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Ukraine English/Sports camp with OCAHHA (Hosannah) Church from L’viv, Ukraine

Oh the blessed border. How we fear thee for thine continual uncertainty. Casey was sure that it would be just an hour to cross (based on our last experience). Nope. We were at the end of a line of 127 very slowly moving vehicles in the middle of very sweaty Ukrainian/Polish heat in direct sunlight (mostly with our engine off) for over 5 hours. But, we made it.

IMG_5539IMG_5644JV English/ Sports camps are fun. They are full of energetic teenagers and fun activities,  and OCAHHA church ran a great camp. The mornings started with the camp dance (every year the JV camps team choreographs a pop Christian song that is used in most of the camps during the summer). The top 2 pictures show the campers doing the camp dance early in the morning led by Emmanuel (Emi) and Luda (the camp leader).IMG_5492We then had breakfast (Above I have lunch pictured…no breakfast pictures) followed by discussion groups ( we were not a part of these but we used this time to prep for our part later), then soccer or English class (depending on what the campers signed up for). Aside: Camp food. I am not going to say that I loved the camp food but it was not all bad. For sure the cooks put a lot of work into it. I can say that I loved the Borscht and I was not too keen on trying the cow tongue. The last time I had eaten cow tongue, It was ground, highly seasoned and I had no idea I was eating it (thank you Girl Scouts). IMG_5563IMG_5583Above, you can see Casey leading some of the sports and another picture with him, Chris (The JV Ukraine missionary assigned to work with OCAHHA church wearing sunglasses), our interns and Emi. IMG_5591After lunch, there were organized games (see the games played on soapy plastic sheets above), free time, river time, dinner time, then the evening program, discussion groups again, and then a fun evening activity. Full days!IMG_5615Caleb’s discovery of small fish in the river so he set up an aquarium in our room. So sweet! During one of the river days, Casey accidentally left his phone in his pocket, walked all the way across the river and then remembered that it was in his pocket (he has never taken a phone for a swim before).  A total blessing was that one of the cooks happened to speak Czech ( she had worked in Prague for a few years) and I was able to ask for a large bag of rice. The phone lived there for 3 days without being turned on and then it revived. Zombie phone. It’s a little quirky but it works! IMG_5655IMG_5658These were my English students (above). We met once a day for approx 1.5 -2 hours. They were spunky and lovely kids. Every one of them professed faith in Christ by the end of camp.IMG_5664I wished I had my camera when our van drove back from the soccer field. Most of the days, our team had to train the campers in soccer on a very small/uneven field at camp, which made our interns a little nervous because they had already had enough injuries and sore body parts from the summer. The second to last day, they travelled to a decently groomed field in the town where our camp was. The van we brought was supposed to hold 9 max. I am going to venture to guess that when they left camp the van was holding 16-ish people. The picture above was of just the people who were crammed in the back where there were not even any seats. It was a very funny sight to see. Only in Ukraine? I do not know.IMG_5678IMG_5684During the evening programs, there was a lot of dancing, singing, wisdom being shared and games played (above). On the last night the Gospel was clearly shared and a girl who had received a severe head injury during one of the afternoon games and had to be hospitalized, wrote a letter to the campers (her name is Deborah and she is a follower of Jesus) which was read during the gospel presentation. The gist of her letter was..”I could have died from my injury but Jesus healed me (it was literally a miracle how God healed her so soon after such a severe head injury where she was potentially near death on the way to the hospital..passed out, heart not beating well…the works). It made me think about where I am going. Where are you going to go when you die?” Almost every single unbeliever professed faith in Christ that night. It was a joyous night for everyone.IMG_5690On the last night the campers did something similar to a Wii dance party and my boys joined in. Caleb did not last long (fingers in ears) as his sensory system was overloading but for the sake of social interaction, Beni totally overcame his sense of being overwhelmed. He did so to the point that he started spinning around on his behind on the floor (pictured below…breakdancing-ish) and he got such a great reaction from everyone that he did it over and over again until the dance part was over. All of the campers were really enjoying him!IMG_5704The night ended with a campfire and we brought the most smore’s-ish supplies that we could since we were coming from Czech and not the States. IMG_5742Our team belowIMG_5806Emi and CaseyIMG_5814Me, Chris, and Emi (the English teachers)IMG_5832Ira and I (she was our tireless translator the whole time and she was great!)IMG_5833The whole group!IMG_6610

A few days later during camp follow-up in L’viv and the subsequent church service…

This last picture is our team with Deborah, the walking miracle. After God miraculously healed her, the hospital in the village where she was taken near camp insisted that she be seen at the hospital in L’viv. Once she was transported, the hospital there said that there was nothing at all wrong with her and they released her. Nick and Logan, our interns who have had some medical training and plenty of injuries of their own, said that the healing she received would have been impossible without a miracle. This was just a few days after the almost fatal injury. Praise God.

Please join us in praying for all 19 students who professed a desire to follow Christ. Please pray for OCAHHA church as they follow-up with these campers and please pray for some great disciples.

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Sam the salamander

The other day, Caleb found a salamander in our backyard. He named him Sam. My boys had big plans for this salamander. 

So I went to the local pet store to see if I could get him a little plastic cage and salamander food (?). It turns out that salamanders are endangered here so we were illegaly holding him captive. So, we needed to take a walk to our local pond to let him go. The boys were pretty sad to part with ole Sam but hopefully he found a she-salamander and made more :).

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Riga, Latvia on our way back to Czech from Estonia

Our drive was around 19 hours so to break it up, we took a 3-4 hour break in Riga, Latvia and ate asian fast food (yes, you read that right). Riga a lovely city as you will see below…

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Watching us throw the frisbee for Haley in one of the parks made this one little girl so happy that Haley got a big workout. We just had to keep going. Haley brings joy even in other countries.

And of course we gave money to this little cute headed violin player below. How could we not?

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More pictures of our family’s time in Tallinn after camp

Tallinn truly has a lovely historical center. It was fun to see how many medieval and viking-themed shops there were. Lots of people dressed up in period dress and lots of pretty doors and flower boxes. Now our kids have wooden battle-axes from Krakow, Poland and wooden swords and shields from Tallinn, Estonia. Is this really our life?

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Lessons on being a man. Casey’s talk at X camp, Czech Republic

Every year, the Lutheran denomination in Eastern Czech puts on a large camp/conference to evangelize to those that do not yet believe and to strengthen the Christian walk of those that do.

Last week, Casey had the pleasure of speaking in a break out session on a topic he knows a lot about…How to be a good Christian man. The room got pretty full during his talk.

IMG_2546IMG_2550IMG_2555In a country where many marriages fail and finding men that are good leaders for their community as well as for their families is less than one would hope for (Isn’t this true everywhere though?), it is good to be reminded why God made men…IMG_2565He did not make men for push-ups but since it is hard for most dudes to just sit around and listen to someone talk for a while, Casey took a short break to give the guys some push-up pointers and get them moving.IMG_2570Casey loves visuals so he brought a bag of tricks to represent manhood. One of them was a dish washing scrubber brush. For a good marriage, men need to serve their wives in ways that they may not even enjoy (Casey hates washing dishes but he does so as often as he can at home). Of course this service goes both ways but he was not teaching about both roles in marriage. Some of my other favorites were a children’s book and Legos to play with his kids and a rose representing going on dates. Yep, I’ll keep him. IMG_2573

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Teaching lifts and basketball at camp in Poland

Yesterday, for the afternoon sports workshops, Casey taught lifting to part of the Edge group. Adel (all black clothes) and Logan (blue t-shirt) helped him lead this workshop.

The other part of the group played basketball lead by Chris and Nick. Below Chris (black shirt) and Nick (grey shirt).

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Caleb at A 10-day Awana camp

Kid paradise! These are pics from our one visiting day 5 days into camp. We are so proud of our Caleb!Caleb was in a tent all on his own and loving it!Fresh water (above)The water-heating system at camp linked to the hose that went along the branch (below) to where the shower was. I assure you that my son had not sampled this luxury in the first five days of his time there. I fully intend to bring him home and insert him into the shower on the day camp is over.Caleb was on the green team that he helped name “Green warriors” (4 teams total) and showed me all of the chore charts and grading charts on how clean their tents were each day. The green team was responsible for collecting wood (dřevo) on the day we visited and Caleb had scored close to perfect on keeping his tent clean.The raised kitchen (below)Caleb, the flagbearer for his teamTreasure chest for the pirate themeThe boys “bathroom” complete with shooting range. See the targets on the rocks? Yes, my boys used it.The sauna (above). Just like a 4 star hotel, really. Lukaš took our boys out for a spin.

We cannot wait to see Caleb when he gets back tomorrow!

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