Sunday 22 November 2015

Home Assignment

For the past month I have been on home assignment! So for the past month I’ve been mostly in Northern Ireland, minus a little trip to Wales and England. And I’ll be here until 29th December, minus a little trip to England.

So what is home assignment and what am I up to?

Every two years or so missionaries are often required to have an extended period of time in their home country. In June I passed the two year mark of living in the Czech Republic, but with May-September being so busy in terms of ministry, I decided to postpone my home assignment until October.

This time of home assignment has a couple of purposes. It gives me time to reconnect with my family, friends, home church and supporters. One of the hardest things about being a missionary is being so far from family and friends so it’s wonderful to have this extended time with them.

This is also a time of rejoicing – during my time in the UK I’m speaking in my home and sending church, as well as in a couple of other churches, and sharing about how God has been at work over the last two years. I’m also spending time with my supporters, thanking them and telling them how God has used their resources and prayers in His kingdom.

Finally this is a time of raising (I had to keep with the r theme!). After serving for two years it is natural that some of my financial support has dropped a little and so I’m asking people to prayerfully consider partnering in this ministry prayerfully and financially.

My goal for this time is to be on mission well here, so I can be on mission well in central and eastern Europe. This means I hope to reconnect with people well, and raise my additional support needs. It also means going to things like dentist appointments and receiving chiropractic care (something that’s not available where I live but that is oh so good for my back!).

This is not “time off” – in fact in many ways it’s a whole lot busier than my life in Czech as I’m still doing my international role, just from a distance, in addition to meetings and talking in churches.

Home assignment is such a weird time. In the last two years Czech has very much become home, which is such a gift of grace. And so both are home in some ways and in some ways neither are home. I miss both. I love both. I have culture shock in Northern Ireland and at times being able to understand every single conversation happening around me just feels obnoxiously loud.

It’s weird to be outside of my “normal routines” and there are so many people I miss. I also miss ginger and lemon tea and my wonderful girls in my small group Bible study have promised to keep me some Christmas cookies. I got to speak Czech in Belfast on Friday night and oh how it did my heart good to speak a language I’m still very much learning.

And, at the exact same time, I cannot communicate the joy it has been to see so many friendly faces and talk about the many things God has been doing. It has been so wonderful to sit with friends, catch up on their lives and hold new little people that have been born since I left. Home assignment has been going so well and I’m excited to continue to be in the UK for the next five weeks and then head back to Czech for the next two years before another home assignment!

Please pray for the remainder of my time here – as I share in churches and with individuals, and that God would abundantly provide partners for this ministry. And that I would go back to Czech refreshed and excited to continue to serve there!

Saturday 31 October 2015


When I joined Josiah Venture one of the questions I was frequently asked was “Why are you joining an American organisation?” Now, I don’t think JV would describe themselves as an American organisation but I was the first full time missionary from the UK to join and move onto the field with JV. And our staff are half North American and half nationals (people who serve in the county in which they were born).

That meant there was a lot of details we had to figure out – how do we get my support over and processed? Do I go to missionary training in the US like everyone else? What about visas? And health insurance?

Thankfully we were able to figure out most things and there were just a couple of small surprises when I arrived in Czech.

But one thing I remember telling some of our leaders was that I was praying that JV would start JV UK as a charity/sending organisation. I think the response was a chortle and a “maybe in five years.”

Not to be perturbed, I kept praying and even felt from God that JV UK was something I should be praying for. I felt it was really strategic, to start building our base in the UK and hopefully get more short term teams and interns. It would also make the route my support takes a little easier and, in general, raise the profile of the needs of the Gospel in central and eastern Europe.

And then I started to hear the whispers and the maybes. Another family from the UK was hired and they were going to be based in the UK! And it was decided that now was the time to start the process.

Setting up a charity/sending organisation in the UK isn’t a short process, and it isn’t over yet, but on the last day of Fall Conference the UK board members arrived in Czech for some meetings.

Just after Fall Conference ended the JV missionaries from the UK met with the board. After all being introduced, and not a few jokes about geography, we got to share about our lives and ministries, our path to joining JV full time, our needs and prayer requests. It was such a joy- and faith-filled meeting and it was wonderful to meet these men and be prayed over by them.

So here it is – our first official JV UK board members and JV UK missionaries photo! I’m excited to see how God is going to continue to answer prayers and build His kingdom through this venture!

Please be praying for this process as hopefully everything gets completed and we start JV UK. Please be praying for the board as they shepherd the process. And rejoice with me about the God who answers prayers!

For all my wonderful UK financial supporters: when JV UK is fully set up, including Gift Aid status, I will be in touch about how your support will be funnelled over to Czech.

Friday 16 October 2015

Fall Conference 2015: Unstuck

From 21st-25th September we had our 2015 Fall Conference! So over three hundred youth leaders and missionaries from across central and eastern Europe descended on Frydlant nad Ostravici, a little town in Czech where we have our international office and our hotel/conference centre.

This conference is our training and equipping conference and as people started to arrive on Monday afternoon it was like welcoming family home. From the people who live just across the border in Poland, to people who had spent over fifteen hours driving down from Latvia and Estonia, to people who had flown in from Albania. 

Some of these people I see multiple times a year at meetings and other conferences, some are full time JV missionaries. And then there are other young youth leaders who I maybe only see at this conference. The joy of travelling internationally, especially during the summer, is I've been in twelve of our fourteen countries, and this was my third Fall Conference, so there were many faces I know well.

The theme of the conference was Unstuck and we spent the week looking at ways we need to and how we can get unstuck - in our personal lives, in our local ministries, and in our national and international ministries.

We looked at the tools God has given us to help us get unstuck and live faithful and fruitful lives for His glory. He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit. We also looked at different theories for analysing problems and how to bring change. There were also lots of breakouts, seminars, and time in small groups.

Here are some photos, with captions, so you can get a feel of our time together.

Dave Patty, our president, sharing how God has been at work in central and eastern Europe through Josiah Venture this last year.

These young Albanian men have planted a church! It is an incredible story and one we long to see across our region - young people coming to Christ, being changed, and seeking to share His Good News with their friends, families and towns.

Brian, one of our vice presidents, working away even during the football games.

Casey in goal during a penalty shoot-out. The JV men are wonderful and love each other dearly... in spite of the annual football tournament.

This is where we met during the day for main sessions: a temporary marquee/tent structure. During the evenings we were in a "Culture House" in the local town, because some of our neighbours don't love how loud conference can be. Please pray for us as we seek to support raise to build an Event Centre!

Inside the tent.

One of my favourite things about Fall Conference is getting to catch up with people, especially our interns from the summer. Here is the beautiful Doroteja from Slovenia.

For the first time ever the "Northern Irish people at conference" photo wasn't a selfie! It was so good to meet and chat with Jenn who has been serving with us up in Latvia for the year.

Fall Conference is usually a time when new materials are rolled out. These are two Bible studies written for new believers. One goes through John and the other Colossians. 

The wonderful Katcha!

Playing team building games that had us thinking and processing how to get unstuck.

Malenovice is beautiful!


I loved having so much time to process the teaching and apply it to my own life, ministry, and context.

Our vision as an organisation remains the same: to see a movement of God among the youth of central and eastern Europe that finds its home in the local church and transforms society.

And here is the group shot! Please pray for all the people in this photo - that as we seek God and faithfully follow Him we would see Him move mightily in our lives, our ministries and our nations.

Friday 25 September 2015

Fall Camp Meeting 2015

From 19th - 21st September a very special group of people gathered at Malenovice, our conference centre and hotel in the Czech Republic (which is home to views like the one pictured above!). Who are these people? They are our camp team - many of the people who serve in our fourteen countries (plus some staff based in North America), serving the camp ministry year round.

These are the people who recruit short term teams, and work with local churches, and look after interns, and the fifteen-hundred other tasks that go into organising camps in our countries. 

And these are the people I work closely with as I help support, resource and equip them. This is the one time of the year we all gather together and it's a really fun group of people! It was a joy to be all together - to debrief the summer, to rejoice in what God did through our one hundred and thirteen camps, and look ahead and plan for 2016 and beyond!

Here are some photos of our time together.

Shay introducing the camp theme and logo for 2016! We're really getting ahead of this process and it's exciting!

Friday 18 September 2015

Today I became a little more Czech!

Today I became the proud holder of a řidičský průkaz - a Czech driving licence! It's funny to think that ten years ago I got my first licence (a provisional one for learning), before I passed my test in 2006 in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

When I passed my test I hadn't even stepped foot in the Czech Republic and it's funny to think that because of a European law I had to renew my licence here. When you become a resident of another European country you can no longer renew your licence in your country of origin!

I'm very grateful that I didn't have to re-take the test! It was a lot of random paperwork steps - including getting a copy of my licence sent to the UK for verification. So I am very grateful that it's here and I'm all official for the next ten years.

And it has me wondering where I'll be renewing this licence in 2025!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Favourite shots from Albania

I loved my time in Albania and wanted to share a few more photos.

If you want to read some blog posts from the Cramers, the full time missionaries down there, I'll start by recommending this one, which is about the "team" I served as part of down there, and this one.

Between 8pm and 10pm the entire town goes on a "gyro" - a leisurely walk up and down by the lake. It's a big thing in Albania and it was a lot of fun to do it multiple times during the trip!

The doughnut waterfall, amazing.

Albanians: if there's a break, they're dancing!

Working hard in English class.

One day we had thirty people in class!

Walking to small group while the call to prayer rang out from the local mosque.

Oh my, eating corn on the cob straight of a bbq? Amazing. It tasted like yummy fresh popcorn!

I spent many afternoons jumping, sliding or being pushed into this lake.

Dancing on the last night of camp.

A man on the side of the street with his shoe shine business.


The bazaar!