Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Team Volontyor: First Steps

On June 10 Team Volontyor is taking first steps in a couple of ways. They will be flying out to Kyiv on Friday to serve as teachers for Camp Mayak in the Poltavah region. The UT Knoxville and Tyler, Texas group is a new team so this will be their first step as a team on to Ukrainian soil. Corey Moss (a 2009 member of Team Mayak) and Tammy Belcher will lead this team.

Team Volontyor will also be our first team on the ground for 2011! We are eager to hear about their adventures and the impact they will have made on the campers, translators, and staff. Please keep them in your prayers. Pray for safe journey, effective ministry, open doors and open hearts!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Translator Training 2011

Translators from across Ukraine joined us at the UBI facility to participate in this year's Translator Training Seminar. I told this exciting group of people they have made an incredible difference not only in the lives of children, but in the lives of their American counterparts.

I wish you could watch this entire group together. It is like a huge family so eager to get going! As Kat Shkarlat, team leader for Team Imagine's translators, told me in her effervescent way: "We are such a big happy family! This is a great team and I am looking forward to this year at camp!"

It is always a joy to visit with so many camp veterans who bring with them a wealth of experience and eagerness to serve. It was also a pleasure to meet the new, fresh faces who aren't certain what to expect, but are looking forward to working with children in the camps and with American teams.

We have a great team of translators working with us this year! If you are a team member, you are in for a real treat!

Huge "thank yous" go to my assistant, Inna Kuzmenko who made the arrangements for the training and assisted me in leading the sessions, to Dima Shemanyuk who helped with grocery shopping and physical set up/tear down, to Jay Don and the staff at Ukraine Bible Institute who so graciously allowed us to utilize both their facility and their equipment--and to all of the team leaders and translators who bring such joy to this entire experience!

Here is to what looks to be a great year for Summer Camp! Remember: "Love wins!"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Teams Part 2

Well, you've read about Mayak, Imagine, and Freedom! Now it's time to hear from Agape,Inspire, and Volontyor.

Team Agape is an experienced team, as most team members have been to Camp Smerichka at least once, and several have been multiple times.  However, every year there are new challenges, and more importantly, new opportunities!  Although we see a few “repeat campers” each year, the vast majority are new to us, and present us with the opportunity to introduce God, and His holy word, to them.  As we strive to inspire the campers to seek out the one true and living God, we are reminded that this is His work, and we are merely His instruments.   We pray all that we do will glorify God, and that the beauty of Jesus may be seen in and through us.
(Note: the two pictures include different team members).
-Terry Montgomery
 Team Inspire.
This year will be the fourth year for Team Inspire.  We have been blessed to return to the same area every time although the camps we have gone into have always been different.  For whatever reason it seems like our team has had the opportunity to grow through unique challenges every year.  As many team leaders will agree some of the challenges a team can face are Ukraine specific but there are also plenty that begin state-side.  For our team our first challenge has come in numbers.  We are a small team this year with seven people including myself going.  However, I really do see this as yet another opportunity.  I feel like we have a strong group and I am eager to see how God uses us to partner in the work he is already doing. 
Gabe Fisher, Team Leader

Team Volontyor. This isn't particularly a clear picture of the team--a couple of team members were hiding somewhere--however, it expresses the energy, agility, and incredible talent (?) of Team Volontyor! Volontyor is lead by Corey Moss, Todd Tarbett, and Tammy Belcher of the (drum roll please) University of Tennessee Knoxville! Any guesses where the team name came from? However, as is often the case Tennessee and Texas do a lot of sharing (same initials, same school colors, even 37 Tennesseans were present in the Alamo!). Team Volontyor also has team members from the Glenwood Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas. Volontyor is a brand new team although some of the members have experienced Ukraine before. There is a lot of excitement and anticipation building in this team!

Six teams in 2011! We are so thrilled to have so many quality people working with us this year. Please pray for all of our teams and team members that they will make a lasting impact on the children of Ukraine--as Ukraine will make a lasting impact upon them!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Our 2011 Teams Part 1

We are sending six teams to Ukraine this year! I've asked our team leaders to write thoughts about their teams. In this blog we are focusing on three teams: Imagine, Freedom, and Mayak. Enjoy! -DBW

Team Imagine: Texas & North Carolina  
Team Imagine – God is so much the God that is more than we can ask or imagine.  After last year’s last minute changes, constant challenges, team-cementing love, and meetings with wonderful kids at three camps instead of just one, we are so excited to see what he does with us this year.  It will once again be more than we can ask or imagine.  Our team is so way excited to be going to Camp [insert name of camp here – because we don’t really know where he’s sending us and that is just the way we like it].  May God bless us and use us. -Terry Kile, Team Leader

Team Freedom: Huntsville, Texas
Team Freedom can best be described as a small band of the Lord’s army, mature in years but young at heart.  Our team is comprised of nine members from the Hwy 30 Church of Christ in Huntsville, Texas.  Working in the children’s summer camp program with EEM will be a new experience for everyone.  We contemplate our time at Camp Smerichka with eager anticipation…and moments of high anxiety.  Confident of God’s faithfulness, we know that our efforts to share His story of love will be used to make a difference in the future of Ukraine.  Our prayer is to plant the SEED that will bring many souls to Jesus one day.  -Frank Farr, Team Leader

Team Mayak - As a remote team, we always look forward to the weekend of Team Training. This is the first and only time our entire team will be together until the day before leaving for the camp this summer.

"Distance Team" Mayak: from everywhere!
With anticipation and a little trepidation, I see the weekend approach. I think to myself, "What will the new team members be like? Will they like me? Will our personalities clash or mesh? Should I bring my tennis shoes or just my flip flops?" I walk into the hotel with bated breath. Looking to my right and to my left, I scan the hotel guests looking for anyone that looks like a Felton, Dale or Lloyd. I am thankful this year that my husband, Todd, and my daughter, Madison, are there to support me as I voice my fears. I see Inna and Darryl and let out a deep breath. It is good to see old friends. After a great visit with these two amazing leaders of the training, I look at the hotel desk and see two regal looking guests. I approach them and say, "You wouldn't happen to be Betty and Felton would you?" Thankfully they say yes. After this, the new members of Team Mayak keep streaming in. It is soon time to meet in my room for dinner and the getting-to-know-you session. "Will our members be open? Will they be patient and understanding with each other?" BBQ, cokes and potato salad are consumed with vigor. I am excited my team knows how to eat well! We begin our session. It starts off with a bang! Tears are shed by the buckets....mostly the men....chuckles and giggles follow. Wow!!! I LOVE this team. Less than 3 hours after we meet, we are all a team and a family. The rest of the weekend is a blur of activity, bonding and love. Everyone on the team takes a role. Everyone is helpful and willing to jump in where needed. They like me! They really like me!

I have great expectations for this team. I see the children at camp surrounding Dale as he struggles to make the hemp bracelet. I see kids hugging Betty as she shows them pictures of her grandchildren. I picture Melodye sitting and listening as a child tells her his story. I look forward to introducing our translators to this amazing group of people I grew to love in 3 days. I think it is safe to say that Camp Mayak will never be the same after 2 weeks with Team Mayak! -Virginia Stubbs, Assistant Team Leader

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Team Training 2011: A great time

Team Training 2011 was a wonderful time of reunion and meeting new friends! Approximately 60 team members converged upon the Hyatt Place in Grapevine to learn about the camps, the Ukrainian culture, and to prepare for their respective trips this summer.
The sessions focused upon Ukrainian culture and religion, the 2011 curriculum, how to prepare for the trip, what to expect, connecting with the children, and how to work with translators/co-teachers.

This year there were some changes. Teams were given more time to meet together as teams for their own specific planning, communication, and prayer. Since many teams have team members scattered across the US, this change was enthusiastically welcomed.
Team Training also has gone digital. In order to streamline costs (and save some trees), team members were encouraged to bring laptops and were provided flash drives with the Team Member Handbook, required documents, and curriculum uploaded.

A huge "thank you" goes to those team leaders and members who made presentations or assisted in the presentations: Terry Kile, Sue Ann Mills, Gabe Fisher, Brian Durgin, Joe Mahaffey, and Viriginia Stubbs. Also a special thanks to Felton & Betty Smith and Todd, Virginia, & Madison Stubbs who came early to help with setting up!

I would like to thank Inna Kuzmenko, my assistant from Ukraine for her energy and tireless work. She flew in several days early to help get everything ready, from shopping for groceries to setting up and making presentations.
There is one other person who deserves recognition and thanks. Denise Baggett served as the founding Director of the EEM Youth Camp Program from 2006 to 2009.  All of this was while she organized and led the WEEM program, worked in the Benefit Dinners across the South, and served as Richard's assistant (just to list a few "hats" she wore). She recruited and trained me to take her place by the Fall of 2009 and I went full time as director in January 2010.

Because of her visionary leadership, tireless effort, love, and dedication the camp program has been successful. People throughout Ukraine and the United States have been influenced for God. Denise has always demonstrated a special love for orphans and children and it is clear the Camp Program would have been nothing without her. Denise would also be the first to give all credit to God and the first to say this was a "God-thing"--that only He deserves credit. 
Even so, she was the willing instrument in God's hands. Denise's last day as an employee for EEM will be March 31. She still plans to work as a volunteer along side her husband, Richard who is VP of Advancement.
We love you, Denise. Please know that you are appreciated and respected. 

2011 is going to be fantastic! I am looking forward to a wonderful year and I cannot wait to hear all of the amazing stories you will be ready to tell when you return. God's blessings upon you.

-Darryl Willis-