Friday, December 18, 2020

Ho Ho Ho!

Two nights ago I heard a noise at my kitchen door, and then saw this.

Aren't those smiles the BEST?!!!

These are some of our fun teammates, Martina, Rob and Fanny, who serve with me on the iTeam (international team) for JV! 

They came bearing gifts in preparation for our online Christmas party this week (since we can't be together thanks to ongoing restrictions).

Inside were party supplies that they'd put together and delivered to every iTeam member. It took them six hours to drive everywhere to do that!

Tonight, we all brought our gift bags and gathered online for an epic party together.

We played games, we sang, we laughed, and we gathered in breakout rooms to answer fun questions about our Christmas traditions.

We made wassail together under the hilarious leadership of John (and Erin, who is behind him as his arms). My cheeks were hurting so much from laughing as he led this master class on how to make a good wassail. You just had to be there to know how delightfully funny it was!

It reminded Claire and I of this video from years ago that made us laugh like we were laughing tonight! (Only that was with dogs and human hands!)

Father Christmas (aka Rob, one of the three who had delivered the party supplies), read us "The Night Before Christmas" different voices of people on the team. Another hilarious part of the party!

And our dear Gwynne, led the party with her joy and effervescence! 

It's been a crazy year of not serving together in person. But I'm thankful for technology that keeps us connected; it even worked for a Christmas party this year!!

Merry Christmas to all you dear ones on iTeam!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Shothouse Ostrava

After nearly three weeks of being sick (thankfully not with coronavirus!), I am starting to feel better so ventured into Ostrava today for a special reason. 

Along with Claire, we came for the grand opening of Shothouse Ostrava, a coffee shop owned by a young couple we've known since the husband was just a little boy! He's been in ministry with us, and his dad has served with JV for a long time.

A few years ago the young couple opened a coffee shop in Havířov, the city we first lived in (and met their family) when we moved here 27 years ago. Now they are expanding their business into Ostrava. We're so proud of them and wanted to celebrate with them on opening day (and mourn with them that they must close on Friday due to the latest coronavirus restrictions. 😓 They can at least still do take out coffee)

The other special reason for coming in was to see these sweet people!

Because I've been sick I haven't seen them since we celebrated Thanksgiving weeks ago. Oh how good it was to enjoy them and all their silliness today!

They had just come from školka (kindergarten) so were full of tales from the day.

It won't be long now before their baby brother arrives and there will be three little Patty brothers in this picture!

Lara's due date is tomorrow, December 17th, and she says she's ready to have this baby! 

With Judah and Asher she went over her due date by a week, so we'll see what day this next little boy arrives.

In the meantime, it was so good to be with them, and enjoy a coffee break at our friends' new cafe!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Testing for COVID

Dave and I are in Frydek Mistek today, at the health clinic.  

I am still not feeling well so am here with Dave to test for COVID-19. It's my first test. He's taking one because he just returned from a trip to Bulgaria to see our JV country leader and his family there.

Just this piece of paper on the gate lets you know that you're in the right place for the test. 

Normally, this would be the entrance for speech therapy, and a doctor who specializes in pulmonary and internal medicine. But for now, there is a special room set up just inside this door for administering COVID tests. 

Those tests are scheduled online, one minute apart. So this is not just a proverbial revolving door! There are people here literally coming and going every minute of their scheduled hours for testing. 

As you can see, even the woman taking payments has PPE (personal protective equipment) on to keep her safe.

The test was administered so quickly I hardly had time to even realize what was happening. You walk up to the woman who gives it, she is ready with her swabs and does it expertly before you can even blink. You're done in 30 seconds and out the door in another 30 seconds after you've paid. 

Our results came early this evening and thankfully they are both negative. I'm still feeling pretty sick, but am glad to know it's probably just a regular winter virus that I'll get over with soon...I hope! 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Week-end News

Dave is gone to Bulgaria this week-end, visiting our JV country leader and his family there. 

In these nine months of restrictions due to COVID-19, Dave has traveled the least of any year since we moved here. He's happy there was an open window that allowed him to go (though to come back into Czech, he'll need to get a test within a few days). 

I started feeling sick a few days ago, and have been in bed ever since, hoping I don't have the virus. I may test with Dave when he returns just to make sure as unfortunately I have some of the symptoms. It's so hard to know if it's just a regular flu/cold...or something worse.

In the meantime, it's a beautiful week-end, with gorgeous sunsets to lift my spirits as I lay in bed.

The snow that fell last week-end is completely gone, replaced by warmer temps and beautiful skies!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Online Youth Group

When Dave and I moved here to the Czech Republic in 1993, we knew our first task was to establish ourselves in a local church and begin building relationships with teenagers, praying that one day we would see a movement of God in this country.

We held our first camp in the summer of 1994, and in the fall had our first youth group meeting with students who had been at that camp. We shared the gospel, saw some trust Christ, and began discipleship with them. 

Over the next seven years, that youth group met at our house every week until we turned leadership over to others in the church. 

What's awesome is that youth group is still in existence, albeit with totally different young people today, some 27 years later! 

Although Dave and I don't lead a youth group anymore, I got to be part of one this evening, online (since everything is happening that way these days). 

A youth group in a nearby city, asked if I would join them for their online program this evening, and then talk about prayer since they've been studying this topic. 

I'm so glad I got to experience one small taste of what it's like for youth workers today as they try to lead and disciple their young people during the pandemic. It's not easy to do online! 

But this youth group is working hard to keep connected and growing in their walks with God.  

It was a privilege to be part of it tonight!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Hope: First Advent

On this first Sunday of Advent, we woke up to our first snow of the year! 

During online church, I lit our first advent candle, representing hope, in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah!

I'm sure we all can use some hope this year! Hope that the pandemic will be over. Hope that our lives can resume soon. Hope that our loved ones will stay well. Hope for a ray of light in this difficult season. 

Over 2000 years ago, a baby came to bring the greatest hope of all to this world. He is still our hope today!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Family Thanksgiving Day

We are getting this Thanksgiving off to a great start, thanks to my little helpers! 

Since we weren't able to gather with our JV family this year due to the coronavirus, we are celebrating it with our family today here at our house. 

It's been a long time since I've hosted a Thanksgiving!

Except for one year when we were in the States with our kids during their college years, celebrating in Chicago at someone's home that was loaned to us, I think the last time I hosted a Thanksgiving meal was 1997! We purchased Malenovice for JV in 1998, and began to have our celebrations there even before it was renovated. 

So this year, we're on our own but doing well, I think! 

Tyler brought pumpkin, raised in our garden this past summer, and did everything needed for truly homemade, and home grown, pumpkin pie!

We did cheat a little when it came to the turkey!

The father of a Czech woman who used to serve with us in JV, raises turkeys and grills them on order! Every year for our JV Thanksgiving we order 5-6 turkeys to feed the whole group. We'll have turkey for days since it's only us for the meal this year!

Sadly, Claire is sick and not able to be with us this year. Caleb, Haley, Charlie and Jenna are in the States right now, so they're not with us either. But we still had a happy meal together (complete with reindeer antlers that the boys are producing for us here in this picture in preparation for the next holiday that's on its way! 😂)

We enjoyed Tyler's homemade pie later in the afternoon, which I wanted to remember with a picture.

Little did I know that at that moment, Asher was crying in the background!! It was over quickly, but it's just funny that it happened right then. 

The boys were all smiles and giggles as we moved on to the next task for today...decorating for Christmas!

This is the Day family of mooses (can you say mooses?!). Mr Day is in Judah's arms, and Asher is holding two new little ones I got for them this year. Beside him is Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. And these are "all the Day's". 😀

(If my little joke doesn't make sense, read Psalm 23, verse 6, the first line! Or you can read this blog post for perhaps more understanding!) 

With expert help, we moved on to tree decorating.

Asher's reindeer antlers make me laugh! He was so excited to wear them!

This is the first time I've ever had help from Judah and Asher; and it's been quite a while since Tyler's been here for a tree decorating too! He was my expert at getting the lights on this year.

As you can see, the bottom half is quite well decorated! 🤣 I'll get around to adding some more up top later. But it sure was fun to decorate with these four!

Now, after a wonderful Thanksgiving day, we're all ready to head towards Christmas!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Most Unusual Thanksgiving

Normally on this day, Dave and I would be up here at Malenovice, celebrating Thanksgiving with a crowd of JV people. 

But because of the restrictions due to COVID-19, we cancelled the big gathering for Thanksgiving and instead urged our team to meet together in small groups for the celebration.

Because Tyler and Lara were hosting their ForMission team today, and Claire is at her home, sick, we planned our family Thanksgiving for Saturday, so are alone for this holiday, for the first time in our married lives! 

It was actually a really sweet day, taking time to talk and pray with each other, thanking the Lord for His blessings over our lives. And then, as we usually do, we came up to Malenovice anyway!

The reconstruction project to expand the kitchen and dining facilities, is in full swing.

The beams covering the terrace have started going up in preparation for covering it. It's going to be iconically beautiful when it's finished...inside and out!

Changes are being made inside too. Not only is the kitchen getting a complete overhaul, but also the way that we serve food will also get a change. 

This space used to be part of our dining room, but will now hold a new cafe bar for ordering drinks, as well as a whole new place for buffet style service of food. It's going to be amazing and I'm super excited about the changes taking place.

But it was strange to be here on this day, the American holiday of Thanksgiving, where we would normally gather in this part of the dining room to give thanks with over 150 people, before diving into a literal feast of food that people had prepared. 

We weren't going to be here anyway for Thanksgiving this year (since reconstruction had already been planned), but instead would have been at our JV facility in Poland, H20. 

So in the end, Dave and I did get to make the familiar trek up here to Malenovice (it's all of a four minute drive from our house!), to see the progress and remember, with thanksgiving, God's goodness in giving Malenovice to us for furthering His Kingdom across this entire region. 

Lord willing, the pandemic will be over next year, and we'll be back again for another Thanksgiving up here at this beautiful place. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

JV Podcasts

Gwynne Gardner has served with JV in Slovenia for the past eight years, discipling young people, leading a Fusion choir, serving at summer camps, and giving herself 150% to whatever she does!

This year, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, God called Gwynne to something new within JV and in June she moved here to Czech to serve on the communications team in our home office in Frydlant n.O. as the social media director. 

This is such a perfect fit for her and we're so glad to have her gifts and talents for this position that we've been asking God to fill. I love that it was Gwynne, a teammate and dear friend, was who God had in mind for it!  

Besides her many tasks, such as managing the social accounts for JV (Facebook and Instagram), she's working on something new that I got to be part of today: JV Podcasts!

These will be made available in the new year on all the different podcast platforms. Stay tuned for more information, including about this podcast we made today!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Bonfire with the Boys

This has been such a beautiful fall, with clear skies and sunshine many days, instead of wet, dark and rainy like it often is in November. 

Can you spot anyone in the skylight windows?!

Tyler, Lara and the boys came over for a "put the garden to sleep" day, and a "help Papa in the yard" afternoon, which included dragging branches out to the field behind us in preparation for a big bonfire.

You know how some things just catch a boy's fancy? This was it for Judah!

While Papa cut down some dying trees...

...Judah dragged innumerable branches over to the pile for him. It was really the cutest thing to watch him working so hard. And he didn't want any help with it!

My job was to simply untangle the branches and get them ready for Judah to pull or carry over. 

Oh and take pictures of it all! 

Papa was the branch "piler", getting it all ready for the fire. 

Once the match was lit, what else was there to do but bring out the lawn chairs and enjoy a good fire?!

As it got hotter we moved the chairs back and got some pictures as the sun began to set. The mountains were almost the same color as the bonfire!

Asher had come out to join us, ready to participate in a good bonfire tradition. Can you guess what that might be??

The time honored tradition of marshmallow roasting! 

Lara had brought a bag of giant sized marshmallows for this very occasion, that she'd found in Ostrava. 

The boys, Dave and myself roasted SO many as the sun went down and we enjoyed the warmth of the fire.

It was a magical afternoon, and on into early evening as we stayed close to the fire, enjoying its beauty and our time together.

I sure love getting to make memories with these sweet grandsons!