Reflections on Youth Exchange
The Youth Exchange, this year, 2014 was organised in Gdansk 10-19 of August. Our camp place was in Alma Centrum which is very close to the seaside. For the readers to imagine, is about 15 minutes to walk through a forest to get to the beach. In the hotel we had each one of us our own place, meaning that in every room, we were 2-5 persons, so we all had good circumstances.
The topic of this youth exchange was: To Fight or to Love – That Is the Question. Even young people have to decide this by themselves, what they want to do: to fight or to love. In the camp we had many reflections on different situations when we have to love or when we have to fight. We have got answers or some of us went home with more questions about what do we have to love, what do we have to fight for, why do we love, why do we fight etc.
Most of the young people have arrived on Sunday, the 10th of August. We’ve greeted each other and then we had lunch to eat. Knowable, that we had food, good food. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. We found out, that only the Hungarian group was missing. We expected them, for Monday morning. The other groups have already got there: the Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese and polish groups. In our first evening program, we had many icebreakers and other funny games.
The Romanian group was a gathering of young people from the south of Romania. The Spanish group was built by the young of a Baptist Church from a close city to Barcelona. The Portuguese group was a scout’s team ready to face the many challenges of this week. The polish group was a gathering of young people from Zielona Gora. Finally, the Hungarian group was a young group from a Pentecostal Church from Budapest.
On Monday morning, the leaders have decided on their meeting, that there will be some workshops which the young people can choose to attend. On that morning, the Hungarian group was already present, because they have arrived on Sunday night. I would like to describe the workshops that were held between lunch and dinner time.
- Music workshop: led by Norbi, who is a professional musician. There were many girls, who decided to attend music workshop and most of them were ready to learn to play on an instrument. It is amazing that just a few of them could already play on guitar or piano, but Norbi was ready to start teaching them from the very start: music theory. He had many patience and did not go on with lesson until every one of his young students understood the theory. The people who attended the music workshop was also leading the worship on morning and evening program. They usually used their workshop’s last minutes to rehearse the songs they decided to sing as worship together with all the camp attendants. It was good to see, that the girls who already could play some of the instruments were ready to help the amateurs with all they could.
- Newspaper workshop: led by Paulo and Diogo, the leaders of Portuguese group. Paulo is working at newspapers in Portugal, so he also had experience in writing. The young people who attended the newspaper workshop were interested in writing and talking with the participators of this youth exchange. It was a big advantage for every young if they spoke and wrote English well. They had to make reports with participants and leaders. The youth exchange’s newspaper was projected almost every day with the daily news including main stories of the day, activities of the day, interviews and the next day’s program. At the end of the camp these pages were printed and posted on the wall.
- Drama workshop: led by David, a participant from the Hungarian group, who already a piece of drama had written by him for this youth exchange. David is also a professional actor having 10 years of experience as a theatre actor. He had as many persons in his workshop as much he needed to have a great show of his drama. The message of this drama was applicable for every culture: decisions we make every day in our lives. We have to decide whether we will fight with the Bible loving others, or we will love sin and loose ourselves. They demonstrated us with a short clip from a girl’s life, who decided wrongly and her father also had a wrong decision by neglecting his daughter and his relationship with God, until he opened up his Bible and started to read. We could see the transforming power of the Word of God, who changed the face of this angry father into a loving father, who was ready to talk with his daughter. Though it seemed to be too late to help the girl, God’s timing is still perfect and He is able to change the girl also through His word. Choosing to love, the environment of the players were also changed by having a good impact on them with their Bible.
- TV News workshop: led by Kinga and Rebeca. Both of the girls are very ambitious and enthusiastic about what they are doing. They had some young people who helped them with playing some roles. They were preparing the TV News in every workshop and on the evening program they launched it for us on the projector. They had weather forecast, some interviews with camp participants, they collected opinions about various subject, for example: who is the most handsome boy in the camp, or how do the participants value the TV News. They also had teachings for the youth about taking shower or the place of a trash. Sometimes they had funny videos too: in the forest with blood, or the Tacho Bus, or asking signature from Rebeca. Everybody enjoyed the TV News, because their subjects were close to the age and thinking of the youth.
- Extra workshops: at the beginning of the camp before getting into the camp’s mood, we had different workshops: media and art. These workshops were kept just for one or few days. The media workshop was held by a man professional in sounds and lights, who shown the interested youth how amazingly matters what kind of instruments we buy just to have a better quality. He allowed the youth to write down their favourite songs they would like to listen to in a high quality. The art workshop was led by Marta, from the Polish group. They created a huge poster with the logo and topic of this camp. After finishing the poster, the members of the art workshop could attend to cross stitching led by Zosia. The girls were crossing bookmarks for their loved ones. Sometimes, when some of the young people got bored of the activities that in their workshop were running, they could go and play football or volleyball.
In our evening programs we had a guest, named Zbiszek, who was teaching us from the Word of God. He kept taking us into meditations about God, and we realised that we hardly know God, and we have a lot to recover. He spoke about the prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to pray, the famous Our Father. He took phrase by phrase and discussed it with many questions we had to answer for him or ourselves. We had to define the prayer, than he spoke about God, as a Father and the conditions somebody must have in order to call God as his Father. He talked also about hallowing God’s name, what means for a young to hallow God’s name in our talking, behave and thoughts. He spoke about what means to say Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done. What it meant for Jesus, and how and when we can say this too. He assured us, that God is our need and when we ask Him to give us our daily bread, than we ask Him to be with us, because He is our greatest need. We have to take care and forgive our neighbours because God forgives us in the measure we forgive our neighbours also. On Sunday evening Zbiszek spoke about faithfulness, bringing Caleb as an example of faithful man, who trusted in God’s promise. He encouraged us to believe God and trust His promises.
The week’s days were various in cultural differences. On Tuesday we had a polish day, when the polish group has prepared for us some games and they taught us to dance the traditional polish dance in pairs. In the evening we went to the fireplace outside and there Adam, from the polish group had a fire show for us and they have prepared some grilled sausages to eat. On Wednesday there was the Hungarian day, whose group also prepared some games, taught us a Hungarian song and shown some interesting facts about their country. They also prepared some typical Hungarian food for the evening. On Thursday, the Portuguese group had to prepare with games and product something, because this day was theirs. They took this task very seriously and they had prepared many games and after the evening program they also made fire outside and we all had to sit around the fire, because they had some games prepared around fire. We all cheered up after Paulo’s games when we all had to shout together. They also taught us a Portuguese dance with its song. They also prepared some typical Portuguese food too. The Spanish had to prepare something for Sunday. So in the evening, the girls wore some beautiful traditional pretty dresses and they also prepared a few games which were spiced with romantic ideas. They also had specific Spanish food which was very tasty.
We also had extra programs, when our days were different from the usual programs. On Monday between morning program and lunch, we went to the beach where all of us met a culture shock: for different cultures the polish law about going into the sea in groups lining up in 15 persons seemed to be horrible and awful. But accepting and humbling ourselves that was resolved too. On Tuesday after lunch we went to visit Gdansk, which is a beautiful city of Poland, having a rich history and monumental old buildings including many churches. On Friday after lunch we visited the Castle of Malbork. Malbork is a wonderful castle also with a rich history. After visiting the most interesting rooms of the castle we had 2 hours of break in which we went for a walk around the castle and we all got to know each other better. After 9 pm we went back in the yard of the castle to see the light show in the castle. The polish people and those who had a translator were enjoying the play that was going while lighting the castles different parts. The dialogue was in the time when the Polish King took Malbork from the Germans and denied to Christianise his people by baptism. On Saturday we had a military day. Every one of us was eagerly waiting to see what will this military day mean, when finally David came, and explained that we can fight with layered guns in teams. We all enjoyed it and those who really enjoyed it, were playing even in the night in the forest. Sunday is also counted to be an extra day, because we all went in Gdansk to church, where the drama workshop had the opportunity to show the brothers their piece of drama. It was interesting what the preacher observed and he mentioned that Christians indifferent of their cultures do face the same issues and need to take care of themselves, because Satan is using his weapons against us. After the meeting we went to visit the Westerplatte, which was shocking for a few of us, because we could step on the ground where the Second World War has started.
All in all, our camp was full with many emotions so that the needs of each of us was fulfilled. We had so much fun, that no one could bore, we had as much meditations, that everyone could reflect to own soul and see what is good and what is bad, we had many programs, we had many trips, when we saw many interesting end eye keeping things. Our leaders were very flexible and ready to hear the voice of the youth, they tried with all they could to please our needs and even desires. We could make new friends and meet many new people from Europe. We could learn especially from the stories of our mates, who face the same problems we do.