Friday, May 31, 2019

Amazing Race: Day Three

We woke up to another beautiful day for the Amazing Race with our summer interns. How we are thanking the Lord for His change of weather these past few days!

Last night teams were given starting times this morning, based on when they arrived at the last station yesterday. So while the first team was getting started at 8 this morning, the last one didn't start until nearly 10...which was good for them as they could catch up on a little sleep!

Claire and I arrived at our station in downtown Brno at 10 AM, along with our teammates Kelly and Wren.

The task we get to lead today? Sending teams into the "Tiger" store where they have 150 Kc (approximately $6.50) to spend on game supplies.

But the twist is, they can't buy a pre-made game! Instead they have to buy supplies for a game that they make up on the spot!

This task is designed to help them think quickly and creatively, with limited supplies, in anticipation of camps they'll be at this summer where they'll probably have to improvise on games at some point!

What absolute FUN it was watching 26 teams come up with 26 different games!

They bought an assortment of paper cups, balloons, pieces of paper, pipe cleaners, balls, and all sorts of other things in order to create their games.

One of my favorites was an adaptation to the game "Pictionary" where you draw a picture and the person tries to guess the word you're drawing. This team used paper plates, balanced on your head, where you couldn't actually see what you were drawing!

Caleb's Albania team had a creative game as well, and his teammates picked Claire to play it with her brother!

Little picture holders held cardboard pieces that had to be shot off the holder with a hairband!

All of these games were played right out on the sidewalks where ordinary people were passing by all day!

We had a couple people actually stop and ask if they could play, to which we said, "Of course!"

Our first team had arrived somewhere just after 10, and our last time arrived at just after 4!

Even though they were in last place, they had THE BEST attitudes about it! They weren't in the race to win it, but rather to have a good time bonding as an intern team.

I happened to know one of the interns on this particular team!

She is from Dave's home church in Denver, where he grew up going with his parents, and siblings. His mom, dad, sister and her family still attend there! Shelby has been in a young adult class that Joyce and David have been teaching for many years so it's really special to have her here serving with us this summer.

Once the last team left, headed for the finish line in Frydlant, a 3 hour train ride away, the four of us packed up our things and began to make our own way to the train station.

Kelly and I had left cars in Ostrava so we didn't have as far to go as the interns did, so our Amazing Race ended here in the parking lot of Ostrava Svinov!

What an incredibly special three days it was, serving together with these amazing JV teammates of ours!

Many of our teammates will head to intern training up at the hotel for the next five days, and then will return to their countries and begin their summer of camps. This tool is a key part of our ministry as the Gospel will be shared with over 7000 students this summer.

Pray for our interns, to have bold faith and open hearts towards the young people they'll be in contact with at camps. Pray for the students, that they'll come ready for God's work in their hearts!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Racing to Another City

This morning dawned bright and beautiful here in Prague, despite the forecast otherwise!

Claire and I didn't have to be at our station until later on in the day, so we headed out towards Václavské náměstí, or otherwise known as Wenceslas Square.

With the city just waking up, it was fairly quiet there.

Except for 100 interns making their way to the top of the square with balloons between them!

This challenge was designed for teamwork, as they had to hold a balloon between them, carry all of their belongings with them, and head to the top of the square without losing a balloon! If they lost one (it slipped out) or it broke, they had to come all the way back to the beginning and start over.

What a way to see the most famous street in Prague!

And what a gorgeous morning!!

What the interns didn't know at that point was that later in the day they would get a clue that would send them on to another city here in the Czech Republic!

Because Claire's and my next station was in that city, we headed to the train station to head there.

With no explanation of why, we ended up being on the train for an extra hour, making a two hour ride a three hour ride.

But we were pretty sure we were beating any intern teams there, so were safe in arriving later than expected.

What we didn't count on was how torn up the city of Brno is! We had to get off at a different train station than the main one, and then find our way into the city. You'd think this wouldn't be hard since we speak Czech, but it proved to be difficult. We were literally "over the river and through the woods" trying to find our way!

We kept speculating how the interns would find their way, if we were having a hard time!

After getting on a bus going the wrong way, we walked for a half hour, took another bus, walked again, and finally reached our destination of the farmer's market downtown Brno!

We were here to man the last station of the day: an hour of prayer in the JV Prayer Room!

For a while we sat on the steps of the building, watching people go by and wondering when our first team would arrive.

Eventually a bench was freed up so we didn't have to sit on cold cement, and so we would be highly visible when teams started arriving!

These two teams came running in first around 5 PM, within just minutes of each other!

L: Estonia Edge team; R: Czech English camp team

They had a choice about how they could spend their hour of prayer. They could go online, if they had data, and pray in the actual JV Prayer Room. Or they could pray using a sheet that I'd prepared that led them through something like an hour in the Prayer Room.

HOW I loved watching these teams spread out in the square in front of us and begin to pray!

As more teams began to arrive, our teammate, Denny came to be with us too. She's been in charge of all the housing arrangements, and many other details, for the Amazing Race. We posed for a nice picture together...

But here is the actual reality!

It was 9 PM and SO chilly as the night air began to settle in.

Not long after this another one of our JV teammates sent me a text and asked if there was anything we needed. I jokingly (kind of!) said a blanket, to which she replied she'd see what she could do.

Dear Kelly brought us one, stuffed into her backpack! It was literally the blanket off her bed at the hostel where we're staying tonight!

It made ALL the difference as we continued to wait for teams to arrive and pray.

At 10:15 the decision was made that any teams who arrived at that point had to get in their hour of prayer before the beginning of the race in the morning, rather than making them (and us!) stay outside even later.

But the last team had arrived just a few minutes before the decision was made, so we waited for them to finish their hour of prayer in the empty square.

Rachael and Zuzi came to join us for the last hour, or so, which was so nice of them! We had such a fun time ending the day together at the prayer station!

It was midnight when we got settled into our rooms, and morning will come early for our last day of the race. But I wouldn't have traded being at this station for anything.

Over 100 hours of prayer were invested tonight into asking for God's Kingdom to advance in Central and Eastern Europe. I can't wait to see how God answers those prayers, and the fruit that comes from them!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Race Begins!

When Claire and I met up with our JV teammates yesterday to get instructions for the Amazing Race for our summer interns, we found out that our first station was at the airport where they were all arriving into.

So that's where we headed this afternoon!

Some of the interns had already arrived, as well as some of our teammates!

It was CRAZY to see the whole bottom section of Terminal 2 taken over by interns and staff! We laughed and said that it was almost like this space was made for large groups to meet in since there's nothing else in this part of the terminal.

Some interns have been here before, but a majority of them are here for their first time, meeting up with the teammates and leaders they'll be serving with this summer; often they don't know anyone on their team.

How I loved seeing so many intern teams praying together before the race begins!

And who else should we meet up with???

Caleb and Haley drove up from Albania two days ago, dropping off Haley and Charlie in Bratislava with her parents, while Caleb and his Albanian intern, Joni, took the train to Prague to meet up with their other interns coming from the States.

It was nice to be reunited with Caleb here!

Funny thing...the last time I was at the Prague airport with Caleb was in January 2013. I wrote a blog post called "Changes", saying towards the end, "'s not possible to know what all will transpire or when he will set foot on Czech soil again." It was a few years later that he came back to visit Czech (with his wife!), but this is the first time we've met up here at the airport in 6 1/2 years!

Back to the Amazing Race!

Praise the Lord, by 3:30 PM all the interns (and their luggage!) had arrived from the US and around Europe, and the race could commence.

Rachael and Zuzi gave them guidelines and instructions for the days ahead, and then they were off! They first had to find Mike, one of our JV staff, to get their first clue, and then they headed our way!

Their first task on the Amazing Race was to choose a category and answer all ten questions. Once they'd answered, they could come to us for the answers. For every wrong answer, they were docked a two minute penalty before they could leave to go on to their next task.

No one got every question right, but there were a few teams who got almost all of them wrong, which resulted in long time penalties. But everyone had a great spirit, and by 4:30 everyone was off to look for their next station!

Caleb's team had only a couple answers wrong so weren't delayed too long...except for mom to take a team picture! 🤣

It's hard to describe how much joy it gives me to see all of these interns here, ready and eager for what God has for them!

My life was completely changed by God's work in my heart on a summer mission's trip 35 years ago. So I know well what God can do in a person's life in just three months.

I'm sure glad he changed my life direction as a result of that summer long ago!