Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Teleios Children's Camp Week II

We finished up a wonderful week with the kids from Gornesti, Glodeni and Csavas!  Thank you for your prayers!  We did many of the same lessons and activities from the first week, and the children - many of them younger than 7 or 8! - had a great time!  Typically, the kids from Apalina are more challenging behaviorally, and this year was no different.  After we sent the Apalina kids home, the camp was much quieter, even though we had 45 children there!  (We're usually pulling our hair out the first week with the rowdy kids, but we always miss them once they go home!)  The second week we had mostly children who spoke Hungarian or Gypsy, so I had a lot more opportunities to practice speaking in Hungarian, whereas the first week we had many kids who spoke only Romanian.

Group competition is a big part of summer camp for us!  First, we have a competition among the rooms where the children sleep.  They're responsible for cleaning and organizing their rooms each morning, and many of them go the extra mile to decorate before the judges come by :) The kids are also given points based on when they are finally quiet at night!  Not only do these competitions help the children feel camaraderie in their rooms, it also helps the adults to get some rest and not to have to do a big clean-up at the end of the week!  The second competition we have is with mixed boys/girls and mixed ages.  We divide all the kids into three teams, and they compete throughout the week in group games, memorizing scripture, and helping out around the camp.  It's always a close competition all the way to the end!

Group games (sack races)

Paul keeping track of the points for us

Sweet little faces!

Zozo, Attila and Paul actually had time for a photo together!

Our chef for the week

Our sweet friends Alina and Zozo

Bonnie performing a science experiment (extinguishing fire with baking soda and vinegar!)

Here we are, just enjoying the scenery after recreation! :)

Jeno, Bonnie and Adel N.

Like I said last week, Paul did a great job with the recreation!  He used some of the kids' favorite games from years past as well as some new games he discovered and created on his own.  Here's a quick video of some of the kids playing "Bombers" - a game where the kids run from one end of the field to the other and attempt to hide or duck away from water "bombs" being thrown at them as they go!

Sarah Grace also did an awesome job helping the kids create skits and perform songs about the Bible stories Bonnie taught during the week.  Two of the groups even learned simple songs in English!  Here's a short video of one group singing "It isn't Hot (in the Furnace)" about the story in Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  The words are "It isn't hot (ssssss!) in the furnace, man! / Man, this furnace is cool, cool, cool, cool!"  If you tune in to about :40, you'll be surprised by a couple of "celebrity" appearances!  You don't want to miss it!!

Many of the children in the second week were touched by the stories and lessons they heard.  It warmed our hearts to see them gathering their friends to pray together - unprompted!  Please pray for us as we seek to find the best ways to continue to teach and encourage these kids once they're back at home.

Thank you for your encouragement during these busy summer weeks!  This week, we are out at another camp for youth in Harghita County, and this weekend we will welcome another team from the States as we begin VBS in Apalina.  Please keep us in your prayers as Paul and I are now both battling sinus infections!  We don't have time for that!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Vlog #2: Singing at Sibiu Camp

We've got a treat for you today!  Here's a video of our second-week campers singing a brand new song in Hungarian called "Tanits meg, hogyan kellene élnem."  Zozo and Alina K., Jeno P., and Paul did a great job leading the music and motions!  I've written the words below with their translation in English.  Enjoy!

Tanits meg, hogyan kellene élnem (Teach me how I should live)
Segits nekem, én legyek engedelmes (Help me to be obedient)
Tanitsál meg, mindig hallgatni téged (Teach me always to listen to you)
Segits nekem szivem tiéd legyen (Help my heart to be yours)

Mutasd meg a dicsöséget (Show me your glory)
Segits nekem, hogy én megtérjek (Help me to repent)
Tanitsd meg a szelidséget (Teach me humility)
Add szivembe a te szereteted (Put your love into my heart)

Ha elesnék ne menyél el (If I fall, don't leave me)
Örzō kezed emeljen fel (Lift up your sheltering hand) 
Hüségeddel örizzél meg (Protect with your faithfulness)
Legyek veled mindōrōkke, ámen! (I will be with you forever, amen!)
Legyek tiéd mindōrōkke, ámen! (I am yours forever, amen!)


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Teleios Children's Camp Week I

We are having a great time at camp!  This week and last week, we have been spending our days and nights out in the beautiful Carpathian Mountains near the large Transylvanian city of Sibiu.  Last week, we brought 51 children from Apalina with us!  This camp is an annual event lead and sponsored by Teleios Ministry.  Paul and I both have a long history serving at this camp... more on that later!

We arrived with the children from Apalina on Tuesday, July 7.  The theme of the week was "Trust and Obey," and our daily Bible story told powerful examples of people in the Bible who trusted God and acted in obedience to Him - and then how God blessed them for their obedience.  The children had an opportunity to respond creatively to the stories and messages they heard.  We also had a fun recreation time each day - led by Paul! - as well as team competitions, swimming time at the river, soccer matches, and lots of fun crafts!  The kids look forward to camp all year, and we love getting to spend some extra time with them outside of our regular weekly children's meetings.

We had a great team of adults who sacrificed so much of their time to spend with the kids last week.  Attila, our very busy pastor, was there, along with Orsi N., Tibi and Laura M., Adela N., and Jeno P.  From America came Bonnie Parker, co-founder of Teleios Ministry and longtime friend, with two of her nieces, Sarah Grace and Abigail D.  Bonnie did a fantastic job planning the week's theme and lessons, and all three of them did an amazing job putting together some really engaging and fun afternoon rotations.  Abigail led the craft time, Sarah Grace helped the kids plan and perform skits (complete with costumes and musical performances!), and Bonnie did some really neat science experiments to teach the kids more about the world we live in!  Each of the science lessons related to the Bible stories somehow... so creative, right??  Orsi and Adela are accomplished translators who flip effortlessly back and forth among Hungarian, Romanian and English.  Jeno did a great job leading the music.  His energy and enthusiasm are contagious!  Tibi and Laura spent every waking moment caring for the children and making sure they were safe and healthy.  We had an awesome team!

Paul and Jeno teaching the Bible verse in three languages: Hungarian, Romanian and Gypsy

Here's Attila with the whole crowd of Apalina kids

As I wrote earlier, my husband did a fantastic job running the team recreation time.  This camp is special to both of us, and we have enjoyed being back here together, this time as a married couple!  Here's a quick history to catch you up: way back in 2008, I came to this camp for the first time with Anna Horne and Bonnie Parker and had a life-changing experience with the people and the land. Anna and I returned to Romania the following summer for an 11-week stint, which included coming back to camp!  The next summer, 2010, I started graduate school in New York City, and I wasn't able to come back to Romania for camp.  Instead, Bonnie called Paul, the son of one of her friends, to see if he would be interested in filling in!  Well, he did come, and he had a life-changing experience of his own.  The following year (2011) I returned, and Paul and I became instant friends and camp companions!  The next year, 2012, we came back again, and that's the year our love story really began.  The next year, Paul had moved to Romania, and I came to spend the summer with him.  Yep, you guessed it - we came to camp!  Last year, 2014, we were in the states getting married, and we weren't able to be here.  But on July 12, 2015, we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary right here in the place where we both fell in love with Romania and then fell in love with each other!

Paul keeping track of team points

Creative response time

"Caterpillar" game

Me and Kinga

Paul leading music

An unusual photo with us both in it!  (We worked with the youngest kids during their creative response time)

This week, we've got 45 children with us from Gornesti, Glodeni, and Csavas.  On Monday, we made the "kid switch" between the two groups, and this group has had a lot of rain and cold weather so far!  Good thing they love to play bingo!  We'll be back in Reghin for a day or so this weekend, and we'll look forward to sharing some more photos then!  Please keep praying for us.  Paul's not feeling well, and we're hoping to get him to see a doctor once we return to civilization.  All of the leaders who've been here since last week are a little worn out, but the new leaders who've come with the new group have brought some renewed energy.  Pray we can keep it up through these long days and short nights!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

We want to wish all of our American friends and family a very happy Fourth of July!

We celebrated America's big day with a cookout of hamburgers, steaks, grilled corn and squash with potato salad, veggies and ranch dip (thanks Aleece K.!!), watermelon and s'mores!  We had some friends over to Attila's and Adel's house (they graciously allowed us to host there!), and we had a fun, relaxing afternoon together.  Claudiu and Cristina, two teachers from our after-school program, were there, along with our friends Lucian and Cristina (a Romanian pastor and his wife who live in our apartment building) and Gyorgy, a friend of ours from the Reghin church.

Preparing the feast

Enjoying the feast

Paul had some big fans once he started cutting the watermelon!

Kaleb had a great time playing with the flag

Probably more so now that we are far away, holidays are a time of reflection for me.  On this day, I am thankful to be the citizen of a country whose passport allows me to travel the world and even make my home someplace elsewhere.  I'm thankful that America is such a friendly place for us to go home to, though we have much more work to do to make that true for all Americans.  And I'm proud to represent a nation that inspires so much hope in the hearts of dreamers all over the world, because hope keeps things alive.

I'm also thankful today to be the resident of another nation across the world from America, a nation that has welcomed me as an immigrant, albeit temporary, with respect and dignity.  A prayer I pray for America is that it will continue to learn to welcome immigrants and refugees not just with respect and dignity, but also with love (see Leviticus 19:33-34 and Deut. 10:18-19).  As a foreigner here, I'm constantly reminded that my true citizenship lies in the Kingdom of God, and grace is bigger than borders or languages or nationalities.

This week we're heading to our first round of camp!  Please keep us in your prayers for safety, health, good team relationships, and a big bunch of happy and healthy campers to love with all our might!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

101 Dalmatians...No, Missionaries!

101! That is the number of people who attended the most recent Central European Retreat! Katie and I were among the crowd this year.  We had a great time of fellowship and sharing with missionaries and church workers from Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Russia, and Greece. We were the only representatives from Romania!

We received an invitation to attend this retreat several months back from Jamie Sides, one of Katie's friends. Jamie and her husband Ashley are serving in the Czech Republic and are connected with Katie's childhood church, Northwest Church of Christ in San Antonio, TX. While Katie and Jamie have been writing for several months (and grew up just 5 minutes from each other!), they had never met in person. When Jamie mentioned the retreat, we decided right away that we would like to go!

So, last Wednesday, Katie and I loaded up our car and hit the road! We decided to break the 13-hour trip into two days, spending the night near Budapest along the way. On Thursday afternoon, we arrived at a small but beautiful Christian camp in the central part of the Czech Republic. We had never met anyone at this camp before, so Katie and I were both feeling nervous, like kids on the first day at a new school! We soon realized that we had nothing to worry about. The people there were so glad to meet us and to hear about our work in Romania.  We enjoyed getting to visit with so many new and fun people!

Throughout the long weekend, we had many new introductions. Each of these introductions connected us to people serving God all around Central Europe. The speaker, Dino Roussos, is from Greece. He shared many inspiring and encouraging stories with us over the course of the weekend. We also got to share a lot about the work that we do in Romania.  We sang songs in many languages throughout the weekend: English, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Hungarian, German and Greek!  I taught the crowd to sing "Awesome God" in Romanian, and if we get the chance to go back again next year, we'd like to take a Gypsy song to teach!

With Ashley and Jamie Sides

With Jordan and Natalie Arnold, missionaries in Slovakia (you can see their website here!)  (And yes, that is a "vampire stake" that Jordan carved for us to keep in our Transylvanian apartment!)

We are so thankful for the opportunity that we had to be a part of this retreat. It was just what we needed as we look ahead to the coming months of ministry. This week, Katie and I are gearing up for a busy but fun camp season. We will be spending the next few weeks away from home working with children and youth camps in some of the most beautiful places in Romania. Please pray for us as we go and for the young people that we will spend time sharing with over the next seven weeks.