Hard to believe the summer here is almost done. Still a busy week going on right now.
We spent 3 days up in the Low Tatra mountains with another missionary family, Charles and Janet Baldis. They are working with the poor Gypsy population. We had a nice day out with one of their core church families on Friday, then spent Saturday on a picnic and fun day up higher in the mountains. They made a big pot of Goulash and we played games, had a treasure hunt and sang lots of songs.
The bad news from the weekend is that a part on the van broke and it is taking a while to get it fixed. We had to take the train back to Bernolakovo on Sunday so we could start our English and sport camp here on Monday. The other downer is that I (Brian) came down with a bit of the flu and have been pushing through just to teach our morning lessons. I have missed both the first two days of afternoon fun and sports just trying to recover. Feeling better tonight and hope to be back a full strength tomorrow.
The camp here is run by the Word of Life group. It is pretty well organized and they have a lot of activities and materials that we can use for teaching the classes. Kelli and I have a combined class of 7-9 year olds (six kids there), then for the late morning we each have a class. Kelli has about 10 kids that are 10-12 years old and I have a dozen that are 13-15 years old. Each day has some Bible lessons as a combined group and we sing some praise songs. Then break up for teaching and games for the morning. All our kids are joining in on the games or helping out teaching the classes. But I can tell that all are anxious knowing that we will be on a plane heading for home in 9 days. Thanks to everyone for their support and prayers. We could not have survived the summer without you.
Back “home” in Bernolakovo after a busy teen week at Rackova. The daily schedule was… up at 7 ish, team meetings and prayer at 7:30. Breakfast at 8. Singing and first competition at 9. 9:30 preaching. 10-12:30 team competitions. 12:30 lunch. 1:30 team competitions. 2:30 one on one time. 3:30 free time until dinner at 6. 7-9 games, worship and preaching. 9 group discussions. 10 quiet time for games and talking. Lights out at 1:00am. While it was billed to us as a teen camp, the attendees ranged in age from 14 to 26. Many have been to the camp more than 5 times.
The preaching was good. There was a team from two churches in Arizona at the camp to lead all the games and preaching. Heard a good gospel presentation through the week. Discussion time was for the campers to talk about what they though about the preaching and ask questions. Had one young lady in my group asking lots of good probing questions about Jesus and reaching heaven.
Competitions ranged from a ninja tournament to putting an Oreo on your forehead and eating it without using your hands! Big prize for your team winning the day was not having to wait in line for any meals. Certainly motivated the campers to do well.
Unfortunately, the week was mostly rainy and a flu bug worked its magic on many of the staff and campers. Paul was the only one of us to get it bad, but I came down with a serious head cold. Took more naps in the past week than the last year combined!
We did have a couple of days where the rain held off. Got to play some baseball with about 15 campers in the field in front of Rackova. The field is really a downhill slope where a shepherd has his flock of sheep grazing about every other day. The other day of no rain led to the big “Water Wars” free for all. All who participated came away drenched to the bone.
This week is a time of recovery for us. On Thursday we will head back toward the mountains to meet another missionary family that works with the gypse population. We will take a sightseeing trip with one of the gypsy families in their church on Friday. On Saturday, there is a church outing where we will go hiking and have a cook out. Sunday church there and then back to Bernolakovo. Next Monday begins the English and sport camp here. Then the following week we pack for home. Hard to believe we are less than three weeks from being back in the USA. Been a great time here and looking forward to a good last couple of weeks.
Sorry I haven’t posted in a week, but I have not had internet access. We arrived in Poprad on Sunday the 17th. We are staying in an apartment above the church. It has two bedrooms, a multipurpose room and small bathroom. The pastor, Lubo, had it set up for all 5 kids to be sleeping in one bedroom. Of course that didn’t go well with Erin, so we moved two of the beds into the middle room. Boys in one room, girls in the other, Kelli and I in the third. The church itself is quite big. Four floors tall with us on the top. The pastor and family live on the third floor. There is another small apartment on that floor where a young gypsy woman lives. She works for the church. The main floor is the sancuary, office and meeting rooms. Lubo said there are about 200 members of this church. Quite big, but small when you consider that Poprad is a city of 60,000 people and this is the one Baptist church here. The basement has a kitchen and a nice sized game room.
Camp here has been very fun. There are 21 kids in the camp, but only 5 of them are affiliated with this church. We start at 8:00 am. The first two hours are bible stories and games led by a different Lubo who does a lot of child evangelism. Then a break for snack followed by fun and games until noon. Lunch until 1:00, then break into groups for more games. Kids do a different craft each day in one area while others play games elsewhere. Don Eade, Logan, Paul and I have been leading baseball instruction all week in the afternoon. The first two days we had each of three groups for about 40 minutes. The camp leader, Marek, decided this was too short of a time, so we made two groups for about an hour and 15 minutes each. Weather turned bad on Wednesday and we have had to be in the gym for two days of baseball. Played indoor baseball games with soft Nerf balls and had lots of fun. Today, one boy, Patrik, hit a “home run” by hitting from one end of the gym to the other and putting the ball in the basketball hoop!!! We are all very tired, but are happy to have been part of a very successful camp in Poprad.
Tomorrow will be the final day. We start at 8:00 to set up tables to display the crafts, sound equipment and get the baseball field ready (weather looks good – sunny and 69 degrees). Kids will bring parents, family and friends to see what they have done for the week and we will have a baseball game to finish the week. Everyone is excited to show off what they have learned during the week.
When done (1:00 pm ish) we will head to the west about 40 minutes to Rackova Dolina to begin our week of teen camp. Not sure if there will be internet available there so stay tuned for the next update.
Our two weeks in Nove Zamky is quickly coming to an end. It has been a challenge and exciting in more ways than one. Erin has had the best of the accomodations… staying with the Hamann’s and their 18 year old daughter, Anna. They have become good friends and already have way too many inside jokes! The rest of us have survived our 12 days in two small “hotel” rooms.
The type of place we are staying is called an ubytovanie, which simply translated is “accomodation”. The rooms are about 3 meters by 7 meters (10 feet by 22 feet). There are three twin beds, two small chairs, a small wardrobe for clothes, small bathroom with shower and a stand with a small tv. It is nicer than the rooms we had in 2005. The hotel was recently remodeled and is fully carpeted (unusual by Slovak standards). It does have a kitchen that all guests can share (with refridgerator). But, as is normal in Slovakia, there is no air conditioning. Oh, did I mention that highs have been about 32 degrees Celcius all week (that’s 90 for you all in the states). Low of about 21 Celcius (70 F). We have one small fan in each room but that does little to cool things off.
However, that all gets put aside when you have a great two weeks of teaching English to kids and adults eager to learn, building friendships and strengthening the local church relationships. Our boys were getting a bit bored at the end of the first week, so Paster Pal (pronounced like Paul) found something “constructive” for them. He is in the process of building a home and needed hands to help remove concrete forms. Construction is much different here as homes are not frame built but made with block and poured concrete walls. Pal had just finished pouring walls and Logan, Paul and Sean have helped three days this week to remove all the forms so he can be ready to have the roof started. Kelli, Erin, Caitlin and I continue to teach the kids classes in the morning, get a bit of a break in the afternoon, then Kelli helps with the adult class in the evening while I play games. The boys (and a couple of girls) have started asking for baseball more often so we continue to pitch and hit lots. Over the last couple days we have had them doing some fielding and one boy, Dalibor, shows a pretty good knack for catching pop-ups.
On our afternoon break today, Thursday July 14, we took a short car ride over the border into Hungary to a town called Esztergom. It used to be the capital of Hungary way back in the day before Budapest. We visited a very large basilica in the town. It sits on a hill near the Danube River and had great views of the town and nearby mountains. We even paid the 200 forin (about 1 euro) to walk to the top of the dome. Logan counted 382 steps, many up a very narrow winding staircase. But the view was worth it.
Tomorrow we wrap things up here in Nove Zamky, get one day back in Bernolakovo to do lots of laundry, then pack for two more weeks on the road. Next is Poprad and baseball camp, then Rackova for a teen week. Thanks to everyone who keeps thinking of us and praying for us. Hard to believe our time in Slovakia is half done. More again next week. God Bless.
Wrapped up week one of the English camp here in Nove Zamky with an open house/carnival event on Saturday evening. Had some inflatible toys (slide, water soccer, bounce house) along with lots of crafts and games. Many people from the church helped and there were 90 kids that were registered (we didn’t count how many adults came). Had planned on running the event from 5-8 pm but kept it going until almost 9 since people didn’t want to leave. By the time we tore down all the events, put away tables and equipment, had dinner it was nearly 10:30 pm. Poor Caitlin almost fell asleep while eating. Had the most beautiful sunset Saturday… See the attached photo.
The week has gone well with a steady half dozen kids in our beginner English class. One of the favorite games is playing Go Fish with some food picture cards. I think the favorite song is the Hokey Pokey. One girl who is shy to talk English in the class asked Erin to write down the words to the “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” song so she could practice it at home.
Today (and probably tomorrow) the boys are working with Jerry Hamann at the Pastor’s new house. Last week he poured cement for the walls of the house and they are helping to remove all the wood framing. Logan is taking some photos so we can show how different the construction is done here.
More in a day or two. God Bless.
Started camp this week. There are four volunteers here for the two weeks from El Paso, Texas. They are running the intermediate and advanced classes. Kelli and I have the beginner kids in the morning. All seem to have had some English in school so we don’t have to start from zero. They know simple conversation like introductions, colors, shapes, numbers, sports. We are working on better conversation and complete sentence skills. Also, quicker memory recall for those phrases they already know. The class had 5 kids the first day and 7 the second, although on day two, one of the girls would have been in intermediate but she brought a friend who did not want to be left alone. The other classes are about the same size so not too big, and smaller than what we worked with in 2005. In the evening, Kelli and Susan Hamann (ABWE missionary) are doing the adult beginner class. They only have two young ladies but are having a good time. I spend the evenings playing sports with the kids. Good soccer game both nights. Monday we also threw around the American football and today we hit a few baseballs. Would like to hit more but the space is a bit limited.
One of the pictures attached is of our Slovak language tutor, Jana, and her son Adam. We had a lesson on Kelli’s birthday and they sang the Slovak version of Happy Birthday to her and gave her a chocolate bar. A couple photos are of the first day of English camp in Nove Zamky and one of a monument in the downtown area. Been tough to get photos during camp because we are usually busy. I’ll make sure to get more in the days to come.
All is going well here. The first couple of weeks seemed like a lot of down time, but as Don explained, it is very different when you are here for three months than for just one week. Turns out we really did need the adjustment time. Getting settled in the house. Especially Caitlin getting comfortable sleeping in a new location. We were able to find our way to a couple different grocery stores, the ice cream shop, the bank, the church, school, etc…
Logan and I got to visit the golf course yesterday. Luba (one of the teachers at the school) invited us to come with her golf team (more of a club really). We went to the practice area, putted, hit on the range and then played two par 3 practice holes. Did alright considering I was using her husband’s clubs. Her husband works for the International Olympic Committee and she has been to every Olympic games since 1996!
Today we are at the Eades preparing for a dinner with other missionaries. One of the daughters, Anna, has graduated high school and we are celebrating tonight. We will be with her and her family for the next two weeks in Nove Zamky. By the way, worked through the finances with Don. We are under budget for June and it looks good for the rest of the time. We will stay in Nove Zamky, no extra money needed for now.
The next four weeks will be very busy. Two weeks of English camp in Nove Zamky (maybe try to squeeze in a day trip to Budapest on the weekend). We will come back here for Saturday and Sunday church, then off to Poprad for the baseball camp. It is a camp organized by a Slovak youth evangelist. He runs games in the morning, we will do baseball in the afternoon, then there is preaching and games in the evening. Finish up on Saturday morning with a baseball game in front of the parents. From there, we leave directly to Rackova for the teen camp. Again, a week of us helping with English lessons and running and participating in fun and games for the teens.