I’m home again and just beginning to come down from the cloud of blessings the Lord carried me on throughout my two weeks in eastern Europe.
During the first week Curt and I ministered to expatriate families attending an education conference in Budapest. Virtually every one of these families homeschools either full- or part-time. We have served the families who come in from all over Europe, Russia and central Asia to this conference for four years. We both agree that this visit was by far the most “successful.” By that we mean that God set up divine appointments all along our way.
Our time together with these expat families included presenting workshops on Developing an Educational Atmosphere at Home and Learning Can Be Fun to support the homeschool lifestyle. We also spoke separately to meetings just for the men and women. In these gatherings we hoped to reach the emotional and spiritual needs of burdened fathers and mothers by encouraging them to rest in and follow the One with whom they are sharing a yoke. All of the feedback we received concerning our workshops was positive.
The week that we spend together with these families allows us to spend time with them over meals and in special appointments. We rarely ate alone and had numerous consultations concerning homeschooling and family issues. We even cared for people in more casual settings such as during walks outside and in hotel hallways. One of my favorite occasions for service is Story Hour with Aunt Sandra. I am given the privilege of reading to a group of children who may have never been to a story hour in English before. They are enthralled and enthralling.
By far the most exciting thing that happened in Budapest was that Imre Szoke, President of the Hungarian Home School Association, came to the education conference and met some of his expatriate homeschooling brothers and sisters. Having these two segments of the homeschool community meet each other has been an integral part of my vision for the international homeschool community. And God made it happen!
Curt had to return home, but I went on to Prague in the Czech Republic where I turned my main focus toward national homeschoolers. Soon after I arrived Michal Semin, President of the Czech Home School Association, telephoned to let me know my schedule. He had arranged for me to meet with Mrs. Ŝojdrová, chairman of the Christian Democratic party, at the Czech Parliament. He also arranged for me to give interviews for the AGORA, a conservative newspaper, and the Czech homeschool newsletter. Finally, Michal organized a public lecture for me at the Civic Institute under the title Home Schooling in the United States and Around the World.
There were still two or three expatriate homeschool families in Prague with whom I met. We discussed current curriculum and future plans based on the needs of their individual children. There is a very different feel about the life of families homeschooling in Prague than the families who serve in more remote and less developed areas. It is clear that they don’t suffer to the same degree from isolation or deprivation.
God breathed into every interchange I had in Prague. He arranged it so that Mrs. Ŝojdrová who speaks no English and I who speak no Czech could communicate in French. Voila! Michal assisted us with translation when we were deeper into our discussion, but we shared family details and basic information without his input. It was amazing!
I based the lecture I gave at the Civic Institute around the history of homeschooling in the US. As I unfolded it, I wove in pieces of Europe’s newly developing homeschool community to show its echoing path. The attendees stayed on for almost two hours asking questions on a variety of topics. At the end “Peder” said he was very encouraged and hopeful about having to deal with the Czech legal situation.
The most exciting thing that happened in Prague was the realization of another part of the vision I have for the international homeschool community. While consulting with an expat mom she asked about the lecture I was to give that afternoon. I explained that I would be speaking about homeschooling to Czech nationals. She excitedly asked me if I thought there would be a possibility that her homeschooled children could get together with some Czech homeschooled children. I told her I would look into it.
I related her request to Michal and he was very interested in the idea. He directed me to give his name and telephone number to her so that he could connect her with a national family that would be a good mix. I had not even dreamed that this type of contact and relationship building would happen so soon. It bowled me over to think that our heavenly Father was moving so quickly to accomplish His work through homeschooling.
I stated at the outset that this would be a report about what God accomplished over the 14 days I spent in Eastern Europe, and so it has been. How could we have arranged so many individual and group meetings? How could we have caused people to share their burdens and known they would be things we could help them bear? How could we have managed to get inside the Czech Parliament on our own? Only our heavenly Father’s omniscient omnipotence could have done it all. Praise and glorify His name with us for He is worthy of that and so much more.