Friday 31st July
The children’s work has been quite challenging! Louise & I have been looking after the 9 to 11 year old group. We have had 13 very lively children who have a varying ability in their knowledge of English. After some initial teething problems, we abandoned the programme completely and did our own thing to suit the children, and the work has been going much better since then. Louise, Emma and I were also responsible for the evening children’s programme. The children have learned some Christian songs and we have been reading them some of the parables of Jesus. For the majority of children this is a new experience as most have no contact with a church. Our Czech has improved by 100% (2 words now!).
See you soon, Louise and John
I have had an interesting week, facing many challenging and rewarding times. I have been teaching the 6-9 year old group, which included a 10 year old and two 4 year olds! This was difficult because there were big differences in language ability and in interests. We did manage to overcome it and have spent most of the time playing outside in the beautiful countryside. We have had afternoons off and went on a brilliant hike on Wednesday afternoon, involving more sitting on ski lifts than walking! Yesterday we went to a ‘Rope Park’ which I think we will have to explain in person… Hope everything is going well at home.
Love from Emma
It’s been an amazing week of highs and lows which has been a challenge for all of us. There has been little time off and our team quickly became responsible for all the children’s work, the teens (about 45 kids in all) and the music for the evening meetings. The music is an interesting mixture of Simon and Garfunkel, 60s songs and n. spirituals- as that’s what most Czechs will know… I’ve had some good discussions about spiritual issues with my teens. My group is unusual in that I have a Christian girl who shares her faith with the others – they listen respectfully. No one mocks or laughs but the usual Czech attitude is that that’s for her, but they have their own views. Most others have no contact with churches.
We finish tomorrow and head back for Prague. We’ll miss the people and the stunning scenery – it’s been a real privilege to be here and to be accepted by the Czech people. They really appreciate the fact that the teachers have given their time to come to camp to teach them English.
The dodgy ropes course was devoid of Health and Safety or supervision – a real experience at 20 feet up!!
See you soon, Gill
Tuesday 28th July
Hi from English camp in the beautiful Krkonose mountains in the north of Czech Republic. This is a beautiful place with pine forests, mountain and Swiss style chalets dripping off the rolling green slopes. Only this is the Czech republic so think piles of logs, smoking chimneys and ski lifts everywhere.
English camp is well away now with the usual near chaos on the first day which we have become accustomed to. Changing every material, classes, and people seems par for the course and the team have adapted well.
Gill is teaching teens (15-18s) and not adults as expected - neither is the level the same but hey - who cares as long as it's English(?!). Louise & John have re written their material in an afternoon and Emma is coping brilliantly on her first ''teaching practice' with her younger children. Tom is having a great time with his 11-14s who really don’t feel inclined to say much but he has an interpreter which relieves him from having to do Czech translations himself! There are 3 one-hour long lessons each morning and activities like crafts, tee shirt making etc in the afternoon.
On Wednesday we hope to climb the highest mountain in the Czech Rep which involves ski lifts, walking and a bus - a different experience from Snowdon! It's about 3700 ft and has a cafe at the top!! (So they say) which is half in Poland and half in Czech Rep. Late afternoons are taken up with music practice led by Jeff and Holly (keyboard player from Ohio) and the Bath bunch are impressing everyone with their musical abilities - well it doesn't take that much... The evening programme is split between age groups and the teens and adults discuss a Christian talk - some interesting discussions have been had with the mixture of church and non church people.
We're beginning to realise how important these camps are once more - Czechs are desperate to learn English as it's almost impossible to travel or work without it. They are very happy to go along with the Christian programme that goes with it and are open to discussing the topics and stories from the Bible. With as many as 60% of Czechs having no access to a bible at home it's exciting to see every age-group engaged in these discussions, some for the first time.
The weather has been changeable with hot sun, cold evenings and some choice storms. When we arrived on Saturday it was raining (hard) and the electricity was off due to a storm 3 days before. Not a good start. We have 3 more complete days of lessons left as we leave on Saturday.
Please pray for the conversations we have in lessons and during meals and spare time and also that we can keep going without giving way to tiredness. The day begins with team meeting at 7.15am and we spend our spare time preparing lessons - with a finish around 9.30pm (and later with teens) there's little opportunity to re-charge our batteries. But we're not complaining - it's a great camp run by a committed group of Christians who desire more than anything to see God move in the lives of the Czech people.
Tom also wishes to let it be known that he has a rabbit in his class - it comes complete with owner (aged 11) who takes it everywhere on a lead. He says all is going well and he is making headway with its english - he's confident it will be speaking fluently by Friday!
Thanks for your prayers - the team are well, happy and working hard for their living so rest assurred.
Bye for now
from Gill, Louise, Tom, John and Emma PS dumplings just keep on coming .....
Sunday 26th July 2009
We have arrived safely in Prague, with most of our luggage intact. Friday was spent touring Prague and sampling the local cuisine with Cyril Holub, a former St. Philip’s regular now living in Prague.
Yesterday we travelled North to Janske Lazne, a spa town in the north of the Czech Republic, near the Polish border. We will be working with a team of about 10 Americans and Canadians, led by our long-term contact Jeff Griffith. Our team will be teaching a range of age groups, from 5 to 18-year olds, and an adult group. The days will be spent teaching in the morning, various 'activities' in the afternoon, and an evening session which combines worship songs and a series of talks from legendary Canadian, Len Neumeister.
This afternoon will see the arrival of many of the camp's participants, who we will be leading in worship tonight (singing a medley of 60's hits...). During the rest of the week we will be walking, talking and frantically planning the next day's lessons, if today is anything to go by.
Love and dumplings