Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tyler's Turns 17

This summer is going by much too quickly...is that how it always is?!

One of the fun parts of our summer was celebrating Tyler's 17th birthday on the 20th of July. I am also thinking that time has passed much too quickly since his birthday in Germany that many years ago! That was the summer that Dave took his first trip into Eastern Europe to do a mission's trip with our American high school students...it was 1
990, the first summer that the walls were down. While he was gone I was in the hospital with premature labor, not knowing if the baby would come while Dave was gone or not! And those were the days of no cell phones so there was no way to be in contact...ahh, those early missionary days!

Well thankfully Tyler held off so his dad could be there for the birth, though he did arrive a whole month earlier than his due date. But all was well and he's grown up just fine all these 17 years!

We celebrated his 17th birthday by driving to Brno, two hours away, to see the fifth Harry Potter movie in English...that was his choice for the day! It was a great movie and a fun time to be together as a family to celebrate. We really love being with our kids!

Tyler's special gift was a laptop computer (with help from mom and dad...thanks!!) so he's been spending some hours getting to know it these past days. He keeps saying he's going to blog...he's got a lot to catch up on! But for right now he's got other things going. Hopefully he'll post before we leave on vacation next week!

Speaking of leaving...Dave and I leave at 4 AM to head to the train to Prague, and then by plane on to Tallin, Estonia where we'll meet up with some of our JV missionaries who live in Estonia. They are following God's lead and moving on from JV after five years of faithful service. Dave and I are headed up to say good-bye. We'll be back on Friday!

There is lots more to tell about from the summer but this will have to do for now!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Full Circle Perspective

I love how every once in a while you get to figuratively climb up to a higher elevation and look down at life from God's perspective. He let me do that several times in the past few weeks and it was a lot of fun!

The first one happened at our church here in Frydlant a few weeks ago. We had an outdoor service at the Farmhouse that Malenovice bought last year, located just below the hotel near our sports fields. It was a barbecue, get-together with an American work team, and a church service, all wrapped into one. There were a lot of people there including some that I didn't know.

After the service a girl came u
p to me and started to say, "I don't know if you know me but..." when all of a sudden I recognized her! Just a few months after we moved to the Czech Republic in 1993, Mirka came to be a part of a Bible study I led for three young believers. She was a student at the high school where Dave was teaching, and a friend of 16 year old Lucie who was living with us as a language helper. Lucie invited Mirka and she came faithfully to meet with me and the others through the end of the school year.

I lost contact with her after she graduated, but did run into her five years ago at a wedding. She had just gotten married herself and was still walking with God. And now, here she was at our church (they were vacationing in the area so came for the service) with not only her husband, but her two children as well...one
named Klarka, the Czech version of Claire's name! It was delightful to talk with her and hear a little more of her spiritual journey which has continued all these years. She and her husband serve in their church and are faithfully loving God and following Him.

The second one happened just this past week while Dave and I were up at the hotel for the training of American church youth groups who have come to partner with Czech churches for English camp. It was the last night of training and Dave was up there to give the JV story. Just as the program started, Irena walked into the room. Irena is another one of the girls that God gave me the opportunity to disciple in our early years in Czech. In fact, she was with us at the very first English camp that we did in 1994!

Today, Irena is an English tea
cher at a high school in Prague, and has done more camps than I can even count! There hasn't been a year go by since that first English camp that she hasn't been involved in at least one camp per summer, often more. She has given her life to sharing the Gospel (talk about an effective little evangelist!) and to working with young people. I adore Irena - she brings me so much joy when we run into each other!

The last "perspective" that God gave me was at that same training event. Another gal came up to Dave and I with the words, "I don't know if you know me but..." And when she said her name I couldn't help but give her a huge hug! You see, we've known this now 17 year old girl since she was just 18 months old!

The year Dave and I went to Wheaton College, we lived in some wonderful housing called "Missionary Furlough Homes". Next door to us was the Moreau family, just back from Kenya having worked with Campus Crusade there. While her husband taught at Wheaton that year, and Dave studied there, we spent many an hour together with our four young children - her three little girls, and my one year old Tyler. Anna, the now 17 year old, was 18 months old when we first met, just a few months older than Tyler. And now, here she is at Malenovice for training with her youth group before heading off to do English camp! Can you say...Full Circle?!

What's funny about having Anna here is that it reminded me of the very first time I ever told someone that we might be going to Eastern Europe...it was Anna's mom, Emily, that I told, as we sat out on picnic tables in front of our homes, watching our little kids play in the grass. And now, her daughter (and I might add, another one of her daughters has already been here for the past two years also doing English camps!) is here in Eastern Europe serving with us.

That's perspective!

English Camp for Frydlant

I'm sure Tyler is going to write about camp on his blog soon so click on the link to the right for his blog and read about camp from his perspective. B
ut for now, I just want to add a few things from my perspective of their camp.

First of all, we have some of the best youthleaders around leading the young people here in Frydlant. I am so grateful for them that I want to share a little bit about each one.

Bogdan, our youth pastor, has a unique gift for loving and reaching out to young people. He's got a big heart for the Lord and a great love for people - what a great combination for working with youth! He and his wife, Martina, regularly open their lives and home to the youth group and do an awesome job of living out the Gospel in front of them. He also leads worship
for our church and has given Tyler and Caleb great input and encouragement as they've come into the worship team over the past few years. We are thankful for Bogdan's work in our midst!

Mark, a JV missionary who has been here in Czech for years, is also doing an awesome job of reaching out to young people and discipling believers. Tyler has been in a small group with Mark for the past two years and it has made such a difference in Tyler's life. Mark is full of wisdom, love for the Lord, and a very faithful walk with Him. We appreciate Mark tons. He's heading back to the States for a year of school in September and we're going to miss him like crazy.

Katka first came into our lives in Havirov over ten years ago. She came to an English camp with a friend and then trusted Christ the next year at camp. Since then she has been a regular and much loved guest in our home, a great babysitter for the kids when they were younger, a trusted prayer partner and friend of mine over the years, and for the past three years, a JV missionary here! And now this past year she had Claire in a small group Bible study! It means the world to me to see how our relationship has come full circle...from discipling her to her now discipling my daughter. Very cool!

With these people leading camp, it was a very significant time for everyone who was there - non-believers and believers. They did a great job of reaching out in love to those who don't yet know Christ, and encouraging and coming alongside those who do. I admire and appreciate their servant hearts and willingness to go the distance with these kids...it takes perseverance and patience to do so! But they did and there were great results because of how God used them.

One young man fully put his faith in Christ and wants to walk with God now. Others were engaged in discussions about spiritual things and want to continue those discussions. The ministry team, made up of Czech and American young people who live here in Frydlant, did a nearly 48-hour unbroken prayer chain during the camp - a significant step for many, especially as they got up in the middle of the night to take their turn at praying.

In all, it was an amazing week at camp - a week that will not s
oon be forgotten by any who were there. We praise God for all that He did and is going to continue to do right here in our midst!

Tyler and Caleb leading worship at camp!

Summer Trip to Prague

Just wanting to remember a special time with Claire. We laughed, we walked, we talked, we s
hopped. What fun to be together!

On Friday night after his conference, Dave met us at the movie theatre for the late showing of Shrek 3 in English. Saturday morning we took the tram into Prague to have Egg McMuffins at McDonalds!
It's great to build memories on the simplest of things!

On the Charles Bridge...probably one of the most photographed spots in Prague!

On the tram - great way to travel in the city!

Late night snack at KFC after the movie - it's nearly midnight!

Breakfast at McD's - complete with tablecloth and flowers!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Knee High By the 4th of July

Claire and I have been planning this blog entry for about a month now!
One day in early June when we were driving back from school through the cornfields near our house, I commented on how Czech corn was not growing according to the little rhyme I learned when I was little…“Knee high by the 4th of July”. It was already knee high in early June!
So from then on we started carefully watching how fast the corn was growing, waiting for the 4th of July to see how big it actually was on that day. And today was the day for checking it!
Unfortunately, this isn’t sweet corn…they don’t grow it here. This corn will end up in the mouths of farm animals for the most part. If you want sweet corn on the cob you have to go to Tesco, the big grocery store in the city nearby, and buy it in the frozen food section! It’s not very tasty - kind of mushy in fact. We’ve only have it once…that was enough.
So on this 4th of July we won’t be having corn on the cob…sniff sniff. But we are grilling hamburgers and thanking God for our good country - Happy Birthday America!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Celebrating Exit 316

Monday last week marked the end of the season for Exit316 - 41 episodes shown over a ten month period, with two more that will be aired in the Fall to round it out to 43 episodes. This represents a WHOLE LOT OF WORK by a whole lot of people.

But the impact has been great! With viewership at around 150,000-200,000 each week,
many people here in Czech saw God's Truth displayed in a contemporary and compelling fashion. There were over 230 small groups across the country that met each week to discuss the episodes, and we know of many decisions for Christ as a result of this.

So this called for a party! On Saturday the main team who wrote, directed and produced Exit316 came to our house for an afternoon and evening of celebration. We played, ate, talked, laughed and enjoyed time with each other. But also took time to talk about the impa
ct of Exit, as well as to honor and thank each person who worked so hard on it this year.

And...to talk about what's next. Czech Television has asked us for another season of episodes in 2008-09 so the team is praying, thinking and brainstorming about what it could/should be. Pray with us please! This is a strategic opportunity to impact this country for Christ. But we know that it will only have impact if the Lord is behind it. So we're waiting on Him to know the plan.

P.S. I don't know why that last paragraph ended up being bold...I keep trying to change it in the editing feature on Blogger and it won't change! So maybe it needs to be bold because it's the most important part of this post!

Last Day of School

Hooray! The end of school has finally arrived! School finished on Friday, the 29th of June. While it's been an excellent school year for all three kids, we were ready for some summer vacation. There were days last week when it felt like it would never get here...but it did and we're happy about that!

This was Tyler's 12th year of school here, counting kindergarten, Caleb's 10th year, and Claire's 9th year. That's a lot of school done in another language! I am really proud of them for what they have accomplished...good grades, good friends, good attitudes.

Yesterday I was talking with one of the teachers, who is a Christian, and goes to our church. She told me that in teacher's meetings at school the topic of our kids and the other American kids who attend the school (6 others, all from Christian families) often comes up - they are amazed at how respectful and obedient our kids are. She says they often say, "Those parents must be doing something right". I'm glad we have such a good testimony at the school!

Tyler's Art

For the past yea
r Tyler has been in an art class in town at the request of his art teacher from high school. She teaches an advanced art class for students that she feels have potential to excel as artists.

All yea
r I've been hearing about his projects, and seeing a few photos taken on his little camera on his phone, but I had no idea the extent of his skill until I went with him to an exhibition last week. I was amazed! He has a gift and talent for art that most definitely came from the Lord as Dave and I don't have it!

The picture below was drawn from a photo taken last year on our vacation. It's Dave and our good friend, Mel, standing at the border of some country...can't even remember which one! But Tyler took the photo and adapted it in a particular art form - pastels on wrinkly cardboard paper...how's that for a description! Anyway, it turned out so cool! There are more projects that he did but this is all I'll put in here for now.

I'm thankful for the gift that God has given him for artistic creation!