Friday, October 12, 2012

Serbia - A Recap

Below is a recap of my trip to Serbia this past July plus a little video slideshow...Enjoy!

My team consisted of five other members: James and Katy from Fort Worth (expecting a sweet baby girl in November; James is the president of Bridges for Christ), Matt and Beth from Claremore, and Chris from Claremore (treasurer of Bridges for Christ). We traveled almost 1000 miles in a nine day time span to meet the six national workers that Bridges for Christ is partnered with (these workers are trained by and supported through Children’s Evangelism Fellowship). Darko, who is one of the national workers but also the Director, was our “tour guide/navigator” throughout our trip.

We started in Vranje, which is as far south as you can get in Serbia, where we stayed with Jan and Ruženka. They have two kids Benjamin (19) and Rebeka (9). In the last eight months, they moved away from family and church in the North to work with refugees in this area. We spent the most time there helping with the Good News Clubs (a weekly Vacation Bible School-type meeting) at different refugee camps. I loved getting to know this family as well as some of the kids from the area. During this time, I really felt the effects of having a language barrier; however, I learned through that, that patience, attentiveness, and a physical presence relays the message that you love and care for them.

Our last day with the Jan and Ruženka's family, we swam in lake Vlasina that is the water source for the Serbian water bottle brand, Vlasinka Rosa. We ate dinner at Darko’s house that evening in Niš. The next morning a few of us went to a bizarre where we bought a few souvenirs and toured a Concentration Camp. We then set out for Novi Sad, which was about four hours away. When we reached the city, we stopped at the Petrovaradin Fortress, which had a gorgeous view of Novi Sad. For dinner we had pizza then went on to Darko’s parent’s house in Čelarevo. They were the sweetest couple and reminded me of my mom’s parents.

The next two days were a blur because I got what we affectionately called, Serbia’s Revenge. I won’t go into any detail but I felt like dying. Thankfully, I was able to travel to Kamp Mrčajevci, which is like a very small version of Falls Creek. The main focus of the national workers is reaching out to children in their areas so Kamp Mrčajevci is a time that the kids can learn more about Christ, get three full meals a day (which is new to most of them), and be around other Christian Serbians.

The last full day we were in Serbia, we spent time with Dragan and Daniela that are ethnically Roma Gypsy and minister to that community in the city of Aranđelovac. We visited a refugee camp of Gypsies where I fell in love with a group of precious girls. These girls had just gotten back from a week at Kamp Mrčajevci and kept saying they wanted to go back “home.”

I have a ton of stories from the trip and would love to share more with you. I would like to challenge you to prayerfully consider going to Serbia soon. Giving financially is an important factor but the “workers are few and the harvest is plenty” in this country.

As you may have already seen on Facebook, I am going back by myself to Serbia, December 29-January 7, to help with their pre-Christmas ministry opportunities (Christmas is celebrated on January 7). I ask for your prayers as I go during winter weather and a time when my allergies typically attack me.

Thanks for reading!

Listening to
"Now is the Start"
by A Fine Frenzy

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