The following update came from Justin Schroeder who was on a mission trip with Karen Hellweg and several others from the Portland area. They were in the Czech Republic serving in an English Camp with Josiah Venture.
Camp was amazing! Such a great week, despite the illness. Zach and Caro were the only ones of our team to make it through the week without vomiting. Gracey and Sean, fortunately, got much better as quickly as they became sick, and were up and running within hours. I was #26 to come down with the vomiting/fever bug on the very last night of camp, which meant I spent the last night (which are always epic) laying in bed. I believe about 36 people total had the virus during camp.
The thing is, though, that none of that stopped the energy of camp, and it was probably meant to be. No one was sent home, and those who weren't sick were full of life and energy that made this one of the sweetest camps ever. We had a super fun and crazy time, and got to make some great friends with the students there. At the end of the week, many had intense spiritual conversations with the Czech youth group members, and one girl accepted Christ right there at camp!
After camp was follow-up. Half the team went to Trebic, and a few of us went to Jihlova (YEE-hlo-va), the other town involved with the camp. It was a great chance to hang out with the students in their element, to relax and adventure as peers and to get those who had formerly not seen the local youth group a really good intro/plug-in to their respective churches. I think most of our team found the follow-up to be the most precious time of the whole trip.
After we said goodbye, we went to Prague! The last couple days were spent in the chaos of this beautiful city. First was the debrief, where Nate and Rob (of JV) essentially commissioned us BACK to carry on the spreading of the gospel in the places we live, not just for a couple emotional weeks in a foreign country. After debrief, we walked, shopped, toured, got lost, hit up all the major must-see points, got lost, and had a great time bonding as a team one last time. It was a magical time but also I'm still sore from all the walking.
I am so so extremely proud of this team and everything they accomplished this past week. It was truly incredible to see the way God worked through each member in a unique and powerful way. Not only did many people in various leadership roles express how impressed they were, but the students took to these Americans in a rich and beautiful manner.
So Gracey and Karen made it home safely to Portland! I immediately began the whole process over with another team and am back in eastern Czech ready to start camp tomorrow. Well sort of ready. Mostly just exhausted. And Caro, Zach and Sean are on a plane back to America as we speak!
Side note: as I am here at this new training, I'm seeing SO many people I've met in the past and have been catching up right and left with all sorts of individuals from all different towns and places in the country I've worked with. It is incredible to hear stories of people I knew back in those towns who have become Christians or are growing in their faith, leadership, and lives from the catalyzing effect camp had on them. Often times our job here is only planting a seed, but four years in and I can personally testify that God is bearing TONS of fruit in this country.
Ok back to the not-side-note. The middle note, if you will. Or whatever:
So thank you for helping make this journey possible through your prayers and loving support of each member. Please pray that the Denver team makes it home safely. Also please pray for each of these Americans, that this experience will not be lost in their personal lives and walks and that their growth will be evident from this point forward. Finally, pray for all the students, Christian and non-Christian alike, that God will continue his powerful movement through this atheistic nation, and that His light will once again shine from the Czech Republic.
Peace, Love, and Kouzelné Hroch,