Saturday, November 10, 2018

Party Day for Judah

It's somebody's three year old birthday party today!!

While we celebrated Judah's birthday with family earlier, today it was time to celebrate with his friends!

He'd just arrived to the party, so happy to see everyone who was already there!
He's been talking about, and waiting for, this exciting day for months!

What a happy celebration it was!

So many friends -- from their church in Ostrava, from Frydlant, from JV, and from Judah's preschool -- came to Tyler and Lara's church for the celebration this morning.

It touched my heart to see so many who took time on a Saturday morning to be here for Judah's first birthday that he's celebrating here in Czech.

Since this was a "dinosaur" birthday, Tyler drew a dino and they played "Pin the Tail on the Dino!"

Judah seemed to soak up every minute of his party.

Look at the joy on his face as everyone sang happy birthday to him!

His friends were so generous to him, excited to give their thoughtful gifts!

I loved watching him respond with joy to each one!

Sometimes he'd just stop and get down on the floor to really check out what it was!

And occasionally gave hugs to say thanks for the cute!

There is just something so wonderful about a kid's birthday party with friends. I love that the Lord has already given him these friends who are important to him, and who he enjoys being with.

And of course, it's always good to have your brother there too!

Three hours of partying went by so quickly today.

But I know that Judah loved every minute of it, and will be talking about it for days, if not weeks, to come, remembering the people who came, and the feeling of being loved and cared about by so many.

What a good life the Lord has already given to Judah in these first three years of life! And how special that he is surrounded by such a loving community of family and friends, who will help to shape him into the boy, and then man, that God made him to be.

We all sure love you Judah!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Marriage Coaching at Malenovice

Many years ago, on a trip to the States to visit one of our supporting churches in Vancouver, Washington, we met a couple who had just started attending the church. That "chance" meeting led to a friendship that has not only lasted for many years, but has brought our whole Josiah Venture team great blessing.

This whole week at Malenovice, Al and Autumn Ray, with Marriage Team, have been with 12 of our JV couples, teaching them and giving them lots of practice on how to be marriage coaches.

They first started coming years ago when we began having our JV marriage conferences. They served our team as counselors at three different conferences, using their wisdom, expertise and godly counsel in helping our couples tune up their marriages.

But then they came three years ago to lead the first group of our JV couples in how to do marriage coaching. And have been coming every year since then!

We know that it's important to give good attention and make deep investments in our marriages no matter where you live. But when you're on the mission field, there are even greater pressures that press against a married couple. So over the past years we've given more attention to our own marriage, and to helping our JV couples stay healthy.

And Al and Autumn have been a huge resource to us in this pursuit of healthy marriages!

Today, they graduated another group of marriage coaches up at Malenovice. Those couples will now be able to come alongside others (both JV missionary couples and couples in their churches and ministries) to coach them in how they can have healthy, vibrant, and happy marriages!

We are so thankful for this resource that helps us healthily stay on the mission field to do what God has called us to do. Thanks Al and Autumn!!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Breakfast in the Garden

I walked out the door this morning to a meeting, turning my head towards our front yard as I headed out. 

If you're not looking closely, you might just think I'm capturing yet another pretty fall morning here.

But look closer!

There is not just one, but two (look close!) deer having breakfast in our garden. 🤣

They don't like the peppers that are still hanging on the vine. But they DO like the leaves. And in fact, have been stripping them off for the past few weeks.

I guess it's their version of the "drive through", like at McDonalds!

He, or she, wasn't too concerned about me and just went right back to breakfast after a quick glance at me.

I'm glad I had my phone in hand to capture that. We'd known that something was stripping the pepper plants, but hadn't caught them red-handed until now!

For years we've always said, "We live in a zoo", because of all the different animals that make their way through our yard at different times of the year. And today is no exception!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cookies and Friends

Oh the joy of being home for a few days!

Fall is always a busy season of travel for Dave and I, and honestly I really do enjoy it. But then I come home and remember how good it is to get to do normal things here.

Like bake!

We have friends from Norway visiting so it gave me a reason to find a new recipe to try out (yes, one of my favorite things to do with guests...go figure!).

This time it was these 'oh so delicious' chewy molasses spelt cookies from "Oh She Glows".

Spelt is an ancient grain that, while related to wheat, settles on some people's gluten-intolerant tummies ... like mine!

It's easy to find here in stores (I've never looked for it in the States so don't know how readily available, or not, it is). And while I don't use it regularly, it's a good substitute for me in baking when I do decide to use it. Finding a specific recipe that even calls for it is a bonus!

I loved being in my kitchen on this beautiful fall afternoon trying it out and preparing for our guests.

We had such a wonderful evening with our friends, Oivind and Linda, who head up a European church planting movement. Our hearts beat for the same kinds of things, like a movement of God across this whole region! 

What an amazing privilege to link together with so many like-hearted people to see God's Kingdom advanced during our lifetimes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Great Celebration

There are celebrations that you make time for in your life.

And then there are CELEBRATIONS that you MAKE TIME FOR!!

Tonight was the latter.  😄

Tonight the four of us who arrived in November 1993 to begin Josiah Venture, Dave and I, Dan and Laura Hash, celebrated 25 years of God's faithfulness and all He has done across Central and Eastern Europe to reach young people with the Gospel.

When we drove from Germany, where we had all previously served as missionaries, into the Czech Republic on that dark November night, we didn't know what life was going to be like in a day, a week, a month or a year! It was all a big unknown, but one that we knew God had called us to.

Little did we know the four of us would still be here twenty five years later!

Our sweet Claire stopped by the restaurant where we were celebrating tonight, to take some pictures to commemorate this significant moment.

She recreated our first team picture, minus Caleb, who was in the following picture, and three year old Tyler who was taking it!

That was our first team picture, taken amidst boxes yet unpacked at our house in Havirov, and amidst lives yet un-lived in the places God had called us to: Hash's to Poland, Patty's to the Czech Republic.

While we had a vision and a hope-filled plan, we really didn't know how it was going to unfold.

But God did!

The four of us were joined by Ken and Andrea Pitcher a few months later, and many more in the months and twenty five years after.

We all served in local churches, building model youth ministries, and praying like crazy that God would fulfill the vision He'd given: A movement of God among the youth of Central and Eastern Europe, that finds it home in the local church and transforms society.

And slowly momentum began to build.

We saw teenagers trust Christ. We had the privilege of baptizing them. We had one camp, then three, then seven...and then 1566 as of today!

We started training leaders.

We kept praying.

God did miracles.

And here we are twenty five years later.

Dave and I still serving the Lord in Czech.

Dan and Laura in Poland.

It has been the most amazing privilege for the four of us to be part of something so big, something that only God could do: raise up a whole team of people, 350 as of today, serving in 14 countries to evangelize, disciple and train the next generation to bring the Gospel to the youth of Central and Eastern Europe.

All we did was say "Yes" and go when He said, "Go". The rest of the story is HIS, and His alone.

Tonight we reminisced, told stories, laughed, and remembered the hard and the good, giving God glory for it all.

We also talked about what we still dream of in the future. Yes, we still have dreams, hopes and prayers for what's to come, and hope the Lord lets us see some of those miracles that are still in the making!

But for tonight, we soaked in the kindness, faithfulness and mercy of God, who has let us see what we've seen, and be part of what we've been part of. He is good, oh so good, and it's the greatest joy to walk with him through it all.

**Thank you Claire for stopping by tonight to take those photos for us! 
You were just an 'twinkle in our eye' when we moved here twenty five years ago, 
and yet now you're here too, serving alongside us in JV!! 
What joy that brings to our hearts, that all of our children, 
you, Tyler, Caleb and Jacob, 
are walking with the Lord 
and serving here now too.**