Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from Malenovice

What a wonderful day with our JV family!

One hundred of us from Czech, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Ukraine gathered at Malenovice for our annual Thanksgiving celebration.

It takes three whole turkeys to feed us all, and Mel's up for the job of serving everyone!

We're definitely not lacking in good food as we all pitch in and bring our favorite dishes to share.

And what an array of amazing desserts to be had after the big meal...or before, depending on who you are! :)

After missing Thanksgiving together last year since we were in the States, it was a joy to share the meal together with Dan and Laura.

While the meal and fellowship is always special, the highlight of the day comes in the evening.

That's when we get to see our JV Kids in the annual talent show. And let me tell you, it's amazing what these kids can do!

They sing, recite poems in second languages, and draw lovely butterflies.

They show us their floor-ball, canvas painting and Sudoku and coloring skills!

They fight epic lightsaber battles, play amazing pieces on the piano, and rap riddles!

The play beautiful guitar and piano.

And sometimes they even get the dads up there to learn dance moves.

Then practice doing the jive with their daughters! Way. Too. Much. FUN!!!

With the evening moderated and led by our older JVK, over twenty of our JV kids shared their amazing gifts and talents with us last night.

It was another wonderful talent show, something I'm so glad we've incorporated into our JV Thanksgiving celebration all these years!

I'm so thankful for this incredible bunch of kids, and all the rest of our JV family too!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

JV Turkey Trot

Happy Thanksgiving from our JV family!

The celebration began at 8 AM with our annual Turkey Trot out at Olešná, a beautiful lake just 15 minutes from Malenovice.

At just 32 degrees, everyone was raring to get going, including these awesome JVK!

With over 50 of us there to participate, we put on our shirts (hand drawn by one of our teammates, John Kloosterhuis - aren't they fun?!) and headed to the starting line.

Even the littlest participants had shirts to put on!

Sure loved seeing so many of our JVK out there bright and early, ready to go!

There were all sorts of JV trotters this morning...serious runners, walkers, kids on scooters.

And even Matt and Amy in costumes! LOVE their creativity!

Just a few short minutes later and they're off!

I had to laugh as we all passed these fellows just a few minutes later, having a very different sort of morning on the lake.

Don't you wonder what they thought when they heard all that whooping?

The views around the lake were just gorgeous this morning. An ever changing feast of color and texture.

Amy, Lina, Laura and I banded together and enjoyed our walk around the lake together!

There sure were some magnificent vistas along the way.

The air was just as still as could be, with the lake a beautiful mirror. It really couldn't have been a prettier morning for the Turkey Trot.

Five kilometers later, I loved that most everyone waited for all the trotters at the finish line.

And we all cheered Hampton on as he sprinted in!

Thanks for inspiring us with your great costumes, and thanks to all for joining in the fun!

Third Annual JV Turkey Trot: A Success!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Power of Silence

Once again "Streams in the Desert" powerfully speaks.

My favorite devotional book, first published in 1925 by Mrs. Charles Cowman, so often gives voice to what I'm thinking, feeling and experiencing.

These past five days it has been just this: Selah.

A friend and I paused our lives and waited in stillness in the Lord's presence.

If this sounds mysterious, you'd be right! But oh what a most holy, sacred, hallowed time we spent together in that place.

Intense, refreshing, exhausting, exhilarating? Yes, that and more.

But oh such a privilege to be so close to the Lord for those days.

"We were listening and we heard. We looked and saw Thy face radiant with the light of love. And when we heard Thy voice and saw Thy face, new life came back to us as life comes back to withered blooms that drink the summer rain."

As our Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am deeply thankful for the gift of time to be still.

And for His power that broke forth after the silence.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gnomes, Devils and thoughts from the Mall

Why post about Christmas decorations at the mall??

Because for the first time in a number of years they've made a change that makes it easier on my soul to be there for Christmas shopping.

No, it's true these decorations have nothing to do with the real reason for Christmas. But they're at least cheery and pleasant to look at.

For a number of years the decorations at one of our malls were disturbing and unpleasant for me.

I honestly don't enjoy seeing devils at the mall when I shop for Christmas.

These are people who've dressed up and are most likely in a mall on December 6th for the day of Mikulas.

But for years the displays didn't even include Mikulas (St Nicholas) or the angels. It was only little devils staring out at you as you walked through trying to remember why you're there.

Does this make you think of Christmas?

St. Nicholas, the devil and the angel are all characters who are part of the holiday on December 6th called “Mikulas”, known throughout Europe. The three visit Czech children on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day and give them either sweets or a sack of gifts from the devil (typically known to be black coal or raw potatoes), depending, of course, on whether a child has been good or bad.

I realize this is supposed to be fun and games for children as they prepare for the holidays, and I understand the tradition.

I just don't want to look at devils when I'm Christmas shopping.

It's hard enough to be in a country where few celebrate the true meaning of Christmas: that Jesus came as a baby, was without sin, and became the sacrifice for our sin so that we could be reconciled to God by our acceptance of His payment.

Sigh. I wonder if there will ever be mall decorations that show him with Mary, Joseph and the shepherds?

While cute gnomes don't lead me to that understanding, at least it's softer on my soul as I walk by them thinking about the real "reason for the season".

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Once Every Ten Years

There are just some things that you ought to do every now and then.

Like clean out the garage after ten years!

As you can see, Dave's in the process of doing that. It hasn't been that empty since the day we moved in, April 2004.

Other than the fact that it's a good idea to purge and clean every now and then, the main reason has to do with poor insulation that's causing water to seep up our garage walls...see it?

In order to combat the problem, Dave brought cans of epoxy from the States (in his suitcase no less! I can't believe they made it through security, without breaking open). He is getting ready to seal the garage floor to stop the water seepage.

So for now, everything is out of the garage which was no small task!

But where to put everything in the meantime?

How about on the porch? Or out in the garden house?!

It's looking a *little* junky around our house right now. Definitely not my style! HA!

But hopefully it won't be for too long. He hopes to get it sealed as soon as the floor dries out in the garage.

While we don't mind misty, rainy weather (of which we've had less than usual this fall, though we know it will return), it's sure not good for the walls.

We'll be glad to have that problem taken care of soon!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Belated Birthday

A sweet friend mailed me a birthday package back at the beginning of September. She told me it was a little bit late but hoped that I'd still enjoy being celebrated a few weeks after my birthday.

Who doesn't like to get a late birthday package?! I could hardly wait.

But the package never arrived. And in fact, it was delivered back to her from the Czech Postal Service. For no reason we can figure out.

You wonder where it was all that time since it just arrived back to her a week ago?? But thankfully it arrived back to her in time to mail it to Dave while he was still in the States last week.

And so, I finally got to celebrate my birthday again yesterday, three months to the day from when I had it in August!

My friend wrote in her card, "Hopefully it will bring some cheer to a regular day" - and it most certainly did!

This next photo isn't the most flattering one - I was enjoying the fragrance of some yummy tea that she sent in the package. But what I love most about this photo is that she happens to be in that picture just behind me on the right!! See her peeking out of it with her daughter, Claire and I?

"Polly, that picture is there all the time! I'm glad you get to see that's where it sits, right in my kitchen!"

So many sweet surprises in the long awaited package! THANK YOU so much!!!!

But here's what's crazy...that wasn't the only belated birthday gift I opened yesterday!

My precious mother-in-law sent one to me as well! How fun is that...three months after the fact, I'm opening gifts from two dear people in my life!

And oh what a pretty gift mom sent for me!

And I especially loved her note and other gift!

Thank you Mom and Polly for making a regular November day a special one for me! I felt your love and am sending hugs and kisses right back to you both!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Czech Freedom: 25 Years Now

It's hard to believe it's been twenty five years since the Velvet Revolution.

All photos gathered from sources on the internet

On November 17, 1989, thousands of students gathered in Prague for a peaceful demonstration commemorating International Student's Day.

But rather than just a one day event, their protest triggered an historical avalanche of protest that would change Czechoslovakia forever.

It was reported that the protest eventually drew 500,000 people in Prague, all calling for reform and freedom; there were similar protests around the rest of the country.

Rattling keys, and staying on the streets of Prague for days, the people called out, "Havel na hrad" (Havel to the castle).

Vaclav Havel, a dissident who'd been imprisoned for speaking out against the regime, became the face of hope and freedom for the country.

No one could've foreseen that just ten days after the student's initial protest on November 17th, Communism would fall.

And Havel would become President.

On December 29, 1989, just six weeks after the Velvet Revolution that freed this country from the oppression they'd lived under for 45 years, Havel went to the "hrad" where he served as President for ten years.

Three years later Czech and Slovakia would separate peacefully in what is known as the Velvet Divorce; while there was police brutality against the students when they first protested, there was never any blood shed or death in the revolution that took place here.

Politics, people in government and the economy are far from perfect here today. But this is a completely different country than just twenty five years ago since those initial protests.

A transformation took place that opened the door for more than just freedom from oppression; today everyone is able to freely talk about God, we can openly share the Gospel, and a redemptive work of the Lord is changing the lives of people who are free to choose Him now.

This is the freedom I celebrate today in the Czech Republic, on the anniversary of the first protests twenty five years ago!