Last Tuesday after visiting a school in Orlova, we got picked up by Zuzka and drove to Jablunkov, where she is planting a church. Our church in Calgary, First Assembly, supports Zuzka and the work that she is doing in Jablunkov, financially and also by sending teams to help. Zuzka also had the opportunity to visit Calgary this past May for the Tehillah Dimensions conference so she could see what church is like in North America.
Zuzka is an amazing young woman. She’s only 25, but she is doing great things in the community of Jablunkov with children and youth. She is the leader of the local chapter of the Royal Rangers, which is similar to Scouts, but the children also learn about God, in addition to going camping and hiking and learning outdoor survival skills. And she’s building relationships in a community that’s very closed to Christianity and is starting a church from the ground up and right now they meet at someone’s house every week.
It was really fun hanging out with Zuzka and getting to know her. Our first night there, she took us…to POLAND! There’s a Czech town called Cesky Tesin that’s right on the border so we just walked across a border and we were in Poland! Because of the Shengan Treaty, many borders have opened up and you don’t need a passport to cross.
So we walked through a Polish town, went to a Polish castle, and revelled in the fact that we had just walked to another country.
The next day we had off, which was so nice! It was great to relax and have an adventure! This time Zuzka took us…to SLOVAKIA! No big deal, just going to three countries in two days. I find this fascinating.
So we drove to the Slovakian mountains and went on a hike through this canyon! It was very cold, but absolutely beautiful with the frost on the trees.
We left from where the car was parked without taking too much notice of the map, but having a general idea of where we were going. We followed the trail through the canyon and up these crazy stairs…
…And continued on over the mountain. We came out in a small town with some beautiful log hotels (definitely a vacation spot) and realized that to get to where we started and where the car was parked, it was a 3 km walk, and we had already been walking for at least an hour and a half. So…we started down the road and once we hit the main road, we tried to flag down a car so we wouldn’t be walking as it was getting dark. I should mention that in Europe, hitchhiking is a very common way of getting around if you don’t have a car. Lobos, our friend in Hlucin, told us how him and his wife went hitchhiking around Europe many years ago, and it’s still common to see people hitchhiking today. So anyway, a girl pulled over, and even though she wasn’t going the direction our car was in, she drove us there to help us out! So we got to the car and headed back to Jablunkov, tired but so satisfied and very hungry!
The next day we went to a high school and taught a few of the older classes about Canada and sang some songs. For their final exams they have to write an essay about an English speaking country, but many of the teachers have told us that they don’t have a lot of material about Canada, so the presentations really help them to learn a bit about Canada and some characteristics and cultural differences.
On Friday, after helping out with the Royal Rangers (what a great bunch of kids!) we went to a youth retreat! We spent the weekend with youth from Jablunkov and Trinec, a nearby city. There were about 15 youth and some leaders including Zuzka and her brother Honza, who is the youth pastor at a church in Trinec. They were an awesome bunch of youth, very passionate about God and hungry for him, and totally fun-loving. It was a great way to spend the weekend!
So there you have it. Adventures in three different countries in a matter of days, and making many new friends. We will definitely be back some day, Jablunkov!