Friday, July 25, 2008

Headed to Šumperk

[Welcome Grace Fellowship. I hope that as you read this blog I hope that you will pray for us in what we are doing here in the Czech Republic.]

Tomorrow we head to the Šumperk area to do our third camp. As I go into this camp I realize that I am running low on energy and the summer has worn me out. Today I was really refreshed by the Lord as He reminded me that all I need is Him. As I go into camp, He will fill me. As others have said, it's exciting when we have nothing and give the little that we have. We've heard it every time at US Team training (we're finishing our third), but this time it rings true for me. I hope that as I go into this camp, I depend more and more on the Holy Spirit. I really think this is going to be a great camp.

Monday, July 21, 2008

In Between Camps

Well, this summer has been an amazing ride. We are now finished with our 2nd/3 camps and are resting in Sumperk for the weekend. We leave tomorrow for Malenovice and US Team training. Our team is definitely in camp season. Basically after the beginning of the summer when we're meeting the different groups, the last half of the summer is all camp stuff - and we're busy constantly. We've felt the pull and pressure of this time, but have endured it with the strength of the Lord. We are loving our time here and can't wait for this third camp. All the same, we are resting so that we will be ready once again to pour ourselves out for those who come to camp.

This last camp with Vikyrovice had some definite blessings that made it easier. It was nice to arrive earlier to camp and have time for setup and rest. We were also blessed to be working with two groups who knew what our camps were like and were ready to get into camp mode. Also, having about half the students returning was such a blessing.

But this camp brought its own set of challenges. Most of the Americans got sick throughout the week. Some Czechs had it too, but I felt like we were all drained at different times. I actually got sick for the last full day and am just barely getting over the cold. I also found myself distracted by some of the things that are going on with one of my good friends back home - and I found out about it from other people. I must give God all the Glory, though. He worked through these difficulties. I was even able to share some of these things in the evening program, contrasting earthly love (which can cause so much pain) and the Love of God as shown in the story of the prodigal son. Though it was a bit awkward for me to share something that hit so close to home, I believe that God used it to open up the students even more.

We found that at this camp students were really open to sharing their lives and the questions that they had about God. Though no one put their faith in Christ, there are many that are asking great questions and are so close. Please pray for these students who are seeking to know the truth. The last night Tomas, the Vikyrovice youth pastor, shared about the benefits of doubt, and challenged the students to keep searching. As I work with this group in the fall, I am looking forward to the challenge of knowing how to best followup this experience.

As I said before, we are entering our final camp time starting Tuesday, and we need prayer for energy (though God has already been abundantly providing it). I am looking forward to meeting this group again and hopefully being more involved in an English Class and Discussion Group. Here's our schedule for the next 2 weeks:

Tues (22) - travel to Malenovice for US Team training, meet US youth group
Wed, Thurs (23-24) US Training, continued relationship building, unifying teams
Fri (25) Travel to camp and prepare for camp, rest
Sat (26) Students arrive in the afternoon for camp, first evening program, etc.
Sat-Sat (7.26-8.2) Camp. Please pray for the evening programs every night, where we challenge the students to consider truths of the Gospel.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Little Lesson in God's Work

I've been thinking a lot this week about how "my work" and "God's Work" (and Sovereignty) come together. As I asked the Holy Spirit to speak through me at the evening talks, I saw God move mightily. What is my role? If it's God working through me do I have to do anything? These are questions that entered my mind this week.

One thing I've come to realize is that God's purposes will be accomplished. As many have tried and failed, I cannot thwart the purposes of God - I am no better than them. So God's Will/Purposes will be accomplished. With that understanding, I believe my role in that work is to do my best to pursue Him and do what I feel He is guiding me to do. I should prepare lessons to the best of my ability and study as best I can, but all the while knowing that He will work. He will take any offering I give and do His work. As I "work" to accomplish His will, the more I strive to please Him and do the best I can, the more I get to experience His power flowing through me. I'm not sure if all these thoughts are correct, but they're some ideas that have been floating around in my head.

Another Czech Update

Here's a basic rundown of what we've been up to.

Last week was our first English Camp with a town called Vysoke Myto. A team from Bend, Oregon came to help out and it was the first time that these groups were coming together. As an intern team our role was to bring them together and my specific role was to be responsible for programming and all that stuff (making sure everything ran smoothly, etc.) At that camp we saw God working in the hearts of students. Though no one accepted Christ as their Savior (that we know of) everyone was asking good questions about God and what He's done, and all the small group discussions were headed in the right direction.

I can say that specifically for me God was teaching me so many things about leadership and how He works. In the past few weeks He has been teaching me dependence on His Spirit and showing me that the amount that I feel/sense this need now is just a small taste of how much I need Him every hour of the day. I needed to depend on Him at camp, and His Spirit worked through me as I shared the evening messages. I just learned so much that I will still have to unpack it, but it was good to have Trev and Cass (my mentors/"bosses") there to walk Erica and I through.

This week we have been at US Team training with a team from Peoria, IL (after a few days of rest). It's been great to catch up with them and get to know the newbies on the team. I also spent the first night hanging out with Jerry and some of the intern teams - sweet, sweet fellowship. Tomorrow we head to our camp (second for the intern team) and it will be so sweet. We will need increased pressure to depend on God, as it can be easy to think we know it all coming into it for a second time. There are also several returning students that we are excited to share our faith and our lives with as well.

This summer it has been my goal to empower Czechs to serve. The first camp was a place of training for me and I think our role was to start the training process for their team. Our last/third camp will have a heavy emphasis on this discipleship, as the team has been well prepared for this camp. The camp that we go into now will be a mix of the two, and I am excited to see how God will use these Czechs to reach out to other students.

I am excited to see what God will do in the rest of my time here.