Upon our arrival, we received a warm welcome from Bohdan Hroboň, CCE President/founder, staff, teachers, students and their families! With much to celebrate, we began three days of dinners and dancing. Arriving before us were representatives from several other American churches, who also support the CCE. Imagine a banquet for royalty, featuring classic Slovak cuisine, including Goulash (Gulášová polievka) and Koláč, baked sweet pastries for dessert. First we watched as our soon to be students performed traditional Slovak dancing, and then students became our instructors teaching us the steps!
Graduation was the climax of 5 years of study at the high school. New Heights senior pastor Matt Hannan was the commencement speaker. He exhorted the graduates to grasp this opportunity, one which their fathers and grandfathers (including mine) could only have dreamed of. We Americans were honored to rejoice with the graduates, their families and guests. A verse from the Old Testament was chosen to reflect all God has done to bring the school to this day. The Hebrew word ebhen hā-‘ezer means stone of help. 1 Sam 7:12 “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us”. God had fought the battles and provided the blessings.
After ceremonies and celebrations and a church service on Sunday, I suspect the CCE staff was more than happy to see Monday arrive. It was the final week of classes for the undergrads, though most of the academics were behind them. The New Heights team had been asked to put on workshops for those students in various subject areas we were passionate about. While some of our team organized the workshops, the rest accompanied a small group of students in the activities. By the end of the week, we had dabbled in photography, finger printing, line dancing, acting, BUNCO assorted crafts and the ever popular WALK and TALK, more fondly known as “Zmrzlina” time! There is something irresistible about the ice cream sold at the small kiosks around town, not to mention habit forming. “How many cones have you had today?” We frequently teased one another. ONLY TWO?? And what does blue SMURF ice cream taste like, anyway??? Best deal in Europe, those .50 ϵ cones!
That was week one, yet to come was EFL! Our team needed to move from Motel Victoria on the west side of Martin, to the dorms at the school. With 180 Americans in town, the dorms could not house us all! We could only imagine the schematics needed by the CCE staff to plan for and execute this massive invasion of Americans! They had us spread out all over Martin! To add to the confusion, our arrival and departure dates were spread out as well! So with the departure of one group, we were next for the dorms!