- This morning I was not needed to help with the breakfast preparations, so I joined the morning calestanics. Now these are not your normal gather around the flag pole morning stretches like you might expect at camp, but 30 minutes of serious Olympic athlete type work-out. It really did remind me of the little behind the scenes stories they always show in between Olympic events with all the little children in a circle working out. The couple who are in charge of sports and swimming are very sweet, Christian people, but Leana turned into a drip sergeant calling out “one, two, three, four, again”. Periodically, she would shout out someone’s name and tell them to work harder. Veta wandered around the group helping people to get a deeper stretch or to have the proper technique. It was really quite serious. I found it all to be comical, but I took it very seriously because I didn’t want to draw Veta or Leana’s attention to my efforts.
- Today’s craft was better; I had the younger boy group. I love them and they love me and we had a great time.
- I have had several invitations to be a guest in tents – it is really a big deal to have me over to visit. The kids have decorated their spaces and so the tents are like their little houses. When I come over, everyone who is sleeping in that tent also needs to come in. Today, seven of us crowded into a 3-4 person tent and they tried to host me. They showed me where they each sleep, their decorations and all their stuff. They offer me water and swished cookies or melted chocolate. How sweet it all is.
- One of the little boys overheard one of the older girls trying to speak in English with me. After she walked away, he came over and started quizzing me on English words. After he had said about eight words in Russian and I knew the English translation he was impressed.
He said, “I think you know all the words in English”
I said, “not all.”
He said, “but you must have studied in school a long time.” That is when I realized he did not know I was not from here. Which is amazing! So I explained to him that I am from America and we speak English there.
“Oh,” he said, “is that far away like Kiev?” I am guessing he hasn’t had a lot of geography yet.
It really is a great big world and it is so easy to get caught up in our own little part of it. Over and over I am struck by the fact that God is big enough for the entire world. He knows us all, he understands us all, and he loves us all.
- One of the other workers, Sergey, pulled me aside today to show me a picture on his phone. I thought, “Wow, that women looks remarkably like me.” It was a photo of Sergey’s wife’s sister and it was kind of cool.
- Again, I am praising the Lord for the Russian I can understand. One of the counselors for the older boys is named Allosha. Today he and I were talking and he asked me how I became a Christian. Then he shared his testimony with me. I was really struggling to understand and over and over I had to ask him to speak more slowly. In the end, I felt stupid and frustrated. It is such a special thing to hear how God has worked in someone’s life and I missed a lot of it. After our conversation it really bothered me. So I went back and found him again and asked him to forgive me but I really wanted to understand and for him to be able to share with me. I explained to him what I had understood, but where I was confused and he was so gracious to share with me again. What a wonderful connection.
- Tonight’s service was our intentional call to repentance. We had a special guest speaker, a missionary from Norway and youth from another church here in Berdyansk. We also had a school group that is backpacking around Ukraine staying overnight at the camp grounds. They did not attend our service, but they could not help but hear it. Our guest presented shared how sin keeps us from God but that through Jesus’ sacrifice we can be forgiven. And then he asked us about sin in our lives. Several of the children responded and asked to be forgiven of their sins, including two of our “difficult” teens – Praise the Lord!