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.