tea (always the lukewarm fruit tea), and a rad dance party. 

We are now at training with our short term team from Chicago for our third and final camp. Time is flying these days and dragging us along with it. 

So there is just a glimpse of what I've been doing. I hope to write to all y'all very soon about more details, fun stories, and the many things I've been learning. 

Much love,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Camp 1

What do you write about one of the most amazing weeks of your life? That is the question I've been sitting on all week, and here I am, still unsure, but feeling I owe it to you to try to answer it.

For our first week of camp, we partnered with a church from Hradec Kralove and a group of 3 leaders and 10 high school seniors from California. I got to live in a mobile home. Though my feet didn't fit on the bed and the mornings were near refrigerated, the living room was a great, homey space for English class.

The students and translator in my English class (pictured below) were all around my age and all spoke excellent English. Their wish for class time was to have opportunities to talk, since in school they spend class reading and writing. This was a perfect fit for me, since talking is a gift of mine. We got to do all kinds of fun activities and games. Our English class was also our discussion group. After a Christian evening program, we got to talk about life and faith and God together. The theme for the week was about how Jesus presents a lot of ideas that are "Upside Down" and invites us to be part of an Upside Down Kingdom

Throughout the week, we had other team building opportunities. The 8 of us went by "Team Punishing Train" due to our signature dance move (as displayed in my FaceBook cover photo) and rocked the hula dance contest at the Hawaiian party and a dramatic reading/acting of "Friday" by Rebecca Black at the talent show. 

I got to have great one on one conversations with some of my group as well. We talked about faith, family, partying, eternity, Jesus, and all kinds of things. I got to share what I believe about a God that loves us all SO MUCH and listen to other perspectives. It was a blast.

In addition to English classes and evening programs, we played sports, did ice breakers, went on a four hour hike, made friendship bracelets, played forest games, and did other very camp appropriate things. I got to talk with students who knew English and smile at and just enjoy the presence of those who didn't.

It is crazy to think that I'm more than half way through my summer here in the Czech Republic and exciting to realize we still have two more camps!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

When You Give A Mouse an Offer

Team VW finished our first English camp of the summer! You may rightfully have some questions about how that went. But first, I have a very important story from my evening. 

Tonight, after consuming about 4 pizzas among the four of us, we watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower. All of the feels. Then, to lighten the mood, a mouse ran across the floor. As big brave missionaries, none of us panicked at first, but then Andrew wielded a broom and tried to smack the creature dead. At this point the three of us girls started yelling appeals on behalf of this rodent that suddenly became the most valuable being in the room as our nurturing natures kicked in. 

Andrew set down the broom and we sat by as the mouse scampered by several more times, eventually going to the hall. When that location shift happened, Andrew and Petra went outside and seized a local cat that hangs about and trapped it in the hall with the mouse. However, walls and doors mean nothing to mice and before we knew it the mouse was back in our presence. 

Andrew, who will be sleeping in this room tonight, had had enough and again determined to slaughter the beast. "No!" we begged. "We will capture it! At least give it til we leave." He graciously conceded and went to Skype in the other room. 

At this point I had used several trapping tactics. First, obviously, I let the mouse know that I was on her side. I told her, "I know how bad this looks, me here with this plastic bag, trying to trap you, but I really want the best for you." I sang her "I Can Be Your Friend" from the classic days of Veggie Tales. I even rewrote the parts that didn't make sense so that she would understand ("if your skin is bald or furry/we can have lunch, I'll share my curry"). Along the way, Alyssa had joined my efforts and we realized that this mouse probably didn't even speak English. 

Petra popped in through the window for long enough to tell us the Czech word for mouse (which we shall call miš, pronounced mish, even if that is not quite correct) and for not long enough to help any more. Thus we took to calling our small friend Miss Miš. We had her confined to the back hall/room and bathroom area, which was progress, and I prayed for boldness to catch this mouse panicked and went into crisis mode and began misquoting the scripture about "becoming all things to all creatures so that by any means possible we may save some."

Eventually the elusive Miss Miš escaped to the bathroom and we hurriedly closed the door. Jumping up and down in excitement, I knew this quest was about to get real. We trapped ourselves in the bathroom with Miš. After cornering her 7 million times, Alyssa and I had Miš trapped between the shower, a trash can, and two bags. I saw my opportunity, yelled at Alyssa to hand me her bag, and watched in unbelief as Miss Miš RAN INTO THE BROWN PAPER BAG and I scooped her up, yelling in excitement. 

I closed the top and ran barefoot to the park alone yelling "I'M SORRY, I'M SORRY, I'M SORRY!" and dumped her by a bush in the middle of the park. 

VICTORY IN JESUS, Miss Miš is saved!


(This is the only photo I got in the whole 30+ minute intensive capturing extravaganza.)