Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Extended iTeam Days

A winter chill is definitely in the air these days!

But up at Malenovice, on the top floor in the "Malý sál" of our training center, it's nice and warm on this day of an extended meeting with our iTeam (those who serve the JV team here in Europe).

And Dave's in his happy spot!

Every week our team meets for an hour and a half of Bible study, updates and prayer.

But once a month we are now getting together for an extended meeting, lasting all morning, for more in depth training on a variety of things that will help us be more effective and fruitful in our ministries.

Today Dave led us through something called the "Logic Model", which is a way of helping you to focus on the outcomes of your programs. It actually helps you think backwards, from impact to outcomes to output, then to activity and input. Many people start at input and end with impact.

If it sounds confusing, it was...at first! But the more hours we talked about it, using real life examples, the clearer and more helpful it became! I'll definitely be thinking about this in my areas of ministry that I work in.

It was also so fun to see Dave teach it! Most of the time I hear him teaching biblical truths. But he's also really good at teaching strategy and leadership! So I found something new to be thankful for in him today: his mind that not only thinks about these kinds of things, but is able to teach it to others.

Like me, Amy and Claire, who don't always think in these kinds of paradigms!

Even though these things don't come naturally to me, I never want to stop learning! So I'm thankful that we're now regularly getting these kinds of input at our iTeam meetings!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

All is Well

After a wonderful morning at church here in Frydlant, then lunch with Claire in Malenovice, I came down our road, parked and walked out on the driveway to stand there.

Why?? To take in the first snow of the year!

Little tiny flakes had just started falling in that moment and it felt magical!

Oh I know, I might not be saying that a few months from now if this happens to be a big snow year.

But it made for just about a perfect wintry November afternoon to see those flakes coming down outside....

And to be tucked away inside, cozy by the fire with some dear friends over for the afternoon to talk and pray.

It was one of those "all is well in the world" (at least for this moment!) kinds of afternoons.

And with this being the week of Thanksgiving, I especially noted how thankful I was for these things today.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Special Day at Cattaleya

Up in the hills of the Beskydy Mountains, above the village of Čeladná where Claire lives, is a pretty boutique hotel, spa and restaurant. 

On this first icy morning of the fall, I came to Cattaleya, a place I've visited before, but never for the reason I'm here today.

I've been here to the restaurant for breakfast several times, enjoying the magical feel of being tucked away up in the woods.

But today I'm here for a very special wedding!

Claire's seat-mate during her high school years, is getting married, and Claire has the joy of being her maid of honor today!

After a morning and afternoon of preparations, we gathered in this cozy room at the hotel where Dave gave the wedding message and led Kristy and Kuba in their wedding vows to each other.

These iPhone photos are "borrowed" from Pavla, Claire's housemate and a friend of the bride who came to do her hair and make-up.

That's because I had the honor of shooting my first wedding as the photographer!

Having only taken photos as a guest, and usually with my phone, this was a whole new experience, trying to capture loving expressions and tender moments on camera. You only get one try as a wedding photographer!

Claire is going to edit those photos (I SO hope there are some that turned out!), and was able to take photos of them afterward too.

I was happy to give the camera back to her!

Kuba and Kristy's story is a beautiful one of God's redemption in their lives. He brought both of them to Himself at different times, and has been writing their story for quite a while.

It was so lovely to watch them become husband and wife today, and I am full of expectant anticipation about what God has ahead for them.

And what a sweet day to be here for this beautiful occasion with Dave and Claire!

It's a joy to share these kinds of sweet events with these two!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Facelifts in Prague

Prague was looking her finest today!!

The temperature had dropped significantly when we woke up this morning, making it a brisk yet invigorating walk to Dave's meeting.

I seriously don't mind passing these kinds of sights while walking through Prague though!

After his meeting, before the next one, we headed over towards the National Museum which stands at the top of Václavské náměstí (or known in English as Wenceslas Square).

Founded in 1818, it houses almost 14 million items from the area of natural history, history, arts, music and librarianship, located in dozens of buildings!

But the most significant thing about it today is it just finished getting a serious facelift, inside and out, after having been closed since July 2011.

It just re-opened on October 28, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak state.

Dave and I were hoping to go inside, until we got there and saw the line of people waiting to get in.

I've heard that there have been record breaking lines of visitors, anxious to see it for the first time in many years.

But today we had to settle for a glimpse of its beauty from the outside.

Just in case you're interested, the National Museum can be viewed online right now! Through Google Arts and Culture, they've made certain parts of the exhibit available so that we can explore things related to the Czechoslovak century including prints, photos, artifacts, fashion, and more.

I've looked through some of the pages and it's fascinating...if you like Czech/Slovak history! I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the museum someday when we're back in Prague.

Heading to our next appointment, we took the long way, walking through Old Town Square.

Thanks to the recent 100th birthday of the founding of Czech, there has been even more "spiffing up" around Prague recently. The beautiful astronomical clock has also had a gorgeous facelift.

And there are crowds of people here to enjoy it right now!

I'm glad so many people are discovering and enjoying the beauty of Prague! In my very humble opinion, it's one of Europe's most magnificent cities.

It doesn't matter how many times I visit. Each time I walk away with a fresh appreciation for this wonderful adopted country we love and live in.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Morning at Schönbrunn

On what some say is the last day of this beautiful fall we've been having, I got to walk the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna this morning. 

In all the years I've lived in Europe, I had never walked the grounds of Schönbrunn (one of the most famous sites, for sure in Austria, if not all of Europe) until last year!

I'd been in there for a concert years ago, but never saw the back of the palace, which leads to the unbelievably beautiful grounds.

It happens that the doctor I've been seeing this past year has her office just a few blocks from here, so I finally was near enough to start visiting it after my appointments.

Every time I come, it refreshes me, no matter what season!

While most of the beautiful flower gardens are bedded down for winter, many of the roses bushes that fill various plots and cover trellises throughout the grounds, are still blooming!

It won't be for long though as the weather forecasts predicts a drastic drop in temperatures tomorrow.

Bring on the holly and berries for Christmas season!

While some trees have already shed their leaves, there are others that are still clinging to fall. And how magnificent their late autumn clothing is!

Can you see the carpet of yellow leaves around the tree? SO amazing!

Amy and I strolled through the gardens, taking in their loveliness before needing to head downtown Vienna to catch our trains back to Czech.

We rode one train for an hour together, and then I said goodbye to her and got off to wait for another one. Then I began a trip north.

I giggled to myself over the next four hours, watching a group of four German men across from me,  hilariously play cards the entire time, laughing until they were crying at times!

And they drank beer. They each had their own carriers (see the insulated bag at the one guy's feet?), and drank six each from their own stashes and then ordered two more each from the onboard restaurant.

They were sure a jolly bunch (and not drunk, just jolly!). I sure wonder who they were and where they were headed!

They didn't get off in Prague like me, and were still playing another round of cards as I got up to leave.

Dave had meetings today in Prague after being in Germany this week, so I came back here to meet him. Though we'd only been apart 36 hours, it is so very nice to be together again!