Friday, June 26, 2020

Sea Therapy

This afternoon was the first ever JV Board meeting online, due to the fact that no one could travel to Chicago for the regularly scheduled meeting.

The good news is that Dave was able to be here on Hvar for that meeting, and afterwards take me down to the sea for a swim!

I'm sure every country has their tried and true, non-conventional, answers to various health problems, and yesterday when I went for a massage and it didn't help the pain in my back, I was "prescribed" Croatia's answer: a swim in the sea!

And it was definitely soothing, in more ways than one! The sights, the sounds and the feel of the very salty ocean water holding you up as you float was perfect.

It didn't take away the pain in my upper back (as nothing has for the past month), but I'll go back again and swim just for the joy of being down here!

Oh how I love this part of God's beautiful creation!!

Zoom with the Board

For the first time in the history of Josiah Venture, Dave and the JV board members were not able to gather for a board meeting that would normally have been held today in Chicago. Of course it's because of the coronavirus.

So, as with most other meeting these days, it too was online through Zoom!

Who knew you could have a whole board meeting in just three hours?!

I listened in for part of it, and so enjoyed hearing the interaction of the board members as Dave and others shared about what's been happening since the last meeting in February. They were encouraging, asked good questions, and are supportive in so many different kinds of ways.

They hope to gather in person for their next one in October. But it's good to know that it's possible to have a good meeting even if you can't be with each other!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Unusually Quiet

For the past month I've been having upper back pain that hasn't been solved by any solutions, medicines, therapies or doctors yet. So today here on the island of Hvar, I'm off to try yet another possibility from a gal I've seen for massage in years past. 

It was shocking to see how few people are in Hvar Town, and how many shops are not open.

Normally these streets would be FULL of vacationers, but today they are very quiet.

There are a few restaurants open, with fewer tables than usual out on the square. And just a few shops are open along the well worn streets normally packed with people.

But most shocking of all was the riva, the waterfront, that's normally filled with yachts and tour boats.

Today it's so peaceful you can hear the water lapping at the edge of the sea wall.

You definitely feel the impact of the worldwide pandemic that has reached all the way here to this pretty place in the middle of the Adriatic.

And did my massage help? Not really. ๐Ÿ˜ข

While it was pleasant, she wasn't able to release the pain using her usual methods. I'll keep praying for healing, and for God to reveal His answer to my cries for help.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Hvar Arrival

When I see this view out my window, I know we're almost there!

Where is "there"? Split, on the coast of Croatia!

Dave and I are headed over to Hvar where we, and several other families, have a house, so that we can prepare it for the summer season. Thankfully there are still guests coming, despite the fact that there are not a lot of tourists coming yet to Croatia.

You don't have to wear masks here, but you can see the woman behind me is wearing hers. This is my first time out in public, in an enclosed space, not wearing one since March!

There were not many passengers on the ferry this afternoon. Normally this would be packed.

Hvar Island has only had two cases of the coronavirus, and those were months ago. They opened back up to European travelers a few weeks ago, but it's still pretty quiet here.

Being outside in sunshine was so nourishing this afternoon as we sat at a favorite restaurant on one of the Stari Grad squares.

We were the only ones sitting outside, but there was someone else nearby who came right over after I took this photo, to see what we might have to offer! ๐Ÿ˜…

She wasn't very interested in my salad. ๐Ÿ˜‚

The drive to the south side of the island brought us "home", where we'll be for the next days. It's always good to be here in this part of God's beautiful creation!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Traveling Again

For the first time since February, Dave and I left home and headed south.

This has been such an unusual season of being home due to coronavirus, when we would normally have been traveling a quite a bit. But the change of pace that the stay-at-home orders have brought into our lives has been so good - a reset of sorts. We've actually been thankful for it (despite the chaos it has brought to the world).

Today we are changing work locations for a few weeks, and heading down to Croatia since the borders are now open.

This is not a border! Just a cool looking bridge under construction on the way.

The house that we built with our friends years ago on the island of Hvar, needs to be opened up for the season. Thankfully, despite the pandemic, there are still guests coming! But we haven't been able to go until now to work on it because of all the restrictions in Europe.

It felt really strange crossing over the border just after I took that picture of Mikulov castle in southern Czech. I can hardly remember a time over the past 26 years when we haven't left Czech every now and then for some reason, even if to just cross into Poland for a hair appointment!

The skies are beautiful and clear (not filled with any airplane streaks!), the colors are vivid (you have to wonder what less emissions has done for the land), and the roads are much emptier than usual.

We have been driving down to Croatia in the summer for over 20 years, and I've never seen so few people traveling as right now. It was strange to pull into a gas station and see just one car there, and no cars in the parking lot behind it.

This would normally be packed with people sleeping in their cars before continuing their journey down south.

We are spending the night in this rest area hotel (too old for sleeping in the car now!), where there are no other guests besides us. The doors were locked when we arrived, and had to be opened by someone working in the kitchen!

It's hard to think of what this is doing for the tourism industry, not just here in Croatia, but around the globe. So many people make their living but it. I know beauty can come from ashes - that's biblical. But it will be interesting to see in years to come how this pandemic affected something as simple as gas stations and rest area hotels...not to mention all the other industries affected by it.

Just Stopping By

Yesterday mid-morning I was in our kitchen, on the phone with someone, when Dave whispered to me, "Jim and Lina will be stopping by in 10 minutes."

Jim and Lina are long time friends, and long term JV teammates who serve in Germany. They've been here in Czech all week-end with a team of people they work with in Germany, going through ministry foundations with Dave. But because I haven't felt well, I wasn't able to be with them. I was so happy they were stopping by!

But before they arrived, I didn't get a chance to ask Dave what they were coming for, or how long they were staying!

About a half hour into their visit, I asked how long they were going to stay. Dave replied for them, "Until we finish our debrief of the week-end!"

I then asked if they wanted to stay for lunch...because amazingly, I had ingredients for a meal! We were planning to leave for Croatia today, but I'd not only bought things for dinner on Monday night, but miraculously bought extra...I don't even know why, except that the Lord had led me to do that.

Now I know why!

We had such a wonderful afternoon with these dear friends and I'm glad the Lord worked out all the details for their "stopping by" visit.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Leading Through Coronavirus

This morning I came downstairs to our kitchen and found this happening.

No, that's not Dave. He was in his office.

But he and his brother, Josh (who is here from Slovenia right now) were on the same Zoom call this morning with all the country leaders of JV, spread out across Central and Eastern Europe!

During these past 3 months of living in lockdown because of COVID-19, these two have been meeting every Monday morning with all the country leaders to lead them to lead their teams through this unusual time.

People have asked Dave if he's enjoyed a break during the pandemic; but the truth is, he's worked harder than ever to lead through this challenge. He and Josh both care about God's mission here, and have gone to great lengths, and personal sacrifice, to up their leadership care during this time.

I'm so proud of both of them, and thankful for their godly wisdom and determined tenacity that keeps them going though the circumstances of life that God sends their way.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day x 30

On this rainy first day of summer, Dave and I came here to celebrate his Father's Day.

This is where Claire lives, about ten minutes from our home. And today she's making lunch for us, to celebrate her dad!

This is his 30th Father's Day celebration, which began with Tyler who was born in July 1990, then Caleb in 1993, and finally, Claire in 1994!

While Dave is a leader, and president of Josiah Venture, his greatest joy is in being a dad! He has made so many investments of love into our kids all these years, and it didn't stop when they left for college! He continues those investments to this day. I love that about him.

Claire made Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup), which is a labor of love and purely delicious!

We had the sweetest afternoon at her house, being blessed by her hospitality, and celebrating this dad who we all love so much!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Ken and Michelle

When your best friend of 40 years gets married, for the first time, and you can't be there, you watch every second online!

My dear friend, Michelle, who I first met in the summer of 1980, married Ken Canfield today in Portland, Oregon. Because they are under restrictions, only 25 could be in the sanctuary at a time which meant being creative so that some of their family could be inside to watch.

Three of their granddaughters walked down the aisle with the others in the wedding party, and stayed there during the first worship song, a Sarah Reeves song called, "Just Want You".

This song is such an anthem of truth for these two, with the chorus saying, "I don't want it if You're not in it, I just want You". If anyone lives this way, these two do!

Michelle also sang during their wedding, a song she wrote 25 years ago, and sang for the first time publicly today for Ken, as a surprise!

When she wrote it, she had no idea she would sing it for HER wedding!

One of Ken's daughters, and her husband, sang "The Blessing", a powerful worship song that came out this year, and has been sung around the globe during the pandemic. It was such a fitting song to pray over Ken and Michelle as they begin their life together.

Finally, Michelle's pastor of many years, pronounced them husband and wife, and the first kiss took place!

I love seeing Taylor's uplifted arms here! She is Michelle's "adopted" daughter who took my place as matron of honor when I wasn't able to fly to be there. She was just married this past November, with  Michelle "mother of the bride" (Taylor's parents both passed away many years ago so God gave Michelle to Taylor, and Taylor to Michelle, to be mother-daughter), so it seemed perfect that she could serve her "mom" in  this way!

Michelle has been one of those uniquely content single women, who wrestled it out with the Lord years ago and submitted her will to His (which was singleness for the past 60 years). But I remember her telling me that if EVER God changed his mind and had marriage for her, she wanted to walk down the aisle with her husband to the "Hallelujah Chorus".

And so she did!

I am crazy happy for Michelle and Ken, knowing that this a great blessing from the Lord that He has brought them together, and that they will be a powerful couple for His Kingdom; but also it's beautiful to see that they already love each other with what I've call a "thirty year love". Look at their faces here to see what I mean!

These two! I couldn't be more happy to have witnessed the coming together of their lives as husband and wife, and pray for a lifetime of rich love between them!

Michelle sent me this picture later on, when they'd gone out to take their photos overlooking the Willamette River and the city.

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace

With Her from Afar

In the summer of 1980, I met someone who would become my lifelong best friend, Michelle Watson.

We have journeyed through so much life with each other these forty years! And today, we were supposed to be together for a very significant event in her life.

Today, Michelle is getting married in Portland, Oregon, to the love of her life, Ken Canfield!

But instead of being there with her, we had to be at peace with connecting by FaceTime as she prepared to leave home and head to the church for the wedding.

I was to have been her matron of honor so it's a great loss to not be there to celebrate on this day. However she and I know how to make lemonade with lemons! We talked while she finished last details at her house, and then as she drove to the church, I prayed over her and Ken, and the new life they are about to step into.

It's surreal that COVID-19 is keeping us separated right now; but there is also great peace in both of our hearts that this was God's good plan, even though we would have chosen a different one.

At least I got to "drive up to the church" with her!

Her friend of many years, Alex, is wearing the dress I would have worn today, and Michelle's adopted daughter (adopted in heart!) will be her matron of honor.

This is Alex, who is not only Michelle's friend, but hairdresser! So she was at the church early to meet Michelle to get started on hair!

For our FaceTime today, I wore a dress Michelle bought me, had on shoes I'd purchased for the wedding, and was wearing earrings that I'd bought in Portland months ago in anticipation of her wedding day. I'd also lit a special candle she bought me the last time we were together, when I got to shop with her for her wedding dress.

And I held a heart she gave me years ago, that sits on my dresser as a reminder of our precious friendship.

While I wish like anything I could be there with her today, I'll be there in spirit and in prayer, blessing her into this new and beautiful life God has for her and Ken.