We had a great first camp! Thanks to everyone who is praying for us and to God for answering prayers for a smooth beginning.
The camp was the first one connected to the youth group in the coastal town of Rijeka. It's really the start of something good for our friends Stevo and Sarah Vuletic. They will be the ones responsible for follow up and discipleship for the kids that came to camp. Because it was the first one for this area there were only a handful of kids who came, but those few were really an answer to prayer as well. We had fewer than 10 signed up to come only a few days before we arrived, but God really came through and we ended up with 12 campers. There were almost as many Americans as Croatians (a 10 member team came from Scottsdale Bible Church in Phoenix) which is sometimes a recipe for disaster since we can overwhelm campers with enthusiasm. After all, we've been preparing for months to be here. Some of them only decided to come the day before camp started. To get a little idea of things, you have to picture a bunch of crazy Americans doing the "robot" and other strange choreographed motions to silly camp songs. For the first two days, the campers sort of stood around and watched, laughed, and pointed fingers at us. :) One of the girls told us after camp that she considered taking one of the paddle boats and heading back home. That's saying a lot since that would have meant a full day out on the Adriatic Sea in a tiny paddle boat. Yes, we Christians can certainly cause people to stop and wonder at our strange behavior. :)
Thankfully, all of the campers decided to stay, and by the third night's program many of them had joined us in making fools of ourselves. It really is a great way to break down walls. Having fun becomes more important than keeping up cool appearances. Transparency and sincerity open the doors to spiritual discussions after some really practical gospel messages. The smaller numbers of campers helped to establish some closer friendships in short amounts of time. It also helped us to be able to spend time with all the kids which kept distractions to a minimum. This could have been a problem since the hostel where we were staying was also a restaurant opened to the public every day at this coastal village called Umag where lots of people come for holiday. We had people watching and listening to us while they ate dinner, and there was even a dance club across the street from us. I think there was only one person who had to be carried from the dance floor and bar area all week, and that was me, ...so I'd call that a successful campaign against distractions. JUST KIDDING!
That's all for now. I'll tell you about some of the campers and have some pictures next post.