Sunday, June 23, 2019

Afternoon in Athens

Dave and I just returned from the States yesterday afternoon, and today are off on another adventure - this time, with Claire included too!

Our dear friends from Wyoming, who have been a tremendous encouragement and support to us over the years, asked us to join them, and the staff from their classical school, on an early church history study tour in Greece and Turkey.

Dave will be teaching many times over the next twelve days as we journey to these new places together, learning on location from the New Testament across these countries.

We arrived in Athens this afternoon, found our hotel and then wandered in the city that we haven't been to since 2003.

Back then we were traveling by car with our vacation family buddies, the Ellenwood's and Hash's! Most of what we remember from Athens was the 109 degrees (42.7 C) that it was up at the acropolis (seen below in the distance, at the end of that street!). πŸ₯΅

Thankfully temperatures are much more pleasant today.

Claire was just 12 years old back then so it's really special to be with her here as our adult daughter now!

The group from Wyoming arrives tomorrow afternoon, so today we had time to see a bit of the city and start getting over jet lag.

Thankfully Claire is an excellent navigator (and she'd be the first one to tell you that Google Maps is her good friend!) so found us a great place to eat lunch and get coffee!

We're tucked away in our hotel tonight, and praying for a good night's sleep so we're all fresh tomorrow when this tour begins.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Travels with Dave

Two hours after the JV board meeting yesterday, Dave and I were at the airport in Chicago to take our flight back to Europe. We arrived tired, but safe and sound into Vienna.

While waiting for our delayed flight to Krakow, Dave made a purchase he's been contemplating for a year.

After 35 years of watching him travel everywhere with his briefcase, he's made the jump to a businessman's backpack instead! πŸ˜‚

That briefcase has been an extension of him for so many years! But it was finally time to retire it and get a new, and more ergonomic, version of it. Here's to hoping it lasts for as long as his briefcase did!

Once in Krakow we discovered that two pieces of our luggage didn't arrive, so went to stand in line to find out where it was.

If we hadn't done that, we would've missed seeing these JV teammates, Kevin and Daniela, who were coming back from a ten year planning summit with the leadership team of KAM, our JV ministry in Czech!

Our bags were, thankfully, found in Frankfurt and will get delivered later on today.

In the meantime, we headed into downtown Krakow by train to get some dinner before coming back to the airport to spend the night.

We're actually not even going home, but headed on to another trip tomorrow.

I am happy to be traveling with Dave these days!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Behind the Scenes

Three times a year the Josiah Venture board of directors meets in the States to provide oversight for the ministry.

Every one of these men are committed followers of Jesus, and they love, care, support and stand with Dave and his executive team as they lead the ministry (they love the JV team too!).

When we became our own organization in January 2002, the first JV board was formed, which included a very dear friend of ours that we'd gone to church with during Dave's year of grad school at Wheaton College.

Frank has been an integral and key part of the ministry ever since, serving on this board now for 18 years. That's an incredible commitment to us and to the Lord!

Dave and the exec team honored him and his wife today, with a special commemorative book that's "one of a kind", made just for them!

We are infinitely grateful for his faithfulness to stand with us in so many ways, and for our entire board and their commitment to provide godly wisdom and help in shepherding JV.

There are so many who are behind the scenes of JV, doing innumerable jobs to make sure we can do what God's called us to do on the mission field. One of those is Sarah who mans the JV USA office!

Amy and I stopped in to see her while the board meeting continued (you can kind of see them in the room that's just through the open door!).

How we love all of our JV people, importantly including the board and our USA team!!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Visiting Mozart Street

This is a very familiar view!

When Caleb and Haley got married five years ago, this was their first home here in Chicago while they were still students at Moody.

We walked through this door many times coming to visit them in those days.

But today, Amy and I were visiting one of our dearest friends, and JV teammates, who lives here now!

Geri and Dave Fuehring served in Czech for three years, but go back a lot farther than that with both Amy and I.

Amy and Geri grew up in the same town and at the same high school in southern Illinois! I got to know Geri many years ago when she was on staff at a church in the Chicago suburbs and came out on short term teams with her husband and girls.

And then three years ago, they fulfilled a dream to come serve with us in JV. Oh how we loved having them there for those years!

But they have now moved back to the States and will be serving JV from the States, helping to mobilize new missionaries to the field.

And in God's provision, they were able to move into the very same building where Caleb and Haley lived, which happens to be next door to the coolest restaurant and brewery!

Geri says it's their extended living room, and they're building relationships with the staff here, and before long will, I'm sure, be "mom and dad" to these people as they were in Czech!

She's worked with me on the Prayer Room since the early days of its creation in 2016, so has an extra special place in my heart for joining me in that project. I'll miss her being just an hour away from me in Czech, but besides staying in JV, she's also staying on the Prayer Room team so I'm thankful for that!

They'll also travel over for all the major conferences in Czech, so I'll probably see her as often as I did when she lived down the road!

She and her husband are great missionaries, and will continue to be that right here in Chi-town!

Love you so much Geri!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Just 'See you later'

It's never fun to say goodbye to JV staff who God moves on to other places.

But when it's for love, that's not as hard!

Amy and I took Karis out to lunch today, who just got married three weeks ago!

After serving on our JV Slovenia team for a number of years, she and her husband are settled here in the Wheaton-Warrenville area. After graduating from Moody Bible Institute, she was sent out as a missionary by our home church here in this area, Grace Church of DuPage, and is now back attending that church with her husband - and in fact, had just come from helping out at their VBS this week!

As a team we said goodbye to her at spring conference in May, but thankfully it's only a "see you later" since we'll see her when we're back in this area!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Obeying the Law

Coming with Dave to Chicago for his JV spring board meeting this week has an extra special twist.

I get to see Amy!

Normally I see my dear friend and fellow JV teammate often back at home in Czech as we serve together there.

But for the next six months she and her husband, Mel, are in the midst of obeying the law and in what we call "Social Security Exile" from Czech.

A new law was passed a few years ago that requires any US citizen who lives in a different country (like Czech) that has made a "totalization agreement" with the US, to leave their country of residence every five years (though you can apply for a four year extension, making it every nine years) for 6 months in order to stay eligible for US Social Security benefits. They don't have to go back to the US; they just can't live in their country of residence for six months.

Confused? So are we! If the US made you return to the States, that would make more sense. But they just tell you that you can't stay in your country of residence. Where you go is up to you.

So Mel and Amy can't enter the Czech Republic until November, when their six months is up!

Over these next months they'll spend some time in the US seeing family, supporters and churches who stand behind them. But most of the time will be spent in Europe (just not the Czech Republic!) so they can stay connected to the ministry.

Mel and Amy are not the only ones who have to leave their homes to do this - we have several other JV families who are out right now too, others who will leave soon, and others who have already completed their six months out of country.

While it's not the worst thing in the world, it's not easy, especially for those with kids. But they are all making the most of it and trusting the Lord for His plan during those six months.

For me, it was just nice to see Amy today, and I'm glad we have a few more days together this week before we're apart again!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Grand Rapids

Dave arrived safely from Europe last night, landing in Grand Rapids, Michigan to meet up with me.

Every two years we come here to a foundation located here, who invests in our ministry. We love to share stories with them of God's work among the youth of central and eastern Europe!

They are one of the ways that God has provided for some of our big projects to move forward, such as the development and printing of new training materials which happened this past year.

This foundation is so Christ-centered, working with hundreds of organizations around the world to help the Gospel go forward.

We always leave so inspired by some of the stories they tell us about what others are doing around the world to advance God's Kingdom. It's a privilege to partner with them in getting the Good News of Jesus out in our part of the world!

With about an hour before needing to go back to the airport, we enjoyed coffee downtown at Madcap. If you're ever in Grand Rapids, and like superb coffee, go hang out there!

It's so good to be back together with Dave. I sure like doing life with him!

We're headed out to Chicago from here, where Dave will have a JV board meeting in a few days. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sacrificial Love

My mom and dad were up early this morning with me, kindly and sacrificially taking me to the airport at 5:30 AM.

They have always been so helpful and supportive, standing in love and prayers with me and my family as we've lived away from them for all of my adult life. I know it's not been easy to have us live across an ocean; but my whole life they have been people who choose joy no matter what, and who have blessed me into the life that God had for me. For that I am so very thankful!

As I flew out from Eugene, headed to my next destination, I thought how kind my heavenly Father was to give me these parents here on earth!

I settled in for a long flight after my goodbye with them. The views were spectacular as I flew from Oregon across the United States.

And I landed safely in Michigan where I'm now waiting for Dave to arrive from Czech in a few hours!

He's been in Prague, Berlin, Germany and Kristiansand, Norway since we last saw each other a week ago. No doubt there will be much to catch up on when he arrives!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saturday Market and Father's Day!

Visiting my family this week-end, we headed into Eugene this afternoon to enjoy some local culture!

The Eugene Saturday Market is the oldest weekly open-air crafts market in the United States. Opened in May of 1970, it has run from April through mid-November, no matter what the weather is, for 50 years!

Begun by hippies back in the '70's, I remember you could find a lot of tie-dye at the market back then.

And it's still here today!

But of course it's evolved into much more since then. You'll find a variety of handcrafted goods artwork, jewelry, clothing, and craft furniture here. Vendors also sell homemade jams, breads, soaps and honey.

Oh and if you're lucky, you'll see an original hippie bus here too!

I told my parents this should be their Christmas card picture this year! πŸ˜‚

I have so many memories of being downtown Eugene when I was a child so it's nostalgic to come back down here.

I can remember coming to this very fountain that hasn't changed in 50+ years!

While tie dye, and more tie dye, still abound at the Saturday market, I passed on purchasing any of I have for the past 50 years! πŸ˜‚

Back at my mom and dad's in the afternoon, we got to chat with these two Patty men in Albania!

And then it was time to celebrate my dad for Father's Day (early...since I have to leave at 6 AM tomorrow).

My dad is the kindest, most generous, loving and supportive dad - it was a joy to get to tell him that in person!

And enjoy with him my mom's strawberry shortcake to celebrate!

I was watching the light outside, hoping for "golden hour" to take a few pictures. I think we got it!

My dad brought out a ladder and my brother figured out how to prop my phone up on it so we could take that family photo on this lovely evening.

And I snapped a beautiful one of my mom and dad too!

We finished out the day by looking at some old photo albums, enjoying sweet memories of the past.

There were even a few cute notes that they'd saved, like this one from Claire when she was 8 years old!

Not sure why she called my dad "Bop-it" back then! πŸ˜‚ He is always and forever Bapa!

What a perfect two days here with my family in Eugene! So thankful for them, and for these days we got to be together on this Father's Day week-end!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Family Day

What a perfectly beautiful Oregon morning to wake up to with my family here in Eugene!

My brother, Mike, took the day off from work so he could hang with us on this family day...

And my mom made her awesomely famous (in our family!) shrimp salad for lunch on this sweet family day.

And what's better on a family day than fresh maple bars for me and my dad after lunch?! πŸ˜‚

It was so great spending the afternoon here at my mom and dad's dining table, talking, laughing, and remembering special memories like the time my dad made almost a hundred candle holders for Caleb and Haley's wedding back in 2014!

My mom's amazing Thanksgiving meal (thanks Mom for making it for me!) finished out the day here. She seriously makes the best stuffing, a taste of my childhood that brings back all kinds of warm memories.

A day of just getting to be in their home, enjoying time together is the best kind of family day!