Sunday, August 3, 2008

Depature and trip home

It's almost midnight Richmond time, so, according to Mark's blog entry, everyone should be getting up about now in anticipation of the trip home. Youth One prayed for your safety this moring and the extended Joyner/Hurst famiies continiued to do so through out the afternoon and evening. We were very releaved to hear the the Lufthansa strike had ended and are praying for a smooth trip home.  We will be in the FBC parking lot with "bells on" as the old saying goes this evening.  We love you!
Mom and Dad (AKA Martha and Charlie) Joyner 

We are ready for home.

It's now 11:00 PM in Berlin after another long day of travel and sightseeing.  We've had our final night of sharing and instructions for the morning.  Lynn has set up 5:45 AM wake-up calls for everyone and we are to be on the bus at 7:00 AM to leave for the airport nearby.

Today started with the final celebration in Leipzig that lasted 3 hours and included a one-hour broadcast (live) on local television.  We had to say goodbye to our traveling companions from Slovakia as we headed for Berlin.  They were taking the train back in the evening but wanted us to go back with them.  

After hearing some of the stories tonight, I think everyone had a great experience at the conference and met many new friends.  The family groups allow you to get more personal with several people.  Most groups get quite close and keep up with each other after returning to their country.  FYI, the next one will be in Brazil in 2012.

Berlin is a city of contrasts.  There are parts that look untouched for 50 years and other places that sparkle and are full of people.  There are still many old (or rebuilt) structures right next to new metal and glass buildings of all shapes.  After a 2-hour bus and walking tour, we all had dinner together in a restaurant - which served us 3 types of meat, fries, and veggies.  

Tomorrow will be a very long day (30 hours to be precise) of travel.  Thankfully, the airline has settled the strike and we're set to leave for Frankfurt at 10:25 and connect there with our flight to Dulles.  We hope to sit closer together than we did on the way here.  I don't think three people sat together on the way here.  There will be a lot of tired people returning with many memories to share.

This will be the final post on this site other than posting a few pictures when we get back.  Hopefully it has given you a sense of what has been occurring on the mission trip.  If you don't already know, FBC should be proud of how these young people worked together and connected with others from around the world.  I suspect the trip has touched many of them deeply.  They were wonderful representatives of the US and our church.  

You are welcome to continue posting notes on the page.  I will leave it up for quite a while.  It would be great if you would encourage the youth to write a note about their experience or one special memory. 

Mark Larson 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Day 26

     For you this is day 26!! One more to go. I'll have mac and chesse ready for you but probably Tuesday night. Your sheets are clean and the cats can't wait to see you. We can't wait also. See you Monday.

Friday, August 1, 2008

View of Thomaskirche - Church of JS Bach for 27 years

Celebration Time

Friday in Leipzig

As in all days, this one started early and ended with a bus ride to the hotel at 10:00 PM.  We usually have a meeting when we get back - to go over the next day's schedule but Lynn called it off tonight since most everyone is quite tired.  

The past two days were spent mostly at the sprawling conference center on the outskirts of town.  The only thing around it is a German equivalent of a Kroger (certainly not a Ukrops). Today we got some rain which cooled the temperature down from the 90 degree days we've had.  The barrel-shaped glass space which holds some exhibits gets quite warm.  The meeting spaces are in another space - much cooler.  It is interesting to be in that glass barrel when there's lightning and a heavy rain outside.

The conference program and speakers and topics challenge everyone but are geared to have the youth step out of their comfort zones - and try to "bring a little heaven to earth".  The main speakers at the evening services have been 16, 24, and 28 years old and spoke to some very big issues that they are leading.  The 16 year old spoke of his petition to the UN with 160,000 signatures to end slavery in some countries.  I saw him profiled a while back on CNN "Heroes".

The speaker last night (Shane Claiborne) had some provocative views on world events.  When he was right out of high school, he made his way to Calcutta and worked for a period with Mother Theresa.  He uses his activism to highlight social issues.

The young lady tonight spoke of her work in "Volunteers Without Borders".  She is in Brazil now and works as a coordinator for conferences.  All these young people are quite impressive and want to create big changes with their lives and faith.

With regard to our youth, they seem to be having a good time and are getting along quite well.  The 10 Slovaks who came with us are interacting well with our youth and have become fairly integrated.  The college-age kids have been feeling a little cooped up out here in the suburbs and wanted to see Leipzig before all 7000 go down there tomorrow afternoon.  Lynn consented and let them take the tram to the center of town provided they were back for dinner at 6:00 PM.  Despite few English signs, they got around quite well and managed to see much of the central city in just a few hours.

As I mentioned, the entire conference is moving downtown tomorrow night.  Our conference will set up in 3 squares for early musical performances - John Ivins is one of the performers.  Their local TV channel will broadcast the event live.  Isn't it amazing to think that 20 years ago, this city was in Communist East Germany and the practice of Christianity was forbidden?  While there are many challenges around the world for Christians, one thing this conference really makes clear is that some countries like Ukraine are having a revival of faith.

There are 4 Nigerians now in my family group and they speak about their faith in very clear terms.  They spoke of how they use their faith daily to stand out in their country where the Christian ethic and culture are not the norm.  To be a Christian in some countries, one must endure isolation and more.  One young man in our group came from Bangladesh and spoke of the challenging time getting to the conference because of politics. 

I see that there are many messages since the last time I was able to log on.  These will be passed on at breakfast in the morning.  I bring this computer to breakfast and let the folks read the messages on the blog.  The internet is wireless here so I can bring it down there.  We leave for Berlin on Sunday so I'll try to log in once more Saturday night before we leave.

All for now, tomorrow will be a fun day for everyone as we go into town for the entire afternoon and evening.  I'm not sure Leipzig is ready for 7000 Baptists - but here we come.

Mark Larson
Hi Everyone!

What wonderful memories the blog brings back! We went to Zimbabwe to
the Baptist World Youth Alliance in 1993 with Wendy and Matthew and
other youth and LYNN! So we know you all are having an awesome
experience! It has been great fun looking at the blog and following
your trip.

Sarah and Nick, we are delighted that our Sunday School class is
represented by Ken and Ann's daughter and Martha and Roy's son!

Scott, we have been following your trip via phone calls to Todd and

Barbara and Steve, Happy Anniversary! We know, Barbara, that whatever
you are doing, you are doing with great humor!

It is wonderful to see all of you on the blog! We look forward to
hearing about your trip when you return!

Gail and Jim Markham

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hello Andrew

I know that everyone must be really tired after such long days, but what a great tired it must be!  We are praying for a smooth trip home! The blog is great! I can't wait to see all your photos Andrew, and hear all about the trip.  Wasn't Prague great? We'll see everyone on Monday!
Lots of love!
Mom and Dad (Martha and Charlie)

Hey Jon from Stuttgart!

Hi Jon,


Grüße aus Stuttgart und wilkommen nach Deutschland!


It looks like you all are having wonderful time in Europe and having a great experience as well. I am sure you will also have a great time at the conference in Leipzig, a historic city in what used to be East Germany.


I was so hoping to get to see you while you were here. All the years I have lived in Germany, I have not had the chance to get up to Leipzig. Berlin is also a great city; too bad you won't have time to see more of it. You will just have to come back.


Unfortunately, I will not be able to get up to Leipzig due to an unexpected business trip on Friday that takes me to south to Zürich, but I wish all of you a wonderful time in this interesting country and also the experiences you will have with young people from all over the world! 


Greetings to Lynn Turner as she continues to do such a great job in her ministry and leadership!


Ich wünsche dir eine gute Reise !!


Uncle Jay




Greetings from California Madeline

Hey Madeline, Lynn and the rest of you great FBC-Richmond Team!


I hope you’re having an amazing time seeing new places, making new friends and growing existing friendships.  This blog is great – feels like I’m there with you!


May God add his richest blessings on the work your doing and may he protect you all during your journeys.


Love you and miss you,




(That’s Jason (aka Jay) Surles to the rest of you)


P.S.  Mark, thanks so much for making this possible!



Hello to Kate Norvelle

Hope you are having a great time.  We love and miss you!

Mom, Dad, and Laura

Hello Booth family!


Hello to my lovely family in Germany! (Steve, Barbara and Merdie)


Happy 32nd Anniversary to Steve and Barbara Booth!! What an awesome way to celebrate! We all send our love from Charleston, Richmond and Columbia. We have all loved reading the updates and seeing your pictures. Have fun and be safe!


I love you!

Megan Booth Malanos



to Laura & Kids from Ken

We're fine, liked Slovakia and working on orphanage, Praque was beautiful, I've got lots of photos, opening ceremony of BWA was good, music and video that addressed German Christian's lack of opposition to Hitler and "Jewish Question" and how they are still asking for forgiveness.  Food and drink (juices) have been good and no issues have resulted from consuming anything. Love you all, see you soon, pray that Luftansa doesn't strike, may impact our return.  Ken 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Hi Bob Fleming,
It was so good to talk with you Tuesday. Glad you all are having a
great time. Love to Lindsay and Bob C.
Jack made it through the surgery today and will go to rehab when
he leaves the hospital.

We miss you three and looking forward to Monday, praying for you a
safe trip home.

Love you, Vera Ann

Hi Stephen

It was three weeks ago today we sat on the runway and waited to fly to Vienna and Ruzomberok. I know you are tired but it sounds like you all are having a real adventure. Enjoy the time you have left on the trip. Remember what Milan in Ruzomberok always says, "You can sleep in America!!!!". See you Monday.
Mark, Thanks for your work on this blog. What a great way to keep up with everyone.

View from the Charles Bridge & the Hotel


Hello from Leipzig

It's 11:00 PM in our hotel in Leipzig, Germany.  We've had a very busy day that started in Prague, Czech Republic and ended a few minutes ago after the first evening at the Conference.  The accommodations in Prague were tops and after breakfast we went to the city center for a tour of the old Jewish District - led by a tour guide.  After that we had another couple hours to shop and eat lunch before hopping back on the bus for 4 more hours - and straight to the Conference.

Yesterday was a long day (9 hours) on the bus from Ruzomberok to Prague.  We stopped at a McDonalds for lunch and twice more for pit stops.  There is no bathroom on the bus and our driver speaks little English - so no one passes up a restroom break.  After checking into the hotel, we were dropped off at the Prague (Praha if you are Czech) City Center for dinner and site-seeing. 

The Conference starts in full tomorrow and a typical day will start with a Bible study with everyone together in the morning followed by family group time.  Family groups are not relatives, but small groups - most likely strangers who will get to know each other and discuss the lesson just heard.  From my experience in Hong Kong 4 years ago, this can be the best part of the experience because you'll get to meet people from all over the world.  My group of 8 in HK had someone from China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Canada, and the US.

The afternoon is less structured but after eating lunch with your family group, there are workshops and activities geared for the youth to learn about other cultures and interact.  Lynn Turner encourages the youth to step out of their comfort zone and interact with others.  It's a hard thing to do, but can be very rewarding.

Because the convention center is 30 minutes from our hotel and we'll be gone from 8 AM till 10 PM each night, these posts will likely be done once per day.  The time is pretty well scripted and Lynn is doing an incredible job of keeping things organized despite constant change and delays with the traffic.  We just go with the flow and watch out for each other.  It seems to work.

In case a few of you got word about Charlie Major's eye infection, it seems to be MUCH better now.  He participated fully today.  It was apparently a virus and not an injury as it spread to both his eyes.  It was quite painful and required two trips to the hospital in Ruzomberok.  It was good to have our local Slovak friends and Dr. Szucs to guide them through the process of treatment.  Anyway, he was the subject of many prayers and is doing very well now.

I'll continue to forward the messages or let each person read them at breakfast.  Most everyone's schedule is so full that there is little time or access to write notes so I'll keep you up-to-date in the evening when things are quiet and everyone is back in their rooms.  

We have heard that Lufthansa is striking and our flights on Monday may be a problem.  The travel agent will be working for us and as with all other things, we'll go with the flow.  That's the stream of consciousness for tonight after 2 days' travel.  I'll load a few photos next.

Mark Larson

Sarah Dickinson

Hello Sarah!
We are missing you and hope you are having a good time.  We can't wait to hear all about your travels and experiences.  Have fun!
Abby, Kevin, Mom, & Dad (and Rob from Sharp Top Cove)

Madeline: Hello from home!

Hi Madeline,


Hello to the world traveler!  My prayers are with you all as you travel to Germany.  I know you are in for a blessing as you meet believers from all over the world.  I can hardly wait to hear all the details when you get home.


Much love from across the Atlantic J

Mom (Laurie Surles)

Ken and David !

Hey guys,
Carolyn's email didn't come through.  She's praying for you continuously and wishing you both were just a bit closer to Romania, so she could get to see you.  She wants to know what's been your favorite part of the journey so far?  Also, you have 3 little ones here wondering when their Daddy and big brother are going to be home.  They have started asking daily.  Know that you're missed, loved, and being prayed for throughout the day. Much love, Laura, Will, Lydia & Stephen

To Kathleen Holt

Hi Sweetheart. Hope you are having fun. We are enjoying the pictures and updates. We miss you!
Mom, Dad & John 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hey Will !

Just wanted to say hey and let you know we miss you here at home. I hope you are having a good time and learning a lot. Have a good time at the BWA conference.Joshua says to say hi!

Dad ( Will McCauley)

Hi Scott

Hi Scott,

We hope you are having a trip you will never forget.  We have emailed you directly but didn’t know if this would be better.  We miss you lots – 3 weeks is a long time!  Have a great time at the conference.  We are praying for you (and the group) every day.  Looking forward to 8/4.


Mom, Dad and Will


Todd P. Selden

Clear Channel Radio Richmond



3245 Basie Rd.

Richmond, VA  23228

ph. 804-474-0456     fax 804 612-6272      


Hi to Nick - Again

Well, we are assuming you are in Prague now.  Hope the trip was uneventful and that everyone arrived safely.  We sent Nick an email yesterday but for some reason it didn't go through except for the part...Hi to hi to Nick again.  We look forward to hearing all about your adventures before meeting up with the group in Slovakia as well as your time doing mission work, sight seeing, etc.  We miss you and can't wait to see you on August 4.  Thanks to all who gave Nick a big hug when they saw him last Wednesday!!  Ha! Ha!  Enjoy the rest of your trip and just know that we are holding each of you in our prayers for good health, good times, and safety.  Hope the sunrise in Slovakia was as beautiful as I could imagine it to be!!  Love to all and especially to Nick...Mom and Dad also known as Martha and Roy   Greetings from Jordan as well!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Greetings to All

If my estimation is correct, the hike to the mountain top to watch the sunrise is in progress! What an awesome experience that must be! We are praying for each of you that you not only be blessed but that you are a blessing! We will pray for travelling graces on your drive to Prague. Be sure to get to old town Prague. It's breath taking. Buildings there are older than our country!
We love you Andrew Joyner!
Mom and Dad (Martha and Charlie to the rest of you!)

Hi to Nick

It was great hearing from Nick on Sunday evening (your time) and Sunday afternoon (our time).  Sounds like all is going well with everyone and that the mission trip was a success.  We miss you Nick and look forward to seeing you and the rest of the group on August 4.  Safe travel, stay healthy, and take lots of pictures. 
We love you Nick---Mom, Dad, and Jordan 

Saying Goodbye to Ruzomberok

Our projects are complete and we just finished our devotional and watched a slide show with 900 images.  Tonight we pack and leave for Prague in the morning after breakfast.  I know that everyone has enjoyed the fellowship with our Slovak guests.  Peter and his church family have been wonderful hosts and many of the youth will miss them.  We leave knowing that this partnership will continue as it has now for 9 years.

The work was successful and we completed much more than they expected us to do.  The youth worked incredibly hard and never complained one bit.  

At the orphanage, the work included painting rooms, fences, and gates.  Landscape work was to clear brush in the front, pull up the roots, take down trees, and remove stumps.  The centerpiece of what was accomplished was to remove a 2-story concrete structure in the back.  By the end, it had been reduced to rubble and hauled away in several dumpsters.
At the school, 4 classrooms were painted and the landscape was cleaned up.  The principal was most grateful and made some nice remarks at our social.

To celebrate all the hard work, we were treated to pizza at lunch today (not two ham and cheese subs as has been the norm).  Afterwards, everyone had the afternoon off to shop or do whatever.  It was nice to have some free time to roam the city center.

Yesterday, the group climbed several hundred feet up to the remnants of a 700 year castle.  The group had a large time scaling the walls.  Afterwards, the group went on a boat-ride to the large lake nearby.  One of our buses broke down and we had to shuttle separately.  Our destination was a beautiful old church by the dam.

For everyone who has been sending notes - thanks.  I've been forwarding the notes.  It is my hope that the internet will be available as we journey on.

Rumor has it that a "secret" plan for some of the older youth to journey up the hillside early in the morning to watch the sun rise.  The sun rises at 4:00 AM or so.  Allen and Jim Somerville are apparently co-conspiritors of this plan.  Good thing they can sleep for 8 hours on the bus tomorrow.

Good night from Ruzomberok.
Hi, Looks like you are having a great time - plus enjoying the beautiful countries.  The Moores have a new baby girl.    Love, Mom

Peter and Andrea


Greetings from Romania for Ken and David

Hi guys,

Just a quick note to say that I'm praying for you and hope you all are having good weather, plenty of rest, good food and great fun as you minister to folks!  I'm praying for you continuously and am eager to hear all about your trip.  Wishing you were just a little bit closer to me here in Romania so that I'd get to see you!  What's been your favorite part of the journey so far?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

WOW Jon!!

Wow!  What a trip for you!!!  We are so happy that you did not have any other glitches that prevented you from joining the group.  We know you are having an exciting time doing this hands- on mission work. Perhaps you will be seeing some of  your friends from four years ago at the BWA in Hong Kong.Jay is hoping to meet up with you while in Germany.   Remember that you are loved, and all of you are being prayed for. 
Bama and Papa

Looks like a great trip!

Hi Will and Jessika! Hi Everyone!

Looks like y'all are having a GREAT time. We are enjoying checking the blog for updates and pictures. Take loads of pictures and keep a journal about all your experiences so you can tell us. Remember what Larry West said! Try all the wonderful food! Be safe and have FUN!

Lots of LOVE,
Sharon McCauley

Premier Designs Jewelry!
804-741-8520 c-804-399-5797
Happy to Serve!

Group Photo after Church Service


I know you all are working hard but no one has mentioned the important things abourt Slovakia yet. Has everyone had Slovak ice cream? Anyone tried hulusky? You have to have buchti before you leave. Come on guys you have to have strength to work and Slovak food is great. Tell all my friend hello and we miss them. Larry West

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ken and David

Hey guys:
Thanks for the email and update.  We just got back from Harrisonburg where we had a nice visit with Anita and her family.  All is well here.  Glad everyone's well there.  Love you and praying for you.  Laura

Home again

Hi Stephen and all!  The English Camp folks are home. We got to Richmond about 6 pm and are trying to stay awake to get back to our time zone. I am glad to hear that all is well in Ruzomberok. Dad (Larry)

Saturday and John Arrives

The day is over and it is quiet in the hotel lobby.  We were pleased to see John Massey arrive tonight after his passport problem was straightened out.  He was greeted with many hugs.

As I hope you can tell from a few of the photos and entries, we had another full and productive day.  After breakfast, we all walked 200 meters to the city center where we handed out fliers for our concert tomorrow.  We were given a phrase meaning "come to our concert" to greet the people on the street.  That took about 30 minutes, then we went off to work at our sites.

The group at the school finished painting 4 classrooms and the yardwork.  The group at the orphanage had the most physical work to do.  There, they pulled up stumps and demolished a building.  From the sounds of it, that work was very physical.  In both locations, our work was greatly appreciated and the youth were complimented as to how hard they worked.

Tomorrow is our service and we practiced at the church tonight and visited with several of the Slovak members.  They cooked sausages for us over the grill and that was very good.  The people of Ruzomberok are very friendly and seem to take this large group in stride.

More pictures to come.

Mark Larson

fun things

we had a campfire this past night and all these orphan kids were there and had tepi lik stuctures which was really cool and we got to play tug a war with them and today were had a cook out with a church we're having with on sunday and we invited kids and they were really good at soccer and it was fun playing a gane ive really had fun on this trip.

matthew boys


hey guys it's heather here! so far it has been so much fun! the slovakian students working with us have been so amazing and it's been really great interacting with the people and kids from the orphanage.. speaking of the orphanage its been some tough, intense work haha but we're getting a lot of stuff done! and we cant wait to finish everything up on monday! but anyways hope you guys are missing us too much at home (: haha but i'll be back to write sometime! exess and ohss from slovakia!! (:

-heather boys 
Dear Cumbias,
  Sounds like you all are enjoying everything.  We saw Erin sitting with other young people.  Looked like they were getting ready to go or just coming back.
  It is certainly beautiful country over there.  We are enjoying rain here on Sat. Eve.
   Nate is in his apartment and has it all fixed up.  Never saw such a fast worker!  It looked like a tornado had gone through when we left on Friday Evening.
   We are all well and look forward to hearing all about what you are doing.
   This blog is GREAT!!!
Love and God's Blessings on your group.
MaMa and Grampy

havin a good time, but tired

mom, dad, and micheal (if he reads this),
im doing good we had another bbq at the church and that was fun, all the kids were surprised to see me, and once they got over that they returned to their fun game of hiding my flip-flops. they've gotten good at it. our mission sites are working at an orphanage and repainting the CHEC school ( by the way tell dad we painted his and roberta's room) well i don't know about at home but it's 10:15 here and i'm going to hit the hay, good night and see you in 2 weeks
love you,Stephen

to Kathleen Holt

Hey Sweetheart! Saw you and Sarah in one of the pictures.  It looks beautiful there. Hope all is going well. Can't wait to see more! God bless all of you as you go about this wonderful work.  
Mom & Dad

Hey Dad

Hey Dad!  Sorry we didn't get your message :-(  I think either you or someone deleted it.  We are doing great and cannot wait to tell you about all of our adventures :-)  Love you!  And give Mom my love too.

Love, Katie Bug (and Rabug)

p.s. I'm really good at pulling up stumps and weed-wacking...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank you!

Dear Mark,
Thank you so much for creating and posting to the blog.  I am eager for information about (my son) Hayes, Laura, Charlie and Anne Major and the very first photo posted has Hayes and Laura in it!
It is so interesting to see the location and to see the work the group is participating in.  Tell Hayes, Laura, Charlie and Anne "hello" from us. 
Thank you again for taking the time to (create) post to the blog - the miracle of the internet.  I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful trip.
Lynne Davis Gouger

Southeast Media Consultants, Inc.

7834 Forest Hill Avenue

Richmond, Virginia  23225

804.305.1810 cell

804.323.5072 f



Back After a Hard Day's Work

Our group just returned from our projects which included landscaping, demolition, and much painting.  The projects were at the local primary school and the orphanage where we will go tonight.  Everyone is to meet for dinner at 5:00 PM then we'll interact with the young people there.

This is a beautiful place with a scenic and historic central business area.  The mountains surround the city and seem to catch the clouds.  The group from First Baptist which just left said it rained nearly every day.  That is why it is so lush looking here and the river is flowing fast.

Allen Cumbia brought along the hand-held camera from church and is taking video that I hope he can put on this site.  Also, a reporter from the local paper came by today and spoke with Lynn.   We are a large and visible group and hopefully our presence will be a good witness.

Mark Larson

We made it to Ruzomberok

Hello everyone back home.

We made it well after many delays and 29 hours of travel. Everyone just finished breakfast and we are all ready to start our work at the church and orphanage.

We met some of our other group last night and they will be traveling back today. All for now as we are preparing to leave for our work.

Mark Larson

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Only 3 Days to Go

It appears that we will have some access to the internet in most places where we are to stay. I also suspect that Carrie will not be the only one to take a computer along. Hopefully we'll have some time at the end of most days to send notes describing the trip and our work. This blog page was set up for anyone on our trip to send an entry. We should also be able to send a photo or two.

It's now packing time as our Wednesday departure nears. It's starting to get real and our family is excited about what the trip will bring. I can't believe it was 4 years ago when we were in Hong Kong for the last Youth Conference. We made many friends and learned a lot about other cultures. Living with the local youth for 3 days in the camp brought us very close. I still communicate with a few friends that I met in Hong Kong. The previous conference was very meaningful for both Ashley and me.

Hopefully you'll get to share in our experience through this journal.

Mark Larson