Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hellos and Goodbye

My heart is filled to the brim with thankfulness for some precious hellos and a loving goodbye on this sunny Sunday.

Caleb and Haley celebrated their first wedding anniversary up at Malenovice, in the midst of JV summer intern training. I stopped by today with a bag of treats for them, along with hugs and kisses, to wish them a happy anniversary. Hard to believe it's already been a year since their beautiful wedding in Colorado. How glad we are that they are so happily married!

This afternoon I headed over to Poland where the European Leadership Forum is taking place. Dave is there leading and teaching the youth leader training track, along with a number of our JV staff. But I didn't go to visit him!

Three years ago I met Kelly when she and her husband were here in Czech and came to our house for dinner. You would have thought we were grade school friends being reunited after many years apart,  like we'd always been friends! The same thing happened two years ago when she came to Poland for ELF and we spent an afternoon talking up a storm.

And so it was again today! Only our third time to see each other in person, we spent hours in precious, non-stop conversation. How does that happen? It can only be a heart and soul connection by the Lord. What a good gift from Him.

"So happy to be with you today Kelly!"

As if that wasn't enough goodness for one day, the evening ended back in Frýdlant, picking up a dear friend and heading out for dinner in our Beskydy mountains.

In 1995, at one of our early English camps, Katka trusted Christ. And became part of our family. I can't even begin to recount how much life we have shared through all these years. She is a dear sister in Christ, but also like a daughter to me.

Now, after serving eleven years with us in the JV office in Frýdlant, she is moving to Latvia to join our JV team there.

Soaking in the view looking out over the mountains, we reminisced and recounted God's faithfulness over the years. He's been so very good to both of us.

While this is not goodbye in the sense that I won't see her again, we did want to put a book-end to the past twenty years God has allowed us to share. How sweet they have been with this precious one!

She's entering a whole new chapter of life now and I bless her as she goes forward into what God has in store for her. And I'll miss her in my daily life, just as I do my own kids.

But the richness of life is in our hellos and goodbyes, which were all so very meaningful today.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Walking Home

Yesterday's post finished off with this photo, where I'd dropped off Caleb and Haley's Bulgaria team to have dinner just after finishing their Amazing Race across the country.

Since it's so close to home, I gave Caleb the keys to my car and set off on one of my favorite things to do: walk home on our country roads. Want to come along and walk with me?

After a week of rain, the sky was crisp and clear, with the field looking like you could almost lay down in its softness.

No one lives in that house permanently, but during the summer people are always in and out. I've wondered if it was once grandma's, or even great-grandma's house, kept for the next generations to enjoy.

Getting close to home now!

Beautiful Lysa Hora poking her head out in the background.

Made it back, thoroughly delighted by the sights, sounds and smells of home!

Today, I've battled my first migraine in a year, so am thankful to have had such a nice walk home yesterday to think on as I've stayed on the couch today. It's almost over, which I'm even more thankful for.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Amazing Race Finale

Our JV English camp team, along with many of our JV staff, put on an incredible "Amazing Race" across the Czech Republic this year.

OHHHH the hours that go into making sure every last detail is in place so that 110 summer interns end up in the right places! So very proud of our team for all the work they put into this event.

While we (as in, our JV staff) have been doing the race for nine years, I've never been on one nor been at the finish line. Until today!

We got messages and phone calls this afternoon that the first six teams made it through all the challenges in Ostrava and were on the train heading to Frydlant, the town we live in. So I jumped in the car and headed down to get a glimpse of them as they raced toward the finish line.

The first teams to appear sprinted out of the station as they headed towards their last challenge of finding the "Náměstí" (town square). Keep in mind that they don't know what that word means, and anyone on their team who happens to speak Czech is "handicapped" and not allowed to explain!

But that didn't stop them one bit.

As I drove down the street beside them (I'm sure they were wondering who the lady was taking pictures out of her car window!), I could hear them shouting out to strangers along the way, "Náměstí, Náměstí"??

Knowing they were getting close, I quickly drove over to the Náměstí to watch some of the first ones race in to receive their final challenge.

Which turned out to be a test on important facts they'd learned along the way about JV!

They had five minutes to prepare for the test, then met with Casey, our English camp leader, to answer questions.

The first ones to answer all the questions correctly and win the Amazing Race? Team Estonia!

I heard that teams from their country have come in last in past years so it was an exciting victory today to see them win!

But just because the first team is done doesn't mean everyone else stops trying. Oh no! Everyone has to pass, even if it takes three or four tries. And if you don't pass, you go back to the end of the line and wait your turn to try again!

Oh and one of the rules? No asking any JV staff for help! So we all stood around, cheering, praying, and hoping that they'd eventually get it right!

While the first six teams were still working on passing, the next set of teams arrived into the square.

And it turns out I knew the first team to arrive in the second wave!

Caleb and Haley's team, who will serve in Bulgaria this summer, got their instructions and then the clock started ticking on their preparation to take the test.

I could barely even say hi since I didn't want to get in the way of them completing their final challenge of the Amazing Race.

There may have been a team that passed on the first try, but I didn't see one. Poor teams! It wasn't an easy test to pass. Team Bulgaria gave it a good shot, but had to go regroup and try again.

Right behind them was Jacob Hash's "Team Poland", giving it a try. They didn't pass either! It was SO hard to stand by and not give any help or hints.

Thus it was a very happy moment when Caleb and Haley's team finally got it and passed, giving them 7th place out of 23 teams!

They've all run hard these past three days, enduring more than they probably thought possible. So proud of everyone, including my sweet daughter-in-law Haley, for giving their all on the Amazing Race.

And who would've ever imagined that these lifelong best friends, kids who grew up together in JV, would run their first Amazing Race together as summer interns?! Loved seeing them together again.

Jacob Hash and Caleb

All the teams were on their own for dinner tonight before heading up to Malenovice and getting settled in for the next five days of training.

While Caleb was "handicapped" in the race because he grew up here, he was free to kick in his local knowledge once the race was over! Wanting to go to one of our favorite restaurants, just down the road from our house, I drove them over there, handed him the keys so he could drive to the hotel afterward, and walked home!

These next days will be important for the interns as they prepare for their summer of ministry, bond as teams, and grow in their walks with the Lord.

Pray for these dear servants who will spread out over Central and Eastern Europe to share Jesus with young people, that there will be many who will come to know Him through their faithful witness.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Visiting Vitkovice

Where do you take out of town visitors when they come to see you? Perhaps you visit mountains, rivers, oceans, lakes or deserts. Or maybe zoos, parks, landmarks or even shopping malls!

But do you ever go visit a steel factory?

That's where we took our guests today! This is Vitkovice, a manufacturer of pig iron in Ostrava for 170 continuous years.

Closed since 1998, this plant has now been turned into a European Cultural Heritage site that is just so cool! If you come to see us, for sure we're taking you there!

Wearing your hard hat, (which is required!) the guided walking tour lasts nearly two hours as you're taken through the old coking plant and up the blast furnace.

You may not fully be able to appreciate the size from the pictures, but this place is HUGE!

Though I can't remember what this structure's purpose was during the years of production, I DO remember that they called it the "Elephant". It kind of resembles one doesn't it?!

Because it was the first day on the job for the tour guide, a second one accompanied our group, which turned out to be a blessing for us. The main tour was in Czech, but the supervising guide spoke English and ended up doing a separate tour for us while the rest of the group continued on in Czech.

We rode the shaft lift up the furnace to the mid-point with the whole group, and then proceeded on with just the six of us and our guide.

While it was overcast today, the views were nonetheless spectacular as we began our walk up, by stairs, to the top.


Yes, I was feeling a tiny bit dizzy as I looked way down there to the highway, but it was still awesome to be up there!

Today was our first time to take the tour, but it will definitely not be the last. There is still so much more to see and learn about this cultural monument that is practically in our backyard!

Glad we got to share the first visit there with these dear friends!