Monday, April 23, 2018

Gelato in Žilina

The Lord can accomplish his purposes at any time, and in any type of weather. But when it's sunny, it just makes everything better!

After KPM, the youth leader conference we were at in Slovakia, finished we headed into the square for lunch with one of our JV board members who was here to serve at the conference too.

It really couldn't have been a more beautiful afternoon to debrief and share with each other about our experiences this week-end, and how we saw God moving.

After lunch Jack told us that every day during the conference he'd seen a line at an ice cream shop across from his hotel; he said he'd treat if we'd go there with him. Of course we were happy to oblige!

I know nothing about "Scoop", except that it's true, there's a line. I should have taken a picture of how many people were there waiting with us to go in. And how many more were there when we came out.

It's tiny inside, and a squeeze to get in and out. But what a cute place!

And even better, what amazing options they had!

I opted for the lemon basil sorbet while Dave chose salted caramel.

It was the perfect way to end our time in Žilina, being part of God's movement in Slovakia!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Getting Real

We finished KPM conference today in Slovakia.

What a powerful week-end with these 600 youth leaders from around the country!

All week-end we were in sessions, seminars and personal talks focused on spiritual gifts and being God's workmanship created in Christ for good works that he's planned in advance for us.

Dave and I had countless conversations and times of prayer with young men and women who are seeking to be used by God to impact their country with their gifts and talents.

The conference ended with a meaningful visual of what it looks like when we all use our gifts to benefit the body of Christ.

All week-end there's been a "Lego man" on stage. Made of styrofoam, he's had different lighting on him as part of the theme decor for conference. But today he got real!

Upon entering the conference hall this morning, each person was given a different colored piece of paper with no explanation. After the last teaching session, they were instructed to come up and place their piece of paper on the Lego man to symbolize their unique part in the body of Christ, and to demonstrate that it takes all of us to make a complete picture.

As these youth leaders now return home to their youth groups, I pray they'll be encouraged by what they learned about themselves this week-end, and put into practice more effectively their part in the bigger picture of discipling young people to faith in Christ.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

KPM: God's Workmanship

On this beautiful spring day Dave and I arrived in Žilina, Slovakia for KPM, the annual leadership conference that Kompas, our JV team in Slovakia, prepares for the youth leaders around the country.

Who did we run into first upon arrival? One of our JV Kids, Gavin - who also happens to be our daughter-in-law, Haley's, brother! He and his family have served here in Slovakia for six years, and he'll be heading to Chicago this summer to begin college at Moody Bible Institute, where his sisters and brother-in-law (our Caleb!) attended.

This conference has had a major impact on young leaders for many years - 26 years, in fact! A whole generation, perhaps it's even two by now, has been trained up to disciple young people. And now they're ready to impact another one.

This year's theme is "Workmanship" based on the passage in Ephesians that says, "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

The KPM team has worked all year to creatively bring this theme to life!

Tonight 600 young leaders from around the country began to fill these seats in the cultural center here in Žilina, prepared to be taught, encouraged and gain confidence in the gifts and abilities they've been given by God.

Katarina co-led this event last year, and this year is fully in charge, coordinating dozens of people to serve at this event.

She trusted Christ at an English camp when she was 16 years old and came on staff with JV, along with her husband, a few years ago. It was a joy to watch her lead this evening!

Notice anyone's face on the Lego man?!

Dave spoke tonight, opening up the topic of being God's workmanship. He talked about how we look around at others and see what gifts, talents and abilities they have, but how we don't see or understand our own. And yet, God's Word says that he created each of us for good works that we would walk in them!

So what are those, and how do we find out what we are uniquely created for?

I'm excited to see how this week-end progresses as people are in the main sessions and in seminars, learning more about who they are in God's great design!

Just a few of the JV missionaries here in Slovakia, using their gifts and talents for the Lord's work!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Donuts for Mama

Oh the joy of having Claire back in our everyday lives!

While she's traveling about as much as we are these day (serving the JV Kids), today was a rare day that we were both at home. And you know what she chose to do?

Come serve her mama by baking gluten free doughnuts!

This is THE BEST recipe for a light airy doughnut that tastes as good as anything (better, really!) you'll get in a bakery. And it's all "legal" for me! She used Alpro's soy yogurt, the secret ingredient that makes these doughnuts something special...found at Albert for any of you in the Czech Republic!

Truth be told, I could have one of these every day! :) Good thing we're not home that often! 😉

Thank you for serving me, Claire! You made my day!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Curious George Goes for a Walk

We arrived home last night, with Dave returning from the States and me from Croatia.

We're on a quick turnaround as we leave again on Thursday for a conference in Slovakia. So when our son, Tyler, called to say he and the family would be in Frydlant on Tuesday, and could they stop by, I didn't hesitate to say yes! I've missed them these past weeks.

After naps (not me, but the boys 😂), snacks and playtime, we all headed out for a walk in the neighborhood, with a certain little somebody tagging along.

Many, many years ago Curious George belonged to Uncle Caleb (I think he got him for his 5th birthday!); but he's been in a toy box for years now waiting for someone else to love him. Judah is very happy to oblige!

Today George was begging to go on the walk with Judah (or was it the other way around?! 😉) so he accompanied us as we went to explore springtime in the area.

It was a momentous occasion in that it was our first walk together since they moved here. I expect there will be many more in the years to come!

It was only days ago that spring popped out here, I'm told. There is sure nothing like it when it goes from the dead to winter to spring, all in a matter of weeks or sometimes, even days!

Judah has the same trait as George...curious! It's a good trait to have as a two and a half year old. And sometimes you just have to sit with your friend and soak in all that's going on around you.

But then, you see some rocks and you just can't resist! Oh the wonder of endlessly throwing rocks into the ditch!

Truth be told, I wanted to take a picture of their family, but rock throwing just couldn't be interrupted!

We take this commercial break to show off Asher and his daddy!

Back to Judah and Curious George...when you really get curious, like looking at all the purple flowers in the neighbor's lawn, then mommy gets a chance to be George's friend.

But soon, the boy and monkey are back to their inseparableness! It is just pretty cute watching them together! 😉

As we slowly made our way back home, George and Judah found all number of things to stop and look at.

Lara was ever so sweet to stop for every interest of theirs along the way!

Oh the simple joy of a walk with a friend to hang onto

Monday, April 16, 2018

Finding Someone in Zagreb

During the off season, ferries only run three times a day from Hvar to Split: 5:30 AM, 11:30 AM and 5:30 PM. So if you need to be somewhere early in the day, it means an early ferry!

Up at 4 AM and to the ferry by 5, I nearly had the ferry to myself. They're running a much bigger ferry right now (not the one that usually goes across) so it almost felt eerie to be in this section by myself...just me and about 100 empty seats!

As soon as I got off, I headed for the highway and drove four and a half hours to Zagreb, ending up here.

The plane I was meeting was delayed so I took myself over to the one cafe located in the terminal (which is just a year old and beautiful!).

I'd never heard of this type of coffee before so wasn't expecting much, but oh how surprised I was!

It was quite possibly the best Americano I've ever had! Wish we had Caffe Nero near us! (It's based in the UK, with a locations around Europe, and now in the US near Boston).

Entertaining myself by people watching while I sipped my coffee and waited was quite enjoyable.

I loved seeing so many Croatians bringing their dogs to the airport to meet friends and loved ones, with this dog being the most impressive.

Finally, an hour late, this loved one of mine showed up!

You might notice that he's missing something. Yes, his bag! Good thing they were willing to send it on to Ostrava when they find it.

I didn't find out until later that he almost didn't make it either. When he arrived at the Orlando airport to check in for his flights back to Europe, his Frankfurt to Zagreb ticket had been cancelled! They couldn't do anything about it in Orlando so he had to wait until Frankfurt, where he only had an hour layover to work it out.

Thanks to a helpful Lufthansa agent who put him on standby for the flight, he was the last one on the plane so arrived, albeit late as the flight itself was delayed, in time for me to pick him up.

One more cup of coffee to go for the road and we're headed for home in Czech! Glad Dave's back!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

What A Difference

Today could not have been more different than yesterday. 

Those piles of wood won't stay there; I'm guessing they'll be fuel for the wood-fired grill at the marina restaurant this summer!

The sun did not pop its head out even once today, whereas yesterday was a glorious sun fest.

Or should I saw SON fest?! If I say it that way, then this Sabbath day in Svete Nedjelja (Holy Sunday...that's the name of this village!) was still a day of celebrating the SON.

I walked down to the harbor because...well, you can't be here and NOT go down there at least once!

I thought I'd be alone down here because that's the norm in off season. I was looking forward to a time of worship with the Lord.

But what you can't hear is a BIG party going on just meters away from here at the first house overlooking the tree, just above these rocks.

So I had to take my worship somewhere else! But I'm glad I at least came down to say "hello".

I leave early in the morning so won't be back here until the summer. While the weather will surely be different then, this tree and view will be the same as always.

Just like my Lord!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Finding A Gift

After finishing my Velvet Ashes retreat late this afternoon, I was thinking about what to do with my evening. When I asked the Lord his response was, "Why not go out for dinner?"

This was seriously NOT my idea as I don't actually like to go out by myself.

But as I talked about it with him I knew he was serious about me doing it. So what's a girl to do but get in the car and head to the nearest restaurant?

Or maybe not!

There are only a few restaurants on this side of the island, and only one that is sometimes open in off season. But not today.

However I knew for sure that a restaurant was open in another town on the other side of the island. So I headed to Jelsa, even though I was still not feeling great about going out to eat alone.

As I started walking towards the restaurant, the one I'd been at last week with Dave and our friends, I started relaxing a bit. Maybe it would be okay to be there alone.

I can never take too many pictures walking along the harbor edge in Jelsa. It's always just a picture waiting to happen!

We've been coming to this town for ten years now so it feels very familiar by now.

As does the sweet restaurant, "Me and Mrs. Jones", that's situated right there on the riva.

I quite literally had the restaurant to myself, which was, for me, a bonus! If I have to be alone for dinner I'd rather really be alone, than among a crowd.

Though I felt a little sad that Dave, Mel, Amy, Dan and Laura and I had sat at that big table last week!

Best of all, the owner, Josipa, made me feel like family by attending to my every need over the next hour. She had a few guests sitting outside, but I was her only one inside as it was too early for other guests (they usually start arriving after 8!).

After finishing a delicious meal, she brought me dessert "on the house" - semifredo, a delicious frozen cream dessert, covered in nuts.

I know it might look like two corks from a wine bottle, but trust's pretty much to die for in taste!

When it was time to leave I asked her if we could take a picture together, to which she said yes.

And then she handed me a bag and told me she loved me and to come back soon!

In the bag was a beautiful bottle of white chardonnay wine. It honestly made me cry.

That was the sweetest gift at the end of this day of retreat with the Lord. He'd brought me all the way from the other side of the island just to say "I have gifts of love prepared for you in all kinds of places."

Thanks Lord! I'll never forget this day, nor this week spent alone with you in one of my favorite places in the world.