Sunday, August 28, 2011

Three Weeks

We arrived home last night from three weeks in Croatia, enjoying vacation days as well as our week at JV Kid's camp.

 What a gift to experience each day there.

There were so many highlights, ones I hope to write about in the coming days.

But definitely one of them was sharing our days with sweet little Kaylie! She had no idea what vacation with her new family a two-hour hike up a steep mountain one evening!

But she took it all in stride and was a wonderful addition to vacation and camp!

Monday, August 22, 2011

JV Kid's Camp

With the sea behind me as I sit here writing, I am at our JV Kid's Camp near Zadar, Croatia.

Writing from my new iPad, a very special gift from Dave for my 50th birthday just a few days ago, I am trying to figure out how to blog from a new program. It doesn't work quite the same as my computer so I am in that learning curve of trying to figure it out!

I have many photos and lots of things to write about, but this is my third attempt to write and publish...already lost two posts by hitting the wrong button! So I am going to try to publish again...I think I figured it out but who knows if it really will! I want to get a successful one done and then will feel more confident about writing.

It's fun though! And I bless my husband for introducing me to new technology! :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

From Croatia

When Dave first suggested that we vacation in Croatia, I wasn't very excited.

The Croatian War of Independence had only ended in 1995, and it was the spring of '97 when Dave brought up the idea of vacationing there. With Tyler, Caleb and Claire being just 2, 4 and 6 at the time, I had a hard time imagining that we'd find anything to do in a country so recently at war, not to mention that I didn't really know if it was stable enough to bring children to.

If it had not been for a Czech friend of ours who was leading tours down to the island of Krk in Croatia that summer, I probably would not have had the courage to least not then.

But oh how glad I am that I did!!

This beautiful country is truly a paradise and has been a restful vacation haven for us since that first summer in 1997. We've only vacationed in three other places over the past fifteen years...all our other vacations have been here in Croatia!

It's hard to say exactly what it is that I love here...perhaps it's the contrast to where we live, which is also beautiful. But it's just so good to leave the beauty of the mountains for the beauty of the Adriatic sea. It fills up something inside me to be here in the warm sunshine, smelling the scent of pine and rosemary in the air, seeing the sparkling blue of the sea from our tent, enjoying it all with family and friends.

Not to mention that the best ice cream in the world is here too! :)

More photos to come later when it doesn't take so long to load them! I'm thankful to have some internet here in the campground...but it doesn't really like loading photos!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Fusion Camp

Although we're in the midst of packing to leave tomorrow, we took this afternoon and evening to drive a few hours from here to see the closing concert of a Fusion camp, the music ministry of JV.

Truly...I hardly have words to describe what it was like to be there.

Terry and Hana English, JV missionaries (he's British, she's Czech - read about them here!) head up this amazing music ministry - one of the four "highways" that we use to reach young people with the Gospel (English camps, media, music and sports are the four highways...and this is the only picture I could find of's tiny, but at least you can see their faces!)

"Fusion" is a means to reach out to un-churched youth through rock/gospel choirs and performing art groups. There is nothing like this in the schools here so it's a unique niche to reach a unique group of students.

At week long camps, students learn to play keyboard, guitar, bass, drums, as well as participate in photography, drama and dance workshops. Each evening, like at our English camps, they have a program where the Gospel is shared through a series of talks, and kids have an opportunity to share their thoughts and ask questions in discussion groups afterward, with believers who lead the groups.

The camp ends with a concert for parents and people in the community. That's what we went to this afternoon. And let me tell've never seen anything like this! It's just beyond words...especially tonight as it's fresh in my mind. All I can say was a powerful, moving experience.

But...the very best part of it is that THIRTEEN young people trusted Christ at this camp!!! And around 25 made commitments to walk more closely with God!! This is astounding in our part of the world.

We are PRAISING GOD for his movement in the hearts of young people here in Czech!

And praising Him for a few other things is a dear Romanian girl, Mirela, that I met while at a girl's conference that Amy, Laura and I spoke at last September. I wish I had time to tell you her story, how she got to this's one of those "only God" stories. But I just want to say...I have never been so moved by someone who plays the drums...this girl has so much passion for Christ and it comes out so beautifully as she plays! I can't help but wonder what God has in store for her as she uses her gifts for Him.

We're also thankful that Caleb could be a part of this camp. He taught the bass guitar class, among other things at camp, and had the opportunity to dive into the lives of some Czech guys...this being one of them.

And we're so thankful for the team that one of our supporting churches sent: Christ Community in Batavia, IL. Wish I had a picture of the team, but they were all busy after the concert, saying their good-byes and loving on people one last time. THANK YOU CCC team!!!

Our hearts are full tonight as this summer's camps have come to a close. We're so thankful for all those who came to serve here this summer, and for all the lives that were changed for eternity.

Living here in the midst of what God is doing among this young generation is such a privilege!!

And now we're off on vacation! Not sure when I'll get to post again...we'll be camping for ten days, and then at JV Kid's camp for a week. Lots of happy days in front of us!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Packing Mode

After a full week of ministry and life, we're in vacation packing mode today!

Ever since Claire was just two years old, we've spent our vacations camping. Out of the past fifteen years, twelve of those camping trips have been in Croatia!

I remember the first year we decided to go,  I had no idea what I was doing. I packed a little bit of food, some plates and utensils, and a tiny grill...we didn't even bring a table! What was I thinking?? We ate on the little table inside our vans, in shifts....watching all different nationalities around us camping in their styles. I think we looked pretty funny to all of them! :)

But we had an amazing time together. Those are some of our happiest family memories! It was just what we needed then...and still is what we need today.

I do bring a few more things on vacation now (ha! That's an understatement!), and we've vacationed with two other families for the past nine years, which makes us all happy!

Just about every year we've been on vacation during my birthday, which I really like. And this year I get to celebrate my 50th birthday in my beloved Croatia...truly one of my favorite and happiest places on earth!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Friend, Pam

One of the greatest blessings of my life are the wise, godly people God has used to impact me.

While we were in Portland in June, I got to spend two different occasions with one of those dear people.

I met Pam Reeve in 1985 when she was dean of women at Multnomah School of the Bible (now called Multnomah University). Though I was attending the school, I didn't meet her as a student.

I met her as the cleaning lady. My on-campus job was to clean the administrative offices each evening after the professors and office personnel went home. But Pam never left on time! I'd wait to clean her office last, giving her a chance to finish her work...but inevitably, she was still there when I came into clean.

As I tried to clean while she was still at her desk, she would engage me in conversation...and soon, our relationship became more than just the dean and the cleaning lady. How precious those minutes (that sometimes turned into hours) were to me then.

Our friendship has now spanned 26 years, and she is still a very dear woman in my life, who has spoken deep words of meaningful encouragement to me on many occasions., even here in Czech when she came to visit some years ago. 

At 94 (or is it 95? I can never remember...she's ageless to me!), she is one of the spriest, wittiest, and most importantly, godliest, women I know. I am deeply privileged and thankful to call her a friend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Long Overdue

 Back in June we had the privilege of getting away with our Patty family to Sunriver, Oregon.

Being together for a week every three years is a little piece of heaven for us!

And a lot of fun and laughter too! I love that mom and dad join in on the fun too!

And there's always the in-law picture...we have a good time together!

It's hard to believe how much all our girls have grown since last family reunion...what a beautiful group of young ladies!

The only thing wrong with family reunion was the two missing family members...Tyler and Justin, who were/are in Czech serving with JV this summer. We missed you!

But the cousins still managed to have a pretty good time! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, Malenovice (our JV conference center and hotel) went from looking like this... this!

And ten years ago today, the newly renovated Malenovice opened for its first conference.

Domanada, a foundation in the States, held a reunion for a group of Eastern European leaders who had attended the Wheaton summer program.

And ten years later, they're back having another conference for more Eastern European leaders.

Ten years ago, Dave and I led worship at that first conference.

And ten years later, we're leading it again! We don't do this very often these days (though we used to do it a lot in years past) but it's special to be doing it for this group.

Ten years ago, Claire was just six years old.

This year, at 16, she's running the PowerPoint presentation for us!

What a blessing Malenovice has been to literally tens of thousands of people these past ten years. I pray it continues to be that for many, many more years!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where is Summer?

I know some of you are sweltering in heat right now and that's not so pleasant.

But others of us are drowning in rain right now...and that's not so pleasant either!

It's so wet that the neighbor's ducks are constantly in our marsh, I mean pond, or rather, yard, having a great time!

I wish I could find some statistics on what this summer's weather phenomenon is here in seems wetter, grayer, and colder than I ever remember it being.

This is what dog walking is reduced to...under the umbrella.

Even Kaylie doesn't like the rain..."Let me under the umbrella, mom!"

"Ahhh, that's better!"

Here's hoping that we get some sunshine one of these days...