субота, 27. август 2016.

Until the Next St. Lazar Camp Session…


This year’s St. Lazar Orthodox Youth Camp (Svetolazarev Pravoslavni Omadenski Kamp – SPOK), with God’s help, ended with much success. All the camp participants and volunteers over the past few days have been arriving home, overflowing with their impressions and lovely memories which they will treasure for the rest of the year, all the way until the next camp session, God willing. As the organizers of the camp we sisters are very satisfied with how everything went, considering the large number of children who wanted to be “Lazarites.” With the growing number of children also grew the number of volunteers. So also grew the number of  those who wished to at least visit the camp, who otherwise stayed at the monastery, but would come now and then to spend a day at the camp. To be honest, when we realized how many people would be coming to the monastery (and camp), somewhere between 50 and 60 people, we were in mild doubt of how we would manage the entire affair.

Certainly our isolated location and difficult living conditions add to all of this a shade of worry and fear, especially since we are dealing with children who come to us with the utmost trust and sincere love, with no doubt whatsoever in our care and responsibility for them. We have to justify their trust and spark their interest in being Lazarites again next year. We also have to live up to the trust shown by the parents who send their children to participate.  They also had their own serious test, knowing that for ten days they would not have telephone contact with their children, would not know if their child was comfortably settled, hungry or satisfied, cared for or neglected, capable or not of everything that would be expected of him at camp… Our brave parents dealt with many worries, as over those ten days they received only brief updates from the camp, as the monastery telephone has weak reception and due to our many obligations we did not have the time to tell each parent how their child was doing and was he “fitting in.”

With God’s help, however, and under the direct protection of the Holy Prince Lazar, we can say with confidence that this year’s camp session passed entirely tranquilly.  All of us who participated in the camp felt a great grace. Along with meeting their practical needs, we made a big effort to strengthen our children’s love for God and their people.  We tried to teach them what real values are. We spent time together, had spiritual conversations, and talked about their current problems and dilemmas. The ten days passed quickly, and before we knew it, it was already time to pack up.  Not one child wanted to leave our lovely, wild Kučaj mountains, which was a pleasant surprise to us. All were in tears when they left for home, returning to a  world which, without Christ, is wont to leave deep wounds in young souls.

We want to take this opportunity to publicly applaud our Lazarites who were especially good this year, both in the camp and during the time they spent at the monastery. We thank them once again for their obedience, love and trust.  We encourage them to remember all year what they learned at camp, to pray to God and His Saints, to struggle to cultivate Christian virtues in themselves, and to preserve their faith. The Lord will provide the rest.

We also thank the brave parents who did not waver in face of the media attack on our camp during the previous years, which tried to frighten many away with the slander that we are some sort of terrorist organization. The “thorny” issue was that during the first two years there were shooting classes with airsoft rifles, which are toys but look very much like their real counterparts.  Non-governmental organizations used this for a huge propaganda campaign against us, harassing and intimidating the parents.  The police confiscated the rifles, but later returned them with their apologies, while in a court case we received written confirmation that we were innocent any criminal act whatsoever.  These airsoft guns, as the experts called in for the trial confirmed, are toys, perfectly legal for children, and not, as the media claimed, illegal for minors.  Much harm was done, especially to our sisterhood, but the media never published the fact that we had been acquitted of all charges and everything that had been written about us was nothing but lies. Thus we thank the our dear parents who supported us by entrusting us with your children, regardless of the consequences. You are truly examples of a brave confession of the faith, as Holy Prince Lazar said, “The earthly kingdom is for the small, but the Heavenly is forever and ever.” May the Lord bless all of you and deem you worthy of His Kingdom according to St. Lazar’s words.

We also from the bottom of our hearts thank all the sponsors who helped this year’s camp with their fiscal and material donations. Without your support, we would have had difficulty in realizing all that we had wished for.  May the Lord grant you all His Heavenly Kingdom for your charity!

Glorifying God, we also thank the volunteers and all those who had even the least part in realizing this Christian and patriotic vision, who with their labors and sacrifice helped our youth catch sight of the lofty ideals of our forefathers.  Thanks to you, they breathed in a different spirit than that offered by this corrupt world!

For more pictures and a more detailed report of the camp click HERE.


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