Tuesday, 9 February 2016
King Josiah from Josiah Venture on Vimeo.
"God is changing lives and He's changing countries. It's happening now!"
Today has been a fun day so far - it's Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day in the UK and this is a celebration I've brought with me to the JV offices in the Czech Republic. My Czech and American co-workers do now trust me that lemon and sugar are good pancake toppings.
And it's been a full day - with meetings, conversations about interns, planning for the Academy conference in Latvia next week, thinking about the talks I need to write for that, planning English curriculum for camps this year, Czech language learning, and emails bouncing back and forth.
Also today our wonderful communications team made our new website live! So you should go and check that out. And with the beautiful new website the above video was released too!
In the midst of lists of tasks and lots of different preparations it was a good and joyful reminder of why we're here and doing all the above - so that more young people will hear about the God who loves them and who invites them to follow Him with all they have.
Monday, 1 February 2016
I thought that before 2016 ends I should probably review 2015! It was an incredible year.
January started by flying back to Czech after being in NI for Christmas. It also saw a fun day with friends in Vienna and my team hosting the Academy conference for the second time for over 200 leaders from our ministries. February was a quieter month with my only time away from home being for our church’s youth weekend. In March our team had our annual planning retreat, and I was in Slovakia for a day of their national youth work conference, and Krakow for a project day and then a women’s retreat.
In April Rose came to visit! And we hopped in my car and drove through Austria and Slovenia to get to Croatia for a couple of days. In May, as always, we had Spring Conference and the interns arrived, jumping in with the Amazing Race and Intern Training, which is always one of my highlights.
The interns arriving always marks the beginning of summer for me and this year work travels took me to visit or be at camps in Hungary, Poland, and Albania. And in between those travels I seemed to spend a lot of time learning about European VAT law, and celebrating two years of calling Czech home. Rest came in the form of a two-week break in Italy and that was oh so good for my soul.
In September we had our annual Fall Camp meeting and spent time debriefing the summer and planning the next year with those who lead our camp ministries. And as that ended we went into Fall Conference with over 300 people! Not to mention the excitement of the first ever JVUK board meeting. I also became a little more Czech that month.
October saw me start home assignment. During my two and a half months in the UK I was mostly in Northern Ireland, with some brief trips to Wales and England. It was such a privilege to be with so many friends, family members and supporters. I was also able to share in a few churches how God is moving in central and eastern Europe and invite people to be part of that.
And I marked the end of 2015, and the beginning of 2016, in Czech – in my beloved Český Těšín with midnight being celebrated by watching fireworks light up the skies over Czech and Poland.
2015 was a good year. As I look back I see so much evidence of God’s incredible, unchanging grace.
I am a goal setter and 2015 was no different. Some I definitely didn’t do much with beyond writing them on a Post-It note. But I do feel like I made significant strides in a few areas. I went into 2015 with my chronic back pain being worse than it had been in years and, gratefully, I ended the year in a better place – thanks to wonderful care in Czech, a chiropractor in Northern Ireland, and a lot of work in between.
The craziest goal I set in 2015 was to read 20 pages a day – although by February I’d realised that wasn’t stretching enough so I increased the goal to 30 pages. The rule was that I couldn’t read ahead (ie I couldn’t read 60 pages on a Tuesday and count 30 of those for Wednesday too) but I could catch up (if I didn’t read on Monday I could read 60 pages on Tuesday). As a result I read a staggering forty-one books in 2015!
I’m so glad I made that resolution. In that forty-one books there was the seven Chronicles of Narnia books, some work-related books, fiction, biographies, and others. I am not carrying this resolution into 2016 but it was definitely fun to do!
So I look back on 2015 with thanksgiving –
thankful for the people I met, and those that I continued journeying with,
thankful for how God has called me to serve Him in this place,
thankful for the travelling adventures and the coming home again,
thankful for the hours of Czech study and the little glimpses of progress,
thankful for time in the UK,
and, most of all, thankful for the God who is so faithful and whom I know better because of 2015.
Monday, 25 January 2016
Well, two full months after my last blog post I am back in Czech again - and I have been for four weeks tomorrow! My time in Northern Ireland (and Wales and England) was incredible. It was so good to spend unrushed time with friends and family, to share what God is doing in churches, and to thank people who have been key partners in this ministry.
And it was so good to leave home in Northern Ireland and come home to Czech. That sentence sounds a little weird but it is true.
It was good to come home to my little flat, get the gas working again and get it heated up again.
It was good to come home to my church and youth group and the five languages that are there.
It was good to come home to my friends and family in this place.
It was good to jump back into my role fully, without the good busyness of home assignment.
And, yes, home is a little chaotic. I'm back into learning and using another language (or two). The internet in my flat didn't work for my first week here but it's all functioning again.
And after confidently telling people who kindly asked that my car is ok that ceased to be true less than a week after coming home. An "engine malfunction" warning came on, and the acceleration was a little funky, and then the engine light came on. So I arranged to take it in to my mechanic on Monday.
On Monday morning I got into the car to start it and drive to my mechanic and Elizabeth the car wouldn't even start! Thankfully my mechanic is one of the kindest I know - he goes to my church and I definitely think I get some extra points/help because of my single female missionary status.
I called him to let him know why I wasn't there yet, he asked where my car was and I said it was parked in the centre of town. He said if I could drop the key round to him he'd go get the car! So I dropped the key off and explained the problems I'd been having with the car. When I came home from work the car wasn't there any more so either the mechanic had it or a very clever thief.
It took them a while to figure out the problem - on Friday they still hadn't been able to get the car to start! But on the following Thursday it was all finished - the car had had a problem with one of the filters (again - the same as what had happened in Latvia and Estonia in 2014) and the battery had also died (it has been oh so cold here - with temperatures of -14C during the day!).
I am really grateful that Elizabeth the car is back on the road and seems to be doing well! And, more than that, I'm glad that all the crazy is now navigable. I can turn on the gas in my flat, and talk to my mechanic, and lots of all those other little daily tasks. All those little things that I do not take for granted.
It is so good to be home in Czech again!
Sunday, 22 November 2015
For the past month I have been on home assignment! So for the past month I’ve been mostly in Northern Ireland, minus a little trip to Wales and England. And I’ll be here until 29th December, minus a little trip to England.
So what is home assignment and what am I up to?
Every two years or so missionaries are often required to have an extended period of time in their home country. In June I passed the two year mark of living in the Czech Republic, but with May-September being so busy in terms of ministry, I decided to postpone my home assignment until October.
This time of home assignment has a couple of purposes. It gives me time to reconnect with my family, friends, home church and supporters. One of the hardest things about being a missionary is being so far from family and friends so it’s wonderful to have this extended time with them.
This is also a time of rejoicing – during my time in the UK I’m speaking in my home and sending church, as well as in a couple of other churches, and sharing about how God has been at work over the last two years. I’m also spending time with my supporters, thanking them and telling them how God has used their resources and prayers in His kingdom.
Finally this is a time of raising (I had to keep with the r theme!). After serving for two years it is natural that some of my financial support has dropped a little and so I’m asking people to prayerfully consider partnering in this ministry prayerfully and financially.
My goal for this time is to be on mission well here, so I can be on mission well in central and eastern Europe. This means I hope to reconnect with people well, and raise my additional support needs. It also means going to things like dentist appointments and receiving chiropractic care (something that’s not available where I live but that is oh so good for my back!).
This is not “time off” – in fact in many ways it’s a whole lot busier than my life in Czech as I’m still doing my international role, just from a distance, in addition to meetings and talking in churches.
Home assignment is such a weird time. In the last two years Czech has very much become home, which is such a gift of grace. And so both are home in some ways and in some ways neither are home. I miss both. I love both. I have culture shock in Northern Ireland and at times being able to understand every single conversation happening around me just feels obnoxiously loud.
It’s weird to be outside of my “normal routines” and there are so many people I miss. I also miss ginger and lemon tea and my wonderful girls in my small group Bible study have promised to keep me some Christmas cookies. I got to speak Czech in Belfast on Friday night and oh how it did my heart good to speak a language I’m still very much learning.
And, at the exact same time, I cannot communicate the joy it has been to see so many friendly faces and talk about the many things God has been doing. It has been so wonderful to sit with friends, catch up on their lives and hold new little people that have been born since I left. Home assignment has been going so well and I’m excited to continue to be in the UK for the next five weeks and then head back to Czech for the next two years before another home assignment!
Please pray for the remainder of my time here – as I share in churches and with individuals, and that God would abundantly provide partners for this ministry. And that I would go back to Czech refreshed and excited to continue to serve there!
Saturday, 31 October 2015
When I joined Josiah Venture one of the questions I was frequently asked was “Why are you joining an American organisation?” Now, I don’t think JV would describe themselves as an American organisation but I was the first full time missionary from the UK to join and move onto the field with JV. And our staff are half North American and half nationals (people who serve in the county in which they were born).
That meant there was a lot of details we had to figure out – how do we get my support over and processed? Do I go to missionary training in the US like everyone else? What about visas? And health insurance?
Thankfully we were able to figure out most things and there were just a couple of small surprises when I arrived in Czech.
But one thing I remember telling some of our leaders was that I was praying that JV would start JV UK as a charity/sending organisation. I think the response was a chortle and a “maybe in five years.”
Not to be perturbed, I kept praying and even felt from God that JV UK was something I should be praying for. I felt it was really strategic, to start building our base in the UK and hopefully get more short term teams and interns. It would also make the route my support takes a little easier and, in general, raise the profile of the needs of the Gospel in central and eastern Europe.
And then I started to hear the whispers and the maybes. Another family from the UK was hired and they were going to be based in the UK! And it was decided that now was the time to start the process.
Setting up a charity/sending organisation in the UK isn’t a short process, and it isn’t over yet, but on the last day of Fall Conference the UK board members arrived in Czech for some meetings.
Just after Fall Conference ended the JV missionaries from the UK met with the board. After all being introduced, and not a few jokes about geography, we got to share about our lives and ministries, our path to joining JV full time, our needs and prayer requests. It was such a joy- and faith-filled meeting and it was wonderful to meet these men and be prayed over by them.
So here it is – our first official JV UK board members and JV UK missionaries photo! I’m excited to see how God is going to continue to answer prayers and build His kingdom through this venture!
Please be praying for this process as hopefully everything gets completed and we start JV UK. Please be praying for the board as they shepherd the process. And rejoice with me about the God who answers prayers!
For all my wonderful UK financial supporters: when JV UK is fully set up, including Gift Aid status, I will be in touch about how your support will be funnelled over to Czech.
Friday, 16 October 2015
From 21st-25th September we had our 2015 Fall Conference! So over three hundred youth leaders and missionaries from across central and eastern Europe descended on Frydlant nad Ostravici, a little town in Czech where we have our international office and our hotel/conference centre.
This conference is our training and equipping conference and as people started to arrive on Monday afternoon it was like welcoming family home. From the people who live just across the border in Poland, to people who had spent over fifteen hours driving down from Latvia and Estonia, to people who had flown in from Albania.
Some of these people I see multiple times a year at meetings and other conferences, some are full time JV missionaries. And then there are other young youth leaders who I maybe only see at this conference. The joy of travelling internationally, especially during the summer, is I've been in twelve of our fourteen countries, and this was my third Fall Conference, so there were many faces I know well.
The theme of the conference was Unstuck and we spent the week looking at ways we need to and how we can get unstuck - in our personal lives, in our local ministries, and in our national and international ministries.
We looked at the tools God has given us to help us get unstuck and live faithful and fruitful lives for His glory. He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit. We also looked at different theories for analysing problems and how to bring change. There were also lots of breakouts, seminars, and time in small groups.
Here are some photos, with captions, so you can get a feel of our time together.
Dave Patty, our president, sharing how God has been at work in central and eastern Europe through Josiah Venture this last year.
These young Albanian men have planted a church! It is an incredible story and one we long to see across our region - young people coming to Christ, being changed, and seeking to share His Good News with their friends, families and towns.
Brian, one of our vice presidents, working away even during the football games.
Casey in goal during a penalty shoot-out. The JV men are wonderful and love each other dearly... in spite of the annual football tournament.
This is where we met during the day for main sessions: a temporary marquee/tent structure. During the evenings we were in a "Culture House" in the local town, because some of our neighbours don't love how loud conference can be. Please pray for us as we seek to support raise to build an Event Centre!
Inside the tent.
One of my favourite things about Fall Conference is getting to catch up with people, especially our interns from the summer. Here is the beautiful Doroteja from Slovenia.
For the first time ever the "Northern Irish people at conference" photo wasn't a selfie! It was so good to meet and chat with Jenn who has been serving with us up in Latvia for the year.
Fall Conference is usually a time when new materials are rolled out. These are two Bible studies written for new believers. One goes through John and the other Colossians.
The wonderful Katcha!
Playing team building games that had us thinking and processing how to get unstuck.
Malenovice is beautiful!
I loved having so much time to process the teaching and apply it to my own life, ministry, and context.
Our vision as an organisation remains the same: to see a movement of God among the youth of central and eastern Europe that finds its home in the local church and transforms society.
And here is the group shot! Please pray for all the people in this photo - that as we seek God and faithfully follow Him we would see Him move mightily in our lives, our ministries and our nations.