Posts tagged Slovenia2015
Destination: Home

Here is a short recap of our two-week trip!

As I sit here in Lesce, I can’t help but think of the incredible things God has done on this trip. Doubts turned into faith. Worries turned into joy. Weaknesses turned into dependency on Jesus. 

There were so many prayers answered and we can’t wait to share some of the stories with you.

We have had a wonderful past couple of days recharging and processing the past couple of weeks. On Sunday, we had the privilege of visiting Stephanie’s church, Radovljica Evangelical Christian Church. We were thrilled to worship and fellowship with believers from a different country and to sing songs like “How Great is Our God” sung in three different languages! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a global Gospel, and I am glad we got to experience that in a very tangible way over here.

Later that day, we hosted a Slovene BBQ near the town of Bled with students. We had a blast eating, playing fun and goofy games, and following up with conversations that took place at camp. It was fun interacting with these kids back in their communities and watching them ride their bikes from town to town to meet us for the events that were planned for after camp.

On Monday morning, we had a great time debriefing the past two weeks as a team and encouraging one another. It was so cool to see how God used each individual on this team in a variety of ways. Each team member showed humility, was willing to be stretched and drawn out of their comfort zone, and wanted to interact with and love these students in a genuine way. Everyone sought team unity and was looking out for the other person’s needs before their own.

After our debrief, we headed out to Lake Bled to spend some more time with students, until later that night, when we said our final farewells. It was so hard saying goodbye because we don’t know when we’ll see these faces again, but I also felt peace knowing these kids are in good hands with the Slovene leaders. Stephanie Rogers and the other leaders here love these kids so much and they are continually reaching out to young people and engaging with them in a deep and meaningful way. 

God is at work here in Slovenia. Though the church may not seem large or the statistics promising, God is faithful and is using every opportunity for his glory and for His kingdom.  

We hope and pray this is the beginning of something great in the country of Slovenia.

Tomorrow morning we leave to head home back to the States. Please pray for safety and smooth travels. We arrive back in Portland on Wednesday at 3:15!

- Ben Edmonds (for the Slovenia Team)

Closing up Camp

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the sixth and final day of camp. What a week it has been! These last few days seemed to fly by as we wrapped things up, taking each opportunity God set before us to love, serve and connect with the students. I was grateful for each morning’s devotion at 7:15am - taking time to recap, recharge, and pray over one another and the students was sweeter than the extra amount of sleep we could have gotten. 

During our evening sessions, Ben walked through the story and life of the apostle Paul, sharing where Paul had come from before meeting Christ and where he was going afterwards. On Wednesday night he related Paul’s condition to a “messy bedroom” - while trying to please God by cleaning up the mess on his own, he was merely moving his trash from one side of the room to the other. All of his passion and religious zeal was in vain, and he was left empty. The students were engaged and able to grasp and relate it to the sin and emptiness in their own lives, understanding that they are incapable of cleaning up this mess on their own. 

Ben continued through Paul’s journey the following evening as he shared the good news of the Gospel and how it changed Paul’s heart and transformed his life. One day he was persecuting the name of Christ and now he was preaching it. Many seeds were planted and hearts changed as students took that next step towards Jesus, and we were able to welcome new brothers and sisters into our family! They came to camp looking for a good time, for acceptance, and left with purpose and the fullness of life that only Jesus can offer.

As we boarded the bus full of exhausted, candy-filled Slovene students, so many thoughts and emotions were flooding my mind. To think back on the months of planning and preparation and then watch it unfold before us, to witness God’s hand at work through the unique gifts each member brought to the team as they loved and cared for one another, and to see students’ hearts softened and moved one step closer to Jesus as their eyes were opened to the Truth of the Gospel was such a humbling and fulfilling experience. What God did here over these last six days exceeded any expectation I had and prayer I prayed. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids or Slovene staff and I feel incredibly blessed to know and call them brother and sister.

the 401-year-old home that our team is staying in for the final leg of the trip.

the 401-year-old home that our team is staying in for the final leg of the trip.

So, camp is over, but there is still work to be done. We are now in Lesce catching up on some sleep, eager to spend these last couple of days with the kids and finish off strong. Please continue to pray for good health, as many of our team members are fighting off colds and sore throats. It’s been so neat to feel the love and support of those back home as we watch the Lord answer so many of our prayers. Hvala!

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

- Kelsey Ward (for the Slovenia team)

The Fuel of Joy

It’s our second full day with the students, but in some ways, it feels much more like the second week. We just finished English lessons and workshops, and I write in one of the first quiet moments since our bus load of students and luggage (and pounds of American candy!) poured into camp. After a three hour bus ride from Stephanie’s town (and a stop for famous Slovene doughnuts along the way), we are now up in the Northeastern hills of Slovenia, surrounded by rolling fields bordered by forest. 

Leading up to the trip, I had been reading through Paul’s words in Philippians over and over again. Each time through, there was new meaning and refreshment in his charge to “rejoice always”, to follow Jesus’ example of laying down life, to press on for the prize. This was God’s fuel for me through the months of preparation. 

This morning was no different. I opened up to Philippians 4 to read and recharge before gathering with the rest of the team. Each morning, the American and Slovene leaders read the Bible and pray together for the day ahead—our thirty minutes to fill up for the following fifteen hours of pouring out. And this morning, once all in a circle, Stephanie tells us we’ll be talking about joy—“Open up to Philippians 4!” 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

…In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Joy isn’t just for the exuberant. It’s not a cheesy, American smile. It’s a strength despite circumstances, a posture of gratitude for the grace given in the moment. We have the secret to being content and joyful in any and every situation—we are perfectly loved by a perfect Father! So now we come to Him and, filled with thanksgiving, present our requests to Him. 

And together, this morning, we gave thanks—thanks for the countless ways that God has come through for us and answered your many prayers. 

We are thankful that God has given good rest and strength for what is at hand. Sometimes the day ahead seems daunting, but He always gives what we need. 

We are thankful for fun and laughter. It’s a beautiful way for two languages and countries to join. We bond over the wildest of games (Star Wars-themed Bunco and our rousing game of Human Clue last night come to mind…) and dancing and laughing hard together. 

We are thankful for safety and only minor injuries, for just the right amount of medical supplies and for people on our team who know how to care for hurt students. Keep praying for health and safety with all the risks of a crazy camp!

We are thankful for incredible students, for good conversations even in the first couple days. They are fun, engaging, creative, competitive, and energetic, and there hasn’t been a dull moment!

We are thankful for our team back home—you! Thank you for praying for us, for sending us, for sharing supplies, for loving us well, for loving Slovenia, for loving God’s Kingdom. 

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

- Lauren Reavely (for the Slovenia team)

We Are Here

It’s impossible to capture every moment, but if I had fallen asleep on the third and final flight in our 22-hour journey, I would have missed one that literally took my breath away: the Julian Alps of Northwestern Slovenia. Less than an hour later, we found ourselves standing in a valley ringed by those green, gentle giants breathing in the fresh, crisp country air. Breathing the reality.

We made it.

We are here.

Months of planning and praying have brought us here, but couldn’t entirely prepare us for these two weeks - this moment - of the reality of entering another culture and leading a group of Slovene teens. And that’s why we are here at the orientation hostel, getting trained, resting, building team unity, and centering our hearts and vision. We are breathing in, absorbing.

We’ve been enjoying exploring the town and experiencing the differentness, from the cafe across the street to the historic mill and the river it feeds off of, to the dawn cattle drives through town, to our preview of Lake Bled (pronounced like “blade”) and the castle overlooking it from a cliff…and yes, lots of coffee and ice-cream. 

All this is fun and exciting, of course, and helps give us context for the culture, but the real substance happens in the upper room of the training center, where the JV leaders and Slovenes are teaching us all they can in this short time about what we’re doing, why and how to go about it in a loving and sensitive way. This is a really encouraging time as well as an informative one. The insight is empowering, and hearing the Slovenes’ personal stories is particularly hope-giving, and they remind us that we are here not to complete a project or check something off a bucket-list, but to reach out to people and build healthy relationships with them.

Tomorrow afternoon, we will begin putting what we’ve learned into practice when we meet the kids on our bus ride to Maribor, on the other side of the country, and jump into the chaos of setting up camp. Please continue praying for us as we do so! I’ll keep this post short and let you just enjoy some of the sights that we are loving right now…

- Katie Hemming (for the Slovenia team)

To Slovenia, With Love

In a little under 24 hours, 12 individuals from New Life will be hopping on a plane for Central Europe! As you may be aware, we have the opportunity to take a short-term mission trip to Slovenia from June 24th-July 8th. We will be partnering with Josiah Venture and Stephanie Rogers, a New Life Church missionary, to host a week-long English camp in Maribor for around thirty 12 to 16-year-old students with the ultimate goal of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who may have never heard it.

The past few months have been crazy and full of training for the team. Over the course of 17 weeks, the team has undergone training on Slovene culture, how to teach English, how to address different worldview questions, and how to effectively share their story of God’s work in their life. The team also had the opportunity to host a “Strawberry Social” fundraising event at New Life, as well as enjoy a day at the beach, which left us with a stronger sense of unity and not-so-subtle sun burns. We have enjoyed getting to know each other and hearing each person’s desire for more of Jesus and how they want to grow and be used by Him through this trip. 

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Toward the beginning of our training in February, we had a steep mountain to climb by raising $32,000 to make this trip possible. By God’s grace and generous donations from friends and family, we are fully funded! If you have given financially or have committed to pray for us, THANK YOU. Your support means everything to us and we couldn’t have made it this far without your prayer, encouragement, and numerous other ways of support. Thank you for sending us well.

When we first arrive in Slovenia (and adjust to the 9 hour time difference), we will begin a few days of more in-depth training on Slovene culture and English camp. We will also be training alongside a team sent from Seattle who will be helping put on a separate English camp for high school students in Slovenia. On the 28th, we will ride with the students in a bus to camp (in Maribor) and will begin setting up for the camp that day. Each day at camp will be different in some way, but for the most part our schedule will include: morning team meeting, breakfast, English lesson, workshops, lunch, athletic afternoon activities, evening session, and a late night game. After camp is completed, the team will continue to engage with students in their community and help connect them with their local church for lasting discipleship.

If you think of us, we would appreciate prayer over the next two weeks in the following ways:

  • A united team that reflects the love of Christ to the students
  • Stamina and health for travel, activities, and ministry
  • The students at English Camp to hear and respond to the Gospel
  • Encouragement for Stephanie Rogers and her church in their ongoing investment in the students’ lives.
  • For lasting impact that reaches not only the students but ultimately the country as a whole.

We leave tomorrow! And we couldn’t be more thrilled. We don’t know what stories we will have to tell when we come back home, but our hope is that the students at camp will become interested and curious about Jesus and will want to connect with the missionaries and their local church.

We are excited to use this blog to update you on our travels and what is happening at camp. Please check back regularly as we continue to share updates on how you can pray for this team! Thank you again for your support.

- Ben Edmonds (for the Slovenia Team)