Peterfalva English Camp

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Peterfalva, Ukraine June 14-26. Our longest and original English camp occurs in our home base, the village of Peterfalva.  Peterfalva is where we have been living and working for years in Ukraine.  Like Nagybereg, Peterfalva also has a Hungarian Reformed boarding school which was started by the Hungarian Reformed Church following the fall of communism.  The church has set up these institutes to provide a Christian education as well as a superior education for hundreds of students in Transcarpathia, Ukraine.  Both of our camps at the two boarding schools are part of the school curriculum.  Following the conclusion of the school year in the end of May the students must take part in both English and a Ukrainian language camp before their two month summer vacation begins in end of June. We have enjoyed partnering with these schools with language camps and it has been an excellent means for us to meet and form relationships with students, sharing the Gospel and love of Christ with them.  The LORD has blessed us with our 9th anniversary of English camps in Peterfalva.  This year we had 9 volunteers help at the camp.  We had volunteers travel from America, Canada, Germany as well as local universities. Nearly 100 students including 7 students from a sister school in Ashod, Hungary attended the camp.  Our daily schedule in Nagybereg is modeled after our camp in Peterfalva, so I will skip to two aspects of the Peterfalva camp which make it unique in our summer schedule.

Having two weeks with the students allows us to include two special features to the schedule.  During the course of the two week camp each student must take part in an afternoon service project in the local community, emphasizing Christian Servant Leadership.  Service projects and local outreach is something many of the students have never really considered or experienced before.  We hope and pray through the experience of these afternoons that the students will develop a servant’s heart motivated out of a love for Christ, and an awareness of the needs in their own community.  The students were able to choose between three options:  A Vacation Bible School afternoon in a local Roma (Gypsy) community, an afternoon of visiting, praying and singing with widows and elderly of the community, and picking up trash on the banks of the local Tisza River.  It was a rewarding experience for us to see the students embrace these opportunities, leaving behind their comfort zones to venture into activities and places they have never been or seen before.  Especially rewarding was to see the students involved in the VBS outreach to the Roma who for many traveled for the first time into Gypsy camps, leaving behind racial stereotypes, to interact and witness to children in these outlying and forgotten muddy corners of their communities.  During one of the VBS days we partnered with members of the congregation where we attend church as well members of the Hungarian Reformed Church in the nearby village of Akli to provide a picnic lunch for two different Roma communities in the area. Hungarian Goulash was on the menu. Students played games and served lunch, volunteers from church maintained fires, cut vegetables, and cooked large pots of goulash over open fires. Two pastors came to deliver messages to both Roma communities. The coordination of 30 student volunteers, 15 local church volunteers, 10 English camp volunteers and 2 pastors to organize two church services, games and activities, and the feeding of nearly 300 Roma simultaneously in two Roma communities proved to be by far the most stressful and rewarding afternoon of the camp.   The second unique aspect of the Peterfalva Camp is that we have the time to organize all the students into sports and activity teams.  The teams compete daily against each other in sporting activities and events.  They compete in trivia competitions, skit night, ultimate Frisbee, scavenger hunts, relay races, water balloon volleyball and other activities.  The students enjoy these competitions to determine a camp champion.

A mid camp weekend break allows students to go home and have a rest.  The free weekend is also an opportunity for the volunteer English teachers to explore the nearby Carpathian Mountains.  We enjoyed a weekend of hiking, site-seeing, and fellowship while enjoying the beauty of God’s creation.  We enjoy this camp and the opportunity to interact with and to share the love of Christ these students.  Thank you to the many members of the local church who sacrificed an afternoon of time to take part in the picnic and outreach in the Roma camp. Thank-you to Irenke Kalanics, Ibolya Nagy, Csaba Toth, school cooks, cleaning staff, dorm staff and the rest of the Peterfalva staff for all the hard work they did during these two weeks. Thank you to Krisztina Sarkozi, Alexandra Kriszan, and Csilla Kodobocz, three local university students who were invaluably helpful for translating, helping in the classrooms and in organizing activities and games. Thank you to Heather Kaemingk of the U.S., Mara Rehfinger of Germany, and Gilbert Markvoort of Cananda, who all traveled many miles to take part in the camp.  Thank you to Wiebke Bartells, a German volunteer, living in Ukraine.  We praise God for a successful camp.  It is our hope and prayer that the students learned English, but more importantly we hope these two weeks brought students closer to God, strengthening their faith in their daily walk with Jesus Christ.  We hope and pray that the Gospel message of Jesus Christ was proclaimed and heard by many.  To God be the glory.

Please Visit the photo gallery from this camp. http://iccdabroad.org/photo-galleries/peterfalva-english-camp/

About Eric Hoeksema

Stacey, my wife, and I are located in western Ukraine, living with and working among a Hungarian population in Transcarpathia, Ukraine.

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