Sunday, January 30, 2011

All in a Day's Work

Shopping has been a full time job this week. In four days I counted up that we've shopped for over 40 hours.

But we're making great progress...someone must be praying!

I ended up having to extend my stay here to finish though...just couldn't get it all done by today, when I supposed to be leaving.

My dear husband and kids...they're kind enough to make it at home without me a few more days. I will fly on Wednesday, arrive home Thursday night. Then Dave leaves for two weeks to the States Friday morning. Sigh. Ships passing in the night!

While I love my adopted country in Czech, there is nothing like shopping in the States! Here are a few things I've really appreciated on my marathon shopping adventure:

  • "Yes, we can get that for you" - shop people are so helpful!
  • "No we don't have that item...but if you go down the street, turn left, and see the store on the corner, I think they'll have it" - sales people go out of their way to help you!
  • "Can I make a call on that for you?" - retail clerks go the extra mile to help you out
  • "Is there anything else I can help you with?" - sales associates bend over backwards to be of assistance
  • "You're doing this for a ministry? Let me take another 10% off for you" - salesmen are philanthropic, whether or not they are believers
Seriously...you have no idea what a joy it is to shop in the States. Not to mention that there seems to be a perpetual sale on everything!

Also, I can't say enough about my family who have endured this marathon with me. Yesterday, my brother, Mike, joined us for eight hours of shopping. Mom, dad and I were all starting to get a bit weary and bleary-eyed, so his fresh, upbeat perspective (and muscles for lifting things!) was much appreciated yesterday! It's been really special to share this experience with them.


We're getting close to the end of my list...hope to finish today in fact. Then tomorrow I start preparing things for shipment in the container...wrapping literally hundreds of items in bubble wrap to protect them all for the voyage across the ocean...that ought to be fun!
 
Above all, I hope that all the items we're shipping to Czech will be a blessing for years to come as people come to stay in the cabins at Malenovice. That it will create a warm environment where they will feel the presence of the Lord, be drawn into relationship with Him, and move forward in their spiritual journey.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Whirlwind shopping

Anyone who knows me knows I like to shop.

But these past three days have taken my shopping skills to a whole new level!

My mom, dad and I have literally shopped for 8-10 hours these past three days. Oh we do stop for a few minutes to eat now and then, and get coffee at Starbucks (my dad is so sweet to treat me each time!). But most of the time, we are driving from store to store, town to town, diligently shopping the aisles, and making lots of purchases for the cabins.

One of the big items on my list is furniture. In fact, it's one of the main reasons that I came to the States to do shopping. What you can get here in the US is so much more than what we can get in Czech for the same amount of money.

What I didn't realize though is that much of the good furniture has to be ordered. As we've gone from store to store, the answer is always "That'll be 6 weeks", or "You'll have to wait 8 weeks on that order". Not the answer I need since our container is due to ship in 2 weeks or so!

But...today, we hit the jackpot where furniture is concerned. We met Gia at Rife Furniture here in Eugene!


Gia is a "yes" person...a "make it happen" kind of girl. Just the sort of person I needed today... my new friend who was the answer to our prayers.

Working with us for several hours, she was able to put a rush on, and give us a great deal on a whole lot of furniture that is actually manufactured here in Oregon and will be ready in just two weeks! Praise the Lord! And THANK YOU GIA!!

I sure couldn't be doing all this work without my mom and dad, who are patiently hanging with me on this whirlwind shopping trip! My dad is especially patient as my mom and I run in to "just one more store". It's a good thing he brings his iPhone and a book to keep himself amused!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Always an Adventure

The last few days have been a little different than I expected...but then again, what's new! That's so often how life is!

Dave and I traveled together to the Krakow airport very early on Monday morning, where I dropped him off for his flight to Estonia, and then had three hours before I had to be back at the airport for my flight to the States. After heading to a mall in town to kill time, I got back to the airport, parked the car in the outer lot to save money (Dave's request!), lugged my suitcase into the airport and headed for the Lufthansa check-in counter.

When I handed over my passport so the ticket agent could look up my reservation, I had no idea what he was about to say.

"Ma'am, your flight has been cancelled. The plane never arrived from Munich. You'll need to go over to the Lufthansa office and have your ticket changed."

WHAT?? That was a bit of shocking news! I asked if there was another flight going today, to which he replied with a serious face, "You'll need to go over and be re-booked." Hmmm...didn't sound promising.

Long story short...there were no more flights out of Krakow that day. The agent worked with me for a half hour trying to find one but to no avail. The only option was to spend the night in Krakow and take another flight in the morning.

After getting my ticket re-issued, I lugged the suitcase all the way back to the outer parking lot, got the car and headed to the hotel where I did indeed spend the night, compliments of Lufthansa airlines. At least that part was nice (as was the voucher for food!).

I did get on the plane the next morning, and made it safely (after 26 hours of travel) to Portland, Oregon where my mom, dad and brother met me. After another two hour drive down to Eugene, I'm here in their house, having had a good night's sleep and now about to head out on my shopping adventure for the Malenovice cabins!

Life is definitely an adventure!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Malenovice Expansion


It's been almost ten years since Malenovice, our training center in Czech, was completed into its beautiful, renovated self back in August 2001.

Over the years, it has been a place of spiritual growth, enrichment, vitality and blessing as we've literally seen tens of thousands of people come through its doors.

Last year alone there were over 15,000 overnight stays!

These are young people who've been there for English camps, Christian leaders for training, JV staff for conferences, churches for week-end retreats, outreaches to the community, businessmen and non-profit groups for lectures and meetings, women's and men's week-ends, ski retreats for school groups...and the list goes on.

I have heard many Christians say through the years that Malenovice is a spiritual home to them. And it's been the place of many putting their faith in Christ. That makes my heart so happy!

This has truly been God's doing. He put His hand on this special location years ago and made it possible to purchase when all the odds were against us. Now that's a story I should tell someday!

But today there is something new going on at Malenovice. We are expanding the capacity by creating a small "village" down below the hotel. There are already two log cabins almost completed, with another one in the works right now. Eventually there will be a " log barn" for the meeting room, and a small lodge for dining and more housing.


When it's all complete, there will be another 80 beds, in addition to the 110 up at the hotel. We need this capacity "yesterday" as our spring conference for JV staff alone runs at 180+ people.

The additional space will also allow us to eventually run simultaneous events up at the hotel and down in the "village". We're excited about the potential to further God's Kingdom through this expansion.


The dollar is so weak in Czech right now that it makes more financial sense for us to buy all the furnishings in the States (even faucets and light fixtures!) and ship them over in a container, than to buy it all here.


And somebody has to make those purchases. So I'm taking a trip this Monday, heading to the States to do shopping for the new cabins.

Someone laughed at me when I said I needed supernatural shopping skills to do that in four days. But I'm telling you...to find everything, at the right prices, in those amount of days, I need some spiritual empowerment!!

 
I wish Paul had thought about adding "shopping" into his list of spiritual gifts...because I'm going to need that gift in the next few days!

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Driver

First smile, first steps, first day of school...first day with a driver's license??

Eighteen years happens so fast!

I took Caleb to the town hall at 6:50 this morning, where he met up with his driving instructor and three other students taking the test today. They all went in to the office where they took turns, having a half hour to sit at a computer and take the written portion of the test (which is all in Czech...maybe you knew that but just thought I'd let you know!).

At 8 AM he wrote to say he'd passed the written exam.

Next was on to meet with the town official, the komisaƙ (inspector), who took him through the mechanical portion of the test. A half hour later, he sent another text message saying he'd passed that part too! Now just the driving was left.

I was busy working on other things this morning, but listening for a text message the whole time, expecting to hear something fairly soon. But 9:00 passed, 10:00 passed and 11:00 passed! Yikes! I was starting to wonder!

Caleb's driving instructor said he'd for sure be finished around 11, so I drove down to the town hall to wait, even though I hadn't heard anything.

Another half hour passed...and I was really beginning to wonder!


But finally at 11:30, Caleb came driving into the parking lot. I watched him get out and give his instructor a thumbs up. Then I knew his verdict...success!!

Since I was there when they arrived, I was able to snap a photo of Caleb and his instructor (you know my love for pictures to capture the moment!).


We then drove off, with Caleb behind the wheel as an official license holding driver in the Czech Republic, and mom riding in the passenger seat taking pictures!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Celebrating Caleb


I woke up to an 18 year old in the house today!

Eighteen years ago in Schwetzingen, Germany, Caleb was born. We were living there during a transitional year between our ministry with OCSC/Malachi and Josiah Venture.

We'd moved back from our year in the States in November of '92 and then just two months later, Caleb arrived!

My mom came to be with us, and Dave's family lived there at the time...his mom and dad, sister and her family. So Caleb was surrounded by family and friends after his arrival...something that he still loves to this day, being close to family and friends!

We love his passion, his heart for God, his thirst for adventure, his joy in life, his wittiness and laughter, his musical abilities, his tenderness and kindness, his courage and boldness.

We are celebrating him today, thankful for the gift he is to our family!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Teaching at Selah

Last week, Tuesday through Thursday, Dave had the privilege of teaching some of our JV staff at Selah, our new JV retreat house here in the Beskydy Mountains.


Because many of you pray for us and stand with us in our ministry here, I thought you'd enjoy reading a letter that he received yesterday from someone who was there.

It blessed me to hear how God used that time in her life. And it blessed me knowing that these are the kinds of things that happen here thanks to your prayers and God's work in people's lives.


Dear Dave,

I don’t know even how to express what these last days meant to me. I have learnt so much, and the Holy Spirit was showing me the truth about myself. And I am not going to slide it between my fingers. But keep it in my heart and work on it!

Today I have a day of solitude and going through all the materials again, but from the morning God was showing me two things.

First was that it is such a privilege...when you are showing us all the books you read and so many years you’ve been working on this and you offered us your knowledge all in two days. I wanted to express my gratitude and I am honored to hear and learn everything you discovered and God showed you. 

I’ve been thinking that you and your family, you could decide you live anywhere in the world, like Uruguay. But you moved to Czech and we have this blessing to be taught by you. This just stopped me for a second and made me thank God.

And last thing for now is...you are such an opposition to the devil and all demonic forces that I nearly felt like you are in danger - so I decided to pray for you and your family especially for this thing.

Again, thanks to God for you and to you for willingness to be used.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Being a Mom

One of my great joys in life is being a mom.

I especially like these days of being a mom...long hours talking with my teenage/adult children, good times in the car on the way to and from school every day, being together in the kitchen while making food, sitting in front of the fireplace watching a movie together, sitting by their beds praying with them.

Oh...I haven't forgotten about the 2 AM feedings of long ago...or the fevers all through the nights...or the tears over painful things that I couldn't take away.

I loved being a mom then too. Holding, hugging, praying, loving, nurturing, disciplining...all part of the job that I loved.

Every now and then you get a sweet glimpse of what it means to your kids that you've been their mom, through thick and thin, in the good times and the hard ones.

At Christmas, Tyler gave me a gift...it was an actual "thing", but was accompanied by words that made the gift all the more special.

He'd bought me a Willow Tree angel...a mom and her son. When he showed it to Claire before Christmas, she told him that I have one just like it from Caleb (given to me one Mother's Day when he and I were in the States while he was sick).

Not to be discouraged, he decided to personalize the angel. With his artistic eye, he took some simple black paint and a brush and gave it some new life.

When I opened his gift on Christmas Day he gave these words with it: "You've always been a safe place for me...a place to "land" when I needed to. But you also gave me wings to fly and let me go without trying to hold me back. I know I can always return to that safe place...but I'm flying now and you are doing a good job of letting me do that."

I have SO wanted to be that kind of mom...one who loves and nurtures well, but one who also knows when to let go. I've tried to do that, even though it was hard. And I didn't know if I was doing it very successfully.


Tyler's words were such cool water to this mom's soul. I'm glad in his eyes, that I am that kind of a mom.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Morning Drive


Caleb was out of the house at 8:15 this Saturday morning, off to yet another round of driving for auto skola, driving school.

He turns 18 next Thursday so is working hard to get in all his hours so he can take the test on Friday and hopefully pass to get his Czech driver's license!

No one can have a license earlier than 18 here. And then, in order to get your license, you spend 2-3 months in driving school. First you're in the classroom, learning the rules of the road, first aid, and light car mechanics.

Then it's out on the road for a total of 30 hours of driving with an instructor. Caleb's instructor comes to pick him up at our house each time, which is convenient! They usually drive for an hour and a half, all over the valley and into nearby cities where we live.

Next Friday, Caleb goes at 7 AM to take the written exam. If he passes, he immediately goes with his instructor and an examiner for the driving portion. If/when he passes (which we're assuming he will!) he then waits three weeks for the license to be mailed to him.

That seems to be a crazy glitch in the system since you've worked so hard to remember everything right up to the exam...and then you have three weeks of no driving to potentially forget everything!

I'm excited to have Caleb driving on his own soon...one of those rights of passage that we've all been looking forward to!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Places

The hospital in Frydek...beauty salon in Poland...pediatrician in Frydlant...favorite cafe in Frydek...vet in Frydlant.

All places I've spent time in this week.

It all looks and feels so normal to me, you know? I've lived here 17 years now...and well, it's just normal! But every once in a while I step outside myself and think about what it looks like to someone who's never seen it.

Such as the waiting room in the "lung building" at the hospital...wish I'd had my camera while I was in the waiting room! The picture above is just around the corner, at the entrance to the hospital (Hospital=Nemocnice).

I spent almost two hours there today, waiting for Caleb to get some testing done regarding his asthma.

That waiting room was seriously no bigger than my guest bathroom...and it's not very big! The seats were hard as rocks, the walls were plastered with signs in Czech, saying everything from "Have you decided to quit smoking?" to "Hospital stays 60 Kc per day" (that's about $3!).

And there was a steady stream of interesting (and I mean that in the way you say "interesting" when you don't know how else to politely describe someone!) people wandering in and out, as well as an ambulance delivering people to their doctor appointments every 15 minutes or so (they do that here).

And it was normal. I read a book most of the time, hardly looking up, except when the thought crossed my mind about what it would look like if you were here seeing it!


Yesterday I was at the beauty salon in Poland, babysitting my friend's 8 month old daughter for three hours while she got her hair done.

I walked her in her stroller (think, big baby buggy) for an hour and a half, through the streets of Polsky Cieszyn while she napped.

Then I entertained her in the salon by wandering around looking at the nail artist lady working in the other room, the glamor photographer shooting in another, and the make-up artist room down the hall...yep, they're all in the salon along with the hairdressers.

We even visited the restroom...where there's a two person tub. Maybe that's normal where you live...I don't know.

Today I was in Frydek-Mistek, the bigger city (80,000 people) near where we live, having coffee and apple strudel with my friend, Sharon. It's the best strudel I've ever had...even if I can't eat the (glutenous) dough around it!



I always say I'm going there for coffee and "studel insides"! I happened to have my little camera with me but forgot to take one of the strudel, so here's our espresso...and yes, that's a "side" of whipped cream!

Earlier this week I was at the pediatrician with Claire. You don't make appointments with most doctors here. You just show up and keep track of who was there when you arrived so you know when it's your turn to go in.

I would say 99% of the time, people adhere to the "who was here first" unspoken rule. It took about 45 minutes to get in to see the doctor. Even though we arrived at 8 AM, which is when she opens, there were already 5 people ahead of us waiting to see her too.

Oh, and another thing about that waiting room, like most Czech waiting rooms? It's almost silent...whispers only, unless there's a baby making noise. Moms are always "shushing" their children to be quiet. This is a very quiet country!

No waiting line at the vet...not even much of a waiting room to speak of as you almost never have to wait to be seen. I love our vet. It's fast, it's easy, it's pleasant...for me anyway!

It's been a good week, doing normal things in normal places!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Good Friend Returned

More than twenty years ago, soon after we were married, Dave bought me a Bible and had my new name inscribed on it.

I was delighted! To see my married name on my Bible meant the world to me.


Time passed and that Bible became my friend...a well read, well worn, well written-in friend. There are so many observations, notes, personal thoughts, dates of when certain passages impacted me, or when I prayed a certain passage for someone, in that Bible.

But a year or so ago, it started to fall apart. First the maps came out, then the front pages, then finally, the Scriptures themselves started tearing out of the binding.

I was so torn. I loved this Bible, but I knew it wasn't going to last much longer and that really made me sad. The thought of parting with it was like thinking about losing a dear friend.

When we were in the States last summer I looked at other Bibles. But every time I imagined owning it, I just couldn't bear to think of losing twenty-plus valuable years of writing that was stored there.

I finally just put some typical gray duct tape on the binding (which looked really lovely against the green leather - ha!) and decided I'd make due until I could figure out what the next step should be.

Around the beginning of December, my Bible disappeared. I kept thinking it would show up, and honestly was a bit embarrassed that I'd misplaced it so never said anything to Dave. Instead, I just used other ones we had around. But I missed my own Bible.

After Christmas, I finally told Dave that I couldn't find it and was wondering if he had any ideas about it. He smiled and said, "Yes...I took it."



With the help of a friend, he had tracked down a professional book binder in Ostrava. She agreed to do it, but said it would take two months to finish as it's apparently a lot of work to completely rebind a book, especially of that size.

He also said that he was waiting for a proposal of what types of leather it could be bound in, and what the cost would be. So most likely it would be at least two months, if not more, before it was finished since he hadn't received that yet....and he was really sorry that I'd have to wait so long for it.

However, just a few days later, an e-mail came to him from the book binding woman. She gave him the cost of the re-binding and...sent a picture of my Bible...completed!

She said, "I could tell that the person who owned this book really loved it and was probably missing it. So I made time over the Christmas holiday and completed it for you."

That is one of the most meaningful things I've had said to me!! There are few compliments anyone could give me that would mean more...that she could tell how much I loved my Bible. It delights me every time I think about what she said!

So, these pictures are of my new/old friend...who I hope is even more well worn, well read, and well loved over the next twenty years.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Changes

I started to make some changes on my blog last week, which lead to even further changes this week! Funny how it works that way sometimes!

Not only is there a new look to the blog, but new pages have been added too. This is something I've been wanting to do for quite some time, but didn't know how to do.

After some research (one of my favorite activities as you'll read on the Favorites page!), figuring out the new look with Claire's help, and then doing a whole lot of writing to add pages, I'm finally ready to publish it in its new format!

This is probably not the last time there will be changes, but at least it's in a new form that I like and is motivating to write on!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Catching Up

Once Tyler got home for Christmas, my blogging went on hold! It was delightful to be a family of five again and we had lots of fun together while he was home for three weeks.

We'd planned to visit Vienna with my parents (who didn't get to come for Christmas due to my dad having a pacemaker put in the very day they were supposed to be flying), but the five of us went anyway, just three days before Christmas. I've never seen the Vienna Christmas markets and even on the last day they were open, December 23rd, they were beautiful and full of fun things to look at, buy and eat! We had such a good time there!











Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, New Look


I am not one of those people who moves furniture. I like it to stay in the same place (except for when I move a chair to put the Christmas tree in its place once a year!).

But...I do like a new look on my blog from time to time! Since Tyler's still home (he leaves to head back to Moody on Friday), he sat with me and looked through backgrounds and did a little tweaking here and there on my blog to give it a new look. I'll give it a try and see if it works!

There are other changes I'm wanting to make at the beginning of this new year...organizational changes in my office, purging of books on my bookshelf to make way for new ones, tidying up of drawers that are stuffed to overflowing, cleaning out the frig from the holiday's leftover food (which I did this afternoon!).

But there are internal changes I'm thinking about too...not ones that I want to write about yet. But they're on my heart and I'm praying for the Lord to do His work in me in 2011.

What changes are you hoping for in your life?