Monday, September 30, 2019

Sunshine through the Clouds

One of the things I love about our JV conferences is the opportunity to talk and pray with people individually.

During fall conference this past week, God led me to so many different ones, to hear their stories, joys, heartaches, and needs. And each time I'd pray for them at the end of our conversation, I'd be amazed again at how BIG God is, and how ABLE He is to reach down and care for any and all needs.

One particular need stands out...and it's on my heart today. A friend in JV, who I've known for many years, is waiting on God's timing for children. Today she and her husband have a significant doctor's appointment that I'm asking God to oversee and do a miracle through it.

I walked and prayed for an hour at 11:30, the time of the appointment. And all the while it was raining outside. I'll be honest - I fought discouragement as I prayed. They've waited and trusted God for so long, that it seems like it will always be a dark and rainy season for them.

But shortly after that hour, I looked outside the kitchen door and saw a very different sight.

Clouds, yes. But loads of sunshine streaming through in the midst of them!

I don't know if God's answer will be yes this time, though I'm asking him for it for them. But I felt clear assurance that He is absolutely overseeing this time in their lives, knows the desires of their hearts, and has an answer for them.

Along with my friends, I am trusting in the Lord with all my heart, and not leaning on my own understanding; instead I'm acknowledging God and believing Him to make straight paths for my friends.

This is what God specializes in, making paths straight! So I'm leaving my prayers with Him today, and trusting Him to do that for my friends.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Heading for Home

This was taken just five minutes before everyone left to head for their homes on this Sunday morning. 

Tyler, Lara, Judah and Asher had just a thirty minute drive home into Ostrava.

But Caleb, Haley and Charlie have a "bit" farther to go than that.

They will be in the car today for at least twelve hours; and then tomorrow they'll have another twelve! Charlie is learning to be a good little traveler back and forth to their home in Vlorë, Albania!

It's been sweet to share life with all of them this past week during our JV fall conference as they stayed here at our home. Dave and I are so pleased with them and the lives they lead in the places God has called them to; we love being with our adult kids and our grandkids!

But while it's fun to share life together in one place for a time, we also rejoice in how God's using them in the places He's called them to. There is such joy in our hearts knowing they are walking with God, and leading their families to know and love Him too!

(Oh and by the way...Claire hasn't been with us these past two days as it was finally her turn to take a vacation! We'll catch up with her in a week when she gets back. We love her so much, and are delighted in how she's walking with God too and making a difference wherever she goes!)

Saturday, September 28, 2019

One More Celebration

Although Dave's birthday was almost two weeks ago, celebration for him continued this evening with the family members who weren't here for the earlier festivities!

Although we're having the same cake that we had two weeks ago (because who doesn't love a Medovnik, the honey cake that has become so popular here in Czech!), I did have a funny little surprise on top for Dave!

Do you see it?!

Judah was especially fascinated by the letters on Dave's cake that spelled out the name he goes by for the grandsons!

They all piled on top of Papa after eating their cake, giggling all the while!

And postponing bedtime for just a F-E-W more minutes!

What a special day it's been...wood-chopping for Dave's birthday with his boys, and time with the family on a beautiful fall day!

Wood Chopping Day

When Dave said that all he wanted for his birthday was a work day with his boys after fall conference ended, they agreed.

This is what makes Dave happy!

While his birthday was already two weeks ago, he was happy to wait for his boys to "come home" for a work day chopping wood!

While he and Caleb got started, Tyler got to work putting the garden to bed for the winter. His boys were out there helping him and made a good pile to take to the organic dumpsters down the road!

While they worked, I worked too.

Yes, I consider giving wheelbarrow rides for nearly two hours, work. 🤣 🤣 🤣(I'm really serious...I walked around our yard with different ones in the wheelbarrow, teaching them the names of the trees, and noticing every little detail along the way!).

Part of my work was also capturing photos of this epic fall day with kids and grandkids here  to enjoy!

I remember when I used to lift Asher up to ring the chimes on our garden house. Now he can climb up there by himself to do it!

This is the smile I got from Judah when I asked him to smile his biggest smile for me!

Charlie was getting a cold so had sniffles that kept him inside for the morning. But by afternoon he had a smile and was outside looking like a little man!

His work for the afternoon? Scooping up rocks to put into his bucket!

Lara and Haley kept us all fed throughout the day, which was a huge blessing to me as it meant I could enjoy just playing with the little boys!

It's fun to watch them growing up and enjoying this kind of a day at Papa and Nonnie's house!

These guys are the heroes of the day though! Sawing, splitting, moving, and stacking wood ALL DAY LONG!

That's a lot of wood ready for the winter!

It couldn't have been a better gift to Dave...having his boys help him with one of his favorite hobbies! Thanks Tyler and Caleb for knowing and loving your dad so well!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Twice a Year

With all of our kids and their families now serving with Josiah Venture, I'm guaranteed at least two family pictures a year...when they all come to Malenovice for fall and spring conference!

Since we just finished fall conference, I asked if we could get our next picture this afternoon. Claire brought her camera and tripod over so we could just stand on our little road and take the picture.

We're training the grandkids early about how to smile for the...tripod!

Unless of course they're taking a picture with Papa and Nonnie and all the parents are doing this to get them to smile. 😂

I haven't gotten the pictures back from Claire yet of that particular part of the photo shoot, but she did send me this one. Not bad for a tripod picture, right?!

While Claire took individual family pictures on her camera, I stood beside her and captured them on my phone.

While there's nothing like a camera, it's also amazing what phone cameras can do these days!

Couldn't forget to a "sister" picture!

I'm not sure which one of the guys, Tyler or Caleb said it, but when someone suggested they teach the boys how to frolic in the field, they were all off in a flash!

This sort of fun started years ago with their cousin, Justin and has been producing funny pictures ever since. 🤪

I might have to add a frolicking picture to my requests for pictures whenever they're all here!

Oh this little tribe of Patty men is so adorable. 🥰

L-R: Judah, Asher, Charlie

My heart is overflowing with joy in God's kindness that my kids and their families are walking with God, and that we get to share life together in that way!

Love Goes

This morning we wrapped up this year's JV Fall Conference, centered around the theme of the Great Commandment, loving God and loving others in order to renew the heart of youth ministry across Central and Eastern Europe.

Most every other fall conference has been more about skills and equipping the next generation of leaders with tools they can use in youth ministry.

But this year's conference was something quite different. It was more a conference of the heart...and we all loved it as we heard heartfelt teaching, entered into heartfelt worship, and ended today praying for each other with heartfelt prayers!

Because in the end, if we don't have love, we are only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

If we have love for one another, {and for God}, people will know we are his disciples (John 13:35).

We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

And He loved us so much that He gave his only Son for us that we might not perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16)!

I was so busy loving people in our last hours of conference that I took no other photos than this one of Claire and I!

But it's a fitting end to a very impactful conference of receiving God's love, giving Him our love, and loving each I love my girl! ❤️

** You can find Dave's last talk, "Love Goes", HERE. **

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Love Inspired

While we still have a morning session to finish up tomorrow at our annual JV fall conference, tonight is our last night at the cultural house in Frydlant for the evening program.

Maybe I've said this before...but the reason we come down into town to the cultural house for our evening programs is because our tent doesn't provide any soundproofing; since we don't want to bother our neighbors in the evening we come here. Thankfully this space works out for us, though it means a drive (or a ride in the buses we rent!) for everyone each night.

If I could transport you here for just one night in the year  to see what we do, it would be for this night, the last one of our fall conference. This conference is focused on training and equipping our team, which includes both national and 2nd culture missionaries (those serving outside of their passport country), as well as up and coming leaders who are working with our JV teammates.

The Croatia team who won the volleyball tournament today!

At our spring conference in May, we honor our 2nd culture missionaries with awards for their excellence in ministry in the categories of our core values. At fall conference we honor our national missionaries, who are serving in their home contexts, for those same values: bold faith, deep integrity, God honoring excellence, dynamic community, indigenous empowerment.

Kuldar from Estonia being given the Dynamic Community award!

Tonight's program also allowed us all a window into various countries, hearing testimonies of how God's love is being expressed in local ministry contexts.

Ermal from Albania shared a precious story of his cousin coming to faith in Jesus at their English camp this summer. Amazingly, our communications team was at that camp and captured his cousin telling his story on video. When that video is released publicly, I'll try to remember to post it - hearing him tell about coming to faith just 24 hours earlier is so dear!

After several other moving testimonies, the final one was given by a special guest Dave had invited from Dresden, Germany, who has spent the past 25 years sharing the love of Jesus with young people in that city.

He doesn't speak English so was translated by Tabea from Germany!

If you had time to listen to some of those testimonies you can find them HERE under the "Love Inspired" talk. The testimonies start at 44:00 and end about an hour later, before we went into a time of beautiful worship.

This was such an inspiring evening, being taken along on a journey by our teammates of love "going" to others. But the thing is...we heard only a fraction of the stories from across all of our countries!

Like my long-time friend and JV teammate, DU from Romania, who has unending stories from her country of reaching out to people in Jesus' name!

I'm glad we will have all of eternity to hear story after story of people laying down their lives for the sake of the Gospel, loving people in the name of Jesus, and coming alongside them in an infinite number of ways to communicate the heart of a loving Father who longs to be in relationship with us all!

Pray for Permits

It's already been twenty one years since we purchased Malenovice as a training center for JV's ministry across Central and Eastern Europe.

This week we have 400 leaders from across the region here for our fall training and equipping conference, walking on new paths that were just finished!

We continue to pray for the permits that would allow us to expand this training facility with an event center to accommodate more leaders at these kinds of conferences.

The tent we purchased 4 years ago at least allows us to have 400 people, but we're packed in, and it's less than ideal conditions.

It's been almost three years since we started the permit process, with the vision to build that event center to the left of the soccer field down below the hotel.

Right now the paperwork is at the regional building office and we've been told we'll have news by November 8 on whether or not it will be issued.

Pray with us for it!! It has been blocked by many people over the past three years, but we have answered all of their complaints and now if they have any others, they would actually have to sue the government in order to block it again.

I'm reminded of the verse in Proverbs that says, "The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases."
Even though we have had opposition, we know that ultimately God has the final word, so we trust Him for it, and believe Him to guide this process to completion in his perfect timing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Happy Little Boy Days

During this week of JV fall conference, we have family staying at our house.

And every morning, this happens before these guys head up to Malenovice!

Those are some pretty serious "trainers" on the backs of those dads! "More push ups", they cry out as they sit on top.

And then this morning, both Charlie and Asher climbed on Caleb's back! 😂 He's got seriously impressive push up skills!

Today is a little different day as it's these little guys' turn to head off in the car.

With me as their driver!

We said goodbye to Tyler, Caleb and Haley (Lara had already gone to take Judah to školka), to head into Ostrava.

I had asked Haley a few weeks ago if she'd like to take my spot at conference one day, and she said yes...which meant that I'd get to spend time with Charlie and Asher. Of course I assumed that I'd do it at our house...but last week a notice showed up on our telephone pole (yes, that's how it works here!) saying the electricity would be off from 7:30 AM - 3:30. So off to Ostrava we go for the day!

Lara told me about a play place downtown where I could hang out with the boys, so that's where we headed.

Only to find out that it had changed location!

I actually had to have her come and make sure I was in the right place (she was at home, working on her Czech language so had time) since it didn't look like what she'd described. But once we got settled, she went home, and we started having fun!

These two were SO funny all morning here! Up and down, up and down...over and over again! Who knew a slide could be so entertaining?!

Not only that, but a slide INTO A BALL PIT!! Asher even figured out how to jump off into the pit. He's fearless!

These two were also all about their snacks, taking numerous breaks throughout the morning to come sit at the kid sized table to enjoy what their mommies had packed for them!

I tell you...their moms did an incredible job of making sure they had everything they needed. They made Nonnie's job easy (which you know, is to do the extra pay for a car ride! 🤣)

These two were a bundle of energy, never staying still for more than five seconds. At least that's what it seemed like! But I did catch Asher being still as he sat in his "fort" (that's what he told me it was!).

Charlie came behind him and changed it from a fort to a tower! Oh these boys! How fun it was to watch them interact!

After one last climb up the slide (bare feet are a MUST!), we packed up our things.

I can't begin to imagine how moms do it out alone with twins...which is basically what these two are age-wise!

We just had a few hundred meters to walk and it took seemingly forever to get to the door of Tyler and Lara's apartment building!

There was definitely some relief in this Nonnie's heart when we made it there safely.

That's my version of "WHEW!! MADE IT!"

And look what they went to play on as soon as we got in the door!

Lara says that slide is the best purchase they ever made for something for the boys! I believe it!!

The three of us had some snuggle time on the couch, and grabbed a selfie, before it was time for naps.

Lara had gotten home with Judah so all three boys went down at basically the same time. Charlie took a nap on their guest bed, looking so cute all tucked in and cozy!

Once everyone was up and had eaten another snack (yes, snacks are big in toddler's lives!) we got ready to head back to Frydlant.

I swear that these two grew up a little bit today! They looked bigger and were acting more like big kids after their naps!

I was SO glad to have Lara there to get us to the car  - I'd parked somewhere different than where she did. But she walked with the little boys and me and helped get them in their carseats, and then headed to her car with Judah.

We arrived back at our house an hour later (traffic is C-R-A-Z-Y these days driving from Ostrava to Frydlant) and they all happily returned to playing together at our house!

These are happy little boy days!