Our main task as an American team was to teach English, however we left feeling like we had learned more than we taught at times. We saw how God move not only in the lives of those attending the camp, but also in our own lives. We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to partner with CCX on this trip.
We weren’t sure how we would do tent camping for 11 days – okay, Annie wasn’t sure she could do it. But the campsite was beautiful! It was by a lake and it was astounding to take in the beauty of God’s creations. There was a lot of attention to detail around the camp, everything fit into the theme of “King Arthur.” It was clear that the student leaders and volunteers took pride in their work. It was also clear that those volunteering in the kitchen truly cared for those they were serving. Our food was incredible, and those serving were friendly and hospitable.
During English lessons, we were pleased by how engaged and teachable the student were. We were impressed by how many students improved their English skills significantly. Throughout the week we discovered that even bigger lessons were being learned. An exchange of cultures was happening as we talked at meals, bonfires, or during free time. We learned and observed great aspects of Russian culture. We repeatedly saw how hospitable Russians are. We were honored to participate in Russian traditions, celebrating Mike’s birthday and our anniversary while we were there. At the same time we explored American culture together as we discussed family life, cultural issues, sports and other traditions. Throughout the time we also got to debunk some stereotypes of our cultures. In these moments, we felt the invisible wall between our cultures begin to come down.
The greatest thing we gathered was a bigger view of the God that unites us. Through our discussions we wrestled with philosophical questions. We built relationships and saw people begin to consider how God might play a role in these deep questions. We also saw how Russians reflect the creativity of our God. We played unique games, designed costumes, and lived in a kingdom as we served the King of Kings together. Each evening we gathered around the campfire to worship through music and testimonies. Though we didn’t know every lyric, we reflected on the vastness of our God that He could be worshiped in many languages. At the end of the week it was our joy to see people commit to following Jesus for the first time, and heard how encouraged others were through their participation in the camp.
Ultimately, it was a joy to serve with CCX. As we adjust to being back home we bring these stories, and more, with us. We bring new friendships and a bigger understanding of our God back as well. We are excited to share about our experiences with you. We will continue to pray for students in CCX and all of Russia and hope you will join us. We are incredibly grateful for our time in Russia and at camp and how God moved in the Russian students and in us.
Click here to see a video one of the Russian students made about camp