Author's Note: Forgive me for any typos or poorly written sentences; it's late at night, and I’m exhausted!
It's Thursday morning...we just finished the fourth day of camp and are ready to start the fifth. I can't believe we only have four days left. I would have to say that this has been one of the best experiences I've had in a very long time. Here are some of the highlights:
•Watching one of the guys from our church connect with the Polish teenagers--Connor Max (he graduated from OHS in 2009) has really gone out of his way to form relationships with many of the Polish teens. He is leading junior high boys while we're here, and they have really connected with him.
•Seeing my girls (ages 10-14) come out of their shells. The first day they were a timid bunch who didn't speak a word--now they are chatty as all get out! I've also had a few girls ask if we could talk one on one at the end of the night--(with a translator translating). These conversations haven't been too deep, but it's a good step in the relationship forming process. I'm hoping that my girls can open up even more to explore deeper topics and converse about their faith.
•My Bible study time: At the end of our time yesterday I asked if anyone wanted to pray for the group. An outgoing little girl (Gabi) volunteered to pray, and she prayed the Our Father (most of my girls are Catholic) in Polish. So, I took advantage of this knowledge they had today and taught them the Lord's Prayer in English (Luke 11:1-4). They LOVED it! And I think it was eye opening for them to see the prayer in the Bible. In fact, when I asked them to turn to Luke 11 one girl asked, "You don't know it by heart?" I told them that I did, but I wanted them to read it from the Bible. I know I only have 8 days with them, but I'm hoping that reading our Bibles each day will get them familiar enough with it so that they aren't intimidated to open their Bibles.
•English classes: Though I am accustomed to teaching English, I am not familiar with teaching English to non-English speakers. Yesterday was our first class; I was trying to write a few vocab. words on our little white board and the girls kept shouting at the translator that they could not see the board. So naturally I taught them the phrase, "I can't see the board." I turned the board back onto my lap to write a few more words, and about 30 seconds later, in unison the girls screamed, "I can't see the board!" It scared me so much because I wasn't used to hearing English during that time! Our lesson today was fruitful, and many of the girls have been following me all over the place during the day practicing their newly learned English.
•Testimonies: Each night we end the day with about an hour long service where we sing (the worship band here is AMAZING) and an American gives his/her testimony (how they came to have a relationship with Jesus). Sunday night Justin, a youth pastor from Washington, gave his, Monday I gave mine, Tuesday was Bob from Washington, and today was John from Ogallala. I can really tell that God has been working during this time. I am a nervous person who doesn't like to speak in public, so I was terrified to give mine. I wrote four drafts of it! But I prayed over and over that day that God would just give me the right words to say to speak to the hearts of the campers. After the first line my nerves faded, and I felt a sudden sense of peace as the words flowed from my mouth. A few Polish people approached me afterwards and thanked me for speaking; some said they could relate to my story. I think that's a step...
•Seeing God work in the camp: Here's one example--our group leader from Ogallala, Chuck, drove us all the way to Denver, we got to DIA to check in, but when he the passport to the clerk he realized he had grabbed his wife's passport rather than his own! Passport-less, he drove back to Ogallala. Our pastor tried to book him another flight out, but the possibilities looked bleak. Chuck and our pastor prayed together over the phone and a few minutes later the pastor called back saying that the travel agency had found tickets for Chuck. He arrived at the end of our first day. Chuck is a legend here at camp as this is his 12th time here. He has formed many lasting relationships and has seen many people devote their lives to Christ. It's a blessing to have him here despite the minor passport glitch.
•Becoming familiar with Polish culture: Polish food is amazing. Polish people are EXTREMELY competitive (we've played a lot of evening games as social activities) and have a TON of energy, which makes for a lot of fun!
I know that's a lot! I do want to post more tomorrow about my amazing translator, Ester--so be sure to check back. I will leave you with a few prayer requests: handed
1. Connor is giving his testimony tomorrow night. Pray for peace for Him that God would work through him to really touch the hearts of some of the campers.
2. Energy! It's the middle--so some of us (including me) are dragging.
3. That we would be able to continue forming relationships with the Polish people.