Q&A with CAC Alumni Carter Shields (’17)
Thanks for chatting with us! You’re located in the city of Olomouc in the Czech Republic for the summer. What have you been up to? (And for those of us who are bad at geography, where exactly is that?)
The Czech Republic is in between Germany and Poland and is pretty much the “heart,” or center, of Europe. I’ve been in Olomouc since June 4th working with a non-profit Christian organization called Krízovatka, which, when translated into English, means “Crossroad.” Krízovatka’s target demographic is the youth and the university students of Olomouc and the surrounding villages, so we’ve hosted many different events like frisbee and football (soccer) games. Every Friday night we have “Klubjinak” which is “club differently” in which we host a Christian atmosphere hang-out event to try and counter the pretty intense party culture here.
How did you get involved with Krízovatka?
I knew of Mitch Anderson, the man who runs Krízovatka, because he is one of my home church’s (Pleasant Valley) supported missionaries, but I got here through Harding’s missions program called Global Outreach. They wanted one intern for the summer in Olomouc and I signed up to go.
We’ve seen you post on Instagram about an English Camp. Can you talk to us about what it is and what it’s been like?
English Camp is basically just like summer camp in America, but we also taught English classes twice a day. We went hiking, swam, played sports and just enjoyed nature. We also had a Christian program once a day in which members of the team shared testimonies from their lives that fit with the theme for the day, and it was really powerful.
We’ve also seen you post about learning Czech. That’s awesome! What was that process like? What are some words you’ve learned?
Czech is the hardest language I’ve ever tried to learn; they have sounds that my mouth has never attempted to make before and that makes it pretty difficult. However, I can get by with the basic greetings and farewells, and most importantly, I can order at a restaurant. My favorite word is “Káva,” which is coffee. I would not survive without that word.
You’ve had a ton of memorable experiences already this summer, and we know it’ll be hard to pick a favorite, but can you share a few with us?
English Camp was definitely one of the best memories of the summer. I had so much fun with the campers and also had some really great conversations and connections. Another favorite thing about the summer is the team that I have the honor of working with. They are some of the strongest Christian people I’ve ever met and I have learned so much from them.
What has God shown you through this experience so far?
God has shown me what true spiritual strength it takes to be a missionary, especially in a place that is known for being mostly agnostic and atheistic like the Czech Republic is. The missionaries here are truly inspirational to me, and their faith is astounding. Another thing that God has shown me is the amount of people He is raising up around the world to be His missionaries. I had the opportunity to attend the Central European Missions Retreat this year where missionaries from all around Europe came to worship and fellowship with one another. It was truly comforting and amazing to meet such strong people who are accepting God’s call.
You’ll be heading back for your sophomore year of college this August. What are some lessons you’ll take with you?
Well, this fall semester will be a little different as I am studying abroad in New Zealand, but I can say that a big thing is that I’ve learned to appreciate the good in people. The Czech Republic can be a dark place from a spiritual standpoint, and it has really taught me to notice those good and pure things that might go unnoticed in the Bible Belt.
Here in Arkansas, we’re trying not to melt. We might regret asking this, but what has the weather been like?
Most days it doesn’t get above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is very little humidity. It rains occasionally and might get down to 50 degrees. This is absolutely the coolest summer I’ve ever had.
What are you looking forward to as you finish out the summer? How can we as the CAC family be praying for you?
I am looking forward to my last few, precious days with the Christians here and those who are interested in Krízovatka. I have met some truly wonderful people that I am going to miss very much. As prayers go, I would ask that I may stay focused and have the wisdom to say what God would have me say when the time comes. Also, to just pray for the Czech Republic, that the people’s hearts will be open, that they may see our need for a Savior, and that they may experience the love of God.