Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sharing My Favorites

With the past two days having been office work days for me, it was time for some play with my mom and dad today.

We were headed over to Poland, but made our first stop in nearby Frýdek-Místek, to visit my favorite gluten free bakery there. Even if you have no need for GF, Labužník Celiak is really one of the best bakeries in our area!

Next stop: Sfera mall in Bielsko-Biała.

As it turned out, today was a day of sharing my favorites with mom and dad. The gluten free bakery, the mall in Poland, the chocolate cafe - all of those fall into that category of favorite!

And what would a fun day be without some of my favorite coffee?

Of course I had to join dad in trying it out. 😉

It's so great to have mom and dad in my world, sharing all sorts of different aspects, especially the fun ones!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Second Thanksgiving

It's just one picture. But it says so much.

That's my mom.

Making dinner at my house (and our dog hoping for a morsel or two😂).

And not just ANY dinner. She's in the middle of fixing a second Thanksgiving meal for us.

Our house smelled AMAZING this afternoon as she spent hours preparing things that tasted like I was back in my childhood home. What a gift she gave me today!

I'm deeply blessed to have had wonderful parents, and an incredible childhood home. That's why it feels so good to have my parents here, being who they are and who they've always been.

Love you Mom and Dad!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Truth Be Told

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a shopper. 😄

However, that is not necessarily equated with spending money! Long ago I learned to love the thrill of wandering through stores, hunting and gathering as needed.

And truth to be told, I learned from the best!

Yes, from my mom!

And while I don't know if my dad started out as an expert shopper when they first married, he can sure hang with the best of them now! In a rare photo, my mom and I are actually waiting on HIM as he looks at shoes!

He is SUCH a good sport about it since usually it's mom and I on the hunt. If I make sure he gets coffee along the way, all is well!

With my mom and dad, all shopping is fun, even for groceries at Tesco, the "Target/Walmart/Meyers" of this area, similar to whatever type of store you have near you that 'sells it all'!

We spent quite a bit of time in the clothing section of Tesco the other day, with me handing my dad all sorts of interesting things to try on. He was a very good sport.

And looks pretty hipster doesn't he?! 😄

Even the search for chocolate is fun here! So much of it is different than what they'd find in the States. And it makes great gifts to take back to their friends.

We're sure having a lot of fun together these days! So glad they get to be here with us right now.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Twenty Four Thanksgivings

It's hard to believe this was the twenty-fourth Thanksgiving we've celebrated with our Josiah Venture family!

We started this tradition in 1993, just two weeks after Dave and I, Dan and Laura moved into Czech and Poland. It was so fun to have my mom and dad here to celebrate this one with us!

Thanksgiving all those years ago was just the four of us and our two little boys. Back then we found one small turkey deep in the bottom of a grocery store freezer after much searching. Laura and I went on from there to attempt a meal from ingredients we could barely read at the time.

We've come a long way since then!

For this holiday, we had 115 of our teammates and their children at Malenovice, who not only brought incredibly tasty dishes to share with each other, but were served one of six turkeys needed for that many people!

It could not have been a sweeter day, sharing it with people we love and who we have the privilege of serving with on the Josiah Venture team.

Unlike conferences, retreats and training events where there's a schedule to keep, Thanksgiving is one of those special times where we get to linger around the table, just enjoying each other as family and friends.

I love it because there is time to talk, interact, hang out and enjoy everybody.

There is certainly never a shortage of amazing food at our JV Thanksgivings!

Nor a shortage of smiles and joy with dear ones.

Even our littlest ones seem to enjoy all the attention, being oohed and aahed over by adoring aunts and uncles.

I'm thankful that my mom and dad got to be part of this special occasion this year!

After we'd had our fill of good food and conversation all afternoon, we headed downstairs in the evening for the much anticipated highlight of Thanksgiving: JV Kids Talent Show

You can't imagine how much we all look forward to this! There is something so sweet about applauding and cheering on these amazing kids for their vast variety of talent.

From the youngest of our JV kids to oldest, these kids do everything: piano playing, poetry recitation, art exhibits, joke telling, sport videos, cake baking and free-style dancing!

They challenge themselves at English spelling bees (not easy for our kids who go to national schools!)

And sing songs in the languages of the countries where they live.

Cece and Julie are singing in Czech together!

Even families share their talent, like the Hartman's who finished off the evening with a beautiful worship song.

When I came across these four later in the evening, from four different families, I thought to myself, "This is it! The "secret sauce" of a JV Thanksgiving".

It's about being family, enjoying each other, and spending time together with love and thankfulness for what we've been given.

Happy Thanksgiving from the JV Family!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I'm Thankful For Them!

Thankful doesn't even begin to describe my thoughts, feelings and emotion for this group of people.

These 115 people and children represent our JV team, the finest of God's servants, scattered throughout Central and Eastern Europe, sharing their lives and the Gospel with young people.

I love them. I'm proud of them. I'm thankful for them!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Something To Be Thankful For

It's the eve of Thanksgiving and you know what I'm feeling thankful for?

Absolutely all the really important things like ... belonging to the Lord, my precious family and dear friends, as well as our JV missionary team who live and serve so sacrificially.

But when it gets down to really practical things? I'm thankful for this.

Yes, my washing machine.

That finally stopped working.

After twenty years.

No I'm not saying I'm thankful it quit working. I'm saying I'm thankful that it DID work for twenty years! If only washing machines could talk, right? It's seen a lot of life through its eyes. Well, if washing machines HAD eyes! 🙄

That washing machine finally washed its last load and could do no more. So today was "moving in day" for a new one.

"Thanks Petr for happening to stop by to see my parents and being willing to be recruited by Dave to carry the new one up the stairs!"

That was definitely not an easy task, but these two managed it just fine!

And bless Dave! He installed it right away so I could get back to the task of washing clothes.

"Thank you Dave for knowing and caring that I needed it installed NOW!"

I was 35 the last time I got a new washing machine. I hope I'll be at least 75 by the next time I get one! If it can last twenty years too, that would really be something to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On the Tower in Herrnhut

By the time I woke to this sunrise in Herrnhut, Germany, our JV teammates, John and Honza, had already been outside for an hour, filming "B-roll" (supplemental footage) for the video we'd come here to shoot today.

They were also scoping out the best places for us to film the main sections of the video, looking for quiet spots where we wouldn't be interrupted.

But with a cold wind blowing, cars constantly on the move, and pedestrians making their way down even the smallest of streets, it was hard to find a spot outside to do our filming.

Thankfully, we'd arranged a tour of the church in Herrnhut the night before.

And found out that there was a one hour break in the day when we could be in there alone to film!

Groups of school children were practicing in the church all day for their upcoming Advent concert, but were going for a lunch break at 11:30.

With the clock on the countdown for an hour, we hurried in to set up and get going as soon as they left.

Those four ... Amy, Mel, John and Honza ...were incredible today, each in their own way. Mel directed the promo video, John and Honza took care of all the filming, and Amy served us in every imaginable way. I can't imagine having a better team to do this with!

This is the first video Dave and I have ever shot together. And let me tell you - it's hard to do! You want to be natural, winsome, compelling, and motivational. You don't want to sound inauthentic, salesman-like or preachy.

And when you've got exactly ONE HOUR to do it all in, you feel a little tiny bit of pressure. YIKES!

I really mean this ... thanks to the Lord, and our fantastic team, I think (hope, pray, anticipate!) that we got enough good footage today to put together the video we need.

After shooting inside the church, we headed out to get some additional shots, making our way up to the watch tower that overlooks Herrnhut, the town where the Moravians fled to after escaping persecution in Czech in the early 1700's.

It was in this town, in 1727, where spiritual revival broke out among the Moravians.

And that revival led to a movement of prayer that had a profound impact on the world then, and still does today.

From this place, missionaries were sent out all over the world to share the Gospel.

I believe my own spiritual roots stem back to this place, where faithful believers took the Word of God seriously, prayed without ceasing, and lived out their commitment to Christ in ways that are still being lived out today.

Perhaps I am here serving in this part of the world today because of those who prayed long ago!

As I stood on top of the watch-tower, a place where the Moravians came to pray during their unbroken hundred year prayer chain, I felt such a growing fire inside to carry on this absolutely essential aspect of the Christian life: to be in prayer for everything.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

In just a few days, I get to share how Josiah Venture is taking to heart this call to continuous prayer.

We hope that you, dear family and friends will "Join the Watch" with us, praying for and believing God for more than we could ask or imagine for the youth of central and eastern Europe.

I think you're going to love what's coming soon!