Randy and Katy Smelser

Americans living in Germany but citizens of heaven

Croatia and beyond

We were gone for about three weeks to places south. Katy was asked to teach a group of young adults how to use English as evangelism for 2 different camps. It was part of Leadership Lab International in Croatia run by Scripture Union. The 20 somethings from 6 countries had 2 weeks of leadership then taught missionary kids for 2 weeks of camp and then 2 more weeks of training before they taught 2 weeks of English (outreach) camp. The first week was an international teen camp with teens coming from all over Europe. Mostly they want to practice English. The second week was a kids English camp for Croatian pre-teens. Parents are interested in having their kids immersed in English.

This was the second year for these two weeks of English outreach and the first time the English part was a bit weak. They wanted a quality program which is where Katy came in. They got her name through the university where she is doing her MA work. We came for the 2nd block of training. I helped Katy and was a mentor. Our experience teaching for over 20 years came in very useful. We worked on how to use English to think critically and how to use games to practice English. I also helped them get the Bible lessons into simple English.

We knew of Scripture Union from our missionaries who worked with them in Zambia. I saw the SU in action in the schools there and also saw a retreat from SU in Malawi. SU is a British organization which wants to encourage Bible reading and study. It is little known in the USA.

We thoroughly enjoyed the time even though the temps were in the high 90’s and no air conditioning – ahhh memories of SW Missouri as a child. We were just above a river so we walked down to the river a couple of times to cool off. We also took a day to walk around Plitvica National Park. There are hundreds of waterfalls and lakes and river. The water is a fascinating blue-green. Simply amazing what God has created!

On the way we stopped over night in Graz, Austria where I preached on Sunday morning. We knew one of the leaders from the Easter Weekend Retreat many years ago. While there we also found that a book that a man in the church translated and I had helped correct and use, had been printed and the church there was going to use it in home groups. We did not know that it was to be printed. We had tried to get that to happen but always hit a road block. But even after we had given up God kept working.

After the two weeks we went to Bosnia to visit workers and a home church there. That too was great. They had just (2 weeks before) moved into their new home and were very gracious to have us. It was interesting to hear of the work with Muslims there. They have humanitarian work, English work and church work.

From there we had a couple of days on the coast in Splitt, Croatia. Ever since I had Latin in high school and studied Roman history, I had always wanted to visit Roman Emperor Diocletian's palace which makes up the city center of Splitt. We enjoyed taking in the atmosphere and relaxing. It was slow paced because of the heat but there is nothing like stopping for an ice cream now and then to cool off.