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Same as it ever was? Exploring and enjoying Slovakia, thinking about home.

July 9, 2016

Our first days as a group in Slovakia are winding down. We’ve survived our flights – Chicago->Munich->Krakow – and our bus trip to Martin, the lovely Slovak town where we will be leading Vacation Bible School for 200 or so kids this coming week. We’ve bonded over a lack of sleep, bad jokes, tossing a Frisbee around near a restaurant populated by goats, and great food. Yeah, I’ve had my halusky. And not for the last time.

Today was our first full day in Slovakia. Erika and I were up early (even with a seven-hour time change, our bodies still demand that we wake at 5:00 a.m., it seems) so we strolled through Martin, checking out the way the town has changed over the past decade. A wonderful breakfast followed, after which we loaded up into a bus for a bit of a field trip. We started by hiking around a picturesque glacial lake in the Tatras Mountains. Next, lunch at the aforementioned restaurant with goats.

Our final stop on our daytrip was Oravsky Hrad, a very well-preserved castle dating to the 13th century, when Slovakia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. We were able to climb over six hundred steps up to the top of the castle (hurrah!), learning much along the way. We saw how the windows were configured just so, so that archers and, later, riflemen could stop attackers; we saw where the boiling pitch was poured upon invaders, and where draw bridges covered up deadly water traps; we saw the torture room with its instruments of horror; we saw wall upon wall built to keep people out.

As we travelled to Slovakia, it seemed our home country of the U.S. had become a little more broken. More police violence; more black lives wasted; more violence against police in Dallas. We emerged from our travel and back to Internet access, only to hear devastating news.

Tonight, as we processed our day, we thought about Oravsky Hrad, and we thought about our world. We thought about how little things had changed. We still put so much effort into cycles of violence built upon structures of fear. Has anything changed over the centuries? How long, O Lord?

And yet, here we are. Twenty of us, who could have gone through life never leaving Chicago, welcomed by a community in Martin that could have never met Americans. But here we are, together. Whatever hope we have, in our world, our countries, our communities, comes from the God who draws us out of ourselves and into one another. I am beyond thankful that eight young people have travelled to Slovakia with us, to learn that there is a world beyond what they already know. For it is in getting to know those who come from somewhere else that we can claim both our common humanity and the beauty in our difference. And doing so, we humans might just learn to stop killing each other and, instead, live in joyful celebration and praise of the One who loves us all – the King whose castle has neither moats nor drawbridges but only the welcoming, forgiving love of Christ. What a thing that would be. Come, Lord Jesus.

Oh, and here’s Logan and me, happy to be here.


From → Slovakia 2016

  1. Dale Hampton permalink

    Wonderful perspective!

  2. William Shoup permalink


    Bill Shoup

    Tel: 843.237.3583

    Cell: 843.833.3578

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