“My Journey”

Stories and connections through Esperanza for Bethlehem

gjc_storyHello, I am Jiřina Čančíková from the Czech Republic, and I came to Esperanza for Bethlehem through the Antioch Program.

Although it didn’t seem very clear last winter when I got the idea of going for a mission trip to Latin America, now I am pretty sure that it was, and is, God’s plan. But if the idea was going to Latin America, why am I in Bethlehem, PA? Well, I think God always has bigger and better things for us than those that we could plan ourselves. I would have never imagined myself going to these places in one year. But let’s take it from the beginning.

The idea came to my head last winter partly because I like learning about new cultures and I felt that I would love to learn more about the Moravian Church in Latin America. I thought that this could be a good way to do it while I would volunteer there. But still I didn’t want it to be just my trip to an interesting country. I knew that if this journey was to be successful and meaningful I needed to know that it was something God wanted me to do. So I started praying and asking.

In April 2013, I found out about the Antioch Program and applied through it. God also spoke to me and told me that my dreams were something that He liked and He wanted to support them. At that time I was an exchange student in Spain and I decided I would stay in Spain for the summer and make money to pay for my trip. I was still trying to do everything on my own while God was teaching me that I just needed to trust Him. I didn’t find any job there in the end, so I came to the Czech Republic for the summer and was invited by Jill Kolodziej from the Antioch Program to participate in an event called Karavaan, organized by Atlantic Bridge. I didn’t really know why I went to that event but later I found out. During this event my group got to go to Herrnhut, Germany where we met Erdmute Frank. The girls and I were staying at her place and we had such a great time there learning about the Moravian history. She also found out that I was planning to go to serve in Latin America, but at that time I still didn’t have any placement. She suggested that if it didn’t work out for me, I could try contacting a church called Esperanza for Bethlehem, led by her friends Tracy and Rhonda Robinson. I was quite sure the things would work out well for me but I looked at this church’s website and saved the contact.

Two weeks later, I found out that I would be sent to serve in Peru but, instead of the four months I had planned, I would go just for one or two months. I was excited about having a place but a little bit disappointed about not being able to use all of the free time I had spared for the mission. I didn’t want to waste that time, and I remembered Erdmute’s advice, so I decided to contact the church Esperanza for Bethlehem. When I told Jill about this plan she offered to contact them for me because she knew the pastors as well. I knew that this was a better way so I accepted and waited some more time to get a response. Some time later, Jill responded that Tracy and Rhonda would be happy to receive me but I should consider if I was able and really wanted to do both trips. I was sure that I did. But after writing her, the doubts hit me. Who was I to think I could go to these destinations? Who was I to be able to pay for these two expensive trips? I was being challenged whether I really trusted God that this was where He wanted me to be and whether I trusted Him to back me up and provide me with everything necessary. I trusted God. And I knew that With God nothing is impossible. (Luke 1:37).

After making this decision, the answers to most of my problems came immediately. It was like a gift from God with a note saying: “I am glad you trust me, here you have some money for your trip so that you wouldn’t have to worry.” I got a part-time job, and, in addition, my pay was raised in the school I was occasionally teaching. I talked about my journey with my friends and in the church, and several people came to tell me that they would like to support me on my journey. Through this I received a good amount of money supporting me on the journey. I was able to buy my ticket to Pennsylvania and I came here at the end of October. I was very nicely surprised by my acceptance here. It was amazing and I was happy to get to know all the kids and the adults, learn their names, and learn about their personalities and interests. Unfortunately, I am staying here just for a month, so I am leaving the first week in December to go to Peru where I will be serving for two months. But I hope to come back soon because part of my heart will stay here. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here, to help and learn.

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