Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jaylin's Slovak Debut

Not that Jaylin has even had an American debut, but she did get a chance to sing a solo in front of the camp this year!  Every night of camp is a different party called “E-night”, and each E-night has a different theme.  July 4th was, of course, American night, complete with American party games, s’mores, and a quite impressive display of fireworks!  During Slovak night, a group of girls dressed in the typical Slovak folk dress and danced a typical Slovak folk dance.  They invited Jaylin to perform with them, giving her an adorable Slovak outfit to wear like theirs, and having her sing a really cute Slovak song she had learned in her preschool.  She loved it and did a great job!  The Slovaks were impressed with her accent, sounding quite native they said…not that I could hear it…or have it myself!  :-)  At least our kids will sound Slovak!

Bardejov KECY 2011

Our town is Bardejov, and KECY is the name of all of Slovakia's JV English Camps.  We went to only one camp this year, as opposed to the two we went to last summer.  We went to the one that was with our town’s youth.  It was great to see so many of the students return from last year.  Some of the team who came from Atlanta to do the camp also returned from last year…what a fun reunion it was!  The Atlanta team came so well prepared to teach the English classes and run many of the other activities and events.  The Slovak team from our local church here also did an amazing job at planning the spiritual lessons and activities, as well as many of the other games and events.  Together these two teams worked so hard in the planning and the implementing, that the week was a great success in all ways!  The students were able to hear of the great sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us when He died to offer us eternal life with Him.  Many of these students have a religious background, but haven’t heard of the possibility to have a real relationship with the God of the universe and His Son, Jesus Christ.  So our prayer is that this message would have spoken loudly and clearly to them, in order that they will desire that relationship with Jesus themselves.
Ed enjoyed his role of overseeing the camp, of working with both the Slovak and the American teams to make it a great camp.  He also joined one of the groups for activities and competitions, as Ed is always ready for another competition!  This also allowed him to spend more time with the students, because when he is overseeing, it is harder to get to know the students in the groups.  As I mentioned in the post about my parents, I loved teaching the English class, and look forward to spending time throughout the year with the girls in that group!
Our kids love camp...and really just try to blend in with the students.  Jayce and Tate joined teams for the competitions, and their teams did great including our boys as part of their groups!  It's fun to watch our kids talking with the students, and joining right in with all of the activities.

Ed's Blue Team!

Bardejov KECY camp leaders...Ed, Peter and David

Return Visitors!

Hurray!!!  Our first return visitors!  This return visit of my mom and dad was an absolute blessing to our family!  We all love having them around, and love the concentrated time with them!  This year they came for two weeks, and brought my Aunt Mary with I blogged about in the last post.  They came at this time in order to return to our Bardejov English camp for a second time.  We noticed that the Slovak youth from our church as well as the students at camp were thrilled to see Dad and Mom back at camp!  The students often hear Americans at camp tell them that they will come back to Slovakia to see them again, so when those people actually do return, it means so much to them…understandably!  Dad and Mom have an incredible ministry at our camp, showing the possibility of a good, long-term, Godly marriage, which some of the students have not seen in their own homes.  The students loved to sit and talk with my parents, and they listened well to the advice and wisdom offered. 
My Dad once again was the camp magician!  He brought some new tricks and wowed the students with them!  The best part of these tricks was the spiritual application he added that went along with the theme of the evening program, always speaking clearly the message of Jesus Christ being the only way to a relationship with God the Father and an eternity in heaven.  He also clearly taught them of abundant life with Christ now, and the freedom from sin that is found only in Him.
My Dad and I taught an English class together, which was really fun!  Besides Dad and I, our green team was made up of 5 students, 2 interpreters, and a Slovak team leader in charge of nightly small groups.  Every one of them was kind, eager to learn, and ready to laugh and enjoy the activities we did together.  I loved the times spent with this group, and really loved co-teaching with my dad!  While we were teaching, Mom, Mary and Ed were watching the kids.  Ed was overseeing the camp, and during English classes each morning had some free time that he was able to spend with our kids.  When he was busy with something, Mom and Mary had charge of the kids, and that was a huge help to us, freeing us to have time to spend getting to know the students.  The students from this camp are from our town of Bardejov, or one of the nearby villages, so we love the fact that the friendships we make at camp can continue after we all return home.
My parents and Mary were here for 2 weeks, so we had some time at home before and after camp to spend with them.  We love to see them enjoying our kids, and to see our kids loving time with them!  You’ll see in the pictures some of the fun things we were able to do together.  One of my favorites was the time that the girls went for coffee at one of our cafes in the town square.  I love spending time with my mom, and truly appreciate her counsel and wisdom.  I have been blessed with a mom who is an incredible example of a Godly wife, and I love times to talk with her and be encouraged by her face-to-face!

Ice cream in the town square!

Practicing the magic tricks for the kids.

Teaching our English class

Making lesson plans

The Green Team!
Green team leaders

Mom did a skit with the kids during camp skit time.

Performing the magic tricks

Mom and Dad's camp friends

My mom actually rode this tire zipline!

So, thanks to you again, Dad and Mom, for making the return trip to Slovakia, and for planning it around the camp time, so that you were once again a great testimony to the students we work with.  Camp week is an intense time, so we know that you are making a great sacrifice to give up relaxing vacation time to spend it with us during camp, speaking into our lives, our kids’ lives, and the lives of so many Slovak students and youth leaders!  Thanks also for what you brought to us and to our kids.  We love you so much!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mary's here!

After my parents were with us last year for our English camp, they said that next year they wanted to come back and bring my aunt Mary with them (my mom’s sister).  So they made their plans and bought their tickets.  Then in March, Mary broke her ankle and had to have surgery.  She spent the next 10 weeks following surgery recovering and doing therapy to strengthen her ankle, and then when the time came, put on her boot and boarded the plane to brave the journey to Slovakia to be with us! 
Our hats are off to Mary, as she spent the week with us at our English camp, using her cane to walk back and forth to our cabin in the rain and cold!  We were thrilled that she was there with us!  Mary jumped right in and met the students, having some good conversations with some of them over dinner and during free times.  Mary helped a ton with our kids too, rooming with Shaylee in our cabin, even being on “potty duty” during the night!  She helped my mom babysit during the mornings when my dad and I were teaching a class.  We all love Mary, and are so glad that she was able to be here, despite her set-back in March.
Ready to board the plane...boot and all!
Shaylee wanted to be just like Mary!

Mary taught the kids to play solitaire...

...and do Sudoku's.
Mary and Shaylee's room in the cabin

The girls went for coffee in our town square.

Thank you, Mary, for coming to us, for loving us and our kids, for accepting the pain of walking with your bad ankle and the bad weather during camp.  We loved our time with you, and are glad that Shaylee especially got the chance to get to know you better and love you, as she was too little to know you very well before we moved away.  The other kids and Ed and I loved the time to be with you again!  We all love you, Mary!  Thanks for the great memories we’ll always have of when you came to visit us over here!