June 28, 2015

English Camp!

Treasure Hunt in Sighisoara with my team of campers. We tied for 1st place by the way :) 
This past week, I helped with English Camp at Veritas. I have a lot of thoughts (all good ones) about the week, but more on that in a separate post. For now, I'll give you some general information about English Camp. This camp is for high school students in the area who already speak some English. The obvious purpose of the camp is to encourage the campers to speak and improve their English, but it's so much more than that.

The campers are encouraged to ponder two questions: "Who am I? and Where am I going?" throughout the week. How do we do that? We talk about our personal characteristics, friendship, honesty, values, goals, future plans (jobs/careers), etc. The topics are introduced to the group as a whole, but we always split into small groups and/or pairs to dive a little deeper. The campers are encouraged to work through these topics to help develop their own values and goals. It's actually quite moving. Oh and we also have fun. Duh. I mean, I consider those discussions to be fun, but we also have various activities for the campers in the evenings.

Who loves small group discussions?! These two boys!
The camp is broken up into two parts. During the morning/early afternoon, we introduce those topics and have discussions. The campers are also required to keep a diary of the week to visually capture what we do each day. Prizes are awarded for best diaries at the end of the week! There is a break in the afternoon, and the campers return in the evenings for various activities. On Monday, the campers CREATE! They are able to make various crafts: paint mugs, make jewelry, paint wooden objects, make cards, etc. On Tuesday, they participate in a Treasure Hunt around town. I must mention (again) that my team tied for 1st place. Go Yellow Team! Then, on Wednesday, they are able to finish any crafts they started from Monday, but they also learn some Scottish dancing! I forgot to mention that the director of camp is a lady from Scotland named Morag. She comes to Romania once a year for at least three months, and I have found her to be one of the most enjoyable people. She is EXTREMELY organized, and if you know me at all, then you understand why I love her. She also happens to be extremely kind, and just a lovely person overall. Two of her close friends, Anne and Allen, also come from Scotland to help for the week. Anyways, back to the evening activities...On Thursday, we watch a film called "A Place for Annie", which goes into some of the topics we discussed throughout the week. During the film, the leaders work on prize-giving and plan for Friday.

Morag and the mug painting crew.
On Friday morning/early afternoon, the campers work on creating a CV (resume) for an interview. They are able to choose from three potential positions as an au pair/nanny, restaurant server, and tour guide, and spend the day preparing for an "interview". I had the privilege of interviewing the campers interested in being an au pair. It was kind of fun. In case you were wondering, I live with my husband and our three children (ages 2, 6 and 8) in London. None of these positions actually exist, but it's to get them thinking about how to present themselves in an interview and to prepare for the future.

In the evening, the campers are encouraged to invite their parents, relatives, and/or friends to come and see what they've been doing all week. We display all of their crafty creations from the week, as well as worksheets, games, and other activities. The guests are invited to sit and watch a slideshow of photos from the week while Morag shares with them. Then, the campers are presented with their diplomas, as well as prizes, and we close the night by showing off the campers' Scottish dancing skills. All of this makes for a lovely end to English Camp.

Scottish dancing at English Camp in Romania. Always so much culture :) 
And the fun doesn't end there...tomorrow begins the second week of English Camp! I can't tell you how excited I am. We do it all over again, but with different campers. And sadly, Morag will not be directing camp this week, as she will be traveling back home. Instead, Adela and Svetlana (two of my coworkers from Veritas...who I greatly enjoy) will be in charge, along with myself. I will be the only native speaker this week...the pressure is on! I think I can handle it though since I've been speaking English for 27 years now. Oh and a fun fact, some of the campers thought I was their age...NOPE! Try adding 10+ years!

As I mentioned in the second sentence of this post, I have a lot of thoughts related to English Camp, but also just in general. Nice and vague, right? To be a little more specific, I have a lot of thoughts about young people, and the idea of investing in them. However, we all know I'm very wordy and this post is already long enough. I'll save those thoughts for another post so to be continued...

June 13, 2015

Currently: Romanian Edition Part II

Reading in the garden...in my backyard!!!
I think it's been long enough since my last Romanian edition of Currently so here's part two...enjoy.

Reading: Soooo I'm still reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker...and it's blowing my mind. It's not one of those books that you can just devour in one sitting, but one that takes time to digest. I've been reading it for months, which is abnormal for me...especially since it's SOOOO GOOD. (I recently read a rather lengthy book on a Friday afternoon/evening/night because I just couldn't stop. I apologize for that humblebrag. And if you know what I mean by that then we should be best friends.) Anyways, back to Interrupted...I underline at least one sentence on every single page. The subtitle of the book is as follows, When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity...so there's that. I've copied Amazon's description of the book down below. I highly recommend this book, but don't say I didn't warn you. Here are just a few of the things I underlined today...

On following God's call to leave..."Leaving is hard, even when a great adventure awaits you...Sometimes following God is the worst. I can say with some confidence: if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway." Those last three words got a double underline. 

Along the same lines as following God's call..."God may be leading you away without a clear final destination yet.  As maddening as that is, could it be that He needs you to release what was before you can appropriately grasp what will be? Could it be that you might accidentally squash the lovely vision if you obtain it too soon? There is a horrid beauty in following God slightly blind. The victory later is sweeter, the prize more valuable than breath. Obviously, we are Americans; we like a plan, we like assurances. But the ways of faith exist so far outside of our tidy boundaries, it is a wonder we can ever receive it's mysteries at all...When the "how" eclipses the "why" too soon, we create a positional shift to defend and execute rather than listen and receive." Those last two sentences are just too much. 

In reference to the church..."It's about putting hands and feet to the gospel - our hands and our feet. It's about building bridges with those who won't come to us on Sunday, not as a project but because Jesus loves them and told us to. It's a dangerous journey that requires honesty and vulnerability. It's about the kingdom breaking through in all of our lives. It's about creating a place to belong before people are expected to behave or even believe." (This quote is technically from her husband.)

From Amazon: "Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point. Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey."

Obviously, I could have done an entire post on this book, and maybe I will when I'm done (Good idea, self!). I give you permission to skim or completely skip that one if/when it's posted ;)

Eating: Chili. Lots of chili. Living alone equals cooking for one, which I don't really know how to do...and therefore, I end up with LOTS of leftovers. I made chili in the crockpot last week and immediately put half of it in the freezer. I then proceeded to eat chili all week, but I'm not complaining! It was actually pretty tasty if I do say so myself! 

As far as eating Romanian food...I don't know that I've encountered anything new lately. Veritas (where I work) has a large garden so a lot of the veggies we eat for lunch are fresh from the garden. They have been serving salad (I think the lettuce is Romaine?? Or something similar?) with lunches recently. It's covered in a homemade dressing and it's so fresh and tasty. Yum...I'm hungry. 

Thinking about: Same answer as last time...many things. Always many things. I'm a chronic over-analyzer...shout out to all of my best pals who are nodding their heads in agreement with that last statement. Love you guys! In regards to the immediate future, I've been thinking about the Kids Club at Veritas. The social worker with this program just had her last day on Friday...after TEN YEARS!!! How amazing is that?! I cannot begin to tell you how much I learned from her in this short period of time. I look forward to still seeing her around and brainstorming with her in the future. I know this is not the end of that relationship. Obviously though, there is a spot to fill in the program. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to ask for prayers for this program...that God would bring in the right person...and that the in-between time will still be fruitful. 

I've also been thinking about, and getting excited for, English Camp, which will be starting on June 22nd. There are two weeks of English Camp, and I'll be helping at both as a "native speaker". Sounds so official! These camps take place through Veritas at the House on the Rock, and are provided for local high school students. While the students focus on improving their English, topics like identity, values, and life choices are also explored in depth. I have found that I really enjoy working with teens on such topics...evidenced by my enjoyment of camp and my work with another program I'm working with called It Takes Courage. I think I've mentioned this program before, but here is the link

Listening: Continuing to listen to the Romanian language. Thankfully, I can understand so much more these days. On Friday, during staff devotions, I didn't have anyone translate for me and I was able to understand the majority of the discussion. There were a few things I asked for help with here and there, but I was pretty proud of myself. I will add that some days are better than others though...at times, I can't understand a simple sentence, but it's a work in progress. 

And speaking is another story. I have had a much harder time speaking Romanian...a MUCH harder time. I don't speak a lot (of English) as it is so that doesn't help. And I don't consider myself to be the most eloquent of speakers (of English) or possess the ability to always put my thoughts and feelings into words...all of these things make speaking a foreign language much more difficult. Can I insert another prayer request here? For the courage to speak more Romanian...and the clarity to say what I want/need to say. 

Back to listening...In regards to music, I have been rotating through various playlists on Spotify. This morning, I came across a "Coffee & Relaxation" playlist and IT. WAS. PERFECTION. while I sat drinking my coffee and relaxing. See what I did there...?! A few songs from the playlist...I Can Feel a Hot One by Manchester Orchestra, Do You Remember by Jarryd James, Hot Gates by Mumford & Sons, Waltz #2 by Elliott Smith, We Are Nowhere & It's Now by Bright Eyes, The One by Kodaline, Caroline by Jon Foreman, and so on and so forth. Sorry that was a lot, but I couldn't stop. They're all soooo dang good. 

Watching: Okay so I'm sorry to bore you, but as previously stated...Let it be known that the answer to the question, "What are you/have you been watching?" will ALWAYS be Gilmore Girls. Like always. I finished the series for the 4,286th time. I just cannot NOT watch it. When I finish it, I miss them and then I start again. So guess what...I started again. I can't help it. There was a recent reunion of the cast for a television festival in Austin, Texas and I OBSESSIVELY followed every detail. I have a problem.

But I've also been watching TV! In Romanian! Or in English with Romanian subtitles, which I've found to be very helpful. I'm a visual learner and seeing the words is crucial. Funny story...there are quite a few American movies on from time to time so I find myself watching them to help practice my language skills...and just to watch them, duh. One day, A Cinderella Story was on, but there weren't any subtitles. I decided to still try to watch it, but found myself not understanding anything at all! Needless to say, I was a bit discouraged...until I heard someone say "egan" which means "yes" in Hungarian. I FELT SO MUCH BETTER. I hadn't lost all of my Romanian language skills after all. 

Loving: Hmmm...is it weird that it's hard to pinpoint one thing because I'm loving so many things? I love spending my Mondays with the individuals with special needs followed by Monday Night Supper. I'm loving my Tuesdays and Wednesdays with Kids Club. I love planning for and leading It Takes Courage for the teens on Thursdays with Adela. I love sitting around the table with my coworkers on Monday and Friday mornings for devotions, discussions, prayer, etc. I'm just loving. That is all. 

I first saw the "Currently" feature on Sometimes Sweet, which is one my absolute favorite blogs. Just giving credit where credit is due.