Most Czech people are very skeptical and will not seek out new friendships. People go for years never even meeting their neighbors.
So TEAM missionaries Larry and Michelle Davies, along with co-worker Noel Garrett, decided to host a neighborhood party as a way to meet new people and start friendships. The first invitation for a Christmas tree decorating party was sent to neighbors in December 2011. Five families came, mostly out of curiosity, and to the amazement of the hosts, many of them did not know each other. One neighbor said he had lived in the complex for ten years, but that this was the first time he was invited to a neighbor’s home.
When the warm weather came, the neighborhood parties moved outside. In April 2012, an outdoor movie night expanded into a neighborhood grill party. The complex’s courtyard was the ideal location, attracting two new families with young children who had not attended the Christmas party.
A Harvest Party, held in October 2012, was a huge success. A little rain and cold wasn’t going to keep people away! Adults and children decorated pumpkins, played games, and munched on harvest foods traditional in America such as pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, and apple cider. In an encouraging sign to Larry, Michelle, and Noel, people from the neighborhood stepped up and helped with the event, including a mom who planned the games and another neighbor who made the pumpkin soup.
The Harvest Party was a great opportunity to deepen relationships with neighbors. And even though some might view these block parties as superficial, every interaction helps build relationships and provides a chance to speak into a person’s life. Larry, Michelle, and Noel can more openly share about God as neighbors become friends. Only through Jesus can a true community of friends, centered on Christ, be formed.
-Written by Lisa H. Renninger and Michelle Davies, TEAM missionary in Czech Republic
-Photos provided by Michelle Davies and Noel Garrett