It's that time of summer again where I post about my favorite destination on Earth: Prague. Our Calvary Church Prague Missions Team is headed back on August 3. This year's camp theme is really fascinating! We will be using fictional modern means - Twitter feeds, newspapers, birth certificates, blogs, etc. - to investigate the real life of Jesus. If Jesus was born in this current era it would be a media circus, as they say. It will be fun to imagine just how our society would react to Jesus if he was here, in the flesh, today.
For anyone who I may not have told, last year's camp was quite eventful. On our first full day at the campsite, my husband became very, very sick and we took him to the hospital in Jablonec nad Nisou around 2am. During that night, another couple of campers got sick with the same symptoms. Each day that followed, the sickness claimed more campers and leaders and translators until more than half the camp had caught the norovirus. At the end of camp we took a picture illustrating who had been claimed by the sickness (everyone with their backs to the camera was sick, everyone facing was spared.)
For some reason, I was spared. During that week, the healthy lived in fear of getting sick and we would attend our morning meetings as leaders, crestfallen and just a tad helpless. We were really at the mercy of the sickness and our normal camp activities were severely disrupted. I wish I could say I handled it with grace and aplomb but I was desperately pleading with God to heal Jacob that first night as he vomited uncontrollably and I was definitely crying when I had to leave Jacob at the hospital; I was embarrassed because I had to trouble our gracious Czech leaders at 2am to take care of Jacob, and I felt, for lack of a better word, forsaken. Why had God not healed Jacob? I believed He could. He must not have wanted to.
After we took him to the hospital, we arrived back around 4:30am and I went to bed. I slept for a couple hours but woke up with my alarm to teach my classes. I stepped outside my door and was welcomed into a much-needed hug by my teammates Theresa and Angel. Before I could say a word, they assured me that my class was already covered that day, that I had nothing to worry about, that a couple more campers were taken to the hospital with the same sickness, and that I should go back to bed and rest. I was overwhelmed by their compassion - I still am just thinking about it. I returned to bed but I did not rest. Instead, I read the book of James over and over and over again. The book opens with this:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Just that passage alone provided a blanket of comfort. I read the short book over and over again; it was like a soothing balm. Yet, I did struggle with my doubts that week. God needed to show me his vision, which was revealed day by day.
As more campers became ill, the healthy really needed to step up their game for the rest of the campers. I starkly remember Josh going through the hallways on a morning midway through the week, shouting, "Bring out your dead! Bring out yer dead!" Pavel would mark on the camp roster who we had lost during the night - usually four or five campers or leaders. We had to adapt, listen more, rest less, and depend on each other like never before. We served each other in a way we never could have demonstrated had the illness not been present. God used it.
So, that was last year. I cannot imagine what God has in store for this year.
In my blog post for our previous trip, I included a prayer calendar for our friends and supporters to reference while we were away. It also gave me structured prompts on what to pray for each day. I'll take a moment here to interject just how important and meaningful it is for our team to have prayer partners around the world. Not only were people praying along, but they would reach out to us with encouragement, especially as news of our predicament spread. We so appreciate our supporters. Thank you for keeping us in your hearts and on your minds. Here is this year's prayer calendar:
August 3 | Traveling to Prague | Pray for safe travels, no lost luggage, and an opportunity to get some rest on the way. Pray for the anxiety of the team and our families as we travel to Europe during these uncertain times.
August 4 | Arriving in Prague | Pray for our bodies as we try to stay awake and active. Pray for our minds to stay sharp as we reunite with or meet (for the first time) our Czech friends. Pray for a full night of sleep to restart our bodies.
August 5 | Planning for Camp | Pray for the Czech and American teams as we meet and unite our visions for camp. Pray for inspiration and open hearts as we plan our evening talks which include our testimonies. Pray for the apprehension our new team members may experience as they head into a camp they have only heard about.
August 6 | Traveling to Camp | Pray for happy reunions and fruitful conversations on the way to camp. As we form our classrooms and make new friendships, pray for God to work in our interactions.
August 7 | First Day of Camp | Pray for the Holy Spirit to be present within our camp. As we introduce Jesus to the campers this week, pray that their hearts and minds will be open to any new information. Pray that abstract concepts like forgiveness, the resurrection, and the incarnation would be met with soft hearts.
August 8 | Second Day of Camp | Pray for the American team leaders with kids in their classroom who are beginner-level English speakers; having a dialogue can be very difficult and requires patience and understanding from both sides. Pray for renewed health and energy in the American team and the Czech team.
August 9 | Third Day of Camp | Pray that God would speak to the leaders through Scripture, worship, and prayer. Pray that we would hear His voice clearly to do our jobs well. Pray for protection against spiritual attacks on our campsite.
August 10 | Fourth Day of Camp | Pray for healing throughout our camp. Pray away sicknesses and headaches, stomachaches and any illness. Pray for the hurting hearts at our campsite who would like to share the burden with someone. Pray for vulnerability and compassion in our hearts, and in the hearts of the campers.
August 11 | Fifth Day of Camp | Pray for our interpreters who tirelessly link us to our students, pray for them to have wisdom as they lead conversations on our behalf and relay to us what was said. Pray for the Gospel to sink deeper into our camper's hearts. Pray for renewed energy for the end of our camp week.
August 12 | Sixth Day of Camp | Pray against Satan. This is our last full day as a camp and some of us are apprehensive about returning to the city and to our old habits and mindsets. Pray nothing could steal the joy of our week together. Pray for God to speak directly to each camper.
August 13 | Departing Camp | Pray for safe travels back to Prague and for solid rest that night. Please pray that our campers will return to us for church the next day. Pray for the speaker who will be giving the message tomorrow.
August 14 | Church & Day in Prague | Pray that Sunday morning's message would be clear for all who hear it. Pray for great conversations, conversations that not only bring us closer together with our students but bring them closer to God.
August 15 | Sightseeing with Students | Pray for protection as we all travel together. Pray that this last day with our friends, new and old, would be a sweet one. Pray that we as a team would continue to support and encourage one another.
August 16 | Traveling Back Home | Pray for safe travels, no lost luggage and an opportunity to rest and reflect on our time in the Czech Republic. Pray for renewed patience and compassion toward each other as a team.