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.
JV 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).We 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). Above, 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. After 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!Caleb’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! These 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.I 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.During 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.On 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!The 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. Our team belowEmi and CaseyMe, Chris, and Emi (the English teachers)Ira and I (she was our tireless translator the whole time and she was great!)The whole group!
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.