Janikowo English Camp YEAH

As I sit in my favorite corner of the Lillpop’s couch, stomach full of kiełbasa, and think about our second term English Camp my heart is full, but also heavy (not just from the sausage). Yesterday I said goodbye to dear new friends, but I am excited to be reunited with the rest of the intern team tomorrow. This post may get lengthy, but please do me the favor and read about how God has been moving!

After finishing our first term of English Camp in Zelów, I was nervous that I would compare our next camp to the wonderful experience I had just completed. I didn’t know anyone in Janikowo (pronounced yawn-ee-ko-vo), the destination of our next camp, and I felt as though first term went so well that everything would be downhill from there. I prayed that God would prepare me for new relationships, new responsibilities, and new rest pathways. Well, friends, our God is ever faithful (as if I should be surprised)! But we are not always given what we need in “convenient” ways.

The day before we were to leave for Janikowo I started having intense stomach pains. I was very worried that it was my pancreas (throwback to 2006 when I had pancreatitis and almost died it’s cool whatever), but I just hoped it would go away after a bit. The pain got worse as the day went on, so I told Kelly, our missionary leader who was away for the week, just to be safe. Being the amazing, wonderful, caring woman that she is, Kelly did the smart thing and wanted to be safe rather than sorry. This resulted in another JV missionary picking me up at 2:30 am and taking me to the Wrocław emergency room.

ER experiences are always scary, especially when you don’t speak the native language and you’re worried your insides are going to explode. So as we waited in the hospital not only was I in pain, but my mind was also racing with fear and “what ifs.” I also hate putting people through inconveniences, so I felt bad that Daniel had to put his busy life on pause to take care of me. Daniel, the missionary-superhero-guardian angel, was such a blessing and reminded me that this is what being a missionary is all about, regardless of where you are in the world. He was merely acting as my brother in Christ and serving me.

After 2 IV drips and an ultrasound, the doctor concluded that my pancreas was fine, praise God, and that the pain was intestinal and blah blah blah medical jargon. But the important part is I’m fine. God really used this hiccup in my plans to teach me that humility is huge and that I shouldn’t be ashamed to ask others for help when I’m helpless. I not only need to put my pride aside in my relationship with God, but also with those around me. Another added bonus was watching a very bloody drunk man get dragged out of the hospital by security. Yet another added bonus was watching said drunk man have rocks thrown at him by said security guards as we left the hospital.

Whew. Haven’t even started talking about camp yet. Stick with me, folks.

All that aside, Jesica, JT and I finally made it to Janikowo where we met the American team and the Poles we would be serving with. Holy macaroni, these people are prime. The American team was made up of 7 students and one staff leader from Colorado Christian University, all on fire for Jesus and ready to serve. Our Polish leadership team was also creme de la creme. I have never met such servant-hearted people, my friends. I was instantly at ease when we had our first meeting and I was so pumped to serve with them and get to know them!

Prior to the start of camp, there were about 20 people registered for Janikowo EC. Sadly, 13 of those students dropped out due to untrue rumors circulating the town about the affiliated church. (This is currently a huge problem in Poland. Evangelicals are often seen as something they are not. Please pray for this to change!) We were prepared to only have 7 students at camp, and dangit we were going to love them with the love of Jesus! However, on our first day I believe we had about 13 students come for camp! On our biggest day we had 18 students! This would be the first of many signs of God’s hand at camp! So many exclamation points!

As our days went on, we built strong relationships with the students. It was amazing to see how they opened up after only one or two days. Our three teams (interns, CCU, and Poles) meshed seamlessly into one powerhouse team, and it was seriously so much fun to work with everyone. Each day was filled so richly with the Holy Spirit that I was moved to tears at least once a day (literally, not exaggerating) and could not stop praising my Father for the work he is allowing me to be part of. Logistically, camp was flawless, our students were engaged and participating, and 6 campers made decisions for Christ. God is good!

One particularly important blessing at camp was a new friendship. Ewelina is one of the Polish leaders and member of the local church. She rocked the administrative side of camp and made sure every t was crossed and every i was dotted and every other strange Polish letter had its strange Polish markings on it (you try and learn Polish, I dare you). I would occasionally made a bad joke to Ewelina (I know, totally uncharacteristic of me), and slowly we began to have very meaningful conversations. I have been feeling deprived of intellectually stimulating, yet spiritual discussions, and God provided through Ewelina. We not only discussed cultural differences, but we talked about our own faith, shared how God is working in us, and challenged one another constructively. Friends, I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with this precious woman. She was and is a reminder to me that God sees my needs and fulfills them at just the right time. Ewelina is an encouragement to me to pursue Jesus in every activity, every conversation, every second of my life. Seeing her passion for the youth of Janikowo is utterly moving, and I hope to grow into the kind of woman she is. She also occasionally laughed at my jokes, which is a blessing of its own.

So today, as I rest in Wrocław, do endless laundry, and prepare for our next camp, my heart is heavy, yet rejoicing. It is heavy because I hate that I cannot confidently state when I will see my dear Ewelina again, along with other brothers and sisters that I have met while in Poland. Yet I am rejoicing because I am in awe of how the body of Christ is united all over the world. If I do not get the blessed opportunity to see Ewelina again on this earth, I know that I will get to stand next to her in heaven and praise our Savior together. While I hope and pray that we can share more time together on Earth, I anxiously await that day in Paradise.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:16

If you’d be so kind, please pray for healing on our intern team, safe travels, and effective ministry at our last English Camp of the summer.

Thank you so much for reading. I truly appreciate it.
Be good, stay in school.

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Zelów English Camp YEAH

Welcome, friends, to another episode of word-vomit-blog-time with April. I’d love to tell you about our first term of English Camp.

Prior to leaving orientation, I was honestly terrified to start English Camps. I am one of the few interns that has never participated in an EC, so I felt behind, unprepared, and ill-equipped. As we prepared to leave I kept praying that God would give me trust and that I could experience his grace in this new experience. And, of course, our God is faithful!

My intern team was supposed to do EC in Marki, a small town outside of Warsaw. We promoted there and were excited to do camp with a team from Azusa Pacific University. Sadly, only 3 campers signed up so they cancelled. But the Lord’s plan is greater. Instead of going to Marki my team got to go back to Zelów, the first town we promoted in, and one of our favorite places. This also meant joining with the intern team from Bielsko-Biała. I knew this was an answer to my prayers for support and encouragement!

Camp in Zelów was awesome. Even though it was a small camp, the students were absolutely wonderful and God’s provision was seen all week. Our American team was also a huge answer to prayer. The 6 person team from Oshkosh, WI was a joy to work with. Their leaders were very experienced and well-prepared, making our job easier. Our intern team meshed very well and I made some wonderful friends that just so happen to live half way between Rockford and Bethel! Hip hip hooray!

In addition to English Camp we also ran a Kid’s Club in the mornings. We hung out with some ridiculous youngsters and tried to keep up with them as we taught them English and Bible stories. Their favorite game was Poisonous Frog (simply because they liked to attempt CPR when their friends were “killed”).

Not only was Zelów EC incredibly fun with water day and a day trip to Łódź, but I believe it was also incredibly fruitful. Four campers made decisions for Christ, praise God! And hopefully the beginnings of regular youth meetings are in the works. We made dear friends with the Polish leadership and loved hanging out with them. Our friends Estera, Oliwia, and their precious little sister Kornelia came to visit us in Wrocław and we had a marvelous time at the zoo, the aquapark, Japanese Gardens, and the Wrocław Fountain. It’s amazing to see how God weaves the body of Christ together!

So, my first camp experience was incredible. Each day was confirmation that God has brought me to Poland to use the gifts he has given me to minister to the youth here and encourage the local church. I am so thankful that I can be part of Josiah Venture, Fala, and the ministry they are doing!

Thanks for reading, you wonderful human.

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Orientation Jubilation

Hello again, Internet! Once again I have kept you anxiously awaiting another update, but just remember that patience is a virtue.

After we left the wonderful, laugh-filled, fulfilling intern retreat at the Hash Hotel in Mikołow we headed to H2O for our fist orientation for American teams. If you know anything about me you know I love big group settings that are hyped up and info-filled. Our role as interns was to connect with the American team we would be partnering with, encourage them, and prepare them well for camp. This time was also encouraging for me to see so many people of all ages coming together to do the Lord’s work.

I got to teach the camp dance to the American teams with my homie Alaina during our evening program. If my non-existent career goals fall through, I know my true calling is to be a professional dancer. Next month I’m auditioning for a Russian ballet company that specializes in freestyle crumping.

I also got to lead worship with Elliott and Jesica. Normally when I am involved in leading worship I’m just standing next to the drummer plucking the bass, so leading vocals and acoustic in a large group setting was a new, scary experience for me. Seriously, I’m so thankful that I can just make a joyful noise with a worshipful heart. I may or may not have started singing a song in the wrong key and stopped in the middle to start over. Oh well, it happens. Hallelujah for grace.

In all, orientation was awesome. From connecting with American teams to spending much too long trying to take under water selfies with Emily, I loved every second of it.

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Home is where the wifi connects automatically.

Yes, I am aware that I have neglected this blog for much too long. Yes, I am expecting you to forgive me because that’s what you should do as a good Christian. I have attempted to write this blog approximately 62 times, but each time I sit down to write I either immediately fall asleep or find something much more entertaining to do. So here’s hoping I can successfully convey adequate information to my three readers.

After finishing intern training in Malenovice, Czech Republic our team made the van trip to Poland. The ride was full of childhood stories and giggles (except from one poor teammate who was attempting not to blow chunks in a plastic bag in the front seat), an activity that has become somewhat of a ritual whenever our whole Poland team is together. I have been so blessed by some of the relationships I have made with other interns and Poles and I look forward to getting to know them more! Hooray for friends all over the world!

Our first 2ish 3ish weeks have been consumed with camp promotions. Our mission was to travel to schools in each city that will be hosting a camp and advertise by teaching a (hopefully) fun, (hopefully) entertaining, and (hopefully) insightful English lesson. The hope here is that the students see how much fun our wonderful language is and will sign up for camp and have their lives changed by Jesus and blah blah blah really good stuff. Ok, not blah blah blah, but whatever I’m tired.

My team of three is based in Wrocław, a wonderful city that I would highly recommend you visit at some point in your life. We are living with Chris and Kelly Lillpop, our fearless leaders and full time missionaries with Josiah Venture. They have a sick nasty apartment just outside of the city that is decorated from top to bottom with goodies from the promised land (aka Ikea). It’s been wonderful living with these two marvelous humans. Their cooking skills, fabulous humor, and abounding wisdom has made their home our home, and I am so thankful for them!

The three of us (Jonathan, Jesica, and myself) traveled first to Zelów, a tiny town near some bigger town somewhere in Poland, and had a wonderful experience with our host family. Their church is hosting its first English camp, so be praying hard for them!

We then had a weekend off in Wrocław before heading to Marki, a small town near Warsaw. Let me tell you something. One of our train rides on this journey was probably the sweatiest 3 hours of my life. If you need to know one thing about the Polish train system, you need to know that your train will probably be late and it will probably be hotter than Satan’s panties. Just prepare yourself. This camp is also a first timer, so big prayers needed here too, kids! Then we traveled to Łódź (pronounced wooj) and did our thang there as well. Here we ate some “Mexican” food (aka not Mexican food disguised as Mexican food) and played a whole lot of frisbee with the local youth group. Łódź camp is going to be awesome for me because it is the final camp term and all of my lovely intern friends will be together to run the camp at the Polish sea side. Look out, world, here comes hyper April.

Our weekend off consisted of fooseball (which I suck at), bowling (which I ultra suck at), and a long walk with Kelly that ended in what some may or may not classify as hitch hiking. Don’t worry mom, a responsible missionary adult instigated this.

Team Wrocław then went to Bielsko Biała to join another intern team to help promote in Żory. Super fun.

Well, that was a lot of uninteresting information. My creative juices are currently in raisin state. Haterz back off.

I got the wonderful chance to spend time with two dear friends from my previous travels in Krakow. It was a much needed time away consisting in pierogi in the park, cycling through the city, and precious Polish people. Daaaang I love alliteration.

Currently I am at our intern retreat in Mikołow at the home of Dan and Laura Hash, a missionary couple that is in the US for a few months. I am absolutely loving this time with the whole team together. I am already feeling refreshed and encouraged, but I am already getting sad that it is going to end soon. I get attached to things easily, I know.

So, friends, how am I? (Shout out to B-Wimz for the idea for this section of the blog.) Honestly, I’m having a hard time. I do not feel as though some of my relational needs are being met, and my extrovert nature is crying on the inside from the lack of group interaction. I am trying to constantly remind myself that I am not here to make friends or to have fun. I am here to serve and to glorify God. If friends and fun come out of that, hallelujah, but I cannot focus on myself in this experience.

Please pray for these relationships. Please pray that I am refreshed enough to carry over into camps and act in the worshipful way that I should. Pray for camps! nor first term starts sooooooon. Pray for the American teams that are coming to serve alongside us.

Oh lawdy, my eyes feel like grapes wrapped in sandpaper.
Stay weird, Internet.

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Czech it out, señor.

I honestly don’t know what day it is, and you know what? I ain’t even mad. The last few days have been a tornado of… well I don’t even know what the tornado consists of because it has been that tornado-like. I flew from O’Hare into Munich to meet all the Josiah Venture interns and travel to our start of the Amazing Race. I have been trying to recount each detail of the race, and maybe, just maybe, I will post that blog someday (honestly I will probably completely forget and die full of regret).

After 3 grueling, fantastic, wet (yes, both rain and sweat) days we moseyed from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Melanovice, Czech Republic. I probably spelled that city wrong, but the only suggestion my iDevice could think of was melanoma. Valiant effort, I must say.

There began intern training. Let me tell you, I love things like this. It’s essentially a whole bunch of hyper Christians learning, laughing and lounging (alliteration HIGH FIVE) together before shipping out all over central and Eastern Europe to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Solid teaching mixed with hilarity and choreographed dances is my favorite cocktail. I have been overwhelmed in the best sort of way during training and have journaled more in these past few days than I ever have in my life. I will be suing Josiah Venture for the resulting carpal tunnel syndrome.

I have spent a large amount of time at training with our entire Poland team. Here’s a word picture to describe this team: Imagine. You are laying in a hammock made of angel hair (not pasta), drinking an ice cold glass of not-too-tart-not-too-sweet raspberry lemonade whilst listening to every stand up comedian ever. Relaxing, refreshing, and insanely hilarious. I’ve made lovely friends in the short time we have been together and look forward to serving with them as the summer progresses.

One of our sessions this week was on prayer and how crucial it is to our summer of ministry and growth. Prayer has always been a tough concept for me to grasp and practice, but one of the main take-always from this session was the encouragement to pray big prayers. I guess I have always been afraid of praying selfishly, so it is difficult for me to understand how to ask for things with pure intentions of glorifying Christ. Still working on it. But I decided that I am going to try to pray big prayers this summer and I am also going to ask people to pray big prayers for me. So. I have compiled yet another list (THREE CHEERS FOR LISTS!) of things you could be praying about if you feel so inclined.

1. Pray big prayers for Josiah Venture. This awesome ministry is all about coming alongside the local church to create a movement for God in central and eastern Europe. Pray that this ministry would be hugely fruitful for the glory of God. There will be a crap ton of English camps this summer, so please pray that a crap ton of beautiful youngsters attend and learn about that Jesus character I love so much.

2. Pray big prayers for Poland. In a country where religion has been engrained into tradition, the young people are desperate for something more. Pray that Jesus would be real and that they would understand how to have a relationship with him.

3. Pray big prayers for my team. Pray that we resolve conflict in a healthy manner, work well with one another, and seek only to glorify the Risen King.

4. Pray big prayers for me. I have already felt stretched, and I’m only a few days in to the summer. Pray that I could listen to what God is saying and will say to me. Pray that I have a good attitude in all circumstances and see each struggle as an opportunity for growth. Pray that I would not let myself get in the way of what God is doing in the schools and cities I will be in.

Well. I’m exhausted. Laughing till you cry multiple times a day can take a lot out of an old hag like me.

Have a nice life.
Don’t take that in a depressing way, or anything. Gosh, stop being so serious.

#tooblessedtobestressed #nailedit #rockthrowingcontest #holyspiritwhispers

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Sometimes I can think of clever titles. Other times I can’t.

Packing and unpacking is never fun. Ever. In the past 48 hours I have packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked, and will soon pack again. Seriously the worst case scenario of life ever in any circumstance ever. I hate packing and moving out of Bethel because it means I have to leave the place that has become home to me. I hate saying goodbye to the comfy chairs on the third floor of the BC, to the ice cream machine in the dining center that will always be there to comfort me, to the awkward stairs that I can relate to on an emotional level. I especially hate saying goodbye to the people who make up the Bethel community that I love dearly.

I always get emotional when I move out for the summer, and this time was no different. Goodbyes are never easy, duh, but I feel as though this round of goodbyes as been tougher because of the amount of uncertainty that I am about to face in my life. To be honest with you, I’m terrified. If you know anything about me, you know that I appreciate routine and consistency (cough control freak cough), so when I look at a summer full of question marks my knees start to shake, therefore bringing all the boys to my yard.

I also feel as though I had a hard time coming back to Bethel after studying abroad. I didn’t realize how hard of a transition it was until my schedule slowed down and I actually had the time to think about it. It wasn’t until the last two weeks of the semester that I was able to get out of the beautiful dungeon that is the Bethel Theatre and spend time with people that I had missed. And, what do you know, right as I started to feel comfortable again, the semester ended as dramatically as the Golden Girls final episode. Watch it. It’s precious. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am confident that God has called me to Poland this summer. He would not have provided the financial and emotional support if this wasn’t supposed to happen. But I like to think it’s fairly human of me to desire familiar company and surroundings. With that being said, I have to somehow find the precarious balance of enjoying the unknown and finding comfort in familiarity. Yes, I will certainly miss home and Bethel, but I also have a mind-blowing opportunity in front of me that should be savored at every moment. I also know that at the end of my time in Poland, I’ll hate that it’s done. Ugh. Life.

So now I just have to enjoy my last full day and a half in America. I’ll probably wear an American flag shirt, eat beef, burn stuff, speak incorrect English, and other American things, all while singing “God Bless the USA” as loud as I possibly can (which is probably pretty loud). My parents are currently watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. How fitting. Grown men driving in toy cars, small children hitting those same grown men where it truly hurts, and animals being less intelligent than humans. Claaaaassic.

With that, I leave you to pack. And when I say pack I mean lay on top of the mountain of clothes on my bed and think about things to do instead of pack. Productive, I know.

The Mundane Monday.

*Not picture: Alexis B(eautiful) Eickhoff

*Not pictured: Alexis B(eautiful) Eickhoff

Quick recap of life right now.

Currently avoiding studying for my one final exam. Feeling guilty? Nah.

Currently listening to Lip Gloss by Lil Mama. Embarrassed? Maybe.

The semester is over. AHH.

My junior year is over. SERIOUSLY.

My summer in Europe starts in one week and one day. WUT.

 

Over the past week I have had to give myself consistent pep talks, usually concerning short-term motivation to fold my laundry that just got out of the dryer (ok, maybe it was 2 weeks ago), finish up the last assignments (shout out to Wikipedia, love you man), and start packing up my room. In the past few days, however, my pep talks have gotten to sound more like GET YOUR ISH TOGETHER CAROL.

While my internal yelling matches with myself haven’t been too effective, I have been feeling incredibly blessed by the people around me. The end of the semester can be cuhrayzay, but my dear friends have been stupendously encouraging in the midst of my anxiety about Poland. Those friends are just further confirmation to me that God is working in my life. I have prayed for a solid community of women who spur me on to love Christ, and I believe these girls are directly from the Lord. I have the privilege of living with them next year (insert giddy giggle here), and I couldn’t be more excited! Knowing that I get to do life with them my senior year of college is comforting as I approach a summer of uncertainty, questions, and discomfort. I know that I will be broken and rebuilt while abroad, and I know that they will be praying for me and that we can continue to grow together next year. How cool is that?!

WHOA. Another realization that life is happening. Again, Europe in just over a week. Sorry, these brain bombs have been happening a lot recently.

So. I move out of Bethel this Thursday, get all my crap home to Rockford, spend some quality time with my eye doctor (and hopefully other wonderful people), and ship out Tuesday. Based on my calculation, that adds up to precisely NOT A LOT OF TIME. So if you’re reading this and live in America and want to hang out CALL ME RIGHT NOW SO WE CAN ACTUALLY SPEND TIME TOGETHER BEFORE I LEAVE. OKAY. I’M SORRY I’M YELLING.

This blog is basically pointless. Sorry.

 

Cheers.

April

*Shoutout to Beth Hall for the blog title. Love ya.

 

17 Days!

Welcome to my first pre-departure blog post for my summer missions trip to Poland! I’m going to do my best to update this sucker whenever I can, but no guarantees on wifi access (woe is me) (definitely kidding). 

 

If you would have asked me 3 years ago what I would be doing the summer before my senior year of college, I would probably answer with something regarding a beach and zero responsibility. If you would have also asked me if I thought I could raise close to $5,000 in a little over 4 months, I would probably have laughed in your face.

Well, in 17 short days (May 27) I will be spending the summer before my senior year in Poland, paid for by close to $5,000 raised in a little over 4 months. 

If you aren’t up to speed on my annoying social media posts about this, I’ll give you the run down. While studying abroad this past fall, I was introduced to Josiah Venture, a sweet ministry that is all about showing Christ’s love to the youth of Central and Eastern Europe through teaching English and building relationships. After teaching with them for a few days, I applied for their Summer Intern program. Long story short, I’ll be back in Europe in 17 days!

I think the most challenging part of this whole process has been raising support. I’ve been asking God to help me trust him more, and let me tell you, the support raising journey is one heck of a trust exercise. A few conversations with certain individuals started me off with a skeptical attitude and a “save your money” mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I was and still would be more than willing to drop my whole savings account into this trip, but I knew that I needed to give this one to God. After much prayer and anxiety, I found myself in late March with only a fraction of my required funds. People would regularly ask me about the progress, and I would usually answer with a somewhat hopeful smile and a shrug of the shoulders. 

Up until around earlyish April, I only had an estimation of the grand total I needed to raise. When I finally got that scary number, I was about $2,000 short and only had a matter of weeks to raise it. Satan worked his way into my mind and filled me with doubt after doubt, convincing me that I wasn’t going unless I paid for most of the trip myself. 

As my May 1 deadline inched (more like sprinted) closer, I prayed feverishly for a miracle. And slowly, the funds started coming in. A $100 donation here, $75 there, and before I knew it I was $350 away from my goal and had 5 days to reach it. I didn’t care if I had to pay that myself, I had seen God’s provision! My heart was overflowing with thanksgiving and I think I was also in shock. I then spoke to someone on the phone who committed to covering the rest of the cost, hallelujah! 

As I checked my fundraising account the day of the deadline, I saw that I had not only met my goal, but surpassed it by $400 before the gift from that last donor!

Throughout this whole process, I have not only learned to trust that God will provide when he calls you, but that other people are excited to join in ministry with financial gifts. I was so surprised to see how many of my friends and peers around my age donated. It is so cool that my friends are pumped about ministry and sharing the gospel!

Wow, that was kind of long and drawn out. My bad. I just can’t get over the faithfulness of our God. I can’t wait to see how this summer plays out in all its challenging, fulfilling, humid goodness. As I said before, I’m going to try to update this blog as much as possible, but wifi isn’t going to be a dear friend over the summer, so don’t hold your breath (not that you would, but just in case).

You know what would be sweet? If you would pray for me over the course of my trip! Here’s some areas that you could keep in mind:

  1. Safety and health. We’ll be traveling around Poland quite a bit, and let’s just say Polish highways are… exhilarating. 
  2. Effective communication. I don’t speak Polish. Well, I can count to 3, so there’s that. But we are using conversational English lessons to build relationships in order to spread the gospel. Teaching English as a second language is intimidating and challenging, but way fun. 
  3. Solid relationships. I will be spending the majority of my summer broken up into a small team of 4 other people. It is so important that we mesh well as a team and have the same goals so we can be more effective in our efforts. We also want solid relationships with the Poles we meet so that we can show them Christ’s love. 

 

When I think about this past school year, I am overcome with gratitude. Spending fall semester in 12 countries with new lifelong friends, having a crazy busy but crazy awesome spring semester, and now preparing to travel back to Europe isn’t what I pictured my junior year looking like. I am so thankful for these sweet opportunities and I am quaking in my Birckenstocks with excitement for this next adventure in Poland! 

Stay classy, kids.

April

Adventure is Out There (and back home)

So, yeah, I guess you could say I dropped off the face of the blogosphere after free travel. There are so many stories, hilarious happenings, and stretching moments I could fill you in on, but it’s been almost two months since coming back to the good old U.S. of A. Study abroad ends. Life goes on. And you just have to hang on for dear life and hope you survive.

Ok, no, it’s not that bad. I’ve enjoyed being back at Bethel, having a familiar place to sleep and laundry consistently available (even if I don’t take advantage of it that often…), but I certainly miss the everyday adventures, exciting new experiences, and the tightknit family I traveled with. It has been a challenge to take the things I learned while abroad and bring them into “normal” life back home, and I can see so clearly that the biggest thing I need to work on daily is trust. Yes, I know where I’m getting my next meal. Yes, I speak native language. But I must seek the Lord and trust him in every aspect of my crazy busy, but routine life.

Friends, I would also love to tell you about my next adventure. No, I don’t mean my intentions to watch every movie Meryl Streep has ever been in (even though that’s currently in the works). If you followed my blog while I was traveling you read about some exciting things happening in Poland. Those exciting things happen to be continuing now and in the near future. I have applied and been accepted to a summer internship with Josiah Venture, the organization our group taught English with. I am so thankful that God has opened this door and has stirred my heart for the youth of Poland.

While I am incredibly excited and hopeful, there are some elements that don’t have me completely at rest. Since this opportunity is a mission trip, I must raise support for my living expenses and flights. I don’t know if you’ve ever raised support, but if you have you know how many doubts there can be, how many worries run through your head, and how many lies Satan can throw at you. I am currently experiencing all of these.

 So, you Internet people, I have constructed a wonderful list of requests from little old me.

  1. Most importantly, I would be so honored if you would pray for me. Please pray for the process leading up to the trip, the trip, itself, and for the people of Poland. I also ask that you pray for the support raising process to go smoothly.
  2. Check out Josiah Venture! They’re an awesome organization made up of wonderful people who love the Lord and want to make him known. http://www.josiahventure.com
  3. If you feel led, please consider being a part of this ministry financially. Shoot me an email, Facebook message, text, or call me if you have more questions or feel called to donate.

 Life is good. I’m thankful for this opportunity, for being back at Bethel, and for that kick-butt Panini I had for lunch today.

 

Keep it real, Internet. 

Keep calm and free travel on.

Life is good. I just finished sitting in the middle of the most beautiful lake I have ever seen on a canoe, praying and reading Bonhoeffer. My butt’s a little wet, but I think I’ll get over it.

It has been quite some time since I’ve blogged, but I think I have good reason. In the past 2 weeks I have been in 5 countries, numerous planes, trains, and automobiles, and had very little sleep. I will do my vest best to recap free travel and the beginning of our time living in a castle. Yes, a castle. I know, right? Oh and I just almost got attacked by a swan and a bee at the same time. So there’s that.

When we left Poland we spent one night in Vienna before we all split ways for free travel. Madeleine, Sarah, Abby and I flew out of Bratislava, Slovakia the next day. We were going to catch a bus from Vienna to the Bratislava airport at 6:00 am, so we had a quiet night in. On travel day we woke up early and started the first part of our journey: the Vienna subway. We all knew the subway system very well from living in Vienna for three weeks, so we knew this would be the easiest part of the day. We only had to go across town using 2 lines, and we were confident that this would be a good way to start the day.

Welp, joke’s on us. As I glanced at my watch about halfway through our subway ride I noticed that we only had 15 minutes to make 11 stops on the subway then find our bus (we had no idea where the bus stopped). Panic set in. I then remembered that I had been praying for God to help me trust him more. I thought, great. This just HAS to be the time God shows me how I need trust. So I just started praying like mad and regulated my breathing. Because nobody wants to see someone hyperventilate on the subway at 5:45 in the morning.

The four of us leapt off the subway at exactly 5:56 and sprinted up the stairs. All we knew about the bus stop was that we needed to cross a pedestrian bridge somewhere at some time. Super helpful. By the grace of God we spotted the bridge, so we ran across it, asked a man who thankfully spoke English about the bus, and he pointed us down a few flights of stairs. Madeleine flew ahead of us as we started down the stairs, lugging approximately 20 pounds of luggage on our backs (remember, all before 6:00 am). Sarah, Abby and I followed Madeleine, but she was such a speedy little thing that she made it down much faster than us.

We finally made it outside, with Madeleine nowhere to be found. You don’t really know desperate until you scream your friend’s name into the darkness. Wow, that sounded super dramatic. I like it. We kept hearing Madeleine calling back to us, but we couldn’t tell where she was. I looked at my watch. 5:59. Seriously. We miraculously saw Madeleine as she was holding up the bus and stalling the driver. We threw our bags into the hold, bought tickets, and got on the bust at 6:00. As soon as we sat down we pulled away from the curb. I shed a single tear as I tried to catch my breath and not puke all over the bus. We made it. This was when I remembered how I had asked God to help me trust him. While I was angry that we cut it so close, I could do nothing but thank God for orchestrating ever single detail of that morning.

We made it to London safely with only one minor hiccup (Madeleine almost got arrested in the Bratislava airport, but no worries, it didn’t happen). The rest of the day was full of glorious sightseeing, fish and chips, and British accents. I didn’t even mind the continuous rain and the knots I could feel forming in my shoulders from my beast of a backpack. After finding our hostel and and encountering a very large slug, we were tucked away in our little beds to rest up for another day in London.

The next day, Saturday, was long anticipated by Madeleine and me. We had tickets to see Wicked and our nerdy little hearts were at maximum capacity with nerdy excitement. We had both seen it before in the States, so our expectations were high. I mean, it’s the West End. Good stuff. Before the show Madeleine and I went to the Borough Market, a giant food market with the most delicious things you would ever want to consume. We had typical British meat pies (yes, I sang the entire Sweeney Todd score) and other tasty treats.

After Wicked ended, we were both highly disappointed. But it’s all good, it was still fun. We then met up with the rest of our friends and met Madeleine’s brother’s (Alex) girlfriend, Suzi, and her friend. We ate very expensive burgers for dinner and had a jolly good time.

On Sunday we all went to Hillsong Church in the Apollo Theater. That’s another story, maybe I’ll tell you someday if you’re lucky. After church we had delightful crepes for lunch at Coven Garden, did some shopping and more sightseeing.

Wow, I just realized that this blog is super choppy but long at the same time. My bad. Stick with me, folks.

Monday through Saturday was spent in Scotland with Madeleine, Alex, and Suzi. It was an incredible experience. I got to sit on the “wrong” side of the car in the passenger seat as we drove down the left side of the road (I only had about 4 heart attacks when I thought I was driving), ate haggis (loved it), drove through amazing mountains that took my breath away, swooned over accents, and had an all around killer time.

One of the highlights of our time in Scotland was going to a Bible study lead by Suzi with about 6 girls from the local university. It was so encouraging to dig into scripture with people from other cultures and see that we share the same struggles and joys from every corner of the world. Why do people say that? Corners of the world? I don’t get that. Whatever. The study was awesome, that’s the point.

I also will always remember the last night we were in Scotland. It wasn’t anything special, but it was just such a happy memory. Madeleine, Alex, Suzi, Suzi’s younger brother Calvin, and myself all went down to the water where a family of 200 of the world’s largest dolphins lives. While we didn’t see any dolphins, we spent about an hour just being silly and throwing rocks into the sea. This moment was a reminder of what traveling is really about. It’s about meeting people, learning about their culture, and taking part in it. No, throwing rocks isn’t strictly a Scottish thing, but I felt like a part of the family from another culture.

A few things I learned from our free travel experience:

Free travel isn’t free (slogan courtesy of Sarah Nelson). It’s dang expensive. Especially if you want to eat more than a loaf of bread and Nutella.

Always give yourself some extra time when trying to find a mystery bus.

Brits use the term “trousers” to refer to pants, and “pants” to refer to underwear. That was an awkward conversation to have.

I can travel the world by myself and survive. Walking off the final plane was one of the proudest moments of my life.

So there you have it. If you made it to the end of this blog, snaps for you. I would apologize for the length of this post, but I can’t because I left out a whole lot of information and stories that I’m sure you would have drooled over. Maybe next time, Internet.

For now I will go back to sitting by the lake, living in a legitimate castle, and spending my days playing Dutch Blitz and Jelly Splash.

Keep it real.

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