Camping in Croatia

Every second to last week of August since Caleb has turned 8, we have needed to get him to JV kids camp in Croatia so the week before, we have made a tradition of camping in Croatia or Italy. We did not have enough saved up for Italy this year so we opted for a last-minute reservation at a campground just outside of Split, Croatia. This was decidedly the most relaxing summer camping experience to date. It was a blessing from the Lord, for sure. I imagine that someone cancelled this prime spot right before we made our reservation. We were approximately 100 yards from the water. The weather was perfect , the beach was rocky, but they were tiny pebbles so not too terribly painful on the feet and that meant super clear water, and we all received some deep rest that we had been longing for.

The black and white cat was one of the very curious attack kittens that lived in the campground. Caleb really got a kick out of watching it attack our tent rain cover. We named it Oreo. None of the other cats visited our campsite but this one was very welcome when it arrived.

Our days were filled with laughter, ice-cream, prayer, sleep, reading, swimming, sunbathing and relaxing. On two of the days that we were there we did take two trips.

Our first was to the city of Split to visit our friends and JV Croatian country leaders (John and Amber Hinger) and their kids and to visit two Czech JV missionaries that were also in Croatia for the same reason we were.

Split is a delightfully beautiful city if you ever get a chance to make it this way. I preferred the campground for the peace but it was still worth the visit.

Our second day trip that we took was to Krka. The first time that we ever went to Croatia for a summer vacation, we took a trip to Plitvice lakes and it is gorgeous but you are not allowed to swim in the water. You can swim in some designated pools at Krka. It was a pretty epic place as you will see…

 

 

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The parking ticket

Beni and I left intern debrief early for him to get into an eye doctor before we would leave for vacation. Since there are really two seasons here: winter and road construction (I did not come up with that but it is really true), I managed to park my car on a road that had no parking (but I was used to parking on when no road construction was going on). As a result, when we got our of the doctor’s office, here was my parking ticket. Since the payment was required before we would get back from vacation, I had to pay it immediately.IMG_6016This was the police station waiting room.IMG_6021IMG_6022This was the entrance to get in the building from the waiting room.IMG_6023IMG_6024This was the door to get in the waiting room from outside. No lights on. No humans. All was silent. The police officer that answered was kind and only charged me the minimum for the parking ticket, which I thoroughly appreciated. I do not believe that I have ever gone to an American police station before but based on what I had seen in pictures or what I have seen on tv, this is not what I expected. To be honest, it was not unpleasant, it was just a surprise. I can add this one to my list of surprises in my life in Czech.  Aside: This is my third Czech police station to visit (the foreign police for visa stuff and another police station in Cesky Tesin on account of my lost passport once but this location was the  most surprising to me.IMG_6025

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Intern debrief in Prague

Right after our return from Ukraine, we had half a day to do laundry and get packed up again so we could take our interns to Prague for their Intern Debrief before they departed for the States. We ended up doing part of our debriefing time with the Communications, and the Fusion international teams as well since all of these teams are international and do not belong to one country like Edge international. Below, Beni is holding Ethan’s hand to keep him safe on the long escalator going down to the metro in Prague (Declan just behind them). Ethan and Declan are the children of Kyle and Amy who lead the Communications team. IMG_5987Prague dog back in Prague again. It’s her old stomping ground!IMG_5989While 3 of our 4 interns got tattoos of a verse they had to memorize in Czech during the amazing race, we had the pleasure to visit our boys’ second Czech nanny (Lucka Tesarek) who has since married and moved to Prague. It was so nice to get caught up. IMG_5998Right before heading to Prague in our super busy schedule, our friend Robbie Hirsch contacted Casey out of the blue and said he was in Europe and asked if he could visit. So, Casey told him we were headed to Prague and if he wanted to, he could meet us there and hang out with us between meetings. IMG_6005We embarked on our first mission trip with Josiah Venture with this guy in 2003. Casey, our friend Shane, and I went to Romania and Robbie went to Czech to serve the whole summer. The picture below was in the airport on our way there. IMG_6012This is the last picture with our dream team. This summer was an excellent start to, hopefully, many more years of Edge Sports International internships. Praise God for a great beginning. We miss these guys!

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Hanging out in Lviv, Ukraine after camp

IMG_5837On the day we left camp, we arrived in Lviv in the morning and our friend and fellow missionary Julia took us on a fun walking tour of Lviv. Such a lovely city.IMG_5845The most interesting place we went was this coffee shop where you can drink your coffee underground in a mine-like place and they have an option to get your coffee torched (like creme brûlée coffee). Casey is not a fan of sweetened coffee but he had to try…IMG_5859A coffee shop employee pushed our boys around in a mining cart while we were waiting for our coffee.IMG_5866IMG_5867IMG_5870We also had the pleasure to eat dinner with our friends Ben, Kristy and their kids Marissa and Dillon (pictured below with our kids). Ben and Kristy are the JV country leaders for Ukraine and are super fun to hang out with.IMG_5888A nice fence 🙂IMG_5903IMG_5905

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Edge Sports Intern team in Polish Fusion Talent show

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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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