Saturday, September 30, 2017

We Love These People!

It's Saturday afternoon here in Czech and in the midst of hosting guests (who are out with Dave right now!), I just had to post one last time about our JV fall conference...about THESE people!!

You are looking at nearly 400 miracles right there. People who have put their faith in Christ, obediently followed him on the path of righteousness, and chosen lives of sacrifice and deep dependance on God.

This past year they shared the Gospel face to face with nearly 40,000 young people. They led over 2000 into a personal relationship with Jesus. They've trained over 7000 leaders. They work in 17 different countries.

And they all have one thing in common: a desire to see their nations transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why they do what they do.

PRAY for this group of faithful and faith-filled people - that they will stay fixed on knowing Jesus and doing his will. And that their faithfulness will result in revival in this part of the world, to the glory of God!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Faces of Conference

While our JV fall conferences are full of transformational teaching and overwhelmingly beautiful worship, it's the people that make them so special.

I always wish I could hear a story from each person there because I know my heart would soar with even greater love for the Lord through their testimony to his faithfulness, love, strength and power.

I did hear incredible stories from these two, on the right and left of Lina, one of our JV staff serving in former Eastern Germany. These German girls came to Christ as teenagers at a camp held once a year by an American pastor. With very little spiritual encouragement in the cities they went back to after camp, they looked forward all year to the next camp for their 'once a year' spiritual boost.

Today, they are part of leading that camp and this past year Jim and Lina joined them to help fan into flame a movement of God among the youth of eastern Germany. The faith, courage, fervor and joy in these young women is contagious!

These two are ESI's with JV, Extended Summer Interns. How we love our summer interns who choose to stay on and follow up with students they met at camp in the summer! Moody Bible Institute grads (and dear friends of our daughter, Claire!), they are serving in Ukraine and Czech through the end of this year, and praying about what God would have them do after that.

On to more people....all week I was looking for these two Albanian brothers.

Juli on the right, is our newest JV country leader for Albania!

For the past two years he's been at the European Leadership Forum where Dave goes each year to lead the youth leader training track. After coming with our JV group to Israel this past year, and a visit from Dave in April down to Albania (see HERE for that blog post), they both sensed God leading Juli to partner with us in JV to open a new work there. Juli brought Ermal, a young man he led to Christ and has discipled for the past years, with him to this conference.

Their stories are AMAZING. I can't wait to write more about them.

One of the ways we bring dynamic community (one of our JV core values) into a multi-national conference like this is to break everyone up into small cohorts. They spend the week meeting together and processing what they're learning. Even though there are 400 people, when you're in a small group of 7-8 people, it suddenly doesn't feel so large!

Throughout the week I had so many delightful, rich and even profound conversations with these dear ones who care so deeply about getting the Gospel to young people in their countries.

We continue to pray for a movement of God among the youth of Central and Eastern Europe, that finds its home in the local church and TRANSFORMS society!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Going to School: Master Classes

Instead of meeting this morning in the tent at Malenovice, everyone from fall conference headed down to Frydlant to go back to school!

Since it's a national holiday here in Czech today, we took over one of our local elementary schools, and offered 19 different master classes taught by various team members.

Each topic was about a different aspect of teaching with titles like "How to Teach for Retention", "The Teenage Brain" and "Learning Through Dialogue".

The day before, everyone at the conference chose four different classes to attend, with only 20 allowed in each classroom for maximum participation.

And then we went to school for the whole morning, learning from the hearts, experience and skill of some of our best teachers!

We've never done something quite like this before, but I think it was one of the highlights of this conference!

Some of those sessions were recorded and are posted HERE if you'd like to listen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Day at Fall Conference

A day in the life of a JV Fall Conference is packed full of such richness from the Lord.

With nearly 400 participants this year, the largest training conference we've ever held at Malenovice, we begin each morning in the tent with our brothers and sisters from fourteen Central and Eastern European countries. JV national staff from Slovenia and Estonia are our daily hosts from the front, bringing their joy in the Lord to us as we start the day.
One of our staff from Poland put together a worship band of team members from many of our countries, and led us into the presence of Christ as we worshipped, singing not only songs in English, but in each of the languages from the countries where we serve. You can imagine the little taste of heaven that is, to sing praise to God in all of those languages! Even if we don't know how to pronounce the words or know their meaning, it's very special to worship together in this way.

After worship, everyone heads to their teaching groups that they'll stay in for the whole week.

Dave, Steve Patty (one of Dave's brothers) and Rob Trenckmann, our country leader in Hungary, led three separate tracks this year, teaching five sessions each to their separate groups on how to teach for transformation in the same way as Jesus taught.

Those teaching sessions are posted on our JV website HERE if you're interested in listening. While they all taught on the same topics, each teacher tailored his sessions for the people who were in the group. Dave's five sessions were for those who had the least experience in teaching, Rob took those who had some experience, and Steve taught those who have had the most experience.

Our afternoons are free for fellowship, fun and friendly sport's competitions between the countries! I was always meeting with people during those times so don't have any pictures of the volleyball and soccer tournaments.

In the evenings, we gathered down in our town of Frydlant at the cultural house for that section of our program.

Why don't we stay in the tent up at Malenovice for those sessions? That's a good question!

As you can imagine, the tent is not sound proof, and over the past few years since we put up the tent because of lack of space in our largest meeting room at Malenovice, we've had complaints from the neighbors about the noise. Wanting to be thoughtful of them and keep peaceful relationships in the village, we hire buses to take our people down to this soundproof hall each evening.

Dave is interviewing our newest country leader, Julijan from Albania

The evening sessions are full of more worship, testimonies from our national staff, and teaching from our national staff as well.

It was such a joy this year to hear insights from the Word through the heart of our staff in Estonia, Slovakia and Poland. Again, those were recorded and can be found HERE if you want to listen in to their hearts as well! You'll see them on the website listed as "Main Sessions".

It's hard to say what the best part of a day is at fall conference. Every session and conversation is just so rich and you go to bed at night wondering how the next day could possibly be any better...and then it is!

I love the intermingling of all these nationalities and cultures, blended together for one purpose: to do our part in bringing a movement of God into the countries where we all our serving. There's something so special about doing that together with all of these brothers and sisters in Christ!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Transform: Learning to Teach Like Jesus

Tonight in the cultural center here in Frýdlant, our 2017 JV fall conference kicked off with 380 staff and ministry partners from 17 countries.

I always wish that I could somehow teleport each one of you here to be in this room on such a night. The atmosphere is like almost no where else I've ever been!

People are excited to worship; they're open to what God has for them; they're expectant that God will meet them here; they're so happy to see each other. It is SUCH a privilege to be in the same room with all of these dear people who love the Lord and are making a difference for him across Central and Eastern Europe.

As Steve, one of Dave's brother, got us started tonight, I was convicted, encouraged and motivated by the first teaching of the week. Imagine how I'll feel by the end of the week after more of this kind of teaching!

We would all covet your prayers this week as we dive into God's Word and look at Jesus, the master teacher, and learn from him so that we better teach for life transformation.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Front Row Seat

Claire and I made our way to the Phoenix airport Saturday morning in hopes of having breakfast together before we went our separate ways. But there was not a breakfast menu to be found in my terminal.

So instead, we hugged and said our goodbyes for now as she left to return to Chicago and I left for home in the Czech Republic.

One of our friends who used to serve in JV recently told Claire and I that she still remembers how special the time was back when she was in the process of support raising: sharing her vision for ministry, trusting God in ways she'd never had to, meeting new people and building deeper relationships with friends along the way.

She said that when all the funds were in and she had the green light to move to Europe, she was a bit sad, even though the goal had been reached.

I felt something similar as I said goodbye to Claire yesterday.

It's been very special to join her in person a few times on her support raising journey and watch God unfold his plan as he brought people into her life to partner with her. I loved watching him do that during our trip in May and I loved seeing it again during this trip in September. It was a privilege to be with her in some meetings, and a joy to process with her after meetings she went to alone.

I had a front row seat to watching miracles unfold!

But now she'll be back in Chicago with her church family and friends as she finishes the last portion of her support raising journey, and it's time for me to return home to what God has for me there.

I flew from Phoenix to LA, and then had one long flight from there to Vienna, landing there this afternoon.

So thankful it was a smooth and uneventful trip the whole way as I literally took buses, planes, trains and cars on my way home!

I arrived safe and sound this evening and now begin the shift into what we've got going this week.

Tomorrow evening, 380 JV staff and ministry partners will gather here at Malenovice for our annual leadership training conference.

I'm expecting to see some miracles this week too as we study the life of Jesus, and how he was such an effective teacher that his teachings are still relevant today.

Hoping I can beat jet lag so I'll be fully present for all that God has for me this week!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Walking in Faith

When I stepped out in faith thirty three years ago to spend a summer doing ministry overseas, I had no idea where that decision would lead me.

From Germany to Spain, and back again to Germany over the course of several years, I said yes to following the Lord and joyfully doing what he asked of me. I eventually married Dave, had a family, and then moved to the Czech Republic where we have lived for almost twenty four years serving in and leading Josiah Venture.

And now here I am today, in Arizona, walking alongside our daughter as she walks in faith, preparing to be launched into ministry herself.

It has been the greatest joy and privilege to walk alongside her these past weeks (well, her whole life, really!) as she's met with dear friends, churches, family and sometimes even strangers, sharing her heart, passion and calling to serve the Josiah Venture Kids.

Today was our last full day together on this trip, and most likely the last time we'll do this type of trip since she is near her goal of being at 100% of monthly support as a JV missionary.

What did we do on our last day? Visit some of our dear JV family who live in this area!

Nate came to JV as a single missionary, Emily came as an intern...and the rest is history!

They served with us for a number of years until the Lord led them back here to the Phoenix area. Today they have three darling children (one who was at kindergarten so we didn't get to see him), and Nate serves in a ministry here as well as being an elder/teacher at their church. They are involved in people's lives, serving and loving them well in the name of Jesus. How it encouraged our hearts to be with them.

Later in the day we met up with some other long time friends and former JV family members.

Sarah and Daci, along with the other three members of their family, served in Croatia for five years before returning to the States. Our son, Tyler, interned with them one summer so they're dear to us for many reasons! It totally thrilled my heart to hear Daci, one of our JV Kids, talk about her heart for leading others in their walks with God, and how she's leading a Bible study today for younger high school girls!

After these refreshing times, Claire and I headed over to the Desert Botanical Gardens to see if we could catch a glimpse of them before the sun set.

I'd been here four years ago and remembered how beautiful it was, even at sunset. It proved to be just as enchanting as the last time I visited. Oh these big, beautiful, old Saguaro cacti! How can you think of anything but how they point to the One True God?!

We wound up this very special time together by sitting outside on the patio of the restaurant here, talking about God's faithfulness, and the body of Christ that we've spent time with through our travels.

And we celebrated the joy of being on mission together, part of God's Kingdom purposes.

I truly never saw this coming thirty three years ago when I said "yes" to just a summer. I'm glad he knew then that I would see my children come to know him, and respond to his calling on their lives to serve him too.

There is truly no greater joy than to see my children walking in faith. What joy to have been in person with Claire these past weeks seeing her do just that...walk in faith for all that God has ahead for her!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Understanding the JVK

After a short one and a half hour plane ride, Claire and I landed here this afternoon.

It's the home of Coconuts Fish Cafe, and some of the best fish tacos I've ever had.

And home of the Saguaro cactus, which you'll find not just in the desert or in people's yards, but right beside the highway! Those cacti fascinate me (and these aren't even the really cool ones!).

This is Arizona, and to be more specific, Phoenix area.

While some come here to vacation and enjoy the sunshine, we came for a different reason.

Claire had a home meeting tonight with a group of people who know and love the JV Kids, just like Claire does.

For the past fifteen years, Scottsdale Bible Church has been sending a team out to care for our JV Kids at spring conference each May. And more specifically, one of their pastors has championed this amazing ministry to our families and come every year himself.

He arranged for a home meeting tonight with anyone who's ever served on a team these past fifteen years, to give Claire the opportunity to share her heart, vision and passion for raising up a new generation of "young Josiah's" among the JV Kids.

While I didn't get a picture of everyone there, it was a room full of people who "get it", who know and love our JV Kids, and who were able to ask questions and enter in to her upcoming ministry in a very specific way. It was the greatest delight to hear them talk about kids by name, and ask questions about them and their families, as well as find out from Claire what it is that she'll be doing with and for them.

"Thank you Rae, Linda and all those who sacrifice and serve our JV families in this crucial ministry of loving JV kids at spring conferences! It is a huge blessing to us that you see the value of our missionary kids and desire to have impact on their lives, even down to the littlest of them! And thank you for caring about Claire, for seeing the value in her ministry, and for getting the news out about her needs. You have blessed her, and you have blessed me!"

The Patty Homestead

This backyard. Such a well known, familiar sight to our family.

It is the backyard of the home that Dave grew up in, the Patty "homestead" for nearly 50 years. It is a home that's been full of love, hospitality, blessing, care, meals, overnights, devotions, wisdom and so much more.

It's also been the home where LOTS of fruits and vegetables were raised! Dave's dad, a farmer at heart but a missionary by calling, has had absolutely amazing gardens around the house and neighborhood for many, many years. And early this morning, before Claire and I left, we got to take the familiar walk with Grandpa to see and partake of the good fruits, literally, of his garden!

He gardens multiple plots, some of which are behind the home of Joyce, his daughter and her family.

To get there, we walk down the alley and across the street. Grandpa says hi to the neighbor whose yard we go through in order to slip in between the tree and fence as we enter the garden by Joyce's house.

And there Claire gets her taste of what we've come in search of: Raspberries fresh off the vines! There's nothing quite like it.

We then take a look around at what's still left growing as fall begins its descent.

Grandpa is a master at growing big pumpkins! This one was the result of pumpkin seeds that came all the way from Slovenia where Josh, Dave's brother, has grown some big pumpkins himself!

We've got a plane to catch, so there's only time for a few pictures, and a handful more of raspberries before it's time to get back to the house and get on the road.

We slip back through the spot between the fence and the tree, and head down the street towards Grandpa and Nana's house.

The little red wagon that's on the sidewalk beside the house holds Grandpa's tomatoes that he sells throughout the summer, and even into the fall, to all who know about them. Couldn't resist a quick photo of them with Claire!

Then, even though we don't want to, it's time to say goodbye.

Hugs are given, photos are taken, and love from grandparents/in-laws is expressed. As always, it's been a most wonderful treat to be with them again at the Patty homestead!

"Grandpa and Nana, Dad and Mom, we love you and are so thankful for the time we had together!"