Tuesday, March 28, 2017

30th Anniversary Day

Today, on our thirtieth wedding anniversary, we took a five kilometer morning walk.

Along the boardwalk of Tel Aviv, Israel!

Yes, we're back in Israel after having just been here three weeks ago. We didn't come to celebrate our anniversary, though this would've been a great place to do that! Instead, we have the joy and privilege of being here to lead another tour of the Holy Land.

We flew in a day early so that we'd be here in time to meet the group coming in from the States. Since they were arriving in the afternoon, we had the morning to take a walk to Old Jaffa, somewhere that we've never been before.

See Acts 9 and 10 as one of the places where the Bible talks about this place!

Spring has fully arrived here in Israel, which made it THE most delightful walk along the sea as we made yet another memory to celebrate the actual day of our wedding thirty years ago.

You'll forgive one more picture of the bride and groom today, won't you?! I sure do love this amazing man, and enjoy all of our adventures together!

We had one more special event today, before meeting up with our group from the States.

Many years ago, we met these dear friends at our mutual home church in Illinois. They are Israeli believers, and missionaries in their own country. Oh what a beautiful testimony they have, and what amazing work they're doing to share Christ with their fellow Jews. It was such a joy to share a meal with them and catch up this afternoon.

We then headed to the airport to meet up with our group. I loved standing in the arrival area, listening to Jewish children call out to their "Abba" (daddy!) as we all passed the time before everyone arrived!

Before we knew it, the group made it through and we headed to our bus to begin our journey to Tiberius at the Sea of Galilee!

We'll be with this group of amazing teachers from Jackson, Wyoming for the next eight days. Dave will teach from two perspectives: a personal dimension about how to go from being a follower of Jesus to a disciple; and a professional dimension about how to teach like Jesus.

It's going to be an incredible week here in Israel, again walking where Jesus walked, and thinking about his life from these perspectives!

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Little Bit of Paradise

Thirty years ago, we made our way across Austria, west to east, skiing in several locations.

When I think back to those days, I almost can't believe I did that on our honeymoon! Maybe it shows how much I loved my new husband, that I was willing to join him in one of his all time favorite activities!

Well, I love this husband more now than I did then. So much so that I encouraged him to ski on this trip, as we celebrate that joyous event all those years ago.

But this time, I let him go by himself!

Oh, but don't think I didn't head up to the top of the slopes with him! No way would I miss out on another adventure together.

At the top of this ski area, which is open for its very last day of the season, Dave tucked me in at this darling restaurant where I could read, write and soak in the gorgeous scenery.

Oh yeah. And enjoy famous Austrian "apfel strudel" and cappuccino while he makes his way out to the slopes!

He came in to check on me every few runs, and I was happy to tell him that I was more than fine, and say, "Enjoy yourself on the slopes, even if they're foggy!"

While he's in his little bit of paradise...

I'm in mine!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Anniversary on the Zugspitze

A number of people have asked me if I was preparing a special gift for Dave to celebrate our 30th anniversary. They've also asked me if I knew what Dave was preparing for me.

In answer to those questions I said, "While we both enjoy gifts to and from each other, what we like even more is doing something together."

So this anniversary week-end is all about creating some new memories and having a great experience with each other.

And one of those experiences is going to the top of this mountain!

The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany, 2,962 meters above sea level - that's 9718 feet!

It sits right on the border of Germany and Austria, and you can get to the top from either side. We chose to go up on the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn. And oh wow!!! What a ride up to the top!

I was both giddy, and a little sick to my stomach, as we gained a whole lot of altitude in the bahn car that holds 100 people, and reaches the top in just seven minutes.

The giddiness won over the sick feeling! It was absolutely spectacular being at what felt like the top of the world!

You have a 360 degree view from this unbelievable engineering feat that allows you to be at the top.

While it is starting to feel like spring in the valley, it's definitely still winter up here.

There were still hundreds, if not thousands, up here skiing on this amazingly beautiful day.

While Dave wouldn't have minded skiing (and in fact, has skied there before I even knew him!), I was content to walk everywhere around the top, soaking in the spectacular view.

And yes, that's me with my arms outstretched, marveling at God's creation!

On the top we walked into Germany.

And back into Austria!

We walked over to the far side and saw the marker that is actually the top of the Zugspitze, loving the fact that it was such a clear day and we could see for so far in the distance.

To say this adventure to the top of the Zugspitze was a highlight is an understatement! I've driven by here many times over the years, but never had the joy of going to the top. And now I have!

As we traveled back down in the bahn car, I was still pinching myself that it was all real.

All of God's creation is amazing and spectacular in its own way. But this. Wow. This part of his world kind of got an extra dose of "amazingness"!

My heart rejoices in the Lord most High, who made it all.

Ended the day on this bench, praising God for 30 years of marriage and the loveliness of his creation!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Finding Berwang

Dave and I left the GYI conference in Prague to get away for a very special week-end together.

We are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in Austria!

Months ago when we began thinking about where we should celebrate this special occasion (how are we old enough to have already been married thirty years??!!) we ended up deciding to return to the area of Austria where we honeymooned all those years ago.

And specifically, we knew we wanted to return to this quaint Austrian village.

Thirty years ago, we didn't have internet, mobile phones, or GPS. Nor did we use a travel agent to find places to stay. Instead we did it the way that was always done before: travel the roads and look for a place!

And that's how we ended up here for three days.

We both had memories and vivid pictures of what it looked like here, but had never returned in all these years. So we thought it would be fun to come back and try to find the place where we stayed.

Which turned out to be easier said than done! We only have one picture of our time there (back then I wasn't in the habit of picture taking yet) but didn't have it with us. So we parked and set off to walk around the town in search of the place we both thought we remembered.

After quite a walk, we finally found it!

We'd walked by it several times, but neither of us remembered it being named "Hotel Axx". We're funny...but we both knew we most likely wouldn't have chosen a place with that name!

However, after walking all over town and not finding anything else that looked like we remembered, we inquired back inside this hotel. The man working there told us it was sold five years ago and renamed. He showed us the original key fobs with the name "Hotel Rose" and finally we knew we were in the right spot!

It was just SO much fun to be back in this place after thirty years of life since then: ministry in Germany, a move to the Czech Republic, starting Josiah Venture, three children, and a whole lot more of life since then!

We're still as crazy about each other...no, probably even MORE so than we were thirty years ago!

What an amazing adventure it's been since we started our married life. And HOW VERY GOOD our heavenly Father has been to us all these years!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

GYI in the Prayer Room

For our last day of the Global Youth Initiative conference, we were give three options of how to spend the morning: in a high school English class, at the Jewish quarter of Prague, or the Strahov Monastery library.

Yes, I chose the monastery, which also included one last view overlooking Prague. Even on a cloudy day, it's still beautiful!

Martina and I were the only girls to go with the group of GYI guys!

What a blessing this dear friend is. She serves on the international JV team as the conference coordinator, which includes events like this one. She cared for SO many details along the way, making the trip smooth and uneventful both at Malenovice, and on our tour as well. Thanks Martina!

The group gathered for one last hour together in order to finish our time in the Josiah Venture Prayer Room.

What a powerful hour, hearing people from all over the world pray out loud for our JV team!

I so deeply appreciated their enthusiasm and earnestness in prayer, asking God to move mountains, tear down walls, and change lives here in Central and Eastern Europe.

It was a fitting end with this group of godly men and women who are praying for the same things in their corners of the world: Africa, Asia, South America, North America and Europe. It's a privilege to partner and join with them in asking God for a movement among young people throughout the entire world.

If you have yet to join us online in the Prayer Room, I invite you to come "Join the Watch" for God's movement in our part of the world!

You can click here:

Josiah Venture's Online Prayer Room