Friday, May 31, 2013

Claire's BMA Graduation

Claire graduated from Beskydy Mountain Academy in the Czech Republic today!

Graduation was held at the town hall in our little city, Frýdlant nad Ostravicí, in a special ceremony room. Officials from the city were there, along with faculty from BMA, parents and friends.

Claire's class teacher these past four years, Paul Till, gave a very moving address to his students, full of heartfelt love and parting thoughts for them. He flew back from the States just yesterday (after attending his own son's university graduation in Rhode Island) to be there for his students. This is one amazing teacher!

I loved watching the response of his students as he talked to them!

The actual graduation ceremony is a quiet one, with little pomp and circumstance, and over fairly quickly. And yet, it's quite meaningful.

Each student is congratulated by the principal, their class teacher, and an official from the city.

After a dear speech by one of Claire's classmates, and a special song by BMA students, it was over within an hour. 

 Our girl, and last child, is finished with Czech school!!!

We are incredibly thankful for the ways that God has cared for our kids these past 18 years in the Czech school system. They have learned so much (as have we!), and been stretched in many ways. It wasn't always easy, but they did it, and did it well!

So proud of our kids for having gone all the way through!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I'll Miss You

One of the joys of the past year and a half has been spending time with my friend, Barča.

She and her husband are missionaries in Indonesia, but have been back in Haviřov on furlough, so we've had countless mornings together encouraging one another, talking about the Lord, and enjoying our long-time friendship.

Barča has been in our lives for nearly 18 years...dear friend, secretary to Dave, babysitter of our kids, KAM intern. We've shared a lot of life, in many different aspects, together!

They leave to return to Indonesia in just three weeks, so today was one of our last times together for a while. How sweet to have shared these precious times together.

"I'll miss you friend!"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It'd be easy to think that ELF is supposed to be pronounced "elf", as in the little guys who help out Santa at the North Pole.

However, in this part of the world, ELF is really an abbreviation for European Leadership Forum, being held in Wisła, Poland this week!

The European Leadership Forum is a coalition of evangelical Christian groups seeking to do what no single organisation could do alone: provide a bridge between God’s global resources and local leaders.

With over 700 attending this conference, Dave has been there since last Friday as one of the speakers in the youth ministry leader network. 

However, I didn't actually go over to visit him today, but rather my friend Kelly!

From Kansas City, she and her husband are at the conference this week too. We met last fall when they were in Czech and just hit it off..."right, Kelly?!!" Today we just talked and talked, finding out we have more in common than we even knew. It's like we've known each other for years! Such a sweet time together.

"Thanks for the time together today Kelly!"

When there are 700 people at a conference, you're not sure if you'll run into anyone else you know or not. But thankfully I did!

Jerry is a friend from Indianapolis, who, if I remember right, first met Dave at another ELF years ago in Hungary. "Is that right, Jerry?!"

Ever since then, he and his wife have been dear friends, and even hosted Caleb and Haley last week a few days after their engagement! (They needed a place to stay before flying to Oregon to be with my thankful for Jerry and Sue having guest space and hospitality gifts galore!). So fun to have a few moments with Jerry. He's one of our favorite people! :)

Happily, I got to see Dave too! It's been a busy week for him at the conference so getting to connect for a few minutes made my heart happy!

Such a good day in this part of the world!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Amazing Race '13

This is the 20th summer of Josiah Venture camps in Central and Eastern Europe!!

What started off as just one camp here in Czech in the summer of 1994, has led to over 700 camps, in twelve countries, with literally thousands of young people hearing the Gospel.

This summer nearly 100 American and European interns will work alongside local/national churches, who will partner with North American and even Irish churches, to lead nearly one hundred camps with thousands of young people. In a loving, safe, and fun environment for a week, they'll hear about Jesus and have an opportunity to respond to what He's done for them.

It's going to be a life changing summer for many.

Our group of interns arrive tomorrow into Kiev, Ukraine, and begin JV's version of the Amazing Race, as they race back to Malenovice for summer training, bonding with their teammates in preparation for what God wants to do in and through them this summer.

The JV leaders and intern team leaders (such as Tyler and Lara) took a night train to L'viv, Ukraine last night and are finishing preparations for the race today. They'll get on another night train this evening and head to Kiev, and begin the Amazing Race tomorrow when their teammates fly in.


* For safety in travel as the interns cross the ocean to Kiev today
* That luggage will all arrive!
* For the teams as they meet together for the first time - that they will develop deep bonds of relationship as they begin their summer of ministry
* For our JV staff as they lead and run the Amazing Race...very likely, things will not go as planned! Pray for wisdom to know what to do when that happens!
* For a very fruitful summer as they fan out across Central and Eastern Europe to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to young people.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Foreign Police Fun

Visiting this place is not on my top ten list of fun things to do around here.

That is the foreign police office in Ostrava, where we go when we deal with our visas that allow us to live here in the Czech Republic.

Yes, I'm a sneaky mom...taking this one on my phone (not sure they'd take too kindly to me whipping out my camera to get a picture...or understand why, for that matter!).

Claire had to get a new visa today, after hers (and a bunch of other things) was stolen from her purse a month ago.

Even though there was no problem with getting it, there is still a slight (okay...maybe more than that) amount of stress that happens when we have to visit this office. After all, they're the ones who can say yes or no to us living here!

However...what IS on my top ten list of fun things to do is visit this place AFTER going to the foreign police office!

Just a block away from the police office, this shop of goodness awaits any and all who find their way into Ollies, a cafe and bakery whose motto is "May your life be sweet"!

This place SERIOUSLY has the very best desserts in Ostrava! And yes, my life is sweeter because of Ollies!

Oh, and because of this even sweeter girl I still get to hang out with! :)

After treating ourselves to a few Ollie delights (they even do gluten free!), we headed into the nearby park for a nice stroll afterward.

Never one to be left out, Kaylee was along with us in the car so needed a walk.

And all of that made our trip to the foreign police, a whole lot more fun today!

(The grass really is THAT edits on that photo!)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Noc Kostelů

I was heading for bed last night when I happened to look at Instagram and saw a photo that Tyler had posted from Český Těšín, just a half hour away from where we live.

"Oh NO!", I thought to myself. I'd forgotten that it was "Noc Kostelů".

He and Lara, along with the other Josiah Venture intern leaders, were there at the "Night of Churches".

What is Noc Kostelů?

This is the fourth year in a row that over 1300 churches across the Czech Republic, have opened their doors for an evening of welcoming the public in for concerts, art viewings, wine tasting (yes, at church!), prayer and worship services.

Last year, on this one night, over 400,000 visitors in this country of 10.5 million people, made their way into churches, chapels and prayer houses.

After debating for a few minutes, Claire and I decided to drive into Frýdek-Místek, even though it was so late, to visit a few churches. (I should add that Dave had left earlier in the day for a conference in Poland, so that's why he wasn't with us.)

It was just a few minutes before 11 PM when we arrived at the first church, pictured at the top of this post.

The evening's program was still in progress (most churches were open until midnight), so we took a little tour, heading down into the crypt where we were delighted by the paintings that you otherwise wouldn't get to see!

After that we headed over to another church (pictured in the painting above...the two white steeples), and again were delightfully surprised by both the program, a beautiful concert of worship songs, and displays.

This table was set up in remembrance of the Last Supper that the disciples had with Jesus. It was so moving to see their names, and an item symbolizing each disciple, and Jesus, placed on the cushion at their spot.

Even though it was nearing midnight, there were many people there, listening and wandering throughout the church.

I have no idea what brought them all...perhaps they live in the neighborhood, perhaps they're curious, perhaps they have an interest in something spiritual. I hoped they were searching for God.

As I sat listening to the group sing, I prayed for our country, the Czech Republic.

If you listen carefully you can hear that this particular song was in English: "Bless the Lord my soul, and bless His holy name...Bless the Lord my soul, who leads me into life."

I prayed that in my lifetime, there would be many who would come to know Jesus. That they would be led from spiritual darkness into light and life found only in Him.

I prayed there would be spiritual repentance and revival throughout this land.

Oh may this be so!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Catching my Breath

May has felt a little bit like a marathon...except it's stretched out over four weeks instead of finishing in a few hours!

So after running hard for these weeks, I'm catching my breath today, for just a little bit, and starting to unwind and soak in all that's happened.

One of the things I'm thinking about again is our JV Spring Conference back at the beginning of the month.

In the midst of everything else that's been going on, I've found myself thinking about what Dave taught during that week. He did such an EXCELLENT job of teaching!!

All his talks are posted HERE if you'd like to download them.

Though I'm his wife (which some could consider me biased - ha!), I have NO problem recommending every one of his talks to you! Really, they were THAT good.

But if you only had time to listen to a few talks, DON'T MISS his talks on "Worry", "Ask, Seek and Knock", and "Dying to Live".

There was a lot of laughter and joy as he walked us through the theme of "Upside Down Kingdom" (you'll have to listen to the first talk to get the "set-up" of what that means!).

But there was also a lot of good contemplation and application as we worked through what it means to live with a Kingdom perspective.

Depending on the speed of your internet, it takes about five minutes to download each of the talks. But I really think it will be beneficial, enlightening and encouraging for you to hear them, and think about how they apply to your life.

I know it was beneficial for this precious group of people!

All of these photos were taken by JV staff and posted in our JV Picasa Album. You can find that HERE...there are a lot of great ones there! Who knows, you might see a few familiar faces if you check it out!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer of Ministry

After two days of being together with Tyler and Lara, it was time to send them off to their summer of ministry with JV: leading an intern team here in Czech.

 Yesterday afternoon I delivered them to their leader training location in Český Těšín.

They will be there with the rest of the leaders until Monday, and then the adventure really starts!

After a couple of night trains to Ukraine, they'll greet their intern teammates (and 100 or so more JV interns!) on Wednesday, who fly into Kiev from the States. From there, they'll race with their teammates in JV's version of the "Amazing Race", across Ukraine, Poland and Czech - ending up at Malenovice on Friday May 31st.

Meeting up with Rob Chestnut, the English camp leader in Czech, and Jeremy, one of the other intern team leaders...this is where their summer of ministry begins!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Two Graduates in the Family

There are two Patty graduates this season. Guess who?

Claire and Lara!

The day before Tyler and Lara got on a plane to Czech, Lara graduated from Moody Bible Institute! Super proud of her, and of Claire who finished BMA yesterday.

To celebrate our two girls, we headed to our favorite mall in Ostrava for coffee, dinner and a movie last night!

Oh, and you know we're not Patty's unless we take photos, right?

So proud of both our girls for the huge milestones they just completed!

And so glad to get the opportunity to celebrate both of them at the same time, in person! It was a gift from the Lord that the timing worked out so that we'd all be together within just days of them finishing school.

Congratulations Lara and Claire!!! Well done!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

She's Done!

The big news first:  Claire passed her huge Czech maturita exams today!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

Even though it was a big morning for Claire, we couldn't pass up the "last day of school" photo (you're welcome Uncle Mike!).

It was nice to have Tyler here this morning to get a shot of us with her before she left for the exams. And no, I'm not that short! She's wearing heels! :)

Aside from the nerves of heading into this huge exam, there was also a certain joy and giddiness this morning, knowing that "this is it"!

For me, it was also another moment of realization...she's grown up now, even driving herself to the exams. When did this happen?!

While a part of me misses the sweet little girl she once was, I also love the young woman that she has become.

I felt a total sense of peace as I watched her drive off this morning...not just about the exams she was headed into, but that she's ready for what's ahead in life.

She headed into Frydlant and entered these doors she's been going through for 4 years now, at the school where both Tyler and Caleb graduated from as well. We've had a Patty child entering those doors for 8 straight years!

Today was the last day one of our children would enter as a student.

One of Claire's dear friends, Verča, had her exams this morning as well. Four students were in the morning, four later this afternoon. 

After four hours of was all over. Claire passed!!!!

Tyler and Lara were at school when she finished and he caught this significant moment as she was officially congratulated by one of her teachers.

I'm so glad Tyler was there to capture this moment with some of her teachers, the government examiner and the principal of her school!

And then...she walked out of the BMA doors one last time, having successfully completed 13 years of Czech school.


What a gift to have Tyler and Lara there to celebrate that significant moment!!

It's hard to comprehend right now, the true significance of this moment.

All three of our kids completed Czech national school. Wow. I'm soaking that in today.

When we sent Tyler to first grade we didn't know if he, or Caleb and Claire, would go all the way through.

Today we celebrate that they did!!!!!!

What a great accomplishment!!!!

We're off to celebrate now!!!!