Czech Republic Project 2002 – August 7-22
by Henry Kay
What We Did
One look around the countryside of Beroun (a small city on the outskirts of Prague) and it’s hard not to feel a sense of peace and calm. Ahhh . . .
We arrived in Prague on Thursday, after spending most of the previous day traveling through the skies (and waiting in airports), trying not to get on each others nerves… ahem… and spent some time with Jan Klika and his family – his wife Michelle and their 5 sons: Tom, Sam, Peter, Dane, and Jeremy. Yes, 5 boys. A whole basketball team. Of course, basketball isn’t as popular there as it is here… yet. Cheri Ebaugh, the other member of our team from Maryland came that evening, The rest of our time before English Camp started was spent in preparation and planning, and looking around Beroun.
At this point since I was the rookie on the team, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, really about a lot of things, the students who would come, the camp facilities, the camp program, etc. But one thing that seemed very obvious was the people that we did meet (some of the families who we stayed with) were very welcoming and excited about our stay with them. Cheri and EJ stayed with the Klikas, Dae stayed with Jarda Prosek (he and his two children came to the camp), and I stayed with the Bauers (their two boys came as well).
Saturday came around and the house was filled with activity trying to get ready to go, not to mention figuring out how to get a dozen people with a ton of materials and luggage down to the bus station with two cars and a skateboard. I think it will be enough to say that it was not I who did the skateboarding.
It was great watching as we drove up to the station, seeing all the students and their parents eagerly waiting for us to come. There were many familiar faces (to the other team members) and right away I could sense there was no fear or tension.
The English Camp location was in a small countryside village near Librec (on the northern part of Czech). It was a small vacation hotel/inn that really was not much like a “camp” at all. There were about 60 people total involved in the camp, students, teachers and helpers. The program pretty much was set for each day. Every morning was English class, followed by lunch and some different afternoon activities. In the evening after dinner there was a short evening program that included singing (which included a number of different kinds of songs, but always the “Lean on Me” rendition by DC Talk), a short testimony by one of the teachers, and a presentation or activity based on our camp theme, Go West.
Wednesday was the only day that was different in that we spent the entire day at an indoor water park/mall/amusement area.
Everyone seemed to really enjoy their time, and were really exited about the possibilities for next year. Some of them actually wanted the camp to be much longer, possibly 2 weeks . . . ha! And except for a few small issues, everything went smoothly… I guess unless you count the flood that was greater than anything that they have seen in over 150 years.
Fortunately, the flooding occurred during our stay at the English Camp, up in the mountains (not really mountains, but hills). It rained even where we were for over 3 days (can you imagine what 40 days and nights of rain must have been like?) We spent one afternoon watching the news reports (and I emphasize watching, not listening), and getting the translations from the students and what was going on. There was an incredible amount of damage to Prague and many other cities in the Czech as well as other Eastern European countries. Fortunately, no one we knew from the camp had been hurt.
So after the camp was over on Saturday, we packed up and went back to Beroun and tried to recuperate. We went to the small church service that the Klikas go to on Sunday, and spent the next few days meeting with families and students before we left for home.
What We Felt
There were a number of opportunities that God provided to share about spirituality with some of the students, including times that we communicated the gospel message. It was surprising even for me to see how interested many were about God even though so many would consider themselves atheist. But we know that we are only seeing the fruit of the work that was done in the years prior to this one, through the work of the Klikas and missionaries that have come before us.
I think that the other main advantage was the fact that our team (with the exception of myself) had come last year, and had built a foundation to work on. The testimonies were great too because I think the students got a chance to see parts of our lives that they could relate too, and see how those things in our lives had been affected by Christ.
I believe that it’s the younger generation of Czech people that are ready to hear about spirituality, and the opportunity is there now, so we pray that God would provide the people to bring this message and the love of Christ to them.
But there are many barriers and walls that have been built up to keep the power of Christ hidden from those who are even slightly interested. Whether its apathy, persecution, peer pressure, worldly influences, cult issues, there aren’t many places for the students to go to hear the truth.
I think about what Pastor Ray shared with us at our last fall retreat about the power of love. More than anything that I’ve seen or experienced, the power really comes through the relationships that are built and the love that is shared with them. Someone who is searching will almost always seek out someone they trust and care for to get answers from. Or at least someone they can relate too. I am thankful that I got to see that in the hearts of EJ, Dae, Cheri, the Klikas, it was pretty clear how much they showed the love… what a great testimony. Pretty cool people.
I don’t believe that it was coincidence that we were in the Czech Republic during a historical event, even though the floods wouldn’t necessarily be a happy occasion. This was a great opportunity to allow a world event to be a bridge to the God who is in control of all world events. On the last few days of our trip, instead of taking more time for sightseeing and playing the tourist, we went to one of the student’s homes to help clean up after the damage. Their house has three stories, the bottom level is half above ground, and the flood waters came all the way to the third level. Everything that they owned had to either be cleaned or thrown out.
I think I enjoyed spending time with the students the most, just hanging out, listening to music, playing sports. Man, I think I really am 15 years old…
Now that it’s been a few weeks and I’ve slowly maneuvered back into life in northern Virginia, I have to say how thankful I am to have been part of this experience. Thank you for your support and prayers, looking forward to what God will do next year.
Please pray for:
- the students
- the Klikas
- the plan for next years English Camp.