Thinking about this trip, it’s not exactly a normal missions trip. If you asked a random person what a missions trip was, they’d probably say it was going to Mexico or something and building a house. But the Czech Republic is kind of a strange destination. Even myself, growing up with the knowledge of missions trips, would never have picked the Czech Republic to start sending people to. Europe just doesn’t seem like a place in need of missionaries, does it? But in reality, it’s the perfect place.
The Czech Republic is currently one of the most atheistic places in the whole world. Since the 1600s, it has only had forty plus years of freedom. Ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then the Nazis, and then the Soviets. During the Reformation, the country was primarily Protestant. But the Catholic church of the time came in, expelled all the Protestants, and then Catholicism was forced down the throats of the people. So religion isn’t exactly the most appealing idea to them. But that makes it all the more fun.
My story with going on this trip isn’t inspiring or anything, but I think it’s interesting nonetheless. The trip is described as an English camp. We go there, teach English to the Czechs, but we also share the gospel to the students. But we also make relationships with the students too. My father had gone last year, and he strongly felt that my mother and I were meant to go this year. Neither my mother nor me were too keen on the idea at first.
The months go by, and certain things happen that seem to point towards God telling my mother she needed to go. We were driving home from family on Thanksgiving, and we drove by a church. The church had Tabor, the name of the town the trip was going to, in the name. My dad instantly knew that was a sign. Roughly a half hour later, my mom was playing Scrabble on her phone, and this is what showed up when she started:
So I think you can see what I mean when I talk about signs from God. But that’s where I really struggled. I got no signs like that. All I had was that my father kept telling me I should go. It might sound like a big sign, but parents are always telling what they think you should do.
Planning for the trip was just going with the flow; get it done, the least amount of effort possible. My heart wasn’t really in it at that point. But through it, I was still nervous. I was nervous right up until the last week before we left.
I think the last week before we left was one extraordinarily difficult. For some reason, I got increasingly prideful and defiant. I would get really angry, really quickly. God definitely helped me through it; I was actually getting excited, as The 8th of July got even closer. The day we left was a good day.
An eight-hour plane ride. Eight full hours of sitting down. That wasn’t exactly the best part of the trip. Luckily, I was placed next to Shara, a theme that seemed to persist through the entire trip. I didn’t really know her at all, so it was cool to get to know her. There were a lot of people that were cool to get to know.
The first three days was a training camp thing at Brejlov. After training was the English Camp. The big event, everything we had prepared the last six months for. Now this was also the whole thing I was afraid of. The last few years in my life were marked with social inhibitions, I only had surfacey friends that got me through the school day. No close friends I could confide in. I’m also incredibly introverted. So this whole thing about having to make relationships with all these strangers was a big stumbling block. One I don’t think I necessarily got over. Initially, I kind of just shut down socially. I was quiet. My only comfort was my friends. And at that point, not a lot of my friends were there.
I never made a strong relationship with a Czech, at least not a student. But slowly I got more acclimated to being around them. I was able to get at least to the surface level of social skills. But regardless of my social situation, I was still given a peace throughout the trip. I never felt like I had failed on the trip. I feel that if I had failed or messed up my opportunities, I wouldn’t be so peaceful and happy with it all.
I instead think I was sent there for a different purpose. I think I was sent for morale. To be the one that can encourage those who were making the relationships. To be the pillar for the temple. When we were all so tired in the mornings, I would still act cheerful. I was incredibly tired. I could’ve fallen asleep on the spot. But my simple act of acting happy seemed to go a long way with everyone else. And God did give me a peace in this. I firmly believe that if you asked anyone who went on that trip, they would agree.
After camp we had a follow up in Tabor. All the students could come and see us, we could all just hang out and see each other. That was incredible. English camp was awesome, but being able to just hang out in the purest sense was such a blessing. And Tabor is a beautiful city.
When follow up was over, we had a free day in Prague. Prague is beautiful, though I do wish there was less smoking, less alcohol, and less red light district type stuff. To be honest, the day in Prague wasn’t my favorite day. It was cool to get some awesome souvenirs, and the sights were amazing. But that was the day that I was done acting like I wasn’t tired. I was beat, and I went to bed as early as I could.
You know, this trip was awesome for two reasons. One, I learned a lot about myself. I learned how important prayer is and that it works, and it works very well. I know for sure that if there isn’t a God, and then this trip wouldn’t have been possible. Without a God, I don’t think I could’ve made it through this trip. Some people in our group might not even been alive today without a God. And everyone on our team knows it. If all other evidence is ignored, the existence of God is proved by the testimony of those who truly have a relationship with Jesus. Because no atheist can deny the life I’ve lived, or the life anyone in our group has lived.