Sunday, 18 December 2016

Snapshots of a Week

It has been a good, and a full, week and I thought it would be fun to post some photos so you can see some snapshots of what I've been up to.

Last Saturday a friend asked me to pick them up from the airport and I decided to make a day of it. I didn't need to be at the airport until 5.30pm so I enjoyed a whole day in Krakow - I explored the Christmas markets, and wandered around the city and castle, doing some Christmas shopping and reading. I loved hearing different English-speaking accents throughout the city - including at least one that was distinctly Northern Irish. I'm thankful that I can have a sabbath day enjoying a city that is just a couple of hours driving away.

On Sunday I had church in the morning and then a concert in the afternoon - the above picture shows us ready for the concert to start. Some of my co-workers launched an outreach event where people come together and form a choir for a couple of months and finish with a Christmas concert! I think this was the fourth year of it and it has become a big deal - there were three concerts this year, and tickets sold out quickly. Two of my co-workers were interviewed on a Czech morning TV show, and the livestream of the concert has been watched by over 6000 people. 

The choir was made up of a lot of non-Christians and the gospel was clearly communicated throughout their practices and at each concert so many people heard the gospel and were invited to respond. There is even an article about the event each year in a local newspaper and in reporting the event it says that there was a message during the concert and clearly outlines what that message was! 

It was a really fun performance and the audience are asked to singalong with different songs. My favourite performance was, of course, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, by U2. 

Most of my working week was spent on our new camps website! This is an internal website that will serve our staff, interns, short term teams, and local church teams. On Monday I recorded the tutorials to help our staff learn how to use it and made it live! It's been a lot of work but it's so fun to see it out there. I really believe this will lead to increased fruit as everything gets funnelled through one place - increasing our team's capacity and, prayerfully, as teams come better prepared for camp it will help them communicate the gospel even more clearly to even more students. 

After so much sitting and a big project released I needed to celebrate - and I did so by making mince pies. It's funny what you realise are things specific to only your country when you move abroad and mince pies are one those things. Thankfully I was able to get a jar of the filling at Marks and Spencers and the mince pies were enjoyed at our team meeting on Tuesday morning.

Tuesdays are always full days of meetings - we had our international team meeting, in which we studied Acts. Next up was our S-Team meeting, with those of us serving the special ministries of JV. In the afternoon I had a meeting with our communication's team to talk about the resources and materials they are creating for camps this year. 

After all that I sat down to read through the camp talks for next year. This was my first time reading them and the people who wrote them did an incredible job introducing young people to Jesus and His gospel. In a week that was full of meetings, releasing the website, discovering bugs and getting them fixed, it was so good to sit and be reminded. And not just reminded of the gospel that changed my life - but reminded why I care about websites and resources, because it's all about Him and young people hearing this good, good news.

On Tuesday nights we have our missionary women's bible study and I am so grateful for this community! We just finished Beth Moore's Believing God study - I think it took us over seven months to do the ten week study but it was so good, and so worth the work. 

While I was there I realised what I'd scrawled on my hand earlier that day. I was on the phone with my mechanic asking when I could bring my car in (just for a service, thankfully). We agreed on Monday (or pondělí in Czech) and I'd written that on my hand. It's such a small thing but I was so thankful that I realised hours later that my brain had stayed in Czech. It didn't translate every single word and thought, and I made a note to myself in Czech. 

An Englishman, Scotsman, Welshman and NorthernIrishwoman were in a meeting, not a joke, on Thursday. We were later joined by a couple of others. This was an exciting meeting, discussing JVUK getting charity status and all that that means.

On Fridays this month my little town has little Christmas markets and it was fun to explore them as I crossed the square running errands.

On Friday evening the Yormans and I celebrated Christmas! I introduced the Yorman clan to crackers (who knew this was a UK/Ireland thing?!) - which was quite the challenge as they're technically classed as fireworks so there are all kinds of rules about flying with them. When I was back in NI in November for just a couple of days I had room to bring back a full, unopened, box of crackers (obeying the law of how to fly with them). 

And we blended cultures as we made gingerbread houses and decorated them with a lot of icing.

And I gave the boys their Christmas gift - the Dobble or Spot It game with Star Wars. I definitively lost because my spaceship/character knowledge leaves a lot to be desired but it was a lot of fun!

Saturday was a day of errands and trying to restore some order/cleanliness to my little flat. It was also our youth group Christmas party! It was 80s themed but I'll spare you any selfies (you can see my turned up jeans and fluorescent shoes if you look closely). 

At the end of the programme we were each given this wafer and went around to different people, giving them Christmas/new year wishes/blessings. When each person had spoken you offered your wafer to the other person who broke a piece off, and you found someone new. It was a beautiful thing to do, and so good to speak words of God's blessing over one another and the next year. And it was a fun blend of cultures - I communicated in Czech and English, depending on who I was speaking to, and the wafers have Polish on them.

And today was church - we had a testimony from the man in the photo. And our sermon was on how Jesus didn't just come to be a cute little baby who brings us gifts at Christmas (baby Jesus is the deliverer of Christmas presents in Czech). Our sermon was on Revelation 12 and how Jesus ultimately came to defeat evil. In a week that has felt so dominated by pictures of war, this was a good and timely reminder.

On Sunday afternoon this was my view as we had small group. Cups of tea and plates Christmas cukrovi (amazing Christmas biscuits/cookies), and time spent talking with dear girls about God's Word and how we can grow closer to Him. 

So there are the snapshots of my week. I am so thankful for the life I've been called to live and the good works God has prepared for me. I'm thankful for the full weeks and the crazy blends of cultures and languages - and that it's all about Him and the beautiful gospel. 

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