Thursday 16 March 2017


In early March, when there was still a little snow on the ground, we had our annual youth retreat. It's called Zimowisko which is actually a Polish word related to winter. We go to the same chata each year - a little building tucked into a mountain that was built by one of the families in church for youth retreats and Sunday school camps. 

It was so good to have this time together. We played silly games, and had to eat dinner with both our wrists are tied to our neighbours' wrists (it makes it rather complicated to eat spaghetti). We had a hike on the Saturday and a lot of good conversations on the journey. 

We also had some really beautiful times of worship throughout the weekend. And quite a few people gave their testimonies of how they came to Christ and how they've grown in Him - and most of the testimonies were from people who are the first believer in their families for quite a few generations. Our theme for the weekend was growth - what does it mean to grow in Christ, to grow spiritually? Why should we want to grow and how do we do it? 

I'm so thankful that I can be a part of this youth ministry, and know these incredible young people who are passionate about their Saviour, growing in Him and sharing this Good News with those they love.

Monday 6 March 2017

Why we do camps

On the Monday before I headed to Prague my friend and teammate Kelly from Poland arrived at my flat and we headed to the office. So part of my day was spent with this view – Ondra recording Kelly for an online training course for those giving the talks at our camps this year.

As we were filming, preparing what would be said, and discussing what we most wanted to communicate, it reminded me again why I am here and why it is such a privilege to join this ministry.

In serving camps internationally I am usually juggling details, keeping track of things, and helping to deliver materials and resources to do camp well. But doing camp well is in no way the end goal. In doing camp well, by weaving the theme throughout all the different elements of the week, and creating excellent resources to be used, we create a beautiful environment in which the gospel is clearly presented and students get to experience the love of Christ.

And we have an incredible opportunity as we come alongside local churches to empower their youth groups to reach their friends. Believing students invite their friends to camp and advertise in local schools knowing that at camp their friends will benefit from an excellent English, sport, or music programme, and they will hear about a God who loves them and wants to have a personal relationship with them.

This year we are praying that we will do one hundred and thirty camps across our thirteen countries. Excellent talks have been written for each evening that beautifully communicate the gospel. We’re praying that each student hears the gospel individually and is personally challenged to follow Christ, and we’re training our short term teams and interns in how to do that well.

We’re so aware that the horse is prepared for battle but the victory belongs to the Lord, and we’re boldly asking Him to already be powerfully at work in the lives and hearts of the students who will be at camp this summer. We’re asking Him to draw many to Himself, and that they will become faithful disciples who make disciples in these nations. All for his glory.

Thursday 2 March 2017

A Czech Intensive in Prague!

I've spent much of the last two weeks with this view as I do my Czech intensive in Prague! Each morning from 9.30 until 12.30 has found me wrestling with grammar, pronunciation and new words. It has been so hard and so great at the exact same time. 

Our teacher has been really wonderful. In the picture above are the various forms of him, it, her, and them for the different cases. This is something I've studied multiple times with different teachers but today it seemed to make sense! Not only do you need to just learn all those variations and remember which case they are, but you also need to remember all the verbs and prepositions that lead to each of the cases.

The teacher has also been so kind to teach Kristin and I for an extra ten or fifteen minutes after class each day. There are some holes in our Czech - things we should have learnt at an earlier stage but did not, or did not learn it in a way that we still use. I think that one of the biggest wins of this fortnight has been learning tools that will help me continue to learn and use this language well.

We've also learnt some hilarious things. For example, most of Czech has as a particular way of speaking Czech, except the part where I live. In Silesia, the region I call home, we speak Czech the way it is written. In other parts of Czech, however, they shorten the pronunciation of words, and change endings, and add a v in front of the letter o. Living beside the Polish border comes with its own challenges but I am so glad we speak standard Czech there!

This was definitely one of the funniest exercises of the class - matching the sound to the animal, because you forget that some things don't correlate exactly and while I find it difficult to imagine a frog making a "kva, kva" sound, it doesn't necessarily "ribbet" either. By the way, it's the bear that goes "brum, brum" in the photo above.

Honestly, during the first week of the course I was feeling rather discouraged. The intermediate level of language learning is a long one and progress seems slow. I have really struggled with the declension side of Czech, so the first few days felt overwhelming. One of the things I've had to remind myself of is the progress that I have made, and that I am successful in my every day life. Sure, none of it is perfect and I can't always communicate exactly how I want to but there is success in being able to understand sermons, be in a small group, and navigate everyday life in a foreign country and language. 

With just one class left tomorrow I am feeling mostly encouraged - this language may in fact be learnable. The road to complete fluency is a long one, but God has called me to this language as much as He has called me to this country and to serve Him here. I am so thankful that I was able to take these two weeks to be in Prague and to study, and for the progress I've made. And I'm excited to jump back into "regular life" and hopefully use what I've learnt and continue to make progress!