Budapest

May 6, 2011

On Thursday, May 5th, we were able to spend the day in Budapest shopping. It was really fun to see the different culture and the beautiful architecture. A lot of the shops had similar stuff. We went to a shopping place where it looked like an old train station, where hey had really cool gifts and a lot of traditional Hungarian items. It was nice to just roam around and enjoy. We got back to the hotel around 5 pm to get ready for dinner.
Pastor Paul arranged for all of us to have a buffet dinner on a boat cruising the Danube River. We boarded at 7 pm and the trip lasted for 2 ½ hours. It was wonderful time, with good food and live music. When it got dark, the view was unbelievable, with all the beautiful buildings along the river lit up. Having dinner with everyone on our last night was really amazing. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Ben Mason

Touring Krakow

May 6, 2011

We woke up on Wednesday, May 4th, to a beautiful sunny morning at the Red Brick Apartments. I came down with a pretty bad head cold two days ago, but today, luckily, I regained my strength and health. My grandparents both moved from Poland to the USA, so I was really looking forward to seeing what might have been their life-style in the past.
We all gathered in the ‘boys room’ for morning prayer and breakfast. We drank juice and ate some bread that Pastor Paul bought. There were these sweet breadstick type things that I and everyone else LOVED. I wish I had one now… *sigh*… We left the Red Brick Apartments, and started to walk around the BEAUTIFUL old city of Krakow, with Steve Whissel commenting “Oh look, another gorgeous building” from behind.
I was so thrilled when Pastor Paul got us 3 buggies to tour the city in. Nory, Shiro, and I sat backwards the whole time, which was extremely fun. J Nory probably had the most fun shouting “hello!!!!” in Polish to everyone she saw. Some older men would wave at us and make silly faces. We saw lots of old and beautiful buildings; including places where the Pope went, a very old church that was breath-taking, 12 statues of the 12 apostles, and Schindler’s Factory.
When I arrived at Schindler’s Factory, the architecture of the building` surprised me. It was very modern for a building that was built around the time of WWII. Outside, there were framed pictures in the windows of the hundreds of people that he saved. I expected Schindler’s Factory to be the same as it was when people were working in it, but it was actually renovated into a cool museum. We walked through many rooms that explained in detail what the Nazis were doing and what Schindler did to save the Jews. We watched a short film that was played inside a small theatre where the people that he saved talked about their experience. It was a really intriguing film.
After touring Schindler’s Factory, we hopped back on our buggies and headed for the center of Krakow where we would do some shopping. There was a large market that we shopped in for about 2 hours. The market had at least 40 different sellers, selling things from Poland souvenirs, to pottery, to fur slippers and jackets, to authentic carved boxes, to beautiful amber jewelry. Janet Whissel and I took our time looking at all of the amber, while Steve Whissel narrated what we were doing, “Let’s go look at the amber! Wow, that’s some really nice amber. But wait! Here’s another stand that sells the SAME EXACT pieces as before! Let’s go look at it anyway! Oh wow! Another stand that sells the same exact pieces as the last one! This is great!” He was joking, of course J. I ended up buying a beautiful amber ring, though!! J
After much shopping, Pastor Paul, Janet, Steve, Mrs. Urban, Shiro, Nory, and I went to a little café in Krakow where I had the best hot chocolate I ever drank in my entire lifetime. Afterward, we left and got ready to eat dinner. We walked from the Red Brick Apartments to the local mall where we had a Polish buffet at the food court. Most of the things at the buffet I’d seen before because my grandmother makes Polish food. It was really tasty. J We left the mall and then headed back to the hotel where we packed our things because there was an overnight train ride that we would be taking to Budapest, Hungary. The last time we rode in an overnight train, I had a really bad headache because I was sick, and I could barely sleep. This time, though, I and everyone else really enjoyed themselves.

Ally Misiag

Auschwitz

May 6, 2011

It was Tuesday, May 3rd, when I had the amazing opportunity to wake up on a sleeper train we had boarded the night before. After being able to look out onto the beautiful landscapes of Poland we arrived in Krakow. It was a short walk to the Red Brick Hotel at which we checked in. Due to the fact that we had arrived early in the morning we were not able to check into to the rooms at that time. This is when we decided to move our visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau from Tuesday to Monday. As a group we decided to visit the concentration death camps that day. Before we got onto the bus that would take us to the Camps, we had a good time of prayer. We felt that it was important to make sure this experience was in God’s hands. Visiting the camps is an amazing honor and opportunity to see what had happened 70 years ago, but it could also cause people to be affected in a bad way. We prayed asking God to let us see what we needed to see. At 11:30 a tour bus came and took us to Auschwitz 1. We had a two hour tour around the facility. I don’t even know how to describe my experiences of my time in Auschwitz, for it was clear that no pictures or words could accurately depict what all the NCA students saw and experienced while visiting the death camp. So many people, innocent people died for no other reason than their belief, physical or mental appearances or orientation. It was Sobering to see how small prejudices could develop over time into such hate to certain groups if it is not taken care of.
The way Nazi’s degraded the Jews, Gypsies, Disabled, and homosexuals to be less than animals was a horrible sight. It made me sick to see how 90 Jews were forced to stand in a train cart that would have held 3 horses! They could barely even move in the cart, not to mention being unable to sit in order to rest. The Jews often had to stay in these conditions for many days or weeks, and that was nothing compared to how they were treated like filth in the Death camps. A saying that I heard many times was that the Nazi Soldiers thought “the more brutal the better”.
While I was walking through the museum I entered a room which was full of human hair. Over 2 tons of human hair. The Nazi’s did not waste one thing and used the hair of the prisoners for the pillows of German families and soldiers. Another thing that shocked me was a large pile of children’s shoes. The Nazi’s did not care if you were a strong man, or a pregnant woman, or a small helpless child. It was awful to see the little empty shoes. Each of which had an owner, a child, a human with a story. A life that has gone to waste, lives cut short. This caused me to think about how they may have been world famous doctors or singers or writers that could have emerged but never had the chance because of NO reason at all. Their lives were cut short for what? What did they do to deserve this? The answer: Nothing.
While we were visiting Auschwitz it was cold and rainy, every single one of us was cold and uncomfortable. We had many layers on and still the wind and rain gave us the chills and froze our fingers. If we were cold in the spring, how did the prisoners of Auschwitz feel in the winter! With one layer of thin clothing, no shoes, no nutritious food and no other protection. My heart felt for them because as I was there’ I knew I would never have been able to imagine what the people went through. The constant torture, the constant discomfort and the ever presence of death looming around every corner.
I am extremely grateful for being able to have experienced this, and encourage everyone to try and visit Auschwitz because there is much to learn. Something like the holocaust should never be allowed to happen again.
After 3 hours of walking through Auschwitz 1 and Auschwitz-Birkenau we went back to the hotel and prayed. After we had a good time of prayer we talked about our experiences. God answered our prayers by letting us be touched by what we saw, and we learned something we couldn’t learn through text books. He also protected us from being overwhelmed by the evil that was performed their. He protected us.

Tim Luttik

We gathered for our final morning prayer time in Ukraine at 7:30 am. Our translaters Marianna, Katya, Nastya and Monica came to join us and say goodbye. We prayed for each of them individually at the end of our prayer time. We ate breakfast together and said some tearful goodbyes. We were so blessed that we became close friends in such a short time and leaving was very difficult.
A bus took us to Chop Station where we boarded our train for Budapest. This portion of our journey consisted of two train changes and three trains.
After six hours we arrived in Budapest. We had only 2 1/2 hours to eat dinner and board our fourth train to Krakow.
Our overnight train to Krakow was a sleeper train, this was a wonderful experience for all of us. We arrived in Krakow at 6:30 am.

Sunday morning started early with prayer at 6am, since we had to head out for an hour long drive to Mukachevo for worship at the Church of the Living God . We were welcomed warmly by Pastor Tibi Namety and his wife Eve. The music was contemporary in style and Pastor Paul preached about the true meaning of communion. We met many of the church teens after the service and they were excited to have us there. They invited us to youth group that evening. We had lunch at a little restaurant near the church and then went to Mukachevo castle. A tour guide told us about the history of the castle and its use over the years as a fortress, a military barracks, a prison and a school.

As we walked around the castle, we suddenly heard eerie screams. A lady in the courtyard below us had collapsed to the ground, screaming and shaking. Her eyes were rolling back in her head and it was pretty scary! Pastor Paul and Mr. Steve went down to pray for her and commanded it to leave her. The screaming went on for a long time, and the first time they prayed it got even worse. When they saw this resistance, they thought it was demonic and prayed a second time. This time it stopped when Pastor Paul commanded it to leave her in Jesus’ name. We finished out tour. The castle was enormous, with many levels. We even went down into the dungeons and saw bones on display that had been found there.

At 4:30 we left to go to the church for youth group. The worship was amazing and we knew some of the songs. Shiro and Nory gave their testimonies, and Kevin and Ben talked about our trip. They asked us lots of questions. Everyone introduced themselves and told something they liked. We saw that we were all very much alike! They offered us refreshments consisting of salami and butter sandwiches and a sort of cherry tart. We also talked with a visiting missionary, Susan from the Rochester, NH who had come to Ukraine on the advice of her doctors due to a neurological disability. She loved her time Ukraine and had been working with kids identified as having disabilities, helping them to get jobs. When it was time to go we took a group picture to remember these great kids!

In the evening we traveled through the rain to the Mukachevo gypsy camp. This is a large urban camp housing about 5,000 gypsies. There were two other mission teams at the church that night, both from Holland. We were surprised. It seemed like we kept bumping into or hearing about Dutch people this trip and Tim was delighted! The worship was the best we shared anywhere. A little boy who looked about 9 or 10 was playing the drums and was tremendous. The gypsies were happy to see us and very welcoming too. Pastor Paul preached from Psalm 51 and about David. He stressed that we need to admit our sin and that God wants to forgive us. After the service we met a group of girls our age and Carlos (who has come to Nashua before) translated for us. We traded Facebook information and left sadly. We wished that we could stay with them longer. Also with us at the gypsy church was Bishop Misha who took a stand for Christ against the Soviet Army as a young man and was sent to a gulag in Siberia. He survived to come to Transcarpathia where he has planted more than 60 churches among the gypsy people. We have been privileged to meet some incredible people here and thank God for them all.

Shiro & Nory

Today, Saturday April 30th, following morning prayer and breakfast; we took taxis to Joseph’s “Morning Star” Ministry House. Along the way, we stopped to purchase ice cream and toppings for us to share with the children. By the way, did you know that ice cream comes in large tubes in Ukraine? Joseph is a former police officer whose ministry serves the Street Kids living in Uzhgorod. The home they acquired about two years ago, currently houses approximately 10 children. When we got there, we took a tour of the home including the new gardens and animal husbandry that Victor, a volunteer from the church, is helping them to prepare and take care of. The home, like all homes in Ukraine, is a constant work in progress. Joseph has a plan to complete the 3rd floor as housing for visiting mission teams. We played games with the children, had ice cream sundaes and played more games. I was very surprised that I couldn’t even tell that these children had been “street kids,” They seemed very happy and grateful. Joseph and his wife Tanya are doing a wonderful job with these children. We enjoyed our time at Morning Star and before long, we had to leave for lunch at the hotel before we went out to our afternoon destination.

Following lunch, a bus picked us up and brought us to a local food store. There we purchased 20 food packages consisting of flour, oil, sugar, rice, pasta, cream of wheat, canned milk, canned fish, keilbasa, and chocolate. We went to the Holmok Gypsy Camp and met with the Pastor’s wife. She took us from house to house in the camp, where we were able to pray for families and give them food packages. At the camp, we got to see first hand how these gypsies live. There was a lot of trash around and the houses were made of dung bricks, cinder blocks or cardboard, with rickety tin roofs with walls that didn’t even go up to the roof in many places. Many of the homes consisted of only one room with no door. The gypsies struggle with cleanliness, especially the children, because they have no running water in their homes. Most of the gypsies live in squalor and that is very sad. The nicest building in the camp is the Christian Church and they are very proud of it. They have plans to try and add several other small rooms to the church for a bath house, shelter and feeding center for the orphans among them. Before leaving, we also prayed for the pastor’s wife and her daughter. This was a very sobering experience for all of us and made us very grateful for all that the God has blessed us with.

We left Holmok Camp and went to downtown Uzhgorod for dinner. The evening turned out to be full of fun times. We walked along the river on what we have been told is “the longest river walk in all of Europe.” There was a small festival going on in the town and on the way down the river walk, we were pulled into a crowd of people dancing and had so much fun laughing and doing Greek and Hebrew style dancing. We enjoyed just walking, talking and joking. Before heading back to the Druzba Hotel for the night, we stopped at our favorite Gelato place. While eating, we saw a crowd of people gathered just beyond us with umbrellas. Ben pointed out that they must be an “Umbrella Gang.” We all started joking about the Umbrellas against the Parasols when Mrs. Urban made a hysterical remark. She said, “see that old women on the end, I think I could take her!” We all had a good laugh…. We returned home for the evening, slowly walking up the long drawn out hill to the Druzhba Hotel and headed for bed, anticipating Day 6 in Ukraine.

Kevin Lizotte

Day 4 – Ukraine

May 3, 2011

On Friday April 29th we had the opportunity to have our guests stay for the night before. The two younger boys, Thomas and Valik decided to go home for the night. Vitalek and Vasa stayed in the next room to the boys. We found out that we all like to play “uno” and played until deep in the night.
The following morning we had our daily time of prayer. It was a special time because I was able to explain how I journaled and how it helped me to reach a deeper understand and relationship with Christ. Also how it maintained and kept me interested and on fire for God. During breakfast Thomas and Valik re-united with us. After breakfast we had a short time to kick around a soccer ball before we left for Nevitskoe Castle. Once we arrived there we hiked up to the castle ruins and walked around there. We had lunch near the castle at a little field. We were able to get a game of soccer going.
It was an awesome time to get to know the 4 boys and 2 girls even more. At the end of the afternoon it was extremely hard to say goodbye to them, however after we had a good time of prayer, we were able to pray for every single one individually, we had to say goodbye.
For dinner we had the opportunity to go out into the city and eat. We decided on having pizza in an Irish pub. It was a neat experience however not everyone was able to eat at the pub due to the fact that they served 2 pizza’s every half an hour and we had to go to a youth group in New Testament church. It was a great time of worship and we had the amazing opportunity to share and here a couple of testimonies. It was very special time of fellowship.

Tim Luttik