Monday, May 21, 2018

Evening in Ustron

Our little trip to Poland yesterday wasn't only to the European Leadership Forum conference where Claire joined Dave in teaching a seminar.

We stopped in Ustron, Poland for a quick dinner at a local fast-food hangout as well.

Ustron is the city that Dan and Laura Hash moved to when the four of us first moved here to begin Josiah Venture in November 1993. I actually remember being across the street from this very fast-food place, in a park, for a concert in May 1993, when we were on a trip to determine where we and they would move to! God placed them here in Poland, and us in Czech, just across the border.

Crazy to be here waiting for hamburgers and fries when almost to the day, I was here 25 years ago!

Claire was but a twinkle in our eyes back then!

But we didn't just come to Ustron to grab a quick dinner, rather to come here.

A few days ago, Claire got a message from a friend of hers who is a student at Moody Bible Institute, where Claire went to college. The friend said that she was on choir tour with Moody Chorale, and would be in Pszczyna, Poland this Sunday evening, and asked if Claire might like to come.

Claire knew that we were already going to Wisla for the conference, but when I looked up Pszczyna and saw it was an hour away, I told her I thought we could make it there by 7 PM, when the concert was to start. So she told her friend yes, that we would come.

But as we were leaving the conference at 6 PM yesterday evening, she got a message from that friend saying the concert location had been moved!

And to where? Ustron, just fifteen minutes away from Wisla!

As we made our way there we wondered if anyone would be at the concert.

"How could you change concert locations in one day and hope to have an audience?" we wondered.

But surprise! The church was full.

We never heard why the location was changed, but did hear that people had come for evening mass and stayed for the concert. So the church was almost completely packed.

In fact, we had to go to the balcony to find a spot to sit!

The concert was absolutely fantastic! They sang a variety of classical music, beautifully arranged and gorgeously delivered. In between songs they read Scripture (and had someone translate into Polish), with one girl also giving a moving testimony of God's work in her life as a result of her studies at Moody.

The choir was well received by the Polish audience, giving them a standing ovation, and then asking for an encore, which they happily gave!

Afterward we had a little bit of time to say hello to her friends.

And to a surprise person in the choir.

We both should have realized that Brennan would be here, but it honestly hadn't occurred to either of us until we saw his name on the program. Brennan is a JV Kid who spent six years in Latvia with his family serving in JV a number of years ago!

He just graduated from Moody with his degree in classical music. He recently auditioned for, and received an invitation, to sing with the Chicago Symphony Chorus for the next year. Such an honor at such a relatively young age! As you can imagine, he's got an absolutely amazing tenor voice. So excited about what's ahead for him.

It wasn't long before they were turning lights out, and the choir was ready to get on their bus and head for their next location. So we gave quick hugs and said "See you laters" to Brennan and Claire's friends.

What a beautiful way to spend an evening, worshipping the Lord along with the Moody Chorale.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Family on Mission

Dashing home from church this afternoon to take our doggie for a walk before leaving for the rest of the day, I was treated to such a fantastically beautiful spring afternoon out in our farmlands.

I never get tired of this view!!

After my walk, Claire and I, along with Pavlina, Claire's apartment roommate, headed over to Poland.

Pavlina had her own meeting to go to, and Claire and I were there to meet up with Dave at the annual European Leadership Forum (known as ELF).

In their words, "This conference equips and resources evangelical leaders to renew the church and evangelize Europe. They provide a bridge between God’s global resources and local leaders from all over Europe, offering 27 different tracks that European leaders can choose from to be a part of."

Dave gets to lead the youth ministry track, along with some of our JV staff.

The great thing for me about coming over here each year is seeing so many people that we love.

Katerina is on our JV team in Slovakia, serving as the director for their annual leadership conference, KPM, that we were just at in April. She is here at ELF as part of the counseling track.

I'm so glad we also ran into our friend Jerry Twombly, who Dave met way back in the beginning of ELF when it was meeting in Sopron, Hungary in the early 2000's!

Jerry is a Patty family prayer warrior and keeps a chestnut from Czech in his pocket at all times to remind him to pray for us. "We are so thankful for you Jerry!"

This afternoon Dave had a seminar that we joined him for.

Wonder who those people are in the photo on the screen? That's Dave's parents, with he and his sister (before his brothers were born!) when they were missionaries in the Philippines!

And the reason he was talking about them?

Because this was actually a seminar that he and Claire were teaching together on what it means to be "Family on Mission"!

It was so precious to watch these two talk about increasing impact for the Kingdom of God by going from just parents in ministry to family on mission.

Dave taught the principles and they both gave life examples about how that fleshed out in our family, both the things that worked, and the places where we made mistakes.

Claire also shared some of the results from the Deep Dive study that she and some of our other JV teammates have been doing over the past year with our JV Kids, both current and alum, along with parents. The findings are so interesting!

The results of it will eventually be written up, but just one of the findings is that the more JV Kids are involved with their parents on mission (which is different than being involved in ministry activity), the more purpose they have in their own lives. That purpose gives identity that they take with them wherever they go.

And the mission? Being involved in God's redemptive plan and rescue mission of his people!

One of those dear ones on mission in our part of the world is Denisa, another one of our JV Slovak teammates. She is part of the teaching team for the youth track. I enjoy her so much, and love her heart for the Lord and people!

And I love these two so much...people I get to be "family on mission" with.

Dave will be here at ELF all week, so I'm glad we got to join him for a little part of it today.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Producing A Harvest

What we tried to do for years -- have a garden at this house -- is now successfully happening because of this guy!

During Tyler and Lara's years of living in the States, Tyler began experimenting with gardening. It started years ago with pots on an apartment balcony in Chicago, and ended last year with a big garden at his in-laws home in Chattanooga, Tennessee where they were living as they raised support.

Once they moved to Czech, and knew they'd be living in an apartment in Ostrava, he had the vision to do a raised bed garden at our house.

And it not only happened, but it's already producing a harvest!

Today he and Dave nearly finished the inside of the greenhouse, making the beds (way more work than I realized they had to do!) and transplanting the tomato plants Tyler's been growing at their apartment.

We should have a tomato crop into the fall with those plants. Cue all tomato recipes, hot, cold and everything in between!

After the Royal Wedding this afternoon, Judah and I went outside for a little fun while Tyler finished up his work.

A fun little ride-on scooter from the neighbors made for some giggles and joy as he learned how to go down the driveway, no feet on the ground!

Discovering that pulling on a wet branch makes it "rain" was pretty funny too!

Tyler brought Asher out when he got up from his nap, and I was so touched by Judah's happy exclamation of "ASHER!!" as he ran towards him to give a big hug.

Aw these boys, I love them so much. All three of them!

I'm glad we have a garden here that Tyler needs to tend to! I guess they'd probably come anyway, but it's sure nice they have a reason to be here often.

Thanks for the fun today Tyler, Lara, Judah and Asher! 

Celebrating With Royalty

No, I didn't get an invitation to Prince Harry and Meghan Markel's wedding. But that didn't mean I was going to miss it!

Who doesn't love a good wedding? And when it's a Royal wedding, it makes it all the more fun to tune in and share in the celebration.

Though we had plenty of glitches today, perseverance won out and we finally ended up watching on a phone using data instead of on our TV because of wifi that wasn't working. Of all days for it to go out, of course it would be today!

I had great company for the wedding too.

Tyler, Lara and the boys had come over earlier so Dave and Tyler could finish their work on our garden greenhouse. As soon as they finished, Dave had to leave for a conference that he'll be at all week in Poland. So Tyler came in to watch with us for a little while, and then went out and finished their project.

In the meantime, Lara and I enjoyed every bit of the wedding!

Asher was asleep for all of it, but this one was awake. It's one of those times when some "Little Einsteins" is just the thing to keep him happily occupied!

The details of the wedding were beautiful...everything from her classy wedding dress, to little touches in remembrance of Harry's mom (her favorite flowers in the bouquet and an empty spot next to William) as well as a Gospel choir, a fiery American preacher and the sweet flower girls and page boys, including her new nephew and niece, George and Charlotte!

With a number of sweet, emotional moments, it's one of those weddings we'll all probably remember for many years.

I hope and pray that the vows they took will lead them to look to the Lord for the strength to fulfill them, and that they will truly have a happily ever after for the rest of their lives!

Friday, May 18, 2018

This Will Pass

With the view out our backdoor as lovely as this, I wanted to stay home all day to enjoy it.

But considering that I am in the midst of some of the hardest jet lag I've dealt with in a while (after a quick trip to Oregon for my dad's 80th birthday), that would not have been a smart idea.

I seriously might have fallen asleep right there, standing at the door!

Good thing I had a meeting to go to in town.

On the square of MĂ­stek

While it was overcast much of the day (that blue sky in the picture above lasted about two minutes!), there was a charm to it as well. And it reminded me of how good it is, no matter how I feel physically, to walk with the Lord through any and all sorts of days. This will pass; I've been through it too many times to know anything but that!

So for now I'm thankful for the beauty around me, and the joy of being home in the place I love.