Friday, March 16, 2018

Impromptu Lunch

Dave and I were heading out the door for the week-end when suddenly Lara and the boys popped in!

They'd been visiting friends during the morning, then grabbed lunch at McDonalds and brought it to our house while Tyler drove up to Malenovice for a meeting. What a treat to see them, even for a half hour!

Judah and I made the most of those minutes!

The Lord's kindness touches my heart every time I get to be with these dear ones!

I never expected to have our kids, or grandkids, live life with us. This gift of having them nearby causes my heart to rejoice in the Lord over and over!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Visit to Starý Jičín

For nearly twenty five years I have passed this castle on the hill countless times. It would be safe to say at least 250 times, though quite possibly it's even more than that!

Just off the highway on the main road between Frýdek-Místek and Olomouc, sits Hrad Starý Jičín, a fortress built at the end of the 12th, or the beginning of the 13th century, to guard the trade route to Poland.

But in all these years of seeing it, I've never been up to it. I decided to remedy that today when I was on my way home from a meeting in Olomouc!

Having no idea how to get up to it after getting off the main highway, I put it into Google maps to guide me there. Unfortunately, it thinks there is a road up to it so I found myself on a verrrrry tiny road that I ended up backing down. (Note to anyone thinking of going: you have to walk to get there!).

Unsure of where to go at that point, I parked by the cemetery and started walking towards the church just to see what was there.

If it hadn't been for a couple who seemingly appeared out of nowhere (they would probably think it's funny that I wondered if they were supernatural beings, guiding me up the hill!), I wouldn't have headed up the path, given that there were very few signs to guide me. I'm glad they appeared!

But when I saw this little sign on the tree, I knew we were headed in the right direction. ("We" being me and the couple walking ahead of me!).

I gave them a chance to get ahead of me so walked slowly on the crumbling path, enjoying the birds singing and the sounds of the forest.

All of a sudden as I rounded the corner, the sun came out, and the hike took on a positively enchanting feeling.

With not another soul around, I'm sure glad that couple kept walking or I would have missed out on this amazing sight as we came to the top of the hill!

I can't believe in all these years I've never stopped and walked up here. It is absolutely beautiful!

From what I read, the castle was owned by many different families through the centuries, and only came into ownership by the village below after WW II. Imagine that real people owned this castle for all those years!

The view from the top was beautiful, even though it was a bit hazy.

From the other side of the hill, you could look down into the city of Nový Jičín, which was beautiful too.

Because I wasn't wearing hiking shoes (in fact, was in my high heeled boots!), I didn't venture up to the very top, but instead enjoyed the view of the ruins from here.

Though I could have stayed up there much longer, I needed to head for home so said goodbye to this lovely place with a "See you later" in my heart.

I definitely want to come back in the summer when the leaves are on the tree and when I have shoes that will let me climb to the top of the castle!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

At the Bookstore

Dave, Claire and I all had errands to run in Ostrava tonight so went together. After I finished my errand I found Claire in the bookstore.

She had come in looking for a gift, but in search of something else too, first wandered over to a different section of books. If you look really hard you might see what she found.

Dave's book, translated into Czech!

Yes, she pulled it out from between the other books and left it front and center! 😉

It was published this past December by a Czech Christian publisher that has over 300 books currently in print.

Dave's book is selling in their top ten right now!

It was fun to meet up with him when we were all done with our errands so that Claire could show him the pictures we took, and an Instagram story she did about it.

I am so thrilled about the impact that his book could have on this nation, calling them back to their spiritual roots and into a relationship with God the Father.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Afternoon with Judah

"Nonnie! Come!"

If the weather had been nicer today, I would have taken Judah up on his offer to go exploring in the woods around Malenovice, our JV training center!

But since the weather is still a bit uncertain, not to mention that it's "mud season", Judah and I came down the hill together while his mommy and daddy stayed to finish their time with the KAM team.

I'm thankful our friend Mel just happened to be in the parking lot to take this picture for us!

Another first for Judah and Nonnie, we hopped into my car and headed into Frydlant to do a little bit of grocery shopping together.

And then headed back home to spend the afternoon and evening together. When we arrived I lifted him out of his car seat and before I knew it, he'd made a great discovery in the garage: Papa's tractor!

Oh yes Judah! You are sure to have many fun adventures on this with Papa!

Lara and Asher came down a bit later, and we had such a happy afternoon together enjoying the boys!

Judah and I were having a little party in the living room, which then led to him wanting to have a party for Curious George, the monkey you see sitting next to the espresso machine!

A little water, some tea cups, a jug for pouring water, and plenty of towels to soak it up when it spilled, this was good entertainment for at least a half hour!

I'm pretty sure he's going to remember this and want to do it again next time! 😉

Oh how fun it is being part of his growing up days!!

New KAM Director

Up this hill, in the meeting room at Malenovice, a special event took place today.

The KAM team, JV's partner organization here in the Czech Republic, gathered for their once a month "Obývák" ("Living Room") team meeting with all those who serve in KAM across the country.

But today was not an ordinary "Obývák". It was the installation of a new director for KAM!

As I wrote HERE back in January, KAM was in the process of seeking a new man to lead the ministry here in the Czech Republic after the last director transitioned on to a new position. Dušan Drabina was put into place as the acting director back then, and now has been officially appointed as the leader of KAM.

It was such a joy and privilege for Dave and I to be part of the group who prayed over he and his wife, Danča, both whom we have known and loved for many years.

The KAM team is strong, with 80 members serving across the entire country.

Reaching thousands of young people each year with the Gospel, they share Christ, lead youth groups, train leaders, serve in Fusion, English camps, Edge sports, schools, and EXIT Tour  - all for the sake of fulfilling the Great Commission which is to make disciples who make disciples.

We are so encouraged by this dedicated group of people, and pray for much wisdom for our dear friend, Dušan who now has the privilege and responsibility of leading them into the next season of ministry to reach the young people of this country with the Good News of Jesus.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Visiting Moldova

Dave returned late this evening from a trip to a country he'd never visited before: Moldova.

If you don't recognize the name, or know anything about it, you're not alone!

Though I've heard of this country, I knew nothing about it until Dave took this trip which led me to do some research. Its history is rich and complex as they have belonged to many different empires over the centuries. If you like researching new countries, see HERE for its recent history, HERE for its early history, and HERE for what to me is a very strange part of their current status.

They broke free from USSR, becoming Moldova in 1991, but today it is the poorest country in all of Europe.

Dave said it reminded him of what Czech looked like when he first visited in 1991, shortly after Communism had fallen. For the most part, buildings are still gray cement, with the exception being a painted building here and there.

When I asked him why it hasn't progressed he said, "Google 'Moldova Corruption'".

So I did. The picture is pretty bleak.

One website wrote: Moldova's business environment is one of the most challenging in the region and is weakened by pervasive government corruption and a burdensome regulatory environment. The government lacks transparency, and Moldova's public officials commit acts of corruption with impunity. The judiciary is one of the weakest in the world in relation to independence from the political elite, and judges and prosecutors regularly extort bribes in exchange for reducing charges or imposing milder penalties.

Yet, in the midst of this discouraging news, there is good news!

A vibrant church in the capitol city has 3000 people involved, with about 1000 regularly attending on any given Sunday, and 1700 in small groups each week!

Pastored by a Romanian man who moved there as a missionary in 1993, the same year we arrived in Czech, he planted the church with just ten people. Until five years ago it was just 300 people, and he was ready to leave and do something else.

HE said, "God, if this can't be a church that reaches the lost, I'm going to do something else." So he traveled the world to find out what was true about churches that consistently reached people with the Gospel; he spent a week in South Korea, a week in Africa, a week in South American and a week in Birmingham, Alabama.

He came back and began to systematically apply what he'd learned to his church. Part of it was building his church around disciple making small groups, and very purposefully tracking with people and their growth.

In five years it grew from 300 to 3000 and is now the largest church in Moldova.

Dave, Terry English and Flaviu Coman, from our JV team, traveled to see the pastor whom Dave had met at a conference in Romania. The pastor had asked for help with their youth program so these three went to find out if JV could be of any assistance.

They met with the youth team from the church, to find out what they were doing in their youth program, and to talk with them about what it would take to move it to the next level.

Dave said this church has a great team with so much potential, and he enjoyed being there with them very much!

Our JV team will now think and pray about our part in helping them take next steps to building a model ministry in their local church that could be reproduced in other churches across the country.

These are such exciting days as we continue to follow God's lead in fanning into flame his movement across this region!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Výlet in Spring

After church today, Claire and I had lunch with friends as Dave is gone on a trip to Moldova, visiting a church and youth ministry in the capitol of that country for the week-end.

Since we didn't need to be back home right away (me at my home, and Claire at her new one!), we decided to take a little "výlet" (the Czech word for "trip"...but I like the Czech word better!).

I'd heard from Tyler and Lara's outing yesterday that there was a pretty cafe in the town of Hukvaldy, not far from our home. Called "Ráj na zemi" (Paradise on Earth), they were right!

This darling cafe has good coffee, a beautiful atmosphere, a kind barista and even a cute dog to make friends with which = paradise on earth! 😊

Meet Amy, the dog. Yes...her name really is Amy!
Claire and I had a great talk with her owner, and even ended up inviting her to our church! 

Not only do they have a cute cafe, but a store with beautiful things; and even an "e-shop" if don't live nearby and want to order from them.

While it was the kind of place where you could stay for several hours, we were anxious to get outside and take a walk on this day, our first one that feels like spring is in the air.

Just last week we were having "Siberia cold" (literally, a weather pattern that blew in from Siberia). But today, people were outside without coats because it was so warm.

Claire bought a postcard at the cafe that was a reproduction of an old card from the 1920's. There is still the same charm here today as there was then.

We started walking up to the Hukvaldy castle, first built 700 years ago!

But didn't make it all the way up there; opting instead to just walk slowly on the path, listening to the birds singing and soaking up our first warm day of the year.

It was an altogether delightful Sunday afternoon with Claire.