by Jan Cox
I will have finished the English camp in Poland when you read this. I will be heading for a day of debriefing and a day of sight-seeing in Gorzow. Then I will be flying home to arrive on Monday, August 1.
The one thing that we are told over and over – LOVE THEM. Here are the way that I found to love them on my past two trips.
Hugs and Smiles
Certainly last year, since we had return campers – the camp started with hugs. We had two Mission Team returnees from summer 2009 and that opened the door to introductions and smiles. I recognized quite a few from 2008. But we also had new campers. They felt the warm atmosphere from the start and seemed very relaxed. The children came to us the first day while the campers were given a “test” to see where they scored on their English. Because we knew the routine and had something ready for the kids it was a fun time. We smiled constantly. Our joy was contagious.
Know their names
We know how much God loves us – And He knows each one of us. We are important to him. In this way, we need to do the same for others. We needed to try to learn their names.
Luke 12:7 “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
My Mom always seems to know names, but she works at it. At 94 Mom knows the servers, the nurses, the cleaning ladies, the people on the front desk and her friends at the retirement home.
On a mission trip our job is to know and love them – to get to know their names. First thing with the kids, we had name tags and during our group circle time we would say – “my name is …” and get to know who they are and something about them.
I have trouble with names… I am visual learner – I will remember your face but I’m terrible with names. I use the church directory to help me remember names. I am frequently asking people to tell me their names – again.
Remember the sitcom Cheers – it always started with “Everybody knows your name.” It was to make people feel welcome. How much does God knows us? We are important to Him. So other people need to be important to us.
Love their children
Everyone can attest to the fact that you like other people to recognize and acknowledge your family. They are important to you. All the volunteers went out of their way to get to know the children. Whether at meal times or during our activities and worship – the kids were loved and accepted. It may have been a little noisy but no one complained. Sometimes other campers and even mission volunteers would end up with a child on their laps. That was good.
To Try to Know their Language
Also, to know the language of a country – even a few phrases is important to the people. They feel you care and they are special.
In the first year I really wanted to learn their language. In the grocery store I learned to say proszę pronounced proshe …. “Please”- so that I could be polite walking past people. I learned that Polish is a very hard language to know. People have trouble pronouncing the sounds. So, then and there I decided to pray for the language to come to me. After that prayer I started to pick up rules of letters, and sounds became easier. At the end of my first trip we visited Świnoujście (pronounced like Schwiniousitia), a seaside town on the Baltic… I practiced saying that word so many times until I think I finally got it.
This past year I learned a few more words, salt – sol, pepper – piepshe, and sugar – sukier.
I also learned a couple of songs in Polish for the children. One is called Miswatch Yezusa (my spelling) and the other was Jesus Loves me. Jezus koha mnie.
As I listened to the campers sing worship songs in Polish I would stand beside a Polish person and listen carefully to how they were singing. Then I tried to sing along. I got to the point of watching the screen and following the words and making them sound similar.
Perseverance is the key… Hebrews 12:1
“let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. That is the same in everything we do.
Then we interacted with them:
Show Them by being with them
- Play together – we made rockets and launched them
- Bead making – even with the boys
- Card making
- Eating Together every meal
- Barbecue – Polish sausages and smores
- Skit Night
- Banquet Night
- Dance – We had a couple of dances
- Hiking – day together hiking up to a castle – a long walk up a mountain
- We also had Talent Night and a Scavenger Hunt
Yes, we were there to ‘teach’ them but we always remembered: “They don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care for them.”
Here were people, some of whom had never held a Bible – willing going to Bible study every morning. They asked questions, they answered questions. God led them. He revealed Himself to them. Where in North America would we find MEN so passionate about Bible study even when it was something they were spiritually part of? God opened the doors – they opened their hearts.
Here in small groups the campers practised English at their levels. All sorts of methods were used.
Because I worked with the children at night I missed hearing most of the testimonies. Two years ago I was asked to give my testimony. It was a 5 minute talk with a translator. Very interesting. You say a sentence or two, wait and then continue. So many of the campers said how much they loved to hear how Jesus had worked in others’ lives. This year we had testimonies from the North American team and the Polish Team.
The first time this workshop was held it was raining. They stuffed a couple of benches into a small bedroom and 14 people interacted in this workshop. It continued for another 3 sessions and no one dropped out. One woman said to me after a session: “I tried something they shared with us today on my child. It worked!”
Campers’ comments on the marriage workshops “Hearing these things gives me hope that I can some day be in a godly, happy marriage” Or “now I understand why we have trouble with communication. You have given us information that will help our marriage grow stronger.”
Not much was shared about this workshop because of the difficult topic. But I know the woman that shared her testimony in this workshop and she did share that many others in the workshop shared their pain for the first time. Coming together with others that have similar trials certainly helped them not feel alone. Praying for each other is a way to connect God into the situation.
I hope you enjoyed my little outline of my version of our camp. If you want to know more please contact me or International Messengers. Please keep praying for me and the other missionaries as we return to life here in Canada.
I know that You love that we can love others. I thank You for this opportunity to do just that. May You continue to guide our footsteps as we try to be Your feet on earth. In Jesus’ name. AMEN
My Gratitude List continues:
- two fawns on the way home from dinner
- middle of the night time with God
- Oswald Chambers who pushes me to go deeper
- writing the promises of God found in the Bible
- a beautiful thank you card from my friends
- energy to prepare the Sunday School room for Vacation Bible Camp
- a wonderful amazing friend to help me
- a willing hubby that helps too
- rainy days to get things done
- new members of our writers’ prayer team
- finding rocks for a craft
- communications with new mission partner for my trip