The First European Christian Holiday Week for Deafblind People

The first European Christian holiday week took place in Radeberg, Germany, from 4 – 11 September 2018. 19 people attended this holiday week. The participants came from Finland, Denmark, Russia, Germany, and Switzerland. We were in contact with people from Scotland, Spain, and Ghana before the holiday week. Unfortunately, the individuals from these countries could not attend.
The topic of the week was "God's Blessing on Our Paths". The daily devotions from Pastor Joachim Schmid and Markus Münger centered around this topic. Jan Zachariassen shared moving insights to Isaiah 29:18 "In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see." The participants were able to take part through the figurative and tactile presentations. Testimonies and life stories of the deafblind/hearing and visually impaired participants were told and well received.
Every evening the participants shared the situation of deafblind people in their respective countries.
The week was rounded off with several excursions taken to places of interest in the close surroundings. We enjoyed a tour of the Dresden Church of Our Lady, visited the fortress Königstein and took a carriage ride around the Moritzburg castle. The blessings and protection that we experienced on our excursions echoed the topic of the week "God's Blessing on Our Paths". Marcel Soblik gave us a tour of the Botanical Sensory Garden and the building Spatzenhof with its occupation, music, movement, and learning opportunities.
Prior to the holiday week, we were wondering how the participants of the different countries would communicate with each other. Every participant showed a high level of willingness to communicate with the group. Not a single individual was left out. Each and every one was included in the joyful fellowship. This led to very moving encounters and experiences. A hearing and visually impaired participant with Philippine roots but living in Denmark spent some time with a participant from Russia in the Sensory Garden and taught her a praise song in Danish sign language. A Danish staff member communicated with a German deafblind participant in tactile sign language.
One of the highlights was the worship service on Sunday with the residents of the assisted living department of the Deafblind Service of the Protestant Church in Germany in Radeberg, and our joint celebration of the Lord's supper.
We look back to the first European Christian Holiday Week with gratitude. We learned a lot. We are subsequently planning further European and International Holiday Weeks and want to focus more strongly on fully deafblind individuals.

By Joachim Schmid

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