A year ago three young Delta area residents took an international missions class called Perspectives on the campus of Colorado Mesa University. The students were Meghan Doak, Brian Stewart and David White.
Perspectives provided discussions about cultures where the people in that culture had never heard the Christian gospel and presented ways for Christians to bring the Christian message to those cultures.
Brian, David and Meghan, enthusiastic after all they had learned in Perspectives, were eager to find a way to visit one of those cultures and share their Christian faith with the people there.
Meghan's pastor, Rev. James Conley at First Baptist Church in Delta, told her about a mission trip to the Czech Republic which was in the formation stage and would be sponsored by American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains.
Meghan contacted David and Brian and all three wanted to be a part of that group.Christianity is present in the Czech Republic but the pastor of the church where they did one of their work projects said that less than one percent of Czechs are Christian.
On Aug. 29, 2012, Brian, David and Meghan flew out of Grand Junction to Houston to Frankfurt, Germany, to Prague, Czech Republic. It was Meghan's first trip on an airplane.
In Prague they met the other members of their mission team, Kerry Hassler from Boulder and Joe and Clara Kong from Sacramento, Calif. The mission team members had had contact with each other through Skype prior to their meeting in Prague.
Pieter and Nora Kalkman, Baptist missionaries to Prague and other parts of Europe, met the six mission team members at the airport and all eight traveled in the Kalkman's RV to the International Baptist Seminary in Prague, where the mission team lived at the beginning and the end of their trip. They lived in a bed and breakfast inn while they worked on a church.
During their stay in Czech Republic, the mission team worked with six local church members in building an addition to the sanctuary for Konstantinovy Lazne Baptist Church. The 1900s building had been a bowling alley, then a movie theatre, and is now a church.
In their building work at the church they worked with large bricks covered with an orange powder. At the end of each day they all were covered with orange dust. Meghan transferred bricks from a storage area to a wheelbarrow, David pushed the wheelbarrow load to a window opening, and Brian unloaded the bricks and carried them to workers who were laying rows of brick for the walls. The workers ran out of building materials after three-and-a-half days. They then began to chip off 100-year-old plaster which had to be replaced.
Joe is a contractor in California and cringed at the wasted physical energy. His first solution was to build a ramp up to the building for David's wheelbarrow. He made many other time-saving additions to the work flow. By their last day there, the workers' standing joke was, had they stayed longer, Joe would have built robots to do the work.
Kerry Hassler, Joe and Clara Kong, David, Meghan and Brian spent a day with the children from the church, helping them make crafts for a church craft fair.
One afternoon the team went with missionary Nora Kalkman to the Teen Challenge facility in a residential area of Prague. They helped the director, Anna, and her staff of Margarite, Bela and Renee with fun activities for Roma children from surrounding neighborhoods. The children were between four and 14 years old.
Clara helped the children make bracelets and necklaces with beads she had brought with her. They made "stained glass" crosses of tissue paper. Clara told the children the Biblical story of Daniel and his faith when he was confined to the lions' den. The children made lion's head photo frames from paper plates, crayons and construction paper. David and Brian took photos of the children, printed them out, and the children put their photos on the frames they had made.
David gave some of the children piggy-back rides, but something was lost in the translation from English and the children called David their horse.
Meghan and David, along with some staff members, took elementary school children to a nearby park for exercise. Joe, Clara and Kerry, also along with staff members, took the preschool children to a nearby playground.
Meghan said, "Most European countries don't treat the Roma [also called gypsies] as normal citizens. I couldn't understand that. The Roma we worked with were really nice."
On their last day in Czech Republic, missionary Pieter Kalkman took the mission team sightseeing in his RV. They visited the Prague Castle that overlooks the city. It was first constructed in 870 and has been expanded through the centuries. Today the castle is over 1,500 feet in length, 400 feet in width, with a steeple 300 feet tall. They visited the small historical village of Utersky Potokin.
They visited the Karlstein Castle, about one hour from Prague. It was built in 1348 by King Charles IV and is the second most important castle in Czech history, the Prague Castle being first.
The mission team enjoyed its last evening meal together at a Czech restaurant near the Karlstein Castle.
For Meghan Doak the mission trip really opened her eyes to a world much wider than Delta. "I had never been on a subway, an airplane, or out of the country. It was a positive experience," she said.
Meghan has participated in local mission trips. She helped clean up the church camp in Cimarron. When she lived in Gillette, Wyoming, a tornado hit nearby Wright and she was part of her youth group's relief trip to Wright. She worked in the soup kitchen and in cleaning up after the tornado.
Meghan really enjoys the mission trips and hopes to go to Ecuador on a mission trip in 2013. Missionaries Pieter and Nora Kalkman have invited Brian, David and Meghan back to Czech Republic in the indefinite future.
Brian Stewart went on a six-week mission trip to Israel last year. Nine people from Colorado were on the trip as were people from several other countries. The house he shared with other workers was a mixture of cultures, he said. Along with picking grapes and herding cattle, he had discussions that changed his view of the world. In particular, he established a strong bond with a British man with whom he had not only in-depth theological discussions, but discussions of events that affect the entire world. They discussed 9/11 from the U.S. view and the British view, and Iraq, Afghanistan, and numerous other world events.
"It opened my eyes," Brian said. "For the first time I was sitting there face-to-face having up-front talks about cold, hard truths."
Brian is a recent graduate of the Vision Home and Community program and is considering going to one of two Bible colleges, but is also open to other possibilities for his life.
David White took a mission trip to Jamaica in February 2000 with the Astra Club of Delta. In February 2012 he went with the New Hope Pentecostal Church of Naturita on a mission trip to Mexico. "In both Jamaica and Mexico, the people seemed so happy and had so little money. In Jamaica the people look to their parents for guidance, not to other people.
In Mexico it is similar, but they all want to learn English and be like Americans," David said.
David was a senior at Cedaredge High School until late November when his family moved to North Dakota. David will be graduating high school in North Dakota but he will return to Colorado in September to enter Colorado Mesa University to major in sociology.
"When I was in Mexico," David recalled, "I visited an orphanage. The children were treated so horribly. It broke my heart. I wanted to change the cycle, give kids love and support.
I plan to be a social worker for a few years then open a foster home for children. This will be my life work."blog comments powered by Disqus