We have officially been at camp for over 24 hours, and what a crazy 24 hours it has been! We (Ali and Noah, probably the best sibling pair on the trip, just kidding Hershberger brothers, or are we…) are currently sitting in the back of the gathering room slightly wet and tired listening to the worship team rehearse while we try to stay dry. This is also potentially one of (if not the) quietest places in all of camp. This loud camp has been buzzing of joys of laughter that hasn’t stopped since getting off of the big Mercedes bus yesterday (Don’t let the Mercedes part mislead you) even though we were supposed to get some sleep somewhere in there. Whoops.
Yesterday started just a little earlier than the previous days in Craiova. We finished whatever packing we were supposed to do the day before (whoops again) and lugged it down to where the bus was going to meet us. There was a tad bit of waiting (we are on Romanian time here for sure) and breakfast before we got back on that memory filled Mercedes (again, don’t let “Mercedes” mislead you, really, don’t). We then drove to pick up the campers and filled it to the top of the curtain covered windows. I (Noah) finally had the chance to fully experience the blessed craziness that is “The bus ride to camp.”
As the bus pulled out of Craiova, there was a party happening in the back of the bus (this bus wasn’t a mullet bus, business in the front party in the back, it was just a ‘fro, party everywhere). My adventure started with some rounds of truth or challenge as Stafani (who speaks English pretty well) called it. I enjoyed the “truth” option due to the fact it was almost always, “Do you like pizza,” followed by a definite “YES” and lots of laughter (because I always chose truth I felt like I was playing “Truth or Truth” with Jimmy Fallon….) Our games were constantly interrupted by the one thing that really brought people together, photography. Left and right cameras were bringing Romanians and Americans together, smile after smile after smile. The smiles multiplied as the bus bounced along into camp and those who had managed to get some shut-eye woke up to the sight of camp.
It’s a beautiful space with two main buildings (one to sleep in, and one to eat and worship in), a zip line and a rock climbing wall (which we won’t do, just cheer as the campers go), and a nice sports area (two soccer fields, two beach volleyball courts and a brand new basketball court). It’s a great location that overlooks the city below.
The first night of camp opened with laughter as our small groups creatively acted out skits, songs, and dances on stage to represent their “team.” After the laughter died down, the singing started up, and we got the chance to raise our voices together in worship. The sound of both English and Romanian together isn’t pretty, but the way you can feel God in the room is beautiful. We all have such different experiences and histories, and we are making very different sounds when we sing, but we are all singing to and for the same God. Even though that’s the only air conditioned room at camp, it warms up with love for our savior when we sing.
Daniel talked that night about the camp theme, “Visul Meu,” or my dream. He explained what it means to dream and how we should keep dreaming regardless of our pasts and if old dreams can no longer come true how God can help us find new dreams.
We then moved into our small groups to talk about all that Daniel had preached. I (Ali) was blown away and excited by how different my small group experience was this year the first night compared to last year. Our girls this year were open to answering any questions thrown their way and included us Americans as much as possible. It’s hard to be in small group because when the Romanian leaders really want the campers to open up, they stop translating. It makes sense, but it is hard to stay engaged and look like you are interested when it’s past your bed time and you’ve had a full day of interactions with the campers. It can also be hard to open up because the experiences we’ve had are so different. Although these campers act like little kids, they are 18-40 years old and have led such different lives than we have. When we sit down for small group, they transform from the energetic, elementary-like kids into the adults they are. They share about trials most of us can’t fathom and encourage us like none other. One of the most amazing and reassuring things I have heard in small group so far was that the girls, no, women, in my group agreed that a problem is a problem and we can’t compare and judge who has it worst. I know that if I were in their shoes, and had gone through even only a fourth of what some of them have, I wouldn’t be so understanding of the petty problems the Americans were explaining. I know that I have been scared to share in the past, knowing that my struggles have been nothing compared to theirs, and that they would laugh at my troubles. Hearing them say that they understand that they can’t judge and assume they’ve had it worse, and that a problem is a problem blew my mind.
Our team is having an amazing time, but this is a hard trip and we are all struggling with some physical and emotional weaknesses and a lot of questions spiritually. We love and appreciate each and every comment you give to encourage us.
Today we started English classes and cheered our friends on as they did the zip line. Our sports time turned into a massive water fight which is why we started out this post saying we were trying to stay dry. Tomorrow is a hike day. We are getting bused to the mountains and are spending the day in the Lord’s creation, furthering relationships with our new friends.
To Debbie from Ben and Dan H. : We don’t actually know what they wanted us to say, they just asked that we give a shout out since you leave America today (tear face emoji)
To Sammy and Molly: Guess what I (Ali) found in my Kinder Egg!!!! That’s right, nothing but a DRAGON!!! (mouth wide open with surprised expression emoji). #PrayForOurSafetyFromTheDragons #TheyFoundUs
Pollard Parents: When we found out dad made his own account we thought Mom might finally blog from it! Kidding <3 we love and miss you lots but are so happy to be here!
What would Papa Pollard’s name be if he were a headmaster at Hogwarts?
– A very devoted Harry Potter fan on the team is to thank for that masterpiece 😛
Thank you blog addicts for all the support. It means a lot!!
The Pollard Pair (the best of the siblings) 😀