Sunday 30 June 2013

Departure Day!

After two days in England with the amazing Haskews this morning I find myself in Heathrow airport departing for Prague.

And I can't quite believe it.  

As I left Northern Ireland on Friday it seemed so surreal.  Back when I was at the start of the support raising process we thought it would be amazing if I could be on the field by September of this year, and it would be insane if I could be out by the summer.  There were definitely times when it didn't feel like it was going to be possible.

And then we found a language course that started on July 1st in Prague and it looked great and we wondered if it would be possible...  and started praying that God would provide for it if that's what His plan way.

Tomorrow morning, I start that course.  

I am so grateful and in awe of God, and how He has worked throughout this process and has been shaping and equipping me for all that lies ahead.  

And I could not be on my way to Prague without all of you.   Without your support, prayers, encouragement I would not be on this flight to Czech.  So thank you.  Thank you for your partnership in this work.  Thank you for being part of this movement of God in central and eastern Europe!

I am so excited to continue to tell the stories of the amazing things God is doing as He transforms Europe and as He transforms me.  

Friday 28 June 2013

Photo Friday

Saturday - packing up my possessions and getting rid of stuff meant I rapidly got to the point where I just wanted to burn everything I owned rather than make another leave/pack/ship/donate/bin decision.

Sunday - being commissioned in my home church, such an amazing moment.

Monday - the sunset at White Rock beach at the North Coast where I spent time with Rose!

Tuesday - on our way down from the North Coast we stopped at the Dark Hedges.  This was my third time there, I think, and it is always so beautiful.  I don't currently have pictures of us on my laptop so these photos will have to summarise it!

Wednesday - on Tuesday night my dad helped me pack up the stuff I'll ship to Czech in a month or so - winter clothes, books, some household stuff.  It seemed so unreal to see the boxes sitting there with my life inside them.

How I often spend time with the animals: Daisy, my cat, likes to sit on me and Sandy is never far away.

Friday - a lunch time departure to Heathrow so I can be in England with friends for a couple of days.  So weird!

Friday 21 June 2013

Photo Friday

Saturday - babysitting for the Bowmans!  Love little Selah.

Sunday night - a youth service in the church, this was during the practice before the start.  They all rocked it!  

Monday - I thought I was going out to get Mexican food with a friend and was so surprised by all these beautiful ladies!  I will remember this night for a long time and I am ao thankful that they chose to bless me in this way.

Tuesday - I got my computer back! Hooray!

Wednesday - writing my will!

Sandy checking out whatever I'm eating, surrounded by my packing.

Friday - I used this phone to book one way flights to the Czech Republic!  So exciting!

Monday 17 June 2013

A Pair of Ducks, Yays and Yucks

The sunset at Malenovice, Josiah Venture's training facility that is near where I'll be living and working.  It is such a beautiful part of the world!

Kori Strock is serving in the Czech Republic and she went to Missionary Training on the course before the one I was on.  She has written a wonderful piece of the paradox of heading overseas as a cross-cultural missionary that can be found here.  

Although some of the specifics are different, I'll be missing rainy Northern Ireland instead of Alaska, I found myself agreeing with so much of her post!  Please check it out if you have the time.

I am so excited about what God has called me to in Central and Eastern Europe!  But I'd be foolish to think there won't also be hard things - being so far from family and friends, learning a new language and other different things.  These hard things will make the joys greater and I know that God has called me to the hard things as much as the easy things.

I will strive to use this place to be authentic, to share with you the joys and the struggles of living and serving in Czech.  Thank you all so much for being a part of this journey and for your support and encouragement as I serve!

Friday 14 June 2013

Photo Friday

Saturday - flying out of Poland at early o'clock!

Sunday - as soon as I'm back the cats take up their usual positions, sitting on top of me.

Monday - this verse was preached on on Sunday night and I found it still running around my head on Monday.

Tuesday was a day of lots of great news.  And I love this song.

Wednesday - fatty, fried food with amazing conversation.  So thankful!

Thursday - conversations around this kitchen table are something I will miss!

Friday - I took my computer in to get looked at, and now I'll be spending the weekend backing it up as it has to be checked in to be fixed!  Yucky.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Intern Training

Again, this is something I was a participant in last summer that this year I was more of a helper in.  As camp co-ordinator with Josiah Venture helping organise intern training will form part of my role so it was great to be able to see intern training from behind the scenes this year.

The general schedule of each of the four packed days was morning devotion, followed by various teaching slots.  After lunch there was some free time with team time just before dinner so teams could discuss roles and what they'd learnt that day.  Each evening there was worship, a testimony from a national and teaching.

This year the teaching themes that ran through the morning devotions and evening slots was the Trinity and about the different members of the Trinity.  It was really refreshing and also practical to be taught on before a summer of intense ministry.  

There was also times of teaching on: team unity, spiritual gifts, how to share your testimony, how to share the Gospel, prayer, spiritual warfare, how to teach English, guidelines for the summer, camp details and more...

As well as the times of equipping intern training also serves as a place to get over any remaining jet lag and to bond as a team and figure out roles before the summer gets crazy busy!  It's also a great time of fellowship as you get to spend time getting to know people who will be serving all over Central and Eastern Europe for the summer.

On a personal level, not only was it great to be able to be there so I could get a better understanding of how it is set up, it was amazing to be there to reconnect with people - interns I knew from last year, and JV staff members who I'll be serving alongside.

It was so exciting when on Tuesday night all the intern teams gathered in the centre of the room and were prayed over and commissioned for their summer of service.  I am so excited to hear about all God does in and through them this summer!  Please do be praying for them.

You can read my post on intern training from last year here.

The Amazing Race

Last year I was a participant in the Amazing Race, and I "ran" it with my intern team.  You may remember the post from last year on it which can be found here.  

The Amazing Race is two and a half days of intense team building as teams are given clues they need to figure out in order to find a location where they will be given another clue or challenge to complete.  And they're racing the other intern teams!  It's based on a TV show of the same name.

This year the Amazing Race began in Kiev, Ukraine.  Most of the interns flew directly into Kiev where we met them.  It took us a little longer to get to Kiev - on Monday night we left Krakow, Poland, on an overnight train to L'viv.  After a day exploring L'viv and meeting to discuss the race we got on another overnight train to Kiev.

The first overnight train was what I expected - little compartments with three beds on top of each other and I shared with two Czech friends.  But because you cross a border (Poland to Ukraine) you are woken up a lot - by customs officials, and two lots of passport control officials.  And the train tracks are different in Poland and the Ukraine.  So in the middle of the night, as you cross the border, the train is stopped and lifted up and the wheels are replaced!  It all leads to not a lot of sleep.

The second overnight train was different - there were no borders to cross or train track differences but instead of being in separate compartments there is just one compartment per train car so you're kind of having a sleepover... with fifty-three of your closest friends.  (We were back on this train for the return journey to L'viv.)

So on Wednesday we, the helpers, were probably just as tired as the mostly jetlagged American interns!  But the race began...

It was a lot of fun to be involved in the race!  I enjoyed getting to know the different intern teams as I saw them at different stations they were at.  

One of the challenges of completing the race in the Ukraine was that the alphabet is different!  So everything looks so strange, and you can't even really begin to guess at what the signs might be saying.

Some of the challenges we set the teams included:

  • doing a street performance in a big square
  • completing a cross stitch of the Ukrainian flag (four lines of blue stitches, four lines of yellow) - this challenge was incredible.  It was thought it would take at most an hour for each individual to sew their flag...  and then one team of guys dropped from first place to last (17th) because it took one person four and a half hours to sew it.
  • go on a zipline across the river
  • find out facts in a museum about tanks (remember, with a different alphabet!)
  • learn five specific Ukrainian words from a loop of fifty being spoken out loud and repeat them perfectly 
  • learn a traditional Ukrainian dance and perform it
  • the food challenge was something called holodets, washed down with kvas - basically, jelly made from boiling a pig's head washed down with a fermented, non-alcoholic leaf drink
  • find six different coffee shops around the city and sit down and half a cup of coffee with the helper stationed there
  • cross the Ukrainian border!
  • put the challenges you completed in order
  • recite the JV core values
  • list the JV countries and their capitals (not sure I could do this one!)
There are others, but I've forgotten!  I was one of the helpers at one of the coffee shops.  It was quite an arty coffee shop so it took about fifteen minutes for each drink to be made, which meant I had a lot of time to get to chat to different interns from different teams!

The race finished in Krakow on Friday.  And it had accomplished its aim: to bond teams.  These teams will be serving all over central and eastern Europe together this summer and the common experience, joys and frustrations the race provides helps the teams to bond quickly!

The other part of the race is, it pushes people and you can get to know who you are and who your teammates are under stress.  This is such an important thing to learn as you head into the summer, and something each person can grow in as they reflect on the race.

So, overall, an incredible few days!  I was definitely grateful for a good night's sleep on Friday night but the lack of sleep and overnight trains were more than worth it!

Friday 7 June 2013

Photo Friday: Intern Training and beyond

Saturday - each year our camps have a specific camp song with motions that fit in with the theme for the year.  Rob and Audrey Chestnut got up to show us the motions so we could learn them at intern training.  It was a lot of fun!

Intern training involves a lot of great teaching - on this morning the interns were divided into four groups and they rotated around four different speakers to hear about how to share the Gospel, how to share their testimony and how to engage in prayer this summer.  

Counting 3500 t-shirts into the correct numbers for different countries is a long process....  But it's so exciting to think about all those who will be wearing these shirts over the next few months - people on short term teams, our interns and students!  Not all students will wear t-shirts either, so the number of people who are involved in our camps is higher than 3500.  But please do be praying for all those who will be wearing t-shirts this summer!  

Intern training ended on Wednesday morning so on Tuesday night we prayed over the interns as we sent them out into the nations!  These 100+ people will be spending the next three months or so in various countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe, serving at camps and telling young people how much they are loved by God.

Wednesday saw a quick trip to the office to drop some stuff off.  This is the office I'll be working out of for the next two plus years!  I'm sure I'll get proper photos at some point.

Thursday - because it was cheaper to fly out on Saturday I spent a few extra days after intern training in Český Těšín, the town I'll be living in, with my boss and his family.  They were a great few days of recovering after all the busyness, of getting to know one another better and of getting to explore the town I'll be living in more.  Here are some snapshots.  

Friday saw me packing.  With me hopefully returning to Czech very soon I packed very little - I took the left suitcase back to Ireland I left the pile on the right!  

Thursday 6 June 2013

Q & A

My friend Taylor nominated me for a Liebester Award so now there a couple of questions for me to answer.  You can check out her beautiful blog here.  Below are the questions she asked with my answers!

1.    Why do you blog?
I adore writing and am often seen scribbling down thoughts.  This particular blog was born when I headed off to Czech for three months last summer and now it serves as a way to keep in touch with friends and supporters who want to keep up on my life as I currently support raise and then as I go on to the mission field full time.

2.    What dessert best describes your personality?
Oh wow.  Is there a dessert that can describe an introvert who loves people?  Or a psychology graduate who has probably had to summarise her personality too many times?  I adore baking but I’ve got a rather exact personality so I follow recipes quite carefully…  Maybe my favourite, apple cinnamon crunch?  Great with ice cream, comforting on a cold day. 

3.    What is your ideal way to start the day?
Quietly and slowly.  It doesn’t matter if it’s with the sun shining through the windows or if it’s with the drumming sound of rain, I adore waking up with enough time to wake up slowly, reading in bed quietly for a while and to slowly get ready for the day. 

4.    What is your favourite room in your home?
Probably my kitchen.  Baking is a great de-stressor for me and I enjoy putting on loud music, making something and dancing to process.  Add that to different memories of sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and conversation with different friends down the years… The kitchen has probably been my favourite room of all the houses I’ve lived in. 

5.    What’s your favourite word?
That’s a tough one, as I love a lot of words.  I’m known for saying “brilliant”, “amazing” and, the very Northern Irish, “wee” (meaning small, of course), a lot but for the purposes of this question the answer might have to be onomatopoeia just because of how it sounds. 

There are also a million, glorious Northern Irish sayings and phrases that make me smile because I sometimes fear that I’ll lose them from my vocabulary – shenanigans, red up, and others that are so unique I can’t even seem to find them on Google so I won’t post in case I misspell them.

I also adore the word redeemed for all that it means.  What a powerful description of who we are because of Jesus.

6.    What’s the thing you spend the most time doing each day?
Writing.  Writing emails and support letters.  Writing to friends and supporters.  Writing blog posts and text messages.  So that also means a lot of time on the internet! 

A close second would be reading.  I’ve dipped in and out of lot of great books recently.  So, technically I’ve only finished two books in 2013 so far!  A little ridiculous and I clearly need to work on finishing some.

7.    If you could hop on a plane tomorrow, where would you go?
Well, aside from Czech... I’d adore to travel to New Zealand. 

8.    What movie have you seen the most?
Probably Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce’s fight for the abolition of the slave trade, The Shawshank Redemption or something goofy like You’ve Got Mail, Return to Me or Ever After. 

9.    Who/what is the thing you trust the most?
It feels like a corny, almost cop-out of an answer but it’s got to be God.  I just finished reading a book called Believing God which is about the fact we need to not just believe in God but to believe Him, to believe He is who He says He is, to believe we are who He says we are and how deeply believing and trusting in those things should and will change how we live.  A great challenge!

10.Your last meal – what would it be?
I’m assuming it could be a three course meal so it would be…  A really great Caesar salad to start, with the right ratio of lettuce to dressing to croutons.  The main course would be svíčková, a Czech dish which is beef with a creamy sauce with bread dumplings.  I’d probably finish it off with lemon meringue, with some fresh fruit on the side.

11.If you could invite three people to dinner, who would they be?
Oh, wow.  Dead or alive?  These are some incredibly tough questions!  I think I’ll go with KatieDavis, a girl around my age (I think) who is doing incredible things for God in Africa (her book will hopefully make it on to my kindle at some point).  Brennan Manning would be my second choice – his book The Ragamuffin Gospel is one I read every year and I’d love to hear more stories.  And my third choice would be…  CS Lewis.  Because I’m pretty sure there would be some great stories from him too.

Monday 3 June 2013

Photo Friday: in NI, Ireland, Czech, Ukraine and Poland for the Amazing Race

Saturday - at Elevate on Saturday night we heard from Pastor Benjamin from India. It was so incredible to hear what God is doing in that part of the world!

Sunday - back at Dublin airport to head to Czech for two weeks.

Monday - we travelled to Krakow to get on an overnight train to L'viv. This was my bed, the middle of three in our little cabin. This train was much nicer than the next two overnight trains, which had no doors and you were sleeping in a room with 60 of your closest new friends... But because we crossed a border on this one we were woken three times by customs officials and border control to check our passports. Oh, and Poland and Ukraine have different train tracks so in the middle of the night the train stops so they can lift the train up and switch the wheels! Crazy.

Tuesday - a day exploring L'viv and getting ready for the Amazing Race.

Wednesday - after another overnight train we were in Kiev where our interns flew into. And here they are!

Thursday - over the course of the three days of the Amazing Race I was at various stations giving the interns challenges. On Thursday morning I was at a station at the top of L'viv where the teams were giving a Bible study and thirty minutes to pray for L'viv, the Ukraine and their summers. I am so excited about how God will answer the prayers prayed here in the weeks, months and generations to come!

Friday - I was at a station for several hours waiting for teams to cross into Poland to get their next clue. It was a beautiful train station and sunny day.