Stara Voda Church Restoration Project, Czech Republic

Project start date May 2004. International cooperative with Scouts from Poland, Netherlands, Canada and Scotland.

2016 Blog and Photos
by Keith McGinty, Andrew Morgan, Michelle Mokedanz and Matthew Mokedanz

​MONDAY May 9, 2016
We left on Monday 635pm, after a 7hr flight we landed in London at 630 am.

With a 10 hr lay over we decided to take the tube downtown for a quick visit. Not surprisingly it was raining. We walked and saw the highlights (London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Piccadilly Circus) and had breakfast. After 3 or 4 hrs of walking around in the rain we all decided that we were too tired and cold to walk around and headed back to the airport.
Once back at the airport we went through customs and found a place to crash. Andrew and I headed to the washroom, I made it back to our benches but Andrew didn’t. By this point we all had been up for 26.5hrs (didn’t sleep on the plane). Given the size of the airport and the 3 hrs we had till the next plane we left off looking for him till later. We have a selfie of when he was missing. After 45min of walking around Andrew found us.
We finally got on the plane to Prague, with a 40min delay on the runway (which we all slept through) we started the 2hr flight). When we landed in Prague, Ester’s nephew Michal picked us up and brought us to the Monastery where Ester was waiting for us. We had a short walk around Prague Tuesday night, we stopped for dinner and a pint and had a good sleep.

We slept in till 9am on Wednesday, Matt took one for the team and went and picked up breakfast while the rest of us slowly got up. That day Ester (our Czech Scout host) showed us around Prague. He was very well organized to fit a lot of things in). We saw the astronomical clock, old town square, church, tower (299 stairs and had to walk up a large hill to get to it). We took the gondola down the hill. Ester gave a wonder explanation of everything and history of the places. We ate out while in Prague allowing us to try many different dishes.

On Thursday morning we climbed up the astronomical clock tower giving us another great view of the city. Andrew then headed off on his own as he wanted to see a cold war bunker, Matt, Michelle and I headed back to the castle / church as Michelle wanted another look (pics from Wednesday were blurry). On the way we stopped for lunch and at a chocolate store which we had free samples from on Wednesday. While at the chocolate store Ester bought a ‘chocolate beer’ to try, I liked it, wasn’t a strong taste of chocolate (hard to describe).
Later we all met back at the Monastery for a quick nap and to grab our packs and headed to the train. We took a 2hr train from Prague to Olomouc where we were picked up and brought to Ester’s house.

Stara Voda Church Restoration Work Weekend:
Friday we had breakfast, walked for some ice cream and packed for camp at Stara Voda. It was 50km from Ester’s in Dub nad Morovou to Stara Voda. When we got there it was raining, we setup our tents and helped gather wood for the fire. Ester brought us for a walk to the ‘Kings Well’ which was very nice. On the walk back to the church I found the perfect straight stick which we could attach the Canadian flag. With some help from Michelle we got the flag up and stood it up against a tree, many people were surprised by the flag.
Friday night the rain slowly stopped and we had campfire to dry off and warm up. Around 12am the kids went to bed and we tried some mango. Around 3am everyone decided to go to bed. I was quite comfortable by the fire so Matt and I decided to sleep outside. We grabbed our sleeping bags and slept on benches by the fire.

Around 6am I woke up and looked around and Matt disappeared (back to the tent). I went back to sleep, woke around 730 am when I noticed it was getting warm again, look around and saw 4 people sitting around the fire adding wood to it (they were surprised I slept outside).
After breakfast we had a meeting of who will work where. Andrew and Michelle went to clean up the graveyard, Matt and I first went to fill holes made by wild pigs. The holes are dangerous for people walking around, especially at night. Matt then went to work on new benches for people to sit on around the lake. I went to work with Ester to dig out the creek that fills the lake (to increase the flow of water).
We had lunch around 12 pm to 2pm, Ester had brought goulash for us. Due to the number of people at the camp most if not all the work was completed by lunch time. After lunch I was sitting on a bench near the lake when ‘Gandalf’ came and we talked for 40min. We spent the rest of the day playing games, telling stories. Michelle taught the kids how to make bracelets, which was a big hit. One kid made Michelle run quick for an emergency which turned out some youth didn’t know how to complete their bracelets.
Later on we had dinner afterwards we went to the church for some speeches (Matt and I made one as well as the organizers) followed by everyone lighting candles and walking to ‘Kings Well’. At ‘Kings Well’ there was some more talks (not in English) after which people put their candles in a spot in the grounds that is special to them.
We went back to the church where Ester and Martin played guitar and sang songs (mostly in Czech, couple in English) for 1.5hrs. When we left the church we went to the campfire where more songs were sang (campfire was far warmer than the church). Around 12am the kids again went to bed and tried some mango again. Around 1 am I gave in and went to bed (this time in tent) when I woke I wished I had slept outside again.

Sunday we sat around the campfire making our breakfast and packed up our gear. We were in a circle for closing (in Czech), said our goodbyes and left by 1030am. In the afternoon (after some showers) we went to Ester’s church to view and walk around. In the evening we went to his daughters house for dinner. We had pork steaks, salad, fries, and homemade mayonnaise  (which was amazing). Ester’s son-in-law has a wonderful observatory in his backyard which can’t be described so I have pictures. He showed us the moon and Jupiter with its 4 moons before we headed out.

In the morning we left for an hour drive to the caves. We took a ride from the parking lot to the entrance of the caves. Had a wonderful time exploring the caves and taking the boat ride inside and have many wonderful pictures. We took an elevator to the top of the cliffs for an excellent view and to have lunch. After lunch when we were leaving the restaurant a man recognized our Scout scarves and introduced himself as Tuan. Tuan is the International Commissioner for Belgium as well as the President of Scouts of Belgium. We talked for a little while, told him who we are and why we were visiting Czech (Stara Voda). We gave him our contact info for Facebook (which he added us the next day) as well as Ester gave Tuan his info. Perhaps we can visit each other sometime.
After the caves, in the evening we went to the scouts den with all the children and I got them to sign a flag for us to bring home. As well we played some games with the youth and passed contact info. Later on we had some food and shared some stories with Ester and his wife as well as I got the recipe for the soup and mayonnaise.

TUESDAY May 17, 2016
In the morning we went to the school to help students with their English by asking questions and them asking us questions. Then back to Ester’s to pack up and we headed to Olomouc where we had lunch and a quick tour around the city. At 330 pm we got on the train headed back to Prague.