I promised a blog on our volunteer teams so here we go!
Beginning in mid-May we had four volunteer teams and a summer intern come join us here in Prilep. Couple that with a major vacation and it was a busy, but absolutely wonderful, month and a half!
Our main work project with each group was painting. We partnered with the Invalid Association here in town and we were able to paint a room or two in the homes of several people from our community. We also painted the association’s office and meeting space. It was pretty fun for the most part and allowed us to meet a lot of great new people and to actually spend time in the homes of Macedonians – which is always a plus! 🙂 We are hoping to continue following up with the individuals and families we met and I am really looking forward to getting to know them better! I actually got to visit one of the girls today at the bakery where two of them work.
In addition to the painting projects, we hosted seminars on Fear, the Apostle Paul, Marriage, and Grace. Through these seminars we were able to meet people and really speak truth into their lives while often addressing issues they face every day or subjects that are very important to them. Through one of the seminars we met a family and they have gotten plugged into our work here and have become very dear friends to our whole team. I am excited about continuing to minister with them in the future.
We also held children’s story hours, a dodgeball tournament, harmonica classes, ESL nights, a palachinki (sort of like crepes) party, a ladies’ craft night, a few events for younger girls, volleyball nights, and went on several home visits and a few hiking trips. Several ladies also enjoyed an outing to Ohrid, Macedonia’s leading tourist town. Each of these events gave us great opportunities to meet new people (notice a trend?) and continue pouring into and building friendships with people we already knew.
Our summer intern, Emily, taught ballet classes in four of the gradinkas (pre-schools) here in Prilep. She would teach them four days out of the week and then on the fifth day they would host a recital for all of the parents to come see what the girls had learned. I was usually helping with the painting projects while the ballet classes were taking place, but I did get to attend the recitals and it was a lot of fun! Some of the girls were really good dancers and picked it up quickly, others struggled, but it was absolutely adorable! I’m sure there were moments of frustration for the teachers – I think that would always be the case when you’re working with a bunch of kids, not to mention the language barriers! But I think the classes went well and we got to meet several parents as well as many of the teachers and directors in the schools.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say everything was perfect while the volunteer teams were here. Life still happened. But it was such a tremendous blessing to have them here. It was refreshing and encouraging! And they opened so many new doors for us to be able to share the truth and love of Christ with the people here, which truly is the desire of our hearts. I am so grateful for the new friends I have made both here and in the States and that the Lord allowed me to be a part of it all!