Monday, July 30, 2012

Brandon's birthday cake in Budapest

Celebrating #18!!

Monday, July 30

Hello Family and Friends (old and new),
We are sitting down to dinner after a very full day of touring the amazing city of Budapest. We have to keep pinching ourselves to remember what a privilege it is to be here and experience these sights. Our tour bus picked us up at our hotel this morning and took us on a three hour tour of the most famous places in the city:  Heroes Square, Mathias church, Statue of Liberty, Parliament, Fishermans Bastion, Museum of Fine Art, Chain Bridge, Castle District, Margaret Island,Gellert Hill,The Opera house, and a natural hot spring spa which I am looking forward to revisiting (hint hint Curt). We were also lucky enough to take a cruise on the Danube River. For me this was very enjoyable because you could see many of the famous sights I mentioned before but from the comfort of a breezy river cruise (on the DANUBE RIVER!!!!!).
All in all, it was a great day and I think we all look forward to being home and seeing our loved ones tomorrow.
Thanks so much to all of you in our congregation who made this trip possible for our team this year. Just based on the comments from the Slovakian Team I think the work that the kids did in the English camp was very valuable and much appreciated.

Roxanne (Roxanna) Euhus

Sunday, July 29

Hello everyone from home! Today we spent our last day in Slovakia! I have to say that all of us (or maybe just me) woke up content and rested. We didn’t have to be at Pastor Ivan’s house until 11:30am because Pastor Ivan preaches at 3 different services each Sunday and today we attended his late service that started at 12pm. J We had to drive to a neighboring village and I’m always excited for those semi-long drives because the scenery is so beautiful!  The service was held outside under a restaurant enclosure. It was inspiring to see how people made the church service happen out of the resources that they had. The attendees brought out a keyboard, wine for communion, and the thirty-nine of us in church that morning worshiped God under a canopy while rain was pouring down. We actually used the common cup at this service and the wine inside was very strong! After the church service, we ate at the restaurant where we were graciously given some powder sugar donuts, sugar cookies, soda and some classic Slovak food. We tried 2 types of cheese, bryzne and halushki, both of them are sheep cheese that had bee smoked. I think all of us thought they were quite… interesting. After our nice lunch, we went back to our Slovakian homes and got ready to leave for Budapest!! We said our goodbyes to all of the people who were so kind to us this week and it was weird to think that we will probably never see them again! I hate goodbyes, L but the time we shared together was so fun! We headed through the beautiful Slovakian countryside and villages on our way to Budapest, Hungary where a hotel reservation awaited us. Luckily, Erica, Roxanne, Kyle, Jake, Jim and I were in Pastor Ivan’s car with AC and windows, but the rest of the kids got stuck in the big, blue, Mercedes van with no ac or windows… that seemed to be the bad thing of the day… When we arrived in the city of Budapest, it took us a little while to find our hotel, but the city here is beautiful with a mix between new and old buildings, museums and of course the high end stores like Gucci and Louis Vouitton ;D. Kyle kept reminding all of us that when we arrived in Budapest, the second service at church hadn’t even started yet! We arrived at the hotel and it began to pour and storm while we said our goodbyes to Pastor Ivan and gave him a piece of our sending cloth. As soon as we were settled into our rooms, we got ready to go out to dinner and take a short walk in the wind and rain. We all arrived at a small bar/restaurant and were able to watch some fencing and the Olympics. The most ordered dish at our table was pizza, but we also had some yummy spaghetti, sesame chicken, steak, and the “exotically flavored potatoes”, all of our dishes were delicious! We headed back to the hotel for devotions and I have to say that our cloth is looking pretty great right now ! Maddie, Erica and I got ready for Brandon’s fun birthday surprise at 12am and were able to get matches from the lobby to light the 18 candles on top of our small donut birthday dessert for the big 18 year old! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRANDON. It was a good time with kazoos and birthday masks J Tomorrow we are looking forward to some sightseeing on a tour bus to see and hear all about Budapest ! Until tomorrow, much love from Budapest!

Mom: Since this is a blog.. I don’t really know what secrets to share, especially in such a public setting but I love you and pet kitty for me! Don’t leave Kyle and I at the airport :p See you and Papa on Tuesday!! :D

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Andrew riding his horse on Tuesday afternoon.

Erica doing the obstacle course on Tuesday afternoon.

The group waiting to get into the Gothic church on Thursday morning.

The pipe organ in the Gothic church that pre-dates Columbus discovering America.  It still works!!!!

Alana and Maddie at the fortress on Saturday morning.

Front gate to the fortress from our Saturday hike.

Friday night fun in Banska Bystrica

Jim at the top of the fortress from our Saturday hike.

Friday and Saturday, July 27,28

Hey all,

This is Jim and I am going to sum up our last day at camp and our adventures today.

Camp ended yesterday at noon and I think everything went really well there.  The kids did a great job in teaching their English class and doing there crafts.  I think they represented the US and Community Lutheran very well.

After we left the camp, we headed back to our home base of Dobrac for a little relaxing before we headed to the major city in central Slovakia of Banska Bystrica.  There they had a huge mall and the kids were able to do a little shopping and learn about Euro prices vs US prices.  Some of us got KFC for dinner which was a nice rememberance of home.  After dinner we walked through the city and got into a very European central square that was beautiful.  Great fountain and we took alot of pics there. 

Saturday was a great day for hiking as we got up and headed up to a fortress on top of a hill.  It was quite a climb but we made it to the top and had a lot of fun in some fortress ruins.  We then got some pizza for lunch and had a chance to talk with a very famous swordmaker here in Slovakia.  He showed us some of his swords and how he makes them.  He had just recently made a ceremonial knife for Prince Charles.  It was pretty cool.  It is just before dinner time and the kids are all at their houses probably sleeping.  We are having dinner at 6:30 and then rumor has it a Lord of the Rings marathon.  The house I am in has a DVD player, a nice TV and the movies in English with no subtitles. 

The trip has been great but we are reaching that point in every trip when we are starting to pick at each other and are ready to come home.  It always happens when you spend so much time with each othere.  We head to Budapest tomorrow, have a sightseeing day there Monday and then fly home on Tuesday.  Peace to all.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Our hotel for the English Camp.  We all stay on the 2nd floor and the camp is held in the bottom left room. 

Thursday, July 26

So today was pretty cool. We did a lot of tourist stuff like seeing the gothic era and renaissance era churches in different villages. Our lunch was awesome too. It was bread and duck liver…tooootally yummy. Not. The other kids seem to get our humor more and more each day which makes it easier to get pass the language barrier. We also saw some rare caves in a national monument area. It was also Jim’s great idea to not bring jackets so the majority of us walked around with goose bumps, but it ended up not being that bad. After dinner, we all sat around a camp fire and played mafia. The other kids seemed to think it was fun and it was, but it made me miss good old Aaron. King of Mafia. Haha it was nice to see everyone around the fire and have some fun. As of now Alana and I are tucked into my blankie listening to some T. Swift because YES JIM, SHE IS AWESOME. We have devotions in like five minutes so I end this saying we miss you all and we ask for your prayers for a safe travels so we can get back to our lovely fans back home. J Oh and shout out to Roxanne for being our group mom. She’s doing an awesome job and we all love her. <33333

-Erica Kiesow.

PS – This is Jim. I told them all to bring their jackets for the cave but I am sure you know your kids and can guess which ones didn’t listen to me.   

Wednesday, July 25

Dobre den (Good day) everyone! Today was our third day at camp (Wednesday July 26) and we had planned an all day, 30 kilometer hike (This is what Pastor Ivan says and he is a jokester so I have no idea if we was serious). Unfortunately for all of us though, the weather was rainy today and we were forced to stay inside. This wasn’t too bad because we just shifted our bible and English lessons from Thursday to today so we learned about Jesus feeding the five thousand and we taught the kids numbers in our English groups. It was interesting because even though our languages separated us, the Slovak kids still understood how powerful God and Jesus are. For our English groups we taught the kids numbers and found that most of them already knew what we were teaching them. This was a little unfortunate for us but we improvised a little bit and were able to make the lesson worthwhile to the Slovak kids. After a two course lunch of alphabet soup, mashed potatoes, and chicken (I am still confused about the whole two course thing), we found that the weather permitted us to play some games outside. We played Frisbee outside and then hiked a ski slope where we played more games. After that, we went and played some soccer where I was promoted from Team USA’s water boy to goalie and we pulled off our second win against the Slovaks. I’d like to think this was from my awesome goal tending but truth be told it probably wasn’t. I was super tired from our games today so after a spaghetti dinner and a great sermon and prayer by our translator Migo, or mi amigo as I call him, I went upstairs and promptly fell asleep. A pretty typical American teenager, right? Overall, this was a really good day and I look forward to the few more days of camp and the approximate week left of our trip. Ciao and poppykosh! – Kyle Stroud

Tuesday, July 24

Hello fellow Americans.

Today was our second day at the ole’ Pension Family Hotel in Slovakia. It proved such an amazing day to everyone including myself.  Lucky for us, we got to be rudely awoken by the ever so precious Drew Smutz and his whistle. We then ate some Russian meats for breakfast and then split into our English groups for a bible lesson.  After the lesson, our groups went over the lesson of the day which was colors. The kids got to walk around and write down as many things of one color as they could. It was very cool to see the kids interacting and literally learning and comprehending new things right before us. Our activity of the day was horseback riding, which we were all very excited for. Although rather than galloping through a flower filled meadow in a stampede of horses….all thirty people rode ONE horse in ONE circle. Haha things are a little different here on the other side of the world. After the horses and a crazy game of soccer, (Team USA defeated Team Slovakia) we came back to the hotel for some worship songs and prayer. Brandon talked to me and Dylan for almost an hour about his faith and all the amazing things God has done for us, and we were both so moved by his words. Many other kids were moved by Brandon and all of us as a group in general so we were all so touched. We realized that even though we live on the other side of the earth and our cultures are so different, both us Americans and the Slovakians can be so connected through little things like a game of “futbol” or such huge things such as our living God. The group got to talking during devotions and we all realized how lucky we are to have such loving families and such a gracious congregation.  Once again though, we are all very tired and still manage to feel that jetlag so were off to bed but you’ll hear from us soon.     DOBRE NACHT! (goodnight) I think?   -Maddie (a.k.a. “Mary” over here)

Monday, July 23

Hey everyone!

Jake and Drew here to tell you about our first day here at the camp, Monday, July 24th. We woke up earlier in the morning, once we made it through a 45 minute car ride with one of the craziest drivers in Slovakia we finally made it to the camp. We got settled in with our luggage and stuff and proceeded to meet the kids. We played some name games to get to know the kids in our groups. We then quizzed the kids to separate them into 4 groups based on skill level. We then had our first English lesson with the kids, which seemed to go pretty well. We had a lot of free time on our hands afterwards, so we played games with the kids and had conversations with them in English. The night ended with some more fun games and singing. WE are very tired now, so we will be going to bed. Peace out!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Some pics from Sunday

Group at church Sunday morning

Exloring the Fortress Ruins
At the cemetary outside the fortress
Hey parents,

This is Jim writing the blog tonight.  We left Pastor Ivan's house and have to get an early start tomorrow morning to head out to the camp so it was easier that I just write tonight and then the kids will be back tomorrow night.

This morning we had worship with Pastor Ivan at his church.  Very small, old church that sits on a hill surrounded by a cemetary.  The church was originally built in the 1300's but it has gone through a couple of refurbishings but is still very old.  Holds about 50-75 people so it was pretty full this morning with us there.  Alana and Jake sang Amazing Grace for the congregation and I got to share a little about what we were doing there.  There is a pic of the group in front of the altar at the church.

That afternoon we got to go to Hvad Divin which is a town that has the old remains of a castle fortress.  It was like a giant playground.  We didn't have guardrails or anything and were able to climb over all kinds of rocks and walls of this old fortress  It was pretty cool and the highlight of day for most of us.

Tonight we had a BBQ dinner with the program team for the English camp we are starting tomorrow.  That should be a good week full of challenges.  I look forward to seeing our kids shine as they talk and share about Jesus with these Slovakian teenagers.  It will be an awesome week.  They will right more tomorrow night.  Peace to all.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

One more pic that I forgot to add last night.  The group is standing in front of "The Door".
Rock marking the center point of Europe.

Touring the mine and the museum.

Maddie practicing her marksmanship in case a Hunger Games situation breaks out.

View of the town from the Castle Church bell tower. 

Group at dinner.

Dobr deň (Good day)

Ahoj parentals,

                Today we ventured into the heart of Slovakia, and got to see what Slovakia really is about. We drove about 34.5 kilometers give or take to not only Slovakia but literally the center of Europe. We went into the market center and there were a variety of shops (almost like the Del Mar Fair). We walked around for a little then went into the Museum of Mining and Coin. It was pretty gnarly, I’m just talking for myself but I literally didn’t know anything about Slovakia and to see everything we saw in the museum helped me get a broader understanding of this beautiful country. Then we drove up a hill where we saw the center of Europe, we know it was the center because the rock said so. After that we went to a Castle-Church, it was beautiful. It had stain glass windows everywhere and the most organs I have ever seen in my life. We climbed up the Bell Tower, which was like 80.03 meters. When we reached the top Drew almost peed his pants and just laid there. Then after we got done there we were all borderline starving so we went down south a little bit, I really don’t know where we went I was sleeping, but we found this restaurant that served the driest worst steak in the world. But hey it was food and they made good bacon. We came home and now that leaves me to this point. Jim is telling me to stop so this is it.

Love you guys,

Your favorites, Brandon and Dylan

Friday, July 20, 2012

Well parents and friends,

We have officially made it to Dobrac, Slovakia.  Flights were all really good and right on time.  Pastor Ivan meet us at the airport and drove us into Slovakia.  We had a great dinner this evening and now have departed to our different places for much needed sleep.  All the girls are at one home with Roxanne.  I have Drew and Kyle with me in a flat and then the older boys are staying in part of Pastor Ivan's home.  It will all be great. 

First impressions of Hungary and Slovakia are how green it is here.  Beautiful countryside that reminded many of us of Minnesota without the mosquitos and no humidity.  Just gorgeous!!

I am ready to get some sleep.  We have a recooperation day tomorrow with some sightseeing and hiking. 


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Final Thoughts before we leave.

It is less then 24 hours before we leave.  We are all excited and a little nervous but we know that God will be with us throughout the next 2 weeks.  We leave out of LAX on July 19th, go through London and then on to Budapest, Hungary.  We will be picked up at the airport there in Hungary by Pastor Ivan who will take us into Slovakia and his hometown of Dobrac.  I hope that we will be able to update you all with some stories and pics once we reach Dobrac.  Thanks for all your prayers and support!!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hey all!  You are reached the page that will be tracking the Community Lutheran Church Youth as they make their journey to Slovakia.  The youth will be updating the site with pictures and what happened each day of our trip.  We hope that you enjoy it.