We arrived back to Eastern Europe on December 29. It was a busy start for us as we had a group from Pella, Iowa come for a visit from January 2-13. The group consisted of 15 high school students and 5 chaperones. We happily agreed to organize a Winterim class trip from Pella Christian High School to Ukraine, Hungary, and Poland. Winterim is a program done by Pella Christian Highschool as well as other Christian schools and colleges. Before the start of the winter/spring semester the school offers special off campus short term classes and special focus short-term classes on location at the school. From our perspective, the class/trip went very well.
It is always a pleasure for us to have visitors and to be able to show this fascinating corner of the world to people from North America. As part of the trip we organized a joint Pella/Peterfalva student trip to the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine. Pella Christian High School and the Peterfalva Hungarian Reformed high school have developed a relationship over the past years. We have had a number of volunteers from Pella come for summer English camps to Peterfalva, and Pella Christian has hosted three different exchange students from the Peterfalva Reformed High School. It was great to be able to take Pella students to Ukraine and to show them the high school here. We organized an off-campus trip to the mountains with 15 Pella students and 16 Peterfalva students as well as chaperones from each school, and 6 local university students who acted as helpers and translators. We visited a WWII bunker, the top of a mountain, a castle, and a famous waterfall. It was a great opportunity for the Peterfalva students to practice speaking in English as they interacted with Pella students. We hope the Pella students were able to learn about the culture, heritage, history and educational system here in Transcarpthia.
Each evening we had small group Bible studies and devotions with combined student groups. We also enjoyed an evening of singing together and praising God with our voices in two languages. We hope and pray
that the students were encouraged in their faith and relationship with Jesus over the course of the days we spent together.
Following the time in Ukraine we traveled with just the Pella group to Budapest, Hungary spending time there exploring and learning about the history of the city and of Hungary. We were able to worship on Sunday with the Erdokertes, Hungarian Reformed Church, who we partner with in one of our English/outreach camps. We were welcomed with such hospitality and a delicious meal following the morning service. We went on to Poland to visit the cities of Warsaw and Krakow as well as the concentration camp in Auschwitz.
We hope it was a memorable and life changing trip for these students (I think only one student had ever been out of the U.S.). We hope they were all impacted by the fellowship, history, culture and opportunities to share their faith. We also hope some of the Pella students when they get of university age will consider coming to volunteer in our camps in the summer time and spend more time in this fascinating corner of the world. It is really amazing to witness Christ’s dominion over all corners of the earth, and how He builds His kingdom!