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Thursday, July 30, 2009

English Camp in the Czech

I tend to leave the most important/defining events of my life out of my blog, because I just get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. And such is the case right now. Upon returning from the Czech, there have been so many different thoughts, memories, and aspects of the trip swirling around in my head that I feel as if I wouldn’t be able to collate or organize them into bloggable material. But, alas, I feel compelled to at least try.

The first 5-6 days of the trip brought me much anxiety because the entire country of the Czech was without internet, and I was unable to contact my family, which (in my mind at the time) confirmed my worst fear, which was that I was completely abandoning my family and children, leaving them helpless with no way to communicate with me even if they desperately needed to. After that, however, internet was restored, and the subsequent weeks brought brighter days.

Except for the last leg of the journey (which included a11/2 day stay in Prague) our team was isolated to a hotel in the mountains, far from any nearby city. This is where the English camp was held, and where I became acquainted with the country through its young people. I discovered how they interacted, how they reasoned, how they expressed friendship and love, and how they viewed themselves and God (all of which being starkly different than Americans). I think I learned more about the country than any tourist could have by site seeing, museum touring, or road tripping. Through the older Czech people, I was able to have an inside view on how communism, and the current lack thereof, has shaped them uniquely as a person into who they are today, and how it continues to evolve each and every individual in the country. Our later stay in Prague, presented the opportunity to visit a communism museum- but I don’t think even that could have educated me about communism in the way that real people could.

The most refreshing aspect of their culture for me, was being able to witness the Czech campers being exposed to God, spirituality and Christianity apart from the mucky lens of American Christian culture. It seemed almost so ideal that it was surreal to be able to see someone understand the gospel without the influence of a chip on their shoulder that I have always previously encountered. It was encouraging, to say the least… it’s an understatement, but I don’t know how else to describe it.

I personally invested many hours into preparing curriculum and activities for the English lessons as well as crafts to do later in the day after all the lessons were done. This was, by far, the most fulfilling part of the trip for me, because I feel like my effort was very successful. I was amazed at how wholeheartedly each student jumped into the process of each craft. Everyone participated immediately, no coercion required, like I had been anticipating. I learned that art and craft supplies are hard to come by in the Czech, thus their enthusiasm when provided with them. I will blog further about specific crafts and add pictures!

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I connected with the American teenagers who were on my team the way I had envisioned. I don’t know if it was due to unrealistic expectations on my part, or on their part, or if it just wasn’t meant to be. If the later is the case, that is perfectly fine, just as long as I didn’t make a negative impact, as opposed to a neutral one. And hopefully, it was one of those cases where God was really in control, and the impact was positive, despite not being apparent to me in the moment. That being said, one highlight of my trip was on the very last day, in Prague, when I traveled the city with the three soon-to-be high school seniors from our team. We spent the day taking senior pictures of them in front of notable architecture and attractions in the city. I feel like the pictures turned out awesome and I hope that, if nothing else, that was one positive interaction I had with the team. Hopefully during the next year they will be proud to have super unique senior portraits (and thankfully, they all go to three different schools!) I will include a blog with these pictures later as well.

I’m not sure that these few paragraphs summed up what I got out of the trip or not, but it’s a start. I was hoping that once I blogged it out, I would have an easier time writing my thank you notes to those who supported me, but I think it might have just made it seem even more complicated that I thought. Furthermore, I have been putting off posting anything else on my blog until I have made myself say SOMETHING about the Czech, as well as keeping myself from reading anybody elses blogs (as motivation), so at this point I am feeling incredibly backed up. Anyhow, it’s a relief to have gotten it over with!


Me said...

Thanks for sharing! I loved getting to see your pictures on FB as you posted them along the way. I was actually just thinking about you today, or rather your lack of blogging. Glad you are back!

Aunt Donna said...

Yeag! I'm so glad you started blogging about your trip. I can see how it would be overwhelming to try to do just one blog entry about such a big trip. So take it slow - and ponder out the various things you want to say & just let it flow when you're ready. I look forward to hearing all about it.

Welcome home!

Aunt Donna said...

Duh...that first 'word' isn't Yeag, its Yeah - as in Wahoo, Yippee and Yehaw! *G*

Sarah said...

You did a great job of giving us the highlights of your trip. Loved your descriptions of it all!