Saturday, August 25, 2007

Karavella, where it all began- 11 years later

Earlier this week, we traveled out to the camp where our ministry in Russia began 11 years ago. This year is the first since 1996 that a team has not traveled to Camp Karavella from our church in Massachusetts. But the friendships that began there live on, and we visited with some of our camp friends.

As we drove in the gate, the first person we caught a glimpse of was Lyudmila the librarian, a believer who became our friend and always welcomed us every year. She was babysitting for her great-grandchild when we arrived.

As we neared the administrative building, other friends awaited us and gave a warm welcome. They asked for news about all their American friends, and then spent some time with us, catching up.

The lady on the left in the bottom photo is Irina, the assistant director. She was one of the first people whom we met, on our first visit to the camp. “It’s terrible that you aren’t here this year,” she said. Irina grew up going to Karavella in the summer, and now her grandson is a camper. Next to her is her daughter Nastia, who has been receptive to the Gospel message. Though now in college, she continues to come out to camp for her summer vacation. To the right of my mom is Vanya, one of our interpreters from our first year. We are still in contact with him and his family too. He took a day off work to drive us out to camp and spend the day with us.

While at camp we were noticing how the years have gone by and children have grown up. There are different kids at camp now, but many of the staff have remained throughout the years, and now proudly show off their children and grandchildren. We shared with them news about our family too and how we have all grown.

Sergei, above, is a former camper. He graduated from one of the orphanages I visit regularly, and now coaches soccer.

Camp life goes on. There are always little changes being made, but as Irina proudly noted, “It’s one of the few camps that remains a true camp.” Kids come here to be kids; to play sports and sit around campfires, and to make memories. We pray that the Holy Spirit will inhabit this camp, so that those memories will include an encounter with Jesus Christ.

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