Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ukraine: EL3 Camp

Alright, I need to just take the time to get this all out! We've been sharing this with many family and friends (of whom we are grateful to for listening), so I've been putting off writing the second entry about Ukraine.

Again, I'm going to explain the festivities day by day of our English Language Camp, and some of the writing is from the posts we made during the trip. (The #3 is in the title because we were the 3rd EL camp this summer). Also, I'm not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but we worked with Radooga, which is a ministry in Ukraine that seeks to change the country of Ukraine through their teenagers and orphans...since the government is incredibly corrupt. For more information about them, check out www.radooga.com.

Friday July 20:
This was the first day with campers! They started out with interviews to determine what classes to place each child in. After interviews, our team was able to practice our games with the kids before we began our first class. And boy, do these kids (ages 10-18) love games and candy!

Each of us led a class (with a partner and a translator) for an hour. We focused on building relationships balanced with teaching English as we deciphered what level each student was at. Each class had a different experience, but quickly we saw God moving in our hearts towards the students, as well as an increased gratitude for the translators. Personally, my class did not "bond immediately" like other classes. We had a student who proclaimed to worship Satan, another student who continually skipped class, a student who talked the entire time (until I asked him to leave to finish his conversation or stay and be respectful), and a student with a physical disability/a girl who did not like him because of it. Although it took time for group cohesion, I can definitely say that the Lord blessed me with a heart to pray for and reach out to each one of them. No worries, there were also many engaged, talkative, respectful teenagers in my group, who I also loved.
Anywho, following class we were able to experience a CRAZY fun time of worship in Russian as we praised the Lord in a unique way with lots of jumping!
Saturday July 21:
Day 2 and the first full day with campers. Today was our first full day with campers. It consisted of three programs, two hours worth of teaching, and team sports. It was a blast! Two things we continued to learn:
1. Ukrainians love background music for everything
2. Ukrainians know how to praise through dancing (and jumping)!

I got sick this morning with bad stomach issues, but with some medicine I was back to normal by afternoon. Everyone on our trip (16 total) got sick except for Corey and a couple others.
We were also blessed to have a fabulous time of fellowship, chicken, laughs and singing with the Ukrainian team at 11pm…until morning. The Ukrainian team was definitely a huge encouragement when we had a difficult session, and they were just so fun to be around!

Sunday July 22:
Another success at Radooga camp! Many of us were tired (maybe a result of last night’s chicken party?), but the programs (sessions with dramas, a message, games and the “rock band”) were always refreshing.
We also continued with teachings, games and recreational time. After the last program ALL the American and Ukrainian leaders went back on stage and had a sweaty dance party to 50’s music just because! By this point, we all had grown to love each other, and we just needed to celebrate the life we have been given!
Monday July 23:
Today was moving to say the least. Actually, “moving” does not even begin to describe what tonight brought during the evening program. In the evening session, the pastor described Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and he asked campers who felt called to come forward.
Our team expected a few to go to the front to pray…and almost everyone went.
There were lots of tears, prayers in Russian and English, and our team was blessed to pray with students who committed their lives to Christ for the first time, as well as those who rededicated their lives. There were hugs from campers that we didn’t even know but who were touched by our example (i.e. Christ working in us!). Words cannot describe this experience, and we do not wish to diminish what we witnessed with mere words. God was on the move, and we felt very revived in our own hearts.
Following the program, we had the opportunity to share as a team the indescribable experience. We knew the Lord was changing hearts because the director of the camp informed us that a few campers called home to share their commitments, and those parents threatened to sue Radooga since “Christianity is a cult”. The Holy Spirit was so evident in the group and prayer though. We know the Lord was working because Satan is trying to gain any kind of foothold he can…but he was failing! Following the prayer was more worship with Russian and English words being simultaneously and passionately shouted out.
Tuesday July 24:
Tuesday morning we found out that the parents who were going to sue the Radooga camp never came by and dropped all charges! It was seriously an amazing answer to prayer. To you it may seem insignificant, but to experience the fervor and urgency in that room as people shared and prayed, especially after witnessing God’s movement in the hearts of the teenagers, was truly an indescribable experience.
One of my favorite memories is seeing one of my campers at the front of the stage last night, lands lifted high, and praising our Lord in Russian. So beautiful.
The same routine occurred today, except in my English classes we share our testimonies and talked about the night before. Some students were scared of what they observed, and others were so excited to start new and already saw the change in others.
For the second session, I taught the kids how to play bananagrams and Spot It! (Thank you, Aunt Candys). They loved the games, and we found it was a unique way for them to practice spelling and saying their English.
Wednesday July 25:
This was the last day of camp. In the morning, we had one English lesson where we provided a large jar of nutella, three bags of cookies/crackers, and two 2 liters of pop to our group as a goodbye surprise. They finished everything in less than a half hour! Following class, we had our last program and said our goodbyes.
After campers and some Ukrainian leaders left, we went back into Kiev to do some shopping. Corey and I were able to eat a three-course meal for a total of $8! When we came back to the camp, we had a long, healthy time of debriefing with the Radooga directors, and then we had two hours of sleep before leaving for the airport.
This trip was truly amazing. There is a special place in my heart for my campers and the Ukrainian translators. Even though it was more difficult for me in the beginning than Corey, but we both are 100% glad we went, and we would like to go back again. I feel like words truly cannot describe what we experienced, so I am very grateful Corey and I had the opportunity to be on this journey together. Only we will be able to understand and remember the funny, unique, interesting events that occurred and people we met. And for this I am thankful.


Leah Bradley said...

This is such a great summary.
I'm glad you were able to experience God is such an obvious and moving way.

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