Friday 30 January 2015

Photo Friday - 30th January

I love this quote from a poem by Wendell Berry so I put it up on the wall in my home. "Invest in the millennium" is a great reminder as I work here!

In all the snow I needed a little bit of life around here! And my crazy travelling schedule means houseplants last less than a couple of months.

At least the snow is pretty...

...but it made conference set up hard - our conference centre is at the top of a hill and the entire week the only cars that could make it up the hill were cars with chains on the tyres. So set up the day before conference involved taking stuff to the bottom of the hill, and moving things into the other car.

On Tuesday night I drove to Krakow airport to pick up the Bowmans! We flew them over to help with conference - they both taught at the conference, and Val had many counselling sessions. We stayed up way too late on Tuesday night eating toast and chatting.

It was such a joy to have the Bowmans here and watch them minister and serve. They're the people who introduced me to this country and Josiah Venture so it was fun to have them both here and let them see my world.

And on Wednesday the Academy began! Gwynne and Kuldar kept us laughing as they emceed the programme.

Zuzka, who serves on S-Team too, created our name tags for conference and she made some interesting edits. Apparently my name is Rach Cute and because I didn't have a first workshop (so I could take care of details) she made it "Party Time". It caused a few giggles during the week!

Val B leading a workshop for forty leaders on how to help young people who struggle with self harm. 

One of the fun things we do at the Academy is give "paper plate awards". We literally give people paper plates - although cute ones, from Estonia. And on the paper plate we write the name of the award. The Burkhardts serve camps in Romania and they always go the extra mile so they got the extra mile award! We love recognising and celebrating our people.

Tuesday 27 January 2015


Tonight found me on the road to Krakow airport, picking up some wonderful visitors for our Academy conference.

It's a route I know well, and normally there aren't surprises. But tonight I noticed one police car.. and then another.. and then several at the toll booths.. and then there were multiple motorcades with many police cars and sirens. There were even police cars escorting coaches along the motorway.

It had been in the news all day, the specialness of today. But I'd forgotten just how close I live to it.

Seventy years ago today Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. It's about an hour from my home, and I visited it in March when my family was here.

I am so, so thankful for the liberation that happened in that place seventy years ago. For the sacrifice and bravery of so many that made it possible.

And I'm praying for another kind of liberation for this region. The infamous arch in Auschwitz declares "Work makes you free". I'm thankful that it doesn't. But grace and truth? Yes. Yes, they do.

Friday 23 January 2015

Photo Friday - 23rd January

Living overseas as a missionary can lead to crazy adventures sometimes. Ten of us from JV decided to meet and hang out - we live in Czech, Slovenia, Slovakia and Hungary. So naturally we met in Vienna. It was such a fun day and I'm thankful for these friends!

In Vienna there is a British and American food store! We went to explore - it was fun to see diluting juice, porridge, Angel Delight and Polo Mints in this part of Europe!

On Monday I had a horrible Czech lesson. Like, I spent forty minutes thinking I'd learnt some grammar over a year ago completely wrong. In the end it turns out I had learnt it correctly but it was a little discouraging! So I definitely bought a Happy Meal on the way home.

In the run up to conference the weather forecast started to matter a lot! And look at all that snow!

The view from the conference centre the week before conference.

I live in a border town so although I bought this chair less than one kilometre from my house I bought it in Poland. And so the buying process, and arranging the delivery, happened in a mixture of Czech, Polish and English. The fact it turned up at my little flat the next day felt like a little border town miracle.

Yep, Christmas tree still up! It came down the next day. 

Friday 16 January 2015

Photo Friday - 16th January

Saturday night found me driving to Krakow airport to pick up the Yorman family after their home assignment. I love the atmosphere of anticipation and chaotic joy at airport arrivals. 

It was so good to be at church on Sunday morning - they were sharing how we should be praying for our community this year.

I got a review copy of this book! I loved reading it and it has inspired me to use my time more effectively. 

Confession: I spent years in Cardiff and Northern Ireland buying squares of fabric and not using all of it. So a lot of it made it to the Czech Republic - its probably a good thing because the fabric selection in my little town isn't so wide and it's fun to have different memories attached to fabrics. In little snippets of time I cut out squares of a lot of the different fabrics I own. At some point I hope to sew this into a quilt - it might take a long time to get this completed!

Whiteboards and lots of colours are good for planning!

I hosted ladies Bible study this week. Thankful for cups of tea and encouraging each other, praying for one another. 

Oh, yep, my Christmas tree totally still up. The month in the run up to a conference for 220 people is a little crazy.

Friday 9 January 2015

Photo Friday - 9th January

A new year in the Czech Republic means needing a new sticker for my car so I can drive on the motorways (which I need to go on pretty much everywhere I go - office, or the big city near here). My favourite thing about this process has been that I know how this new-year stuff works here. I know that I need a new sticker. Thankful that I'm now experiencing a second year of routines.

So, yes, my Christmas tree is still up. Thankful for quiet mornings at home.

It snowed at the office on Monday!

On Tuesday morning instead of our regular international team meeting we met with our co-labourers who serve in the Czech Republic. We all work for Josiah Venture/JV's Czech organisation KAM and live in the Czech Republic but although some of us live here we serve all the JV countries. It was so good to spend time together, praying for this year.

Wednesday involved a long, exciting planning meeting for the leadership conference we're running at the end of the month. We've gone all techie in the office with a TV to display computer screens so we can all see it.

My little car refuses to have both a correct date and a correct time. And I'm always going to care more about the time than the date. The quirky thing is the date just randomly changes. So on this day it thought it was my birthday! I definitely should have had some cake.

I had some teammates - John and Erin K and Daniel - over for dinner. Shepherds' pie is the best. It was really just a clever ploy to get this little cute guy, Shade, over where he got introduced to minions and animal finger puppets. So thankful for these relationships. 

Friday 2 January 2015

Photo Friday - 2nd January

Over Christmas I did a lot of clearing out! Like above.. and getting rid of all my university and any high school notes that were still hanging out. It's crazy to think how much work this all represents.

I loved being back in this place and seeing so many friendly faces. I am well loved by my home church.

Northern Irish sunrises!

My family and I went out for a wonderful fish and chips, in a place with bars on the windows, followed by going to the cinema to see Unbroken. Such a great film!

New Year's Eve: playing board games and some old school PlayStation games with friends. Love it.

A New Year's Day project with my dad. I bought a little ottoman at a secondhand furniture place years ago but it definitely needed to be recovered. Very thankful for my handy dad who definitely provided all the skill for this project.

On Friday I flew back. As I boarded in Dublin I started hearing Polish and Czech and although it was a long day it was so good to get home to Czech. And as I got off the plane I was able to hug Rachel J before she got on the plane to fly back to Ireland. Waiting for me at arrivals was the beautiful Petra and we got to spend some sweet time together as we headed to the main train station and talk for a few hours before my four-hour train back to my town in the east of Czech.