Friday, August 08, 2008

2008 Hungary Reflections

[For more details, see all the 2008Hungary posts and the 2008Hungary photoset.]

::: Kids Program
The kids program we put on was pretty awesome. Here are some rough notes on the framework we used. And to give praise again where it is due - the vast majority of this program was created by high school students, not adults. We did have a few advantages though. First, we had two educators on the team and our students had a lot of experience with kids. Secondly, we were a returning team, so we knew what it could look like. But still - these kids hit a home run with this one.

+ 56 kids - ages from 0 to 12.
+ Coverage for 11 sessions - ranging from 90 minutes to 3 hours.
+ Must be culturally relevant - target audience are third culture kids who come together once a year for a conference where they get to see their friends, many of whom are the only ones that can relate to each other. An American-bought VBS curriculum was not an option.
+ Program must be divided by age groups so that we can serve kids appropriately.
+ Breakdown by ages: 0-2: 13 || 3-4: 8 || 5-6: 4 || 7-8: 16 || 9-12: 15
+ Overall theme was "Running the Good Race", coinciding with the 2008 Olympics.
+ Program days are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Morning program segments were centered around the Olympics while evening sessions were "theme" nights.
+ Theme nights: Monday - Pirates and Princesses, Tuesday - Campfire and PJs, Wednesday - Wacky Tacky, Friday - Olympic Closing Ceremonies.
Also, see D's post about this subject. Also, if you are trying something like this, our program sheets might help. Leave a comment and I will get those to you.

::: Path to Cross Cultural Service
This original element was intended to have certain people share their experience on the mission field - ie: what would you tell students that are interested in a future in missions.

However, this element certainly blossomed - every person that came and spoke to our team were amazing people and I truly appreciated their authenticity, honesty and optimism. They believe, like I do, that the future is ready to be forged and that these students have the power of change in their hands and their hearts. By the end of the week, I had people from CA asking me when they would get their chance to talk to our team. Just based on that, I wished we had another two or three days. Instead of just sharing with our team, it became serious investments into our students, stoking their passion, imagination and dreams.

The quick list speaker list:
Alan and Deb Hirsch - what makes a church, the power of youth, don't be domesticated.
SSeevers - tangible paths to serving with CA, internships, short term, long term, etc.
M and T Rapp - how God called them, details of cross cultural service you don't think about, God guiding every step of the way even when it was really bad, why Europe.
PGraf - God redeeming your life, Europe being the most difficult because it's so expensive and that people here are comfortable.

Along with this, there was a real synergy with CA this year. Our team really felt like an integral part of the tribe and that along with so many of them blessing us was humbling and exciting. I'm predicting that there are even more opportunities with CA in the future.

::: Baptism
At the beginning of the trip, AR approached me saying that he was interested in getting baptized. Rats, I forgot my fake professional Christian card. We made him talk it through with his parents, since they weren't going to be there. But definitely one of the personal highlights of both this trip and SPACE.

::: Logistics
Logistics just about killed me at times. 26 people were on this team and it wouldn't have been so bad had it not been for our travels in and through Paris lugging all of our luggage - consider that an excellent mistake [like Dan Pink says.] The original plan had been to check our big luggage all the way back to DC, but that didn't work. Despite luggage, traversing a major urban center with a group that large is infeasible - take my word for it. We broke into smaller groups for almost all of this kind of travel but even still, it was a lot to manage. Add to that any kind of unexpected issue - people that get sick, trying to hire alternative transport, awaiting another team to arrive - and there were a few times when I found myself completely unable to make any kind of decision. Worse than decision paralysis, I didn't know the complete status of how my team was doing at these particular instances. If you lead at any level, ambiguity about the health of your team is completely unacceptable.

There are a few operating principles we will use from now on:
+ Planning based on optimal team sizes - not just on how many it will take to be successful for a specific project.
+ Teams will more sensitive to the combination of city centers, public transport and large amounts of gear. We need to be smarter about deciding where to stay if we have to haul a lot of stuff.

A few locations and resources that we used - no complaints about any of these, they were awesome:
Vienna City Hostel - Clean, great part of the city, easy to get to, very affordable, friendly and awesome service.
All Seasons Paris Gare de l'Est Ch√Ęteau Landon - two minute walk from a Paris subway stop and a five minute walk to a subway stop that was a hub. Clean, safe, affordable for Paris, great service especially when we did team worship in the lobby. And it was the only place that would accommodate a group of 38.
Limores - we used a shuttle service in Vienna to and from the airport and also hired a luggage truck in Paris at the last minute. They were absolutely great about it - drivers were on time, friendly and totally accommodating. The NYC-based staff also went way out of their way getting in touch with Paris services on a Sunday trying to get me service for luggage. And... the Vienna shuttle was for $10 a person. You read that right....

::: Budget
The overall budget looks something like this, per person breakdown:
$1361 - airfare
$1060 - conference costs [8 nights and all food, including transfer to/from airport]
$20 - child ministry supplies
$25 - coach service - Vienna [two directions, airport and back]
$90 - lodging costs - Vienna [2 nights]
~$8 - food, grocery store for lunch and pizza for dinner - Vienna
$7 - subway - Vienna
$200 - lodging costs - Paris [2 nights]
~$5 - food, pizza one night for dinner - Paris
$30 - coach service - Paris [one way, to airport]
~ $2806 [26 people - although two kids had discounts for airfare and conference costs.] Mission in Europe is expensive. At the time of this posting, we are close but not 100%. [I'll have a financial update posting early next week.]

::: The Team
I know I say this every year, but I think this team was one of the best that I have helped lead. All of them were so willing to serve, to be stretched, and to own pieces of the trip. To watch each of them come alongside a missionary kid or baby, hold their hand, dress wacky tacky with them, or lead a small group about running the good race, those are the why-we-do-this moments. Not only that, but each one of them was so open to learning and growing, whether it was from our leaders or from CA people, they are learners and have adopted a learning posture to life. I'm excited about their future as well as expecting them to do amazing things.

The leader team was also one of the strongest I have worked with. The principle of "everything based on leadership" was executed well on this team - each one of them had cross cultural experience, had experience with youth culture and understood deeply what are trying to do with SPACE. This leader team represents some fruit that you and I - and others - are starting to see in our leadership investment. Keep in mind that it took greater than four years. And once again, most of the leaders and students are going to continue on well past SPACE and do things we can't even begin to imagine yet.

Keep watching, investing and praying - the impact this team made is going to take SPACE ... well, I don't know.

Photos: Pirate night; Closing ceremonies in swim caps; the baptism; PGraf investing in our team; Parliament in Vienna; our team in Sopron.

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