Update #6 – Eastern Europe B

Preevyet from Eastern Europe!

Bristol, Hannah, Shaynna here with our last update! We are coming to the end of our trip here in country, however we are trusting that God’s work will still continue on long after we have left and are back in the United States. Our team time has been filled with laughter, quality conversation, and wonderful experiences with good food accompanying it!  We truly have cherished all of the amazing memories that have been made and the connections that have been formed while we’ve had the opportunity to impact the least of these on the streets of Eastern Europe, and we can’t believe the time for us to return home is very quickly approaching.  These last couple of days have been very eventful both in our ministry here as well as around the city. As we began to familiarize ourselves with the underground metro system, our big test came when our fieldworker sent us on an excursion.  This excursion consisted of teaming up in groups no larger than three and, by way of the Metro and city maps, navigating to a church and market in a specific location somewhere in the city.  This was not only a fun and (in some ways) relaxing activity but a cultural learning experience as well, because it allowed our team to immerse themselves into the daily life and culture.

Our ministry has been going strong here as well.  As stated in the previous update, our team split into two separate teams; one team works with the younger kids and one works with the teenagers and older kids.  The younger kids team has been teaching the little ones through skits while dressed up as Inside Out characters.  These skits get the kids excited and give them something to look forward to each camp day.  After the skit is finished, our team summarizes a book that was read to the little ones; subsequently, one of the team members gives a talk to the kids and they have progressively gotten deeper as camp has gone on.  Every day the team has shared stories about themselves and their life experiences, and in response the kids have been able to connect with the team on a deeper level.  This is possible by way of our amazing translators, who have done an incredible job working with us.  There have been a lot of jokes going back and forth between our team and them and it has been such a pleasure working with such sweet and compassionate people.  Recently, there was a trio talk with Devin, Bristol, and Shaynna, showing that the kids are not alone and that others have gone through tough times as well.  Their talks all pointed toward finding safety and security in our Heavenly Father.  Within the younger kids team, Ethan, Devin, and Sammy have taken on the role of working with the older of the younger kids, while Bristol, Shaynna, and our fieldworker’s daughter work with the littlest of the youngers.  Splitting the kids up has not only kept the chaos down but helps us connect with the kids on a more personal level.  During the split up time, the groups participate in various crafts and games.  Kristen holds a game room each day as well, which allows the kids to let loose a bit and get their energy out!  Though there have been long nights due to preparation for the next day, it truly is a blessing and brings joy to the team as we see the smiling faces of the lives we get to impact and spread the overwhelming love of Christ to.

The other team, as mentioned above, works with the older youth and teenagers.  This team consists of Loran, Max, Shae, Kyla, Dave, Nadia, and myself (Hannah).  Our daily ministry begins with a game or two to bring the teens into our time of connections and friendship.  Following the games, one of the members of our team will give a small talk on the subject for the day, like joy or patience.  This allows the teens to hear what these topics mean for us personally as well as how it can impact their lives as well. Following our discussion as a whole group, we decided to split the teens up into guys and girls to allow for deeper connections and meaningful conversations for both parties involved.  We found that splitting the teens up has worked tremendously.  It makes it more comfortable for the girls to share with the girls on our team how they felt about a certain topic of discussion without any sort of pressure from the guys, and vice versa.  Following our discussion topic for the day, both the teens and the older little ones have the chance to go outside and play with our entire outreach team.  Playing outside generally consists of games like Blob Tag and Link Tag, and unsurprisingly a football (soccer) game will start up within the older kids.  Members of our team have joined in the games with one of our two translators, who by the way have done an incredible job working both with us and helping us understand and begin to read into the lives of the youth we have the pleasure of working with.  It’s in games like soccer that remind us that the love of Christ is shared in every aspect of our lives, not just in a sermon or confined to church walls.  Overall, we have found that friendships have begun to forge and our ties to these teens have grown so much stronger as these two weeks have flown by before our eyes.

We are excited for our last few days here, but are also looking forward to sharing our stories, excitements, and memories with you all personally!  We want to thank everyone who has supported us on this incredible adventure and we could not have done it without you all.  By God’s grace we were brought here safely to do His work and the joy that has come from serving Him is meant to be shared.  Continued prayers for health and safe travels back home as well as God’s continuing work in the hearts of the children and teens we met would be greatly appreciated!  We love you all and can’t wait to see everyone upon our return!

–          Bristol, Hannah, Shaynna, and the team

Friends and family y’alls rock!  I miss you all and can’t wait to share this experience with everyone soon!  See you in a few days! – Hannah

If Jamie is reading this, I just want to let you know that I found my Eastern Europe Jocelyn – pouty face and all. 😉 Sam, Squid, and Momma: I love you all SO much and can’t wait to tell you all about my adventures in a few days. – Love, Shaynna