Hello from Vienna!
I apologize that this post is a) late and b) short. I had a few amazing paragraphs written that the Internet decided not to save for me, and with an early departure tomorrow morning, there isn't time to write a lot! Here's a rundown of our last few days:
We wrapped up the Puchov camp with a combined teen/children's camp barbecue and program on Thursday evening and a closing program on Friday. After the closing, we scrambled to clean up classrooms, move tables and chairs, and sort out the supplies we wanted to leave so that we could catch our afternoon train to Bratislava, and then on to Vienna.
Since we've been in Vienna, we've had some team meals out together, explored Schoenbrunn palace and gardens, attended an English-speaking Methodist service, wandered around Stephansplatz, gotten caught in one or two torrential downpours while walking, and had some really in-depth and productive debrief conversations. Tomorrow (Monday) morning, most of the team departs back to the US, while a few are staying on in Europe for a little while.
Vienna is always a city of bittersweet emotions to me: while we are happy to be returning home to friends and loved ones, leaving behind a country and people we have grown to love so much is difficult. Even so, building those relationships and connecting Christians from different countries is exactly what EEMN is about. We can all go our separate ways feeling encouraged and strengthened by the faith of our brothers and sisters in other places, and we can return to our "normal" lives with more perspective and an openness to what God has shown us about ourselves over the course of the trip.
We are all grateful to every single person who has followed this blog (or Facebook/Instagram/social media of choice) and prayed for us on this trip. The "senders" are just as vital to the mission field as the "goers," and your support along the way is invaluable! We trust that God has planted seeds in the hearts of the children and teens we worked with over the last few weeks and that He will do amazing things in our own lives as we return home from this journey.
If reading about our adventures has sparked an interest in you for missions, please reach out to the team member who brought you here to find out more about their experiences. EEMN will be holding more camps in summer 2019-- the vineyard is plentiful but the workers few!
Signing off for the last time for the SEBC 2018 team,
Meet the Team: Jackie & Heidi
Two first-time team members from New Mexico, Jackie and Heidi were awesome in the camps! Jackie is a retired elementary school teacher and taught Group 2, and Heidi is a high school math teacher and taught Group 5.
Meet the Team: Crystal, Tim, & Timmy
Tim & Crystal are veteran team members, each having come to Slovakia twice before, but this was Timmy's first trip. At home, Tim is a fire chief and paramedic, Crystal is a volunteer EMT and school cook, and Timmy is a student. Tim and Timmy worked with Group 4 and Crystal worked with Group 1.
Meet the Team: Bob H. & Bob W.
"The Bobs," as we sometimes collectively called them, are both veteran team members and both from California! Bob H. is a retired police officer, has been to Slovakia 9 times, and led crafts. Bob W. is a retired pediatrician, has been to Slovakia twice, and taught Group 6.
Meet the Team: Vic & Silvia
Vic is on his fourth trip to Slovakia and is a retired police officer. Silvia was able to get enough time off from her job as an executive assistant to come for the first time this year as well. Vic taught Group 8 and Silvia taught Group 7.
PHIL SCHMIDT & ERIKA MECHSNER are siblings from California. When they aren't leading short-term trips to Slovakia or organizing children and youth events at their church, Calvary Lutheran, Phil is a high school English teacher and Erika is a university lecturer in composition.