Sheri, Crystal, Jake and Bea joined the rest of the Life & Adventure Bible Camp team for our adventures in Bulgaria and Greece!
After driving down from Púchov, Slovakia on Friday evening, to our hotel in Vienna, the team flew to Sofia, Bulgaria on Saturday. We were greeted at the airport by Vasko, our guide and member of Holy Trinity Church in Sofia. HTC is our partner ministry in Bulgaria.
The needs and nature of the camp in Bulgaria will be different from all of the others EEMN has done and we look forward to the challenge. It will still be structured similarly to the teen summer camp that we just finished in Slovakia, last week, but the twist. This will be a multigenerational camp for both, believers and non-believers, alike. The camp will also start later in the the week, on Wednesday evening.
With the later start, the team was able to enjoy some rare opportunities for extended excursions and walking in the footsteps of biblical history!
Sofia, Bulgaria is what Emperor Constantine referred to as "My Rome." The city is rife with archeological sites and existing historical structures that date back to the 4th century A.D. and before.
The big excursion took us south, into Greece, where we spent the day and night in Kavala, Greece (ancient Neapolis) where the Apostle Paul, Silas and Luke first landed on the European continent (read Acts 16). The following day the team spent 3-hours walking among the city ruins of Philippi, including the prison where Paul was jailed and the marketplace where they met the woman with the spirit of divination. Finally, we made the short trip to the baptismal site of Lydia, who was the first Christian convert in Europe! It will take some time before the impact of was we saw and experienced will fully sink in.
Late, Wednesday night, the team reached our camp destination in the mountain village of Chepelare, Bulgaria. Praise be to God!
Life & Adventure were definitely a part of this camp week for teens! Monday featured Paintball in the woods. Tuesday - a 12 mile hike in the High Tatras mountains. Wednesday - water soccer, volleyball, and other outdoor games, topped off with a campfire and s'mores. Thursday - High Ropes challenge course!
Of course, the entire week focused on how God works in, around, and through us; especially during times when life is most challenging and when we face difficult choices.
Tuesday's hike in the High Tatras provided some very memorable lessons and challenges. In particular, Pr. DMC experienced excruciating pain in both knees, when we began our descent from the peak. Several students and adults worked together to devise an impromptu "seat" so that DMC could be safely carried down the mountain. We all took turns in serving as "carriers" during the 2.5 hour descent down the steep trail. It was a challenging lesson in genuine humility for Pr. DMC, as most of us are happy to serve others, but we are not as comfortable being served when we are in need of help. It was a memorable lesson and demonstration of God's international family working together to serve a brother in need. After ice and a good night's rest Pr. DMC recovered well!
In addition to Wednesday's games in water, we were joined that evening by the EEMN SEBC team that was hosting an English Bible Camp in the nearby village of Púchov. All of us received a huge blessing in hearing the testimony from Peter Slany. Peter heads up a Slovak ministry geared for high-risk youth who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as crime and prostitution. His story was, at times, difficult to hear but profound in the way God lifted him up and is using him to draw others to Christ.
Thursday featured a High Ropes obstacle course in which most everyone (including many of the adult leaders!) tried their hand at negotiating the challenging course! Happily, the course was set only one or two feet above the ground, along with plenty of "spotters" to guard against injury. We had a great time!
Before we departed on Friday morning, the whole camp gathered for prayer circle and a final "goodby." It was a meaningful ending to profound week of learning, adventure, and growing as members of God's global family!
Next week our team will expand and be joined by Sheri, Crystal, Jake, and Bea for another Life and Adventure Bible Camp in Bulgaria! Stay tuned...
On Friday, Suzie and Jill arrived by train, Pr. David Michael Carrillo and Markuss arrived by plane, and Pr. David and Angela arrived by car to meet at our hotel in Vienna. After a good night sleep and leisurely breakfast, the team loaded into our rental van and drove into Slovakia to meet up with the EEMN Slovakia English Bible Camp (SEBC) team and Slovak friends for dinner and conversation. Following dinner we drove to our Slovak home-away-from-home, a retreat center in the mountain village of Pruzina, Slovakia.
On Sunday morning, the LATBC team worshiped with the Lutheran church in Zarecie, where Pr. David preached and Pr. DMC provided a music offering to the congregation. Lunch was enjoyed in the nearby Czech Republic, at a popular mountain resort for both, Slovaks and Czechs. The views were amazing and the team enjoyed walking along the Czech-Slovak border!
On Sunday evening the Life & Adventure Teen Bible Camp participants began to arrive. After getting settled into their rooms we all gathered for dinner, and then played get-to-know-you games. Pr. David led a devotion that introduced the focus for the week and Pr. DMC led the camp in worship. There are 50 international participants in all - Slovaks, Americans, Germans, Latvians and one Belorussian!
This year, we are focusing on God's Purpose for My Life. Each camp day begins with a 7:30am wake up call, morning stretches and exercise, followed by a hearty breakfast. The topic for the day is presented to the group at 9:15 - Choices, Dealing with the Past, Fear, Hopelessness, and Forgiveness - followed by games and then worship. The students then divide into adult-led small groups to go deeper into the topic of the day.
After lunch, there is a siesta time! Each day there is an outdoor activity scheduled - water soccer & volleyball; obstacle & ropes course; and the big hike day! After dinner, the group gathers together for the evening session for presentations and testimonies from the adult leaders, and a movie night, with lively discussion, afterword. Lights out happens at midnight (remember, these are teenagers!) and so the days are challenging but full of opportunities for building relationships in Christ!
Pr. David & Angela Breidenbach are the Executive Director and Director of Development & Operations for East European Missions Network (EEMN). They are serving as Team Leaders for this first year of hosting dedicated Life & Adventure camps for teens in Slovakia and Bulgaria.