2012


Hello friends! We are only a few short days away from our 4am. departure this Friday! I am so excited to see how God will be working through and in me and the team this July. Christ is already at work and I am so blessed to be able to go serve His Kingdom with such wonderful people all around me! I (and I am sure the rest of the […]

Hello Friends!


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It starts with the smallest tug on your heart and becomes the lens through which the last few weeks of life in the month of June is viewed. I had “forgotten.” Now it’s really becoming real – I’m heading back to Slovakia!!! Not that there haven’t been reminders along the way: that pile of stuff I’ve been setting aside for days as things came to mind; the well-wishes and offered […]

Getting Ready to Serve in Slovakia


The Serving Slovakia 2012 Blog and Photo Gallery are fully functional and ready to go! I’m afraid I don’t know that I can say the same for myself just yet. After weeks of fighting with various features for this year’s website, I’m afraid I haven’t put much thought into what all I need to do to actually prepare myself for this trip. This being my 6th time serving in Slovakia, […]

Ready to go?



I’ve only traveled internationally once.  I’ve only done one ministry trip once, in high school.  I’m a lot older now.  As I spend the last three days preparing to leave I ask myself, “Am I ready?”  This question involves more than what I’m packing.  I wonder if I’m prepared for what God wants me to do in Slovakia.  I know I’m excited to see what God has in store for […]

Am I Ready?


The first verse team members memorized for our Serving Slovakia outreach begins with “I am sending you to them to open their eyes . . .  . ”   Maybe that was code  for “See you at the airport at 4AM Friday???????  

Code


It’s the little things, the unanticipated ones, that are sometimes the hardest when preparing for a missions trip. Oops! The vitamins that I buy in bulk will run out smack dab in the middle of the journey. Have to run all over the area to find them in time. Oh, and don’t forget the suitcase! The one you were going to take has a broken wheel. (How did that happen?) […]

Unexpected Events



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It’s the day before the day! Less than 24 hours from now, the Serving Slovakia 2012 team will be meeting at the Portland, OR airport for our departure! There’s a LOT left to do in the 14 hours between now and when we meet at the airport. Whether it’s a mad scramble around town because the suitcase you were bringing is broken or last minute supplies for a classroom activity, […]

The day before the day!


This was my favorite of the goulashes. Very tasty with a little bit of heat. I tried to get them to smile for the camera, and then I remembered that they probably didn’t understand English! Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy… That is what was being performed as I snapped these pictures at the Martin Lutheran Congregation Festival this afternoon. Pastor Tomas, in the center playing with his American-style blues […]

Cultural Exchange


It is always interesting the things that come to mind prior to heading towards Slovakia. Each trip God has certainly impressed my thoughts and heart with different thoughts and feelings that seem to come together into one larger creation. I tend to understand things more creatively, so maybe this is why God brings it to me packaged this way. This year I joined the team very late, but made it […]

A Life Dependent



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Today is our first full day in martin and it has been so lovely, despite the heat and humidity. We had a church out side today and got to wear little head sets so that we could understand the message. Worship was wonderful also, it’s such a great experience to be able to worship in two languages. Its so cool to see God working accross the world, and to be able […]

First full day in Martin


Yikes! Is it really that time for our high school camp here in Slovakia already? It seems like we just got here! Oh wait, we did… As many of you know (and are praying about), our high school youth camp, formerly known as Be Cool Stay Cool, starts tomorrow morning when we head out at 9am with a busload of 12-18 year-olds! In the past, this camp has taken place […]

Tomorrow is…High School Camp!


Well… If you hadn’t yet gathered, WE’RE HERE! Below you’ll see some of the highlights of the journey: Portland (4am Friday, July 6 [GMT-8]) The team met at the Portland airport at 4am on Friday, July 6. Somehow, we everyone managed to make it on time– along with all of their luggage and documents! Due to how early this was for all of us, that is a miracle in and […]

28 hours later…




A car, three planes, a bus, and nearly 24 hours. That’s what it took for us to arrive safely in Martin, Slovakia. And overall, the trip went without a hitch. The only major problem is that my daughters don’t sleep when we travel. Ever. Especially my youngest. You’d think that a 6-year old who got up at 3am after only five hours of sleep would have no problem sleeping on […]

Two Days in Slovakia


First day class jitters are over for volunteers and students.  For me, being my first time, this day was full of new experiences.  I learned that a smile and a handshake can go a long way in bridging the language gap.  We had  a fun afternoon with our class after a morning of assessing.  I’m sure that everyday will hold a new adventure.  I can’t wait!

first class day



Serving Slovakia is comprised of three groups within a greater whole this year; each with a different set of tasks, yet all with the same purpose. No matter what our role on the team, our goal is to serve the people of Slovakia in any way we can. To understand a little more about the what we’re doing here, the attached video will explain our overall mission and what our […]

What is Serving Slovakia about?


I think I am tired.  I know I am thrilled to be here.  And I know that already I love the class of eager (mostly ;o) beginners  who are coming with smiling faces every morning to learn one of the most difficult languages in the world!  God is faithful!

I Think . . . I Know . . .


Children bring me such joy! One of my favorite times with them today was right after lunch. The beginning English language learners were waiting for class to begin when I began asking them how to say words in Slovak. Before I knew it I had four ten and eleven year old girls  all circled around me teaching me  new vocabulary words. We were all laughing pretty hard at my feeble […]

The Joy of Children



It is so strange to think that something we train for months for can go by in just a few short days! We’ve been here at camp in the mountains for 4 days now, and I just can’t believe that it is almost over. The start of camp is always an experience of mixed feelings for me because it’s so exciting to be meeting so many new people, yet scary […]

Wait, so camp is almost over?


We are in our second to last day of camp, I can hardly believe it is almost over. It has been such a growth experience. I have met so many wonderful students over this trip and will miss them dearly when we have to leave. We hope to be able to spend some time with them when we get back to Martin. It is amazing how bright they all are! […]

Camp


This is my third year in Slovakia, yet, I still feel like I am learning new things every minute! The town of Martin looks very much the same, the food still tastes as good and the schedule is very similar to the last few years…but something still feels as though this is the first time. God places us in situations where we may be either comfortable or uncomfortable, but in either, […]

Connections: New and Renewed



We’re almost at the end of our first week in Slovakia. The jet lag is entirely gone, the temperature has cooled enough for us to sleep with the windows closed, blocking out the street noise below, and were still having a great time. This is the first time my wife and I have been to Slovakia–indeed, anywhere in Eastern Europe. So we’re having plenty of new experiences. But what really […]

Doing Missions with Kids


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Last night we traveled south to visit with the students at the Be Cool Stay Cool camp. We enjoyed delicious BBQ’d Slovak sausages and a chance to visit with the high school students. One student came up and asked me if I remembered him. He had been in English classes for a week two years ago. He seemed pleased I remembered his name. Next, Kirsten and I visited with Kate, […]

Building relationships


We’ve reached the middle of our first week in Slovakia. The worst of the jet lag is behind us, though we’ve discovered that some Slovakians really like to sing and yell on their way home after the bars close. And we’ve also noticed that most of them like to walk right past our open window. So I’m now up a tad earlier than normal. But as a morning person, I […]

A Lesson in Humility (Slovakia Days 3-4)



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  This is a broad topic and several others have written wonderful verbal snapshots of the week, but I will add a few more since each year in Slovakia, and each person’s experiences, are unique. When asked earlier in the week what my favorite part of the trip had been so far, my answer was twofold. First, I listed the pleasure of getting to know the other members of the team more intimately. Upon […]

Week One Highlights and Reflections


Week one is over. It’s hard to believe that just seven days ago, we were unpacking our suitcases and getting ready to spend our first night here in Martin. Since then, we’ve worshipped with friends – old and new, set up classrooms, greeted 35 anxious and excited students, reconnected with previous students, successfully completed a high school camp, painted buildings, seen some gorgeous countryside, ridden a train to a beautiful […]

A Great Week


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    As part of our beginning class, our fearless leader, Brenda, gave us the assignment of doing a “pretend”shopping trip to the market in order to learn the English names of fruits and vegetables. These young students showed Robin and I all the ways children have fun in the town center on the way: playing in the water running  down the string on the Martin sign, leading us to […]

Field Trip



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It is hard to believe I’ve been in Slovakia for a week already, it really has gone by fast. this is my first post so I think I will just start from the beginning. The plane ride(s) over were actually a lot of fun for me, I don’t fly very often and it was a good experience overall, uneventful even (which I like). Arriving in Vienna and driving into Martin […]

Week One Reflection


Greetings! We are now 1 day down on J-Camp (think Camp Surf/Camp Getaway, but with much fewer students…who don’t speak English). Our team has been meeting regularly with Lubka (one of our interns from a few summers back), in order to prepare for camp. As I wrote earlier, we are here in much of a support role for the camp…Lubka is the one who really put the effort into planning […]

J-Camp: Day 1


[L]ooking around the room, I see many familiar faces. I see the athlete all the girls will love in a few years, though now he’s a little shy and prefers to run with his hair flying in the wind. Next to him is his awkward, overweight, and rather nerdy friend, loyal to a fault and trying to keep up. Across the room are several other boys, the popular crowd: fun […]

Fumbling Toward Belonging: Are Middle Schoolers the Same Everywhere?



Hello, Hello, Hello! Camp has been fantastic! The students here have been very welcoming and I quite enjoy the small community feeling this camp has to offer. As Cameron mentioned earlier, the language-barrier is not a problem at all. The students’ interest in communicating with us, whether through words or actions, has proven to be just as prominent as yesterday. However, their energy levels somehow seem to get stronger and […]

J-Camp: Day 2


Can’t say much right now, as we’re at J-Camp eating dinner. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit this afternoon after classes. We’ve been playing with water balloons, launchers, singing songs, being silly, and just enjoying all of the great things happening here at J-Camp. More to come later, as this is currently being typed from my iPhone.

Dinner at J-Camp


This is my first trip to Slovakia and I have learned so much I can’t begin to process it all yet, but one thing I’ve really loved has been visiting the camps. We brought several young people and one family of four whose primary purpose has been serving in a high school and then a middle school camp for Slovak youth. We, as the EFL members of the team, have […]

Camps



Wow, the last day.  Looking back, the rest of the trip seems like an instant and yet tonight is the night of the ending party.  So many relationships, so many prayers, so many laughs, and a few tears as well, but here we are staring at the last few hours of Slovakia 2012. It is the last chance to speak terrible Slovak and watch all of the kids make fun […]

The Last Day


My wife and I lived in Scotland for a couple of years. And, in many ways, making the transition to Scotland was much easier than moving to a place like Papua New Guinea. The language and culture of Scotland are similar enough to America that we could navigate through society fairly easily. One thing we noticed, though, is that when two cultures are rather similar, it really makes the differences […]

This Isn’t Kansas Anymore: Life at a Slovak Summer Camp


As I think about the ending of my adventure in Slovakia, I become introspective. There have been many highlights of the trip.  I will share a few lessons I will never forget. First has been the learning to minister to others and love them right where they are at. I had some challenging students this year and yet, I was able with God’s help to enter  into their lives. Instead […]

Never the Same



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I write this from the Vienna Airport. We are officially through security and are waiting to board our flight to Dusseldorf. From there, we will fly to Chicago O’Hare and then on to Portland. We should be arriving in Portland via United Airlines flight 461 around 11pm “tonight” (Sunday, July 22). That’s right, we’ve learned how to fit more than 24 hours into a day– Just fly West! Though we […]

We’re on our way!


Summer camps exhaust me. I love teens, and I love spending quality time with them. But by the last day of a full week at summer camp I just want to take my sore muscles, raspy voice, and weary eyes home from some much needed rest. This last week has been different. By the end, I was still sore, raspy, and tired. But I could easily have stayed longer. And […]

5 Highlights from a Slovak Summer Camp