Thursday, October 2, 2014

Finally Together: A Reunion

When our Josiah Venture fall conference ended last Friday, one more very special event rounded out the week.

"Finally Together" marked an incredibly meaningful gathering to celebrate 18 years of the internship program here in the Czech Republic.

What began in our garage all those years ago in Havirov, became something that has touched hundreds of lives who personally attended the year long program, though in reality it's more likely touched tens of thousands of lives across the country as those young leaders have gone on to minister to people throughout the country and abroad.

Dave told the story of how it began: a conversation between he and I as we drove across the country dreaming of how to raise up a generation of new leaders here. The Lord gave Dave the idea to start a small year-long program that first began with just eight students.

Three students from that original class were in the lodge at Malenovice that night, and one of them who was sick at home, Petr Hust, Skyped in (is that a word?!) from Vsetin to share his story of ministry over the past 18 years.

So powerful! How I loved seeing and hearing Petr, even from afar!

Many were called to the front to be interviewed; coaches, such as Miriam, and students such as Zuzka shared their stories as well.

These two were both in the program, but in different years. Yet God eventually brought their paths together and they married just a few months ago!

Ondra was in kindergarten with our son, Tyler, twenty years ago in Havirov. What a delight to see him, a godly and passionate young man, sharing his story of being in the internship program just a few years ago, and how God is leading him to plant a new type of ministry: an evening service for 60-80 young people who show up regularly. He's already seeing people put their faith in Jesus.

One of our heart's desires is to see disciples who make disciples. What is so remarkable about this photo is that it's a three generation fulfillment of that desire!

Miram coached Zuzka who is now mentoring this young man in the Fusion ministry she's a part of (she serves on our international team with JV).

Dave and I sat with Lucie over dinner later on that evening. She is special to us in so many ways!

Years ago she was Dave's secretary, then met one of our single JV American missionaries and fell in love. Dave performed their wedding on Valentine's Day years ago and she and her husband are still with us in JV today!

Back over at the lodge after an amazing meal prepared by our Malenovice staff, we continued to hear stories of God's work in the lives of interns over the years, including Dan Hurta who was in the first class! He has such a heart for the Lord which has resulted in the planting of three churches these past 10 years.

And finally, Milan Szturc shared his vision for a development out of our Fusion ministry which he leads here in Czech: he is praying that God will raise up a new generation of Czech worship leaders and song writers to share the Gospel in relevant ways with young people.

I get so excited about this!!

While a reunion is always special, this one had a special purpose: to thank a family in the States who has made the internship possible for these past 18 years.

Our dear friends from Florida came not only to celebrate JV's 20th anniversary, but to share in the joy of hearing how God has used their investment to reach thousands with the Gospel across the Czech Republic.

Czech hockey jerseys were given to them in thanks for their partnership, investment, love and care for the hundreds of students who have attended the program.

The leader of the internship program today, Tomas, as well as our Czech country leader, Milan, came beside them to pray for and thank God for these dear ones.

The evening ended with a group photo of all those who were able to join us for the evening, whose lives have been impacted by this ongoing ministry of biblical teaching, intense discipleship, biblical teaching, wise coaching, and practical ministry application.

It was a powerful, emotional and wonderful evening of celebrating ALL God has done in the transformation of lives by the power of the Gospel here in this part of the world!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Most Delightful Train Ride

After a morning service at church in Ostrava last Sunday, we boarded the train to head to Prague with our Josiah Venture board members and their wives.

Taking the train is my favorite way to travel here, but this was an extra special, unusual, and very memorable train ride.

We rented an entire car and had a rolling presentation for our board members the entire way!

You can't tell from the picture, but there are over twenty five of us in the train car. It's not just the board members, but guests from Slovakia and Czech who were invited to share as we traveled!

Thank you for joining us Jirka, Milan, Darina and Karel!

The three hour ride was purely delightful as we heard from eight different people, all sharing about what God is doing in their part of the country where they serve.

We heard about leadership courses, evangelism, Fusion, blogs to reach people, discipleship courses and so much more.

These three, in the picture below, got on different trains in Slovakia in the morning, met us in Ostrava, traveled part-way to Prague, shared about their ministries, and then got off in a town along the way so they could catch another train back to their homes!

Thanks Kim, Darina and Denisa for giving us ten hours of your day to come share!!

Shortly after they left us, Rob, another one of our JV missionaries, got on the train in a different town and shared about English camps here in Czech as we headed towards Prague where he serves.

If you happen to know Rob, you know we had a lot of smiles and laughter on that last part of the trip!

It was the fastest, and most delightful, train ride to Prague I've ever had!

And made complete by special cans of Kofola (the beloved cola of our country!) from our country leader in Czech to say thank you to our board members for their oversight and care of the JV family.

Not only was there time to listen to our guests share, but also time for the board members to interact with them personally to ask questions and get to know them.

Thank you to all who joined us on the train! We'll never forget that ride to Prague.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Your Smile for the Day

In just a couple of days our son, Caleb, and daughter-in-law, Haley, will celebrate four months of being happily married.

Thanks for the photo Claire!

On one hand it feels like we were just in Colorado preparing for their very special day. And on the other hand, it feels like they've been married for years.

In fact, it's been so long that I'd completely forgotten about one last detail from their wedding celebration that was yet to come.

It arrived on my Facebook page this morning.

And totally delighted me!

Caleb's Bachelor Party - A Sky Full of Stars from Jacob Hash on Vimeo.

Caleb's friend from childhood, Jacob Hash (who grew up as a JV kid in Poland and whose parents started JV with us), produced this incredibly happy, fun, memorable, "make you smile" music video with all his groomsmen and ushers during Caleb's bachelor party and on the day of his wedding.

What a joy to see finally it this morning! I couldn't stop smiling as I watched it.

For years Caleb and his friends, Jacob and Noah, made music videos that made us laugh and enjoy the fun they shared together. Oh how we loved watching those boys have a great time making those videos!

But this one touched me in a completely different way.

I am so grateful for the kinds of friends (and brother!) that Caleb has, and for the wife that inspired this video. What a treasure he has in all of those people.

Hope it makes you smile too!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

JV Board Members and the Wives!

It's been our privilege to have the JV board members and their wives here with us for fall conference this past week.

They wisely give direction, oversight and leadership to Josiah Venture.

But more importantly, they pray for and love our missionaries in a multitude of ways. We are deeply thankful for all of them!

While the men had their board meeting at H20 in Poland, the wives took a bus ride to Krakow for lunch and a little sightseeing yesterday afternoon.

And when I say a little, I really mean it!

The bus driver took the wrong road there and what should've been an hour and a half trip turned out to be 3 hours. We had just enough time for lunch and a quick 10 minute stop in a Polish pottery store before getting back on the bus.

Oh well! We loved spending time with each other for the day, even if most of it was spent on a bus!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grandmas Together

No, this isn't an announcement that any of my kids are having babies!

This is about being spiritual grandmas to this dear young man.

Tomas trusted Christ while on a trip to Ukraine with Caleb when they were students at BMA (the school our kids attended here in Frydlant). He was impacted and influenced in his new faith during the rest of his years at BMA by Noah and Caleb, Amy's and my son.

Patty, on the right, is a long time friend of mine from California whose husband serves on the JV board. How does she fit into this picture?

This summer her son led a JV intern team here in Czech, and Tomas spent the summer with him on his team. Her son, Jonny, has had great spiritual impact on him as well!

Today, Tomas has an infectious love for Jesus that permeates his life in every aspect. He has a great heart for the Lord, and desires to be used by Him for His glory. He's a joy to be with!

So what are we all doing together?

Tomas came down from Denmark where he is studying in his first year of college to be at our JV conference this week! Of course Amy and I were there, but Patty is as well because all the board members and their wives are here for the 20th anniversary celebration!

When I realized that all three of us had sons who were part of Tomas' spiritual growth, I wanted to get a picture of us with him since our sons' discipleship and involvement in his life makes us spiritual grandmas to him!

"We love you Tomas and pray for the presence of Jesus to continue to radiate out from you even more than it already does! Love MamaPatty"