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 up 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 teacher 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.