No, nobody brought a piece of Norway into the Bible school. A piece of Norway came into the Bible school in the form of three young girls – Jenny, Ida and Karina. They were interested about our english study program ´Mission Work With Children And Youth´.
I had the opportunity to visit with these young women and I want to share
a portion of that conversation with you.
Ok, let´s start with two really conventional questions:
Who are you and what you and what do you do at home in Norway?
We are three young girls studying with the Norwegian youth organization ACTA. This type of study program is unconventional. By that we mean it does not belong to any degree program of education (bachelor, magister or PhD.). We do not have to study or even take any exams. And, the good news is that we will earn a certificate after our time in school. Our study time here is designed to be experiential and fun. The courses we take are for our own enrichment. We learn by reading the Bible, sharing faith in community with other Christians, and as a result we come to know Jesus better. This program is a two year program and we are in the second year. The truth is, in this program, we will travel quite a lot and live as servants of youth groups, camps, weekend trips, and even some choirs.
For Slovak students, this seems like a very unconventional form of study. It makes us wonder, somewhat pragmatically, what are your options and opportunities after you complete the ACTA study program?
They laughed at my question because they said it is the same question people in Norway ask them pretty often. The girls explained that the primary benefit of this study is in the sharing of their time and attention with faithful service to others. It is practical service. A service designed to teach us about serving others. When we return to Norway, all of us will continue our classical studies at one of the colleges or universities in Norway or abroad.
How did you discover the possibility of studying in Slovakia?
ACTA helped us. ACTA developed a list of places and countries where you can visit and participate in either study or service projects. Slovakia was one of those places. It’s great. I mean look, today we are sitting in nice café, drinking sweet hot chocolate. We have the opportunity to our work and still enjoy some travel and tourism. Like this week—we have the whole week to enjoy the beauty of Martin, Slovakia and meet many people here.
As you planned for your ACTA program of study what was most important for you?
The first process of decision making a decision is to identify if we can study in a particular foreign country. You have to think about the different culture and language in the place you wish to visit. I mean, we have to be able to understand the people we meet. It takes some time. You think about it and then make a choice. For us, right now, we are enthusiastic about the people and the teams from Martin Bible School and Lutheran Elementary school.
As we visit, this is only your second day in Martin, Slovakia. It’s different than Norway. Have you experienced some culture shock yet?
Not yet, they told me with laughter and smiles on their faces. Michal Valčo, our Bible school teacher, said that many people in Slovakia understand Christianity like a part of their culture, not like a part of daily life. This observation is very similar to what you would find in Norway, too. Infect, we see a lot of similarities here, so it’s was not a shock for us. However, what did surprise us was a children’s song called, “Head, Arms, Knees, and Inches.” The Lutheran Elementary School children from Martin taught it to us. As they sang the song, the speed of the song kept increasing faster, and faster, and faster—and we didn’t! That made us laughs at ourselves as the kids laughed at us!
You have some free days in Slovakia in front of you. What are your plans?
Tomorrow we spend time with the eighth graders in the Elementary School and put on a program. We will share something about our home in Norway, and talk about ourselves, and about our faith. We will sing some songs for the kids, too. Then we are going to enjoy the snow and go sledding with some teachers and other staff from the Bible school. We are excited to have snow! It is incredible but we did not have any snow in Norway before we left.
I am interesting about yours favorite Bible character. Can you share who they are with me?
Ida likes Hosea because he was married to a prostitute and he loved her faithfully. He didn’t cast her away despite her unfaithfulness to him. “It is very similar with God and people” said Ida. Jenny sympathized with Daniel who was even so faithful as to trust God in a lion´s pit; “trust God”, this is his message for us.” Karina smiled and told me she likes Peter. “He’s my favorite because he made mistakes and struggles in his faith” said Karina.