Friday 25 July 2014

Photo Friday - 25th July

On Saturday camp ended and we left this beautiful place where we'd spent a week.

On Sunday those who were at camp - the UK and US teams plus any students - went to the front to sing.

I have an app on my phone that gives a Bible verse every week - it was wonderful to be reminded of this one after camp, when praying that God would bring to completion the work He began at camp.

I love walking around my town, and it can be rather beautiful.

Especially in summer, with the beautiful flowers.

I went to the Poland short term team training day - about 30 minutes from my home - and it was a joy to see the wonderful missionaries in Poland serving and training their teams. 

The walls of my flat are thick - something I'm thankful for as it hopefully keeps heat in in winter and heat out in summer. But it means I have thick windowsills. And the perfect spot for reading thanks to a couple of cushions and a blanket. Outside my window there is a open-market area and it's not totally pleasant, but the view of the trees is. 

Friday 18 July 2014

Photo Friday - 18th July

Saturday morning at English Camp - all set up and ready for students to arrive! The first day involves the last of the prep before students arrive after lunch. They have a conversation with one of three people that allows us to place them in an English class that suits their level. In the evening we have our first evening programme. 

And this is what evening programme looks like - after songs, the camp song/dance, games, announcements, there is an evening talk. After our time together we split back into our English class groups and discuss what we heard.

And this is what English class looks like! It was so fun to spend so much time with these students over the course of the week.

Every morning we had announcements... and this morning the announcement was: check for ticks.

Our camp was at Malenovice - where I had my first camp in 2007, and where I spent almost six weeks this last year due to various conferences and events - and we hiked the mountain the hotel is on. It's the tallest mountain in this area and it felt good to finally hike it!

On Thursday night the Gospel is clearly presented and students are given an opportunity to respond. After that they were free to sit and sing along to worship songs. The atmosphere was incredible. 

The last night of English camp - and Vit'a, the camp leader, the guy in the blue shirt with the mic, was thanking the UK and US teams for coming to serve with us.

Monday 14 July 2014

Camp begins!

[Written on Saturday but it has just appeared online now.]

English camp has begun! It has been a full day with lots needing to be prepared before the students arrived in the afternoon. 

And now we've had our first evening session and discussion group. The discussion group is the same as the English class. There are nine students in my group plus an American, a Brit, a Czech translator and myself. 

Please pray that we are able to bond well as a group and that as the week continues we would build good relationships so we can better share the Gospel. 

It is so good to be here at camp! It's a little funny for me to be at a camp where I am not the "foreigner" but that means I can build relationships that can continue throughout the year. It's also really fun that I can talk with the students in Czech!

The moon tonight over the mountain. 

A bonfire with sausages and marshmallows roasting. 

Our setup. This is the stage area for the songs, speaker etc. 

Upside Down!

Every year there is a particular theme for our camps - it helps us with the materials such as the t-shirts, printed books and flyers, etc. And the name of the theme is based on the evening programme talks.

Every night at Josiah Venture's camps there is an evening programme with games, songs and even a special camp song with motions (we pick a new song every year that fits the theme and create motions for it). But the most important part of evening programme is the talk.

This year the theme is Upside Down. And you can look at it a couple of ways. Clearly this world is upside down. Even the young person who is most opposed to God will generally easily admit that there is clearly something very wrong in the world. There are wars, famine, greed, pride, anger.. and I could keep going for a long time.

So during the week we will talk about a King who came as a baby. The Lord who came to serve. And that He invites us all to be a part of His Kingdom where things seem Upside Down as we love our enemies, forgive our debtors, lose our lives to save them. A kingdom where it's not about anything we've done or could do to earn His love but where that love is freely given by grace because it was bought with an incredible cost at the cross.

I'm excited about what God will do through these talks and the discussions that happen after them! 

Saturday 12 July 2014

Camp 1000!

Go click on this link and spend 90 seconds watching a very cool video put together by our communications team!

This Saturday is a very exciting milestone! We knew that this summer, somewhere in the midst of the 119 camps we're doing, would be Josiah Venture's 1000th camp. So I sat down with an excel spreadsheet of camps and dates and tried to figure it out.

The exciting things is that it can't be figured out - there are seventeen camps beginning this Saturday, 12th July, with JV in Latvia, Poland and the Czech Republic. One of them is Josiah Venture's 1000th camp!

I have been doing camps with JV since 2007 and now my role has me serving them year-round as I help equip and resource those serving in our camp teams across JV. 

I passionately believe in these camps as a valuable ministry pathway. Not only have thousands of young people had the opportunity to hear about a God who loves them, but because we only do camps when we partner with local churches, they are also an incredible leadership development tool.

It is so exciting to see God at work through camps. I'm thankful for His faithfulness and the knowledge that He will complete what He has started. 

Today marks the beginning of two camps near to my heart - the one with Dejvice church in Prague where my home church will be serving (the camp I was a part of for four years) and my own Czech church's camp. I'll be at my Czech church's camp all week and I'm so excited to see what God does!

You can read a blog post on this milestone from Josiah Venture's president here

Friday 11 July 2014

Photo Friday - 11th July

I took the group photo for the camp in Latvia - this was just before they realised I was taking the photo. Such a great camp!

Enjoying fellowship on the Hargan's balcony in Latvia. They are the country leaders for Josiah Venture in Latvia and it was so beautiful to hear and see their excitement for what God is doing in this nation, and their passionate dreaming for what He will do!

Before short term teams leave they often have a debrief where they talk about the joys and challenges of their time and what they learnt. It was so good to hear from this team!

A whole lot of this on the way home. Poland is long! But the wee car made it!

And on Wednesday these guys left - left to right it is Jacob, Daniel and Amy. Daniel just moved to Czech as a full time missionary and will be using his great skill in filming to serve our teams here. Jacob grew up as a missionary kid with Josiah Venture in Poland, as did Amy, and they are both back to serve on our communications team as interns this summer. Excited to see what these three create in terms of films and writing!

On Thursday I helped unload the Thomasons container - this held all their possessions as their family of four move here to serve on the communications team. So excited to have more people moving here and joining what God is doing.

And today I came back to Malenovice where my Czech church's camp starts tomorrow! 

Today the teams arrived to start preparing - as well as the Czech church team and the US team there is a team from Wales, funnily enough from the church I called home for my four years of university there! 

So it was good to see some familiar faces. And it has been a good time of preparation. Our pastor came and gave a short message on living out of the Spirit of God. And it was good to be together, bond, prepare, worship and pray. 

Students arrive tomorrow afternoon so there will be more preparations in the morning. 

Thursday 10 July 2014

The little car that made it home!

So, last you heard I was waiting in a McDonalds last Friday to hear the verdict on my car. Well, they cleaned a filter in Estonia and told me to drive at 3000rpm for thirty minutes to help the car clean itself. They told me it was fine to drive so drive I did - I drove five hours to a camp in Latvia.

Two hours in, on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, the "engine malfunction" warning appeared again.

But the car was driving fine so we continued to a tiny town and visited camp. On Sunday we drove the two and a half hours to Riga, with the car again driving fine.

On Monday another teammate helped me take my car in to a place in Riga. A few hours later we heard the news - I've a part that needs to be replaced apparently because it is full. It is a very expensive repair and it takes a while. They knew I wanted to drive back to Czech the next day so they made it so the car wouldn't realise there was a problem because it is safe to drive.

So, the little car drove fifteen hours perfectly fine (without even the engine light reappearing). Next week it will go to its regular mechanic here in Czech where I'm hoping the solution will be clear and will be less expensive than they quoted in Latvia!

Leaving Latvia

I wrote this but it just published now for some reason!

It has been so good to be up here, in Latvia and Estonia, visiting camps and seeing what God is doing up here. Our team is incredible and I have loved seeing them at work. I'm looking forward to blogging more stories soon. 

Today we hop in the car for 15+ hours to get home. I'm very excited to get home!

For those wondering, my car is still sick. The repair in Estonia lasted two hours. It went to a mechanic in Latvia and they have told me what needs to happen but that it is safe to drive home. I hope to take it into a Czech mechanic this week and leave it there before I head to camp on Friday. Prayers for the car - its safety while driving and an easy repair would be so wonderful. 

Friday 4 July 2014

Photo Friday - 4th July

And then I got to go to short term team training in Estonia. It was so great to hear their vision for Estonia and to see them equipping their short term teams so well.

I then spent the next few days visiting camps in Latvia. It was great to see people in action and young people at camp who know nothing about God but are there because they want to practice their English or make friends. 

Here is another camp where they are playing a game show to practice their English.

And another camp where I got to experience their evening programme.

Estonia is rather pretty.

I was able to enjoy a rest day in Helsinki - I was so close it made sense to hop on an early morning ferry there and then one back in the evening. It's a beautiful city but I think one of my favourite things was being on the sea! I have a photo of me that is me all windswept and seaswept but oh so happy. This girl from an island misses the ocean.

I was picking up Amy, a summer intern with our communications team for three months who will be living with me while she's here, in Tallinn in the afternoon so I got to see a bit of Tallinn before then. A beautiful city! Kind of a smaller Prague. 

The next day we travelled, in my little sick car, to Latvia to visit a camp there. Here is David in action again giving the talk at evening programme.


And so this morning finds me waiting in a McDonalds while my car is at the doctors for a €55 diagnostic. Very thankful they had an open 10am slot and for helpful Estonian friends. Praying it's just a glitch and we're on the road later today. 

Thursday 3 July 2014

Engine Malfunction

A weird beeping.

A yellow engine light appearing. 

And the words "Engine malfunction".

These are all fun occurrences on any given day but when you're in a country you don't live in and are 3 hours from any one you know? Oh and you don't speak even one word of the language?

Yesterday was a beautiful rest day. In the midst of a crazy schedule I was so thankful that I was able to have a "weekend" on a Wednesday and being so close to Helsinki I was able to hop on a ferry and explore there for the day, including lots of reading and starting a new eight-week devotional on abiding from John 15. And even having my hair wind and sea swept felt so good for this girl who misses living on an island. 

Today I was to pick up Amy, who is interning with JV for the next three months and will be living in my flat, from Tallinn airport in the afternoon. I spent the morning exploring the beautiful Tallinn!

After picking Amy up we were to head to Tartu, a two and a half to three hour drive, just under 200 km.

 I think we had just crossed over out of Tallinn's city limit when there was the previously mentioned beeping and lights appearing. 

You know, when we are three hours from the nearest person we know. 

I pulled into the kind-of hard shoulder and turned the car off and on again. More beeping. The same lights. 

I didn't feel good about where we were stopped and thought there was a petrol station just a little bit further along so we drove there. 

That's when we discovered my car manual doesn't speak English but French. 

I made some phone calls and talked to some wise men. And I was able to text the French explanation to someone who texted me back with what Google translate said. 

With a yellow light that was solid and not flashing it just talked about not accelerating or braking quickly. It did say to have it looked "immediately" but it didn't say anything about stopping the car, everything was about how to drive with it. 

The result was a decision to drive to Tartu. And that's what we did. 

And we got here safely! Praise God! The car was totally fine and normal. 

Tomorrow the plan was to get up and drive the five hours to a camp in Latvia and hopefully that will still happen. But first I hope to find someone who will plug a computer into my car and let me know what is happening. 

A quick google and a few phone calls to NI suggest it really could be nothing but with five hours to camp, three hours to Riga and fifteen hours home it's a lot of driving. And I don't really remember seeing more than two petrol stations in the whole of Lithuania. 

Would you please pray that there is an easy solution in the morning? And praise God for His protection and sovereignty! 

There are such exciting stories coming out of camps already, young people accepting Christ and stepping closer to Him, and I just want to get on the road to hear more of these stories!