Wednesday 30 April 2014

Spring Conference Starts Today!

Today Josiah Venture's Spring Conference starts! While Fall Conference has an equipping and training focus, Spring Conference is our "family conference". All the second culture missionaries will be there (missionaries who are not serving in their home culture) along with all their children! 

We are a big organisation so there's a lot of people, especially a lot of children! Please pray for the logistics involved in having so many people - we're staying in three different places. 

Bryan and Kathy Chapell have travelled over and Bryan will be the speaker during the week. There is also a team of fifteen volunteers who have travelled from Arizona to look after all the babies and preschool children. And there are two other women who have travelled over to run the programme for the school-aged missionary kids.

I'm so excited for this week. The conference runs until Sunday. Would you please pray for us - that God would use this time to speak to us, to refresh us in Him as we head into busy summers. Please also pray for the weather - we really need good weather for Saturday and it's looking like it will be 2 degrees and snowing!

Friday 25 April 2014

Photo Friday - April 25th.

I love this bit of a comic my friend sent me! Northern Ireland is a very small country... and few know that it exists. 

Easter! He is Risen! And we celebrated with my hidden stash of Creme Eggs.

And just as I provided something from my country, the Yormans provided something from theirs! 

I spent Easter Sunday with the Yormans and stayed at theirs - which allowed us to watch a fun movie set in Ireland. Filled with hilarious things that remind me of that country!

Sometimes Czech homework requires a lot of motivation.

Spring is springing all around and it is beautiful.

I especially love the glorious yellow of all the rapeseed fields around here.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Edge Sports UA on the news!

Edge Sports is a new ministry we launched this year in Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine. In Ukraine they are using Floorball - each week they meet to practice and play. There are one hundred and twenty boys and young men involved weekly! Through this ministry people who have never set foot in a church are being brought into contact with people who love Jesus, and they're being told how much Jesus loves them.

And recently they had a big tournament in Ukraine with the different teams - and they made the news! You can check it out on YouTube here. It is in Ukrainian but if you listen carefully you can hear them say "Edge" and you'll be able to see what Floorball looks like!

Please continue to pray for this ministry as it reaches the young men of these regions - that they would come to know Christ and become godly men who change their nations for Jesus! And please also continue to pray for Ukraine. 

Monday 21 April 2014

Creme Eggs and Culture

I think one of the things I've found strange in moving to a new culture is how you lose cultural cues you are used to. Back in November I couldn't believe it was my birthday because I hadn't seen people wearing poppies everywhere for the few weeks' prior.

It was easier for Christmas because there were Christmas-y things around in the shops. Although, they were different cues than I'd had before and there were brand new traditions. Plus, I don't watch Czech TV so I didn't feel inundated with advertisements for Christmas gifts.

And now it's Easter Monday and in a way I can't believe Easter is over. We celebrated at church of course; it was beautiful to celebrate the resurrection together. But never seeing a Creme Egg in a store (thankfully my parents brought me some so I have had two) or going to a dawn service just makes it feel strange.

Of course, instead of the traditions I'm familiar with, there are new traditions to learn about. So, while there were no Creme Eggs Tesco did have whips to signify it was Easter. Why whips? Well, on Easter Monday here boys and men can go around and visit women and whip them. In return, the women give the men a painted egg or something to eat. You can read more about the tradition here

As I walked around my town this morning I did encounter men and boys with whips walking around. Thankfully I was not a target! 

I'm excited to continue to learn more about this new culture I live in and the new traditions. And hopefully as I learn about these cultural cues seasons will no longer shock me and take me by surprise!

Friday 18 April 2014

Photo Friday - 18th April

Saturday held my first Czech wedding! Although the service was in Polish. It was a beautiful ceremony as two young people from our church got married. The youth group are up at the front in this photo singing to the couple.

My first Creme Egg of the season! It seemed so weird to have it so late in the season.

Monday night Bible study - I made banoffee!

The S-Team office was quiet on Tuesday as my teammates were in Estonia, Slovenia and Italy (two work trips, one holiday). My desk is the one that sits long-ways facing the middle of the room.

I'm into my third Czech book! It feels good!

Wednesday also involved a catch-up work meeting. There's a little coffee shop that is at the end of my street that is linked to a culinary school. So a cappuccino costs all of 60p (or $1).

The Polish side of town's square - there's a really cute restaurant where I go with the Yormans for dessert. I always get the hot raspberries with ice cream - it's a really good treat! 

This doesn't even begin to capture how beautiful the sunset was as we left church on Good Friday. 

Wednesday 16 April 2014

My new, best worst Czech mistake

When I was MTI receiving my language learning training we were repeatedly told that to learn a language you need to make a thousand mistakes. And if you need to make a thousand mistakes you may as well get over it and start making them as quickly as possible.

We were also encouraged to learn to laugh at ourselves because laughter and joy make the mistakes a lot more funny.

I have two wonderful Czech tutors and I meet with each of them for two hours a week. I added the second tutor in February and it has helped my Czech so much! My time with this tutor is a lot less structured, we don't follow a textbook. This actually gives a lot of freedom - each week I pick what I learn and so I can pick what I feel I need to learn.

Every week we read a story from my little children's Bible. Thankfully there are pictures, and I know the stories. But I am still learning many, many words. After, painfully slowly, reading the story I maybe retell it in my own words and then we talk about how the story applies to our lives what what we can learn from it. My tutor is not a believer so it's a really fun to be talking through these questions.

Well, a couple of weeks ago we read about a miracle and my tutor asked how it was possible for people to get into heaven.

I wanted to say it is only because Jesus died for us.

So, I wanted to say "jen protože Ježíš umřel"

Instead I said "jen protože Ježíš zabil"

umřel: died

zabil: killed or murdered

I said the only reason we can get into heaven is because Jesus killed. My tutor thought it was hilarious and I can definitely see the funny side. I don't think I'll ever make this particular mistake again... but I'm sure there are many, bigger, funnier mistakes in my future.

Monday 14 April 2014

Ladies' Retreat 2014

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God” Luke 9 v 62

When ploughing, looking anywhere but forward will cause the furrow to be crooked. And how often we are tempted to look backward or to the side or even inward.

We look back to how life used to be or what we maybe think we’re “missing out” on. We look to the side and compare our lives with those around us. And sometimes we even look too much at our own sins, sitting in condemnation instead of looking to our glorious Saviour.

This was the subject of our time at the Josiah Venture’s ladies’ retreat in Slovakia a few weeks ago. As I sit to write this blog post I have just re-read my notes from those four days, those precious four days.

One of my favourite things about the retreat was that we heard from seven Josiah Venture women who all shared how God had called them forward through hard things in life and the mission field – living in a new place, not knowing the language, loneliness, infertility, singleness, staying in the country God has called you to, trusting God in our mess.

These women are all incredible women of God. And it was a joy to spend time with them. It was also so rich because you’re hearing from women who know the life you live because they live it too – who know what it means to feel so inadequate because your communication has been reduced to baby level again, who know what it means to live far away from loved ones.

I feel like this is where we hear the greatest words from Scripture: But God. Language learning is rough, but God has called us to language learning and He can speak through our lives in deeper ways than our words. Some days are hard but God is good and God is trustworthy – He has proven that over and over again. The Gospel demands radical sacrifice, wherever you live. And chasing after anything but Jesus is disappointing.

God spoke during those four days – and not just through the up front teaching – in wonderful, tender, deep ways. I feel like I’ll be returning to those pages in my notebook again and again.

Another wonderful thing about the four days is that we were all placed in groups of three. Amy Ellenwood, the wonderful lady who led the conference, put us in the groups using the same technique as the last ladies’ retreat. She categorised everyone into three groups based on how long they’d be on the field. And she created groups by picking one lady from each of the three piles.

When my group met for the first time we were astonished, and actually checked with Amy to make sure she hadn’t put us together on purpose.

The women along with me in that photo are Lucka and Judita – Lucka is the wonderful Czech friend whom I have known as long as I’ve been coming to the Czech Republic. She is also the one who went with me to every office when I moved here to help with all the paperwork and translation. It was my first time meeting Judita but her husband serves in our Edge Sports ministry in Slovenia, so I’d met him.

Lucka is from the Czech Republic and serves in Slovenia.

Judita is from Croatia and serves in Slovenia.

Rachael is from Northern Ireland and serves in the Czech Republic.

And all of us serve alongside wonderful Americans as part of a brilliant missions organisation.

At times the three of us don’t feel like second culture missionaries, but third culture missionaries. We experience dual culture shock – when I explain a cultural problem or food I'm craving neither the Americans nor the Czechs will know exactly what I'm talking about. I’ll be making banoffee for Bible study this week because no one has had it before. It’s incredible to be a part of a multi-cultural team and it’s a beautiful picture of who our God is. But sometimes it is hard.

It was wonderful that God gave us three this time together to encourage each other, to speak with each other and know that not only did these people listen but they also understand.

And that was true of so much of the retreat. It was such a joy to meet so many wonderful women who I hadn’t met before, and to spend time with women I already know. There is such sisterhood born in knowing the lives each other live – hours of conversation, laughter, encouragement and joy… not to mention rest.

I am so grateful for these beautiful women and the time I spent with them all in Slovakia. But even more, I am so grateful for our beautiful Saviour who has called us and given us many good, good gifts.

Friday 11 April 2014

Photo Friday - 11th April

This is the notebook I got at ladies' retreat - it's been good to keep going back that week, and what God revealed there.

I'm currently going through this Bible study on a Monday night and it is so good. God is really using it to speak to us and encourage us.

My crazy co-workers crossing the river using a pipe on the way to lunch.

I am in a lot of denial about it being April, never mind it being April 8th. The summer is getting so close and there is so much to do! But the view out my window at our office in Frydlant is beautiful.

I love little train stations we stop at on the way to places.

Back when my bed was constructed last August the depth of the mattress was misjudged and... well.. I've just lived with it. I finally got round to the hour long process of unscrewing all the bits of the base and reconstructing them higher up. Worth it!

Work emails at 9pm on a Friday night. Thankfully I think the problem I spent the better part of a day and a half figuring out has been solved/a solution has been found.

Friday 4 April 2014

Photo Friday - April 4th

I didn't realise how close I lived to Auschwitz until I drove there on Saturday with my family. It's only an hour away. It was a weird place to be in - especially on a beautiful day, seeing lots of butterflies flying around. We were in a group with a really stoic Polish lady as a guide. Her monotone voice didn't really convey the evil that happened in this place, although I'm not sure anything could really.

Seeing mounds of suitcases, pairs of glasses, shoes... It was crazy to think of the lives lost in that place. Almost the population of Northern Ireland! Czech lives were also lost there and that was hard to think about to - I have really come to see here as home and these people as my people. It was challenging to think about this part of their history.

Spring has definitely sprung over here - and my family had fantastic weather the whole time they were here.

Before my dad had even taken his coat off (see that top left photo) he was fixing things - and he continued to do so the entire time. My kitchen was clearly not put in very well but it looks so much better now! And the worktops are even secured to the cabinets! He also created that wee shelf (with my nail polish on it) to hide the exposed wiring in the bathroom. I am so thankful!

I really need to plant somethings in my windowsill containers.

Because when you're ordering $20,000 worth of t-shirts you have a Mars bar close at hand for when you're done! 

Apparently I like grey shoes... I was trying to decide what to wear for Friday.

On Friday I went into a local high school to promote my church's English camp and invite people along! So I did six classes with English games and a presentation on Life in Northern Ireland. It was so much fun to be interacting with students, I'd forgotten how much I love teaching. 

I was also offered a job in the school after my first lesson! It was funny. I'd love to have an opportunity like that to really get to know students and connect with them but they were offering 20 hours a week and I already work crazy-hours-a-week and with my travelling schedules it wouldn't work.