Friday 28 November 2014

Photo Friday - 28th November

Celebrating Avery's third birthday!

This sunset happened before 4... but at least it looks pretty!

On Monday night the repairman came a fixed my boiler.. the boiler fix lasted a whole six hours.

This little one fell asleep by 6.15! 

Some days it's really pretty! Czech on the left, Poland on the right.

The dessert table at Thanksgiving! And this wasn't even all the desserts.

Decorating for Christmas!

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Disciples who make disciples who make disciples (Video!)

One of our key convictions in Josiah Venture is "Making disciples who make disciples accomplishes the Great Commission." 

If a great evangelist led 1000 people to Christ a day in these European nations it would take over 100 years for them to be reached for Christ but if a young person came to Christ and was discipled to lead a friend to Christ every six months it would take just 14 years.

So that’s what makes videos like this one from Estonia all the more exciting. We see disciples who are making disciples who are making disciples. I personally know a couple of these guys and I’m so excited about how God is going to use them to impact the nation of Estonia and beyond for His glory!

Monday 24 November 2014

A retreat, a birthday party, Thanksgiving, and a broken boiler

How is it Monday again? And once that question has been answered can someone tell me how we got to the last Monday in November? Although that does mean I have just four sleeps until my Christmas tree is going up.

Once again this Monday morning finds me in McDonalds before 7am with a cup of coffee and a little space to write. So here are some thoughts at the start of my week.

This past week has been a full one!

On Wednesday I headed to Selah. When people ask me why I picked Josiah Venture as my missions organisation one of the reasons I give is their pastoral care for their missionaries.

And Selah is one such example of their commitment to provide access to care to their missionaries. We have a cabin on the other side of the valley from our offices and hotel/conference centre. I booked the cabin for two nights last week.

It was so good to have a couple of days to rest and get quiet enough to listen to that still, small voice. God was so gracious to meet with me there and refresh me. I feel like I’ll be processing what I learnt for a while and I’m so thankful I was able to take a couple of days out, without looking at email or even touching my phone, to be refreshed.

Saturday was quite a full day – the daughter of teammates, the Thomasons, had a birthday party to celebrate turning three! So that was a lot of fun with a lot of little people running around.

I had to leave the party a little early to head to youth group where we had our Thanksgiving party. This is a special event that we use to invite students from camp to again.

Landen, an American missionary who moved here a couple of months ago, talked about Thanksgiving and how we can and should incorporate thanksgiving into our daily lives. It was good to be reminded of the many blessings we have! His lovely wife Jenny, a Czech, translated for him.

After they shared we had a feast! A lot of the girls had baked, we ordered turkey from a family in our church, and I brought a big pot of mashed potato. It was so good! And good to have extended time to hang out afterwards.

On my way home from youth group I stopped at Tesco for a couple of things and arrived back to a flat in need of a clean! I hadn’t really unpacked from my time at Selah, and it had been a full Saturday complete with making four pounds of potatoes and sewing a birthday gift.

Well, I started cleaning after putting my heating on because it was fairly cold. And then… my pilot light went out! This happened when I was gone in Latvia so the Thomasons, who had been staying here, had had to deal with it – a quick call to them helped me know what I needed to press.

And I got the flame relit! Until I turned the hot water on. Casey came round to have a look at it but couldn’t get the flame to stay lit. So we turned off the gas supply.

Washing a lot of dishes without hot water wasn’t super fun.

Yesterday before church I texted my landlord asking what I should do. They gave me the number for the man who had been at my flat a month and a half ago to fix my boiler before.

I called him after church and he wasn’t able to come that day but he’s coming today at 5pm. Still, the phonecall seemed a success because I was able to communicate! I’m thankful that some “every day” situations are becoming less scary in Czech.

Getting out of bed at 5.30am is never easy but this morning it was especially painful. It’s a wee bit cold. So I’m praying that it all gets fixed today! Thankfully I was able to shower at Casey and Kristin’s and I have a wee hot water bottle.

So, that was my full week.

This week involves three days of work and our Josiah Venture Thanksgiving celebration. I still need to decide what I’m going to make! I’m excited to see lots of lovely people and celebrate Thanksgiving for the second time.

Friday 21 November 2014

Photo Friday - 21st November

The view I woke up to at the girls' retreat.

Loving all the leaves around town!

And it took a lot of self control to not jump in this pile of them outside my home!

I finished a gift for Kristin this week! Her birthday was in October so I'm glad I got it finished!

From Wednesday - Friday I was at Selah, this cabin that my missions organisation have for missionaries to retreat to. 

The weather never got much better than this but I am so thankful I had this time of quiet, rest and prayer.

I love the ladies in my local fabric shop - it's around the corner from my flat, they are really patient with my Czech and are really helpful. I'm currently working on some Christmas presents! 

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Girls' Retreat

In the autumn our youth group usually do a girls' retreat (and a separate guys' retreat). I remember last year's - it was in October and I really felt like I was just starting to learn names. So this year it was really good to know almost all the girls there! There were twenty or so of us gathered from Friday dinner until mid-afternoon on Saturday.

We started off with a fun icebreaker and name game to help everyone know who everyone is! 

Martina led our time together really well. Our teaching sessions were on the women named in the genealogy of Christ found in Matthew and what we can learn from their stories as we seek to live as godly women. 

Martina talked about Mary and shepherded our time together really well. Jenny spoke on Tamar and Bathsheba and the beauty of the Gospel. I spoke on Rahab and Ruth and their faith and faithfulness.

We stayed at a church building thirty minutes away (erm.. it may have taken me more like an hour to get there because although I put the address in my GPS it took us to a very wrong place and then when I phoned someone for directions they gave me directions from a bridge and we found the wrong bridge. This is my general experience with church retreats. I did count.less. u-turns on Friday night in middle of nowhere Czech.)

The church renovated or built a beautiful new building - I wish I knew more of the story! It's six stories and has their main church gathering place, meeting rooms, kitchens, guest accommodation as well as several self contained flats where the pastor lives and others. It is not unusual in Czech for pastors to have a flat contained within the church building.

I slept in a bed nestled under a sloping roof with skylights built into it. So, when I say this is the view I woke up to I do literally mean I opened my eyes and saw this. Beautiful.

We are so thankful for a girl from our church who comes along to these retreats and carefully plans and prepares good food for us! 

Of course one of the best things about being away for a night retreat together is the community and down time that happens. Retreats allow you to have conversation/game/hang out time - and so much of it! It would take months to have this much time with the girls normally.

It was such an encouragement to me to be with these women as they seek to pursue their Heavenly Father and live out the identity He has given them. This is not an easy thing to do in today's society, wherever you live, but maybe especially not here. I'm praying that, like so many women in the Bible, they would do this with faith and faithfulness.

Monday 17 November 2014


November is probably my favourite month of the year, and not just because it holds my birthday. The nights get dark early and there are more cups of tea. And it's also a month that remembers and celebrates freedom.

On November 9th 1989 the Berlin Wall fell.

On November 11th we remember the sacrifice of those who served (and serve) their countries in conflict and allow us to know freedom.

And today, November 17th, is a national holiday in the Czech Republic. On November 17th 1989 the Velvet Revolution began.

Twenty-five years ago students marched in Prague to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of students being killed by Nazis in 1939. And on that day they started something that led to the end of communism just ten days later.

It's called the Velvet Revolution because no one died. And four years later it was followed by the Velvet Divorce as Czech and Slovakia became two countries.

You can read more about the day here on the BBC. It's sobering reading. Just 30% of under 30s know why this day is a national holiday. And a sixth of the country long to return to communism.

But the fall of communism is what opened this country, and many in central and eastern Europe, for the Gospel. Churches can exist, you aren't imprisoned for your faith, and the Gospel can be proclaimed.

I am so thankful for freedom. For the freedom to live in safety in this country and share Christ. I'm praying that, just as this country has known freedom from communism, many in Czech would know true freedom in knowing Christ as their Saviour. 

Friday 14 November 2014

Photo Friday - 14th November

Saturday involved a birthday tradition of going to water. In NI and Wales this involved the ocean. And then God called me to a landlocked country... where thankfully there are lakes. The misty, grey, rainy day was perfect.

On Sunday I turned 26! And celebrated with friends and food. If you scroll down you'll see a full post on it.

Mondays start with a blank sheet and lots of coloured pens for long to do lists.

Fewer and fewer leaves on the trees.

I spent a lot of Wednesday like this, writing two talks for the girls' retreat this weekend - one on Rahab and one on Ruth.

Between talk prep and another couple of projects I was working on last week I felt like I spent a lot of time writing, editing and reading papers with a pen in hand this week.

On Friday night our youth group's girls' retreat began!

Thursday 13 November 2014

How to turn 26

Sunday 9th November was my birthday! And I turned 26.

My morning started with waking up late and rushing to church (this is a fairly routine situation). Church goes from 9am to around 11am. One of the passages of Scripture we looked at was Ephesians 2 v 10 - that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

It was a great reminder to have on my birthday! That God has prepared good works for me, and I am asked to be faithful to walk in them, knowing He has perfectly prepared me for them.

Then came opening some presents! The post here is sometimes "flexible" so I haven't received everything yet. The one that made me laugh out loud was from Rachel, who posted it early as she is on a mission trip currently, and there was a warning or two about when to open it. Here is proof lovely lady!

Some after church baking. 

Full confession: I really wanted to go for a run. I got into my running gear and decided to take a twenty minute nap before my run. Yep, my twenty minute nap turned into a ninety minute one and no run.

But running gear became baking gear. 

During the day I was able to skype with my family a couple of times which was really fun! And I'm so thankful for the many, many birthday wishes I received on Facebook or via email.

I went to the Yormans for dinner where we had "Irish food". Fun fact: I introduced the Yormans to shepherd's pie over a year ago, back when I had an oven that didn't work. So it wasn't shepherd's pie but "deconstructed shepherd's pie". This has now become a regular meal and tradition, complete with green onions boiled in milk through the mashed potato. So so good.

And dessert included pizcookie (I'm unsure of the spelling) - basically you pull a cookie out of the oven and put ice cream on top. So good. 

And friends gathered at the Yormans for dessert. Unfortunately a couple of friends couldn't be there because their car was broken into! But here are some pictures of our time. 

One of the things we do in Josiah Venture from time to time is give someone the "gift of words". We take time to say what we appreciate or admire about another person. The Yormans gave time for this on Sunday night. 

At one point Casey commented that it was fun to watch me squirm as people said nice things about me. My response was that it's probably the least British thing that has ever happened. 

But words are definitely my love language so it meant so much to me to have so many lovely people in one room and to say things. I am so incredibly thankful for the people who I get to do life with here and serve alongside. 

This is what Benaiah wanted to give me for my birthday... Well, this is what I unwrapped from Benaiah. Three of the toothbrushes were for other people in the room...

... I got the blue one!

The night ended the way so many nights at the Yormans do - Casey, Kristin and I sitting around some food and tea and chatting. 

It was an excellent birthday, my second in this beautiful country, and I'm so thankful for another year of God's grace. I'm excited about what this next year will hold and to walk in the good works God has prepared for me.