This was my second trip to Slovakia with the New Heights Church’s ministry team. I first came to Slovakia because there is a burning in my heart to reach people with the love of Jesus. I had previously gone on several short-term mission trips to Latin America but when I came to New Heights, I started hearing about Slovakia and my spiritual ‘ears’ perked up. I wasn’t even sure where Slovakia was(!) but when I went to the informational meeting at New Heights, I heard about the Center for Christian Education (Bible School) and what they were doing in Martin, Slovakia. As Bodhan Hroboň, the founder of CCE says “People here won’t go to church; they won’t go to an evangelistic meeting. But they do want the best for their children. They want a good education for them, and that includes learning the English language.” They come for the good education and in the process, learn about Jesus! This desire to use education as evangelism resonated with me and I knew I wanted to be a part of what was going on in Slovakia. I was an English major in college and am a freelance writer, so the task of teaching conversational English seemed a perfect fit. This was my ‘open door’ and I knew I should go through it.
On the first day of our two-week long EFL (English as a Foreign Language) class, students were given an assessment test and then divided into three groups—Beginning/Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, and Advanced. We had large groups this year, with about 25 students in both the Intermediate and Advanced classes, and 20 in the Pre-Intermediate class. The youngest student was 10 and the oldest were in their 40s. We had children who were only there because their parents sent them (and the children were NOT happy about it, at least at the beginning!) and we had Slovak adults who are actually teaching English themselves. There were LOTS of teenagers! Each class had a main teacher, who stood at the front of the room and gave direction, lectures, and assignments. The rest of the leaders sat at tables with the students and talked through the answers to the assignments. In this way, conversational English was experienced by everyone.
I worked with the advanced learners this year and had such a blessed time. My students were so wonderful: I’ll never forget Kika, Andrea, Anna, Zuzana, Olga, and Dominika. I had such a fun time with these ladies. They were all excited about learning English and wanted to know how things are done in America. We discussed books and movies. We sang songs and played silly games, trying to say tongue twisters—in both English and Slovak! We read aloud the book “Divergent,” going through the vocabulary and ideas expressed in the book, and practiced correct pronunciation of the English words. One day we went on a Scavenger Hunt. We were given a list of things to look for in the Market Square: An animal, a gate, a police car, and others. We had to go throughout the square, looking for each of those things, and take a photograph of our group with the item. Everything had to be discussed in English! Then we had to come back with our completed list and the photos. It was very fun and along with improving English, relationships were formed and strengthened.
We also talked about God and what He means in each of our lives. I was encouraged by them and I hope they were encouraged by me. I believe I’ve found lifelong friends and I’m so thankful. I went to Slovakia thinking I could help the people there, but my life was touched by them, and I’ll never forget it.
Each student asked “Will you come back? Will you be here next year?” I could only say “I hope so.” I hope God holds that door open for me. The CCE is doing amazing things in Martin, and I hope to continue to be a part of that ministry in whatever way I can.