The previous night’s thunderstorm left puddles on the floor of the Koptova School in Kosice, Slovakia. It was not the welcome we had anticipated, but we quickly began toweling up the water, working alongside school volunteers. Ms. Koptova shared her gratitude through her tears: “I never expected anyone from America would come here to help us!”
CBF of Missouri’s trip to Slovakia this July was coordinated by CBF field personnel Shane and Diane McNary and Jon and Tanya Parks. Our team included 8 from Kansas City’s Macedonia Baptist Church, on the first mission trip in their 95-year history. A younger couple from mid-Missouri also made the visit, eager to sense God’s call for their lives. Another member will be a high school senior.
During the week we painted three classrooms, made friends with Roma students and parents, had endless discussions with our 20-year old Slovak student translators, and shared noon meals. “You have been the spark to keep us going” were the final remarks from Ms. Koptova at the end of the week.
Children’s voices sang out in the afternoons as part of the team met at the crowded community center in Kecerovce. The other half of the group set up a soccer tournament at the local school for two afternoons followed by a basketball tournament. During each half time, pastor John Brooks and a member of his church shared testimonies with about 50 young Roma men.
Stefan, pastor of Devleskero Kher (God’s House), wanted to conclude our time with a grill party in Kecerovce. As we ate and sang with friends, others watched from the street. Children gathered and serenaded us with the songs they had learned throughout the week.
The group ended the week with a visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau to remember the more than 20,000 Roma exterminated there by the Nazis.