Sunday, July 15, 2018

World Cup Finale

Something big is happening in Croatia today!

Normally in the middle of July, this marina would be completely packed. Big sailboats and yachts would be moored here, the grill would be fired up, and the patio would be packed with people.

But today it's completely quiet.

With just one boat making its way into the harbor...but for a very different reason than to go to the marina.

Where is everyone?? On their way to watch Croatia play France in the World Cup final, taking place in Russia!

In our little village of Sv Nedjelja, everyone is down this pathway at the local pizzaria of Tamaris.

It's a packed house with all the townspeople, and those of us visiting, ready to watch the game.

Dave crawled up onto the railing's edge to capture this picture to show this patriotic crowd, intently watching the match as it began.

The first half was exciting! France scored first, but then Croatia tied it 1-1.

France scored again on a penalty kick, leaving it at 2-1 at the half.

The hometown crowd was still hanging in there, hoping for the best in the second half.

Croatia did score again, but so did France...another two times. Which meant the final score was 4-2, in France's favor.

But it was really awesome to see the response of the Croatians to their nation finishing with the Silver in the World Cup.

They celebrated anyway! Even into the night, people were setting off flares and fireworks, which of course had been meant for a first place victory.

But honestly...second place for the country of Croatia in World Cup soccer is amazing!

And in the end, the island goes on its beautiful way, as its done for centuries.

Holy Sunday!

It's Sunday and that means a day of Sabbath, and gathering with other believers for church.

Though there's not a church for us to go to here, we DO have a pastor with us, so that means church on the terrace with Dave!

We gathered around our table, opened our Bibles, and began a lively church service with the nine of us!

Claire loaned her Bible so she's on her phone for our time in 1 Thessalonians!

Bible study, prayer and several songs later, we'd had a most refreshing Sunday service here at the "Terrace Church of Sveta Nedjela"!

Do you know that Sveta Nedjela means Holy Sunday in Croatian?!

What better thing to do on a Sunday afternoon than enjoy God's incredible creation here!

We took our friends down to the little bay for some swimming...

Some cliff jumping...

And lots of fun, laughter and joy soaking in the beauty here.

It doesn't matter how many times I come here, I love it every single time - especially getting to share it with people I love!

You know how you get used to things around you when you've seen them often? This sign is one of those examples.

It says the names for "beach" in many different languages.

But for our 13 year old friend reading it for the first time? It said, "Exotic, strange, spaghetti, beach plague"!

We all howled hearing that, and I'll never be able to read it the same from here on out!

What a wonderful Sunday of fun and fellowship here on Hvar!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Slight Delay

When you're this far away from making the ferry that holds over a hundred cars, and now you have to wait three and a half hours for the next one....

You go for ice cream (with a bonus of it being dairy free!) on a very hot day in Split, Croatia!

While Dave took our friends across on our boat to the island of Hvar, Claire and I drove their rental van to the ferry this morning, hoping to make the early one. But when that didn't happen, we said, "Thanks Lord, you must have other plans for us" and took ourselves down to the waterfront to enjoy a morning in Split.

And three and a half hours later, we were one of the first onto the ferry and enjoyed our ride over to Hvar.

Well, except for the fact that it was blazing hot and there was barely a breeze! ðŸ˜‚ Kaylee's face says it all.

Getting to the house and having dinner on the terrace with everyone was the perfect way to start our time with them here!

We're all looking forward to the goodness of the Lord, and what He has ahead for us in this coming week!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Gospel Going Forward

We're always thinking and praying about the Gospel going forward in Central and Eastern Europe - it's on our hearts a lot.

Today in Croatia, we visited a place that could work for camps in the future; a place where teenagers in the southern region of Central and Eastern Europe could hear the Gospel, be discipled, and receive training as leaders for the next generation of the church in this region of the world.

This statue stood at the end of the bay.

I have no idea what the point of it was! But I took it as a moment to join in heartfelt prayers for the young people in this southern region.

It was so fun to share this day with Dave, his brother, Josh, and Claire.

And even sweeter to spend time praying together for God's movement here.

I'd like to come here to spend time in God's presence and be more equipped to do his work!

Twenty years ago the Catholic church built this small chapel at the water's edge in this cove. For me it stands as a symbol of hope, that this region of the world will once again be revitalized to faith in Jesus Christ.

As evening fell, we headed to meet up with our friends who we'll spend the week with here in Croatia.

I was just with them in Prague last week, and now here we are in Croatia together!

Their youngest has been missing their dog back home in Wyoming, so she was very happy to see that we brought Kaylee to be with us this week!

Tonight we took them into the city of Trogir, included on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. It is absolutely lovely!!

On the riva we noticed a group of acrobats doing a really fun performance.

During their break Dave went to ask them where they're from and received a surprise: they perform with the Albanian national circus!

With Caleb, Haley and Charlie headed there soon, our ears are always perked up now to hearing about Albania! It was really a delight watching them; made us excited that these are the people Caleb and Haley will be bringing the Gospel to!

No evening in Croatia is complete without gelato. Kaylee is sure Sarah should let her try it out too!

We'll head over to Hvar tomorrow morning; looking forward to a sweet week with these dear ones!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Twelve Hour Drive

Leaving home at 3 AM for a trip, Claire and Kaylee caught a few extra hours of sleep in the backseat of our car as we drove.

As we passed by Bratislava at 6 AM, I had such a warm feeling about it! Claire and I spent time here back in June (specifically, at the castle where we manned a station!) for JV Amazing Race with this year's summer intern.

"Hello Bratislava and friends we know here!"

Opting to "obey" Google maps, we took a different route soon afterward, heading down south through Hungary (instead of going through Austria) in order to save what maps told us would be a half hour's time.

I kid you not, we ended up on tiny roads like this, laughing hilariously along the way at our "shortcut" to save time! There is NO way this saved time.

But we did see some pretty beautiful scenery along the way!

And before we knew it, we'd crossed over into Croatia.

Crodux is a national gas station in Croatia!

We'd left early from home in order to make it all the way down to Å ibenik to meet up with someone.

While that might look like Dave, it's actually one of his brothers!

Twelve hours and 25 minutes since leaving home this morning, we "found" Dave's brother Josh in a gas station parking lot!

He led us to this boat where we quickly boarded just in time to leave port.

We headed out to a little island that I've never been to before.

This particular boat heads to two islands off the coast of Croatia mainland where people live, but where no cars are allowed!

There are probably a number of these islands in Croatia, and I've actually been to one of them before, but it's fun to get to come again with Dave, Josh and Claire!

After dropping off people at the first island, we came to this one to get off.

We landed here in town of Prvić Luka, which is one of the towns on this island of Prvić.

Having had to drive hard in order to make it here in time, we weren't exactly dressed for the hot weather that greeted us. But it still was fun to breathe in the salty Croatian air and enjoy the sunshine.

Why did we come? To visit a camp for teenagers!

Josh has built a relationship with a Croatian pastor who has a heart for young people and does this camp every year.

In fact, he does THREE camps every year for the children and youth in his church. He's got such a shepherd's heart to see young people come to know the Lord and be discipled to follow him.

It was so sweet to hear his heart and to see the teenagers there!

We could only stay for a couple of hours as there was only one more boat leaving the island that day and we needed to be on it! After a little walk to the other side just to see what it looked like, we headed back to the boat.

By late afternoon it was SO hot, especially since we still hadn't changed into our summer clothes. When we left home it was 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and down here it was almost 90!

I didn't need long sleeves, that's for sure.

Thankfully there was a breeze on the evening boat ride back to mainland.

And the four of us soaked in the rays of wonderful Croatian sunshine as the sun set.

What fun to get to spend time with these three in a place we all love and enjoy!