Well, my optimism at finding free time during the week to do an additional update proved to be pleasantly unfounded. The schedule was packed with wonderful things. We needed the week to go well, and it exceeded even our hopes. The sad farewells were accompanied by a sense of excitement about the meeting next year.
Despite many being unable to attend because of Covid- related issues, we still had about 40 people representing 5 countries physically attending with a number of other who participated via Skype an additional two countries. In addition to the session for everyone, we had special classes for the children, teens/young adults, and ladies. On two afternoons, the children also played Bible- themed games outside. We also had singings on two evenings.
One of the improvements from previous years was that more time was built in for informal discussions and activities. These ranged from people simply sitting and talking or praying together in common areas, to the beloved tradition of walking for ice-cream, to using the gym for either basketball or soccer every night. (I enjoyed the basketball- full- court, better when I was doing it than I did the next day, but it was worth it.)It would be difficult to overestimate how much these people spending time together means to them. This is especially true of the younger and older children. Most of them have few or no kids in their local congregations to associate with, so this opportunity is precious to them.
Watching them grow and grow well is a wonderful blessing for me. All of the translators for the various studies were people in the early 20’s. In the portion of our “workshops” where a representative of each groups stands up to the address the group and share the results of their work together, a 16 year – old young man spoke for one group. In the Bible- related treasure hunt, one of the participants was several years younger than all the rest. He was there with his mom who is not a Christian, but has been visiting the assemblies of one of the Czech churches for a while now and, also joins us for our Thursday Skype studies. The other kids went far out of their way to make him feel like an important part of the group.
By the end of week folks were worn out from the activities as well as the lack of sleep. Me hanging out with the young adults till 2 AM became a common part of our ritual. A lot of good memories were made during the week, and faith grew stronger. Praise the Lord.