Monday, 23 May 2016

Spring Conference




May 4th-8th was JV's Spring Conference! This is our conference for our second culture staff, those who serve God outside of their first culture. We also call this family conference - as it's for our families! There are a lot of wonderful JV kids and they even have their own programme at conference.

The theme for this year was Milk and Honey and how not to get lost on the way to the Promised Land. We talked about all the different ways the Israelites got lost on the way to the Promised Land and how we can face the same things.

Our topics were: self doubt, windy paths and dead ends, grumbling and complaining, bad attitudes towards leadership, faith failure, and forgetting the Lord. Can you spot the road signs designed for each one of these topics?

This was my favourite Spring Conference so far, and it was just so good to sit under such good teaching throughout the week. I was really challenged about putting my faith in God, and only in Him, and that He is a good, good Father who has good things for us!



And, of course, the other great thing about this conference is these people - dear friends, family, who are serving God across these nations. 

This year we said a lot of goodbyes - to dear ones who have faithfully served here and who are faithfully following where God is leading them next. We have missionaries who are leaving after serving their two year commitment, and ones leaving after five years, fifteen years, and even twenty years! It was sad but also good - we spent time sharing stories and thanking them for their faithfulness. And it's exciting to think how God will use them next!

Once again, I am so thankful to serve with an organisation that so beautifully cares for its staff, and that we feel like a family serving together and joining what God is up to in these nations!


Monday, 2 May 2016

Fusiondary




Fusion is one of the ministries of JV that uses music to reach young people in central and eastern Europe! These young people meet weekly to practice and then perform in pop/rock choirs. And at those weekly meetings there is a devotion where young people are hearing about God.

Each of these choirs is based in a local church to reach their town or city's young people. Currently we have Fusions in Czech, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, and Estonia, and we've a couple of countries lined up to launch this ministry soon!




And at the end of April we hosted, in the little town where our JV office is located, and near the hotel and conference centre we own in Czech, an international Fusion festival called Fusiondary! So the town was joyfully invaded by 650 people for a weekend!

Each choir performed on stage and it was fun to see young people who are sometimes shy and reserved become rockstars on stage! On the Saturday we even took over the town square, and had a welcome by the town mayor, with a festival - complete with choir performances, and a stall organised by each Fusion.




The stalls were to highlight some of that places culture - so we even had Slovene dancing!

During the weekend I had the opportunity to lead two workshops on support raising - which was an absolute joy! I really enjoyed sharing with people about this topic, and encouraging them as they seek to support raise for the ministry God has called them to.


It was a great joy to see these young people perform, and give an opportunity to do that in front of a big crowd. But that was not the sole purpose of this event - the Gospel was clearly preached throughout the weekend, and people were clearly challenged to respond. 

And the beauty of this ministry is that these young people, over half of whom are not believers, have heard this before and will continue to hear it through those devotion times and their relationships with those who serve in this ministry.

It's exciting to think of the fruit that can come from an event like this!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

An Online Retreat



One Sunday in April I hopped into my car and drove a few hours north to Wroclaw (which, I promise, is not pronounced how you'd think... welcome to Poland, everybody). I was, weirdly, headed to an online retreat!


The online retreat was organised by an online website and community for missionary women. And, being a website for missionaries, naturally the readers are literally all over the world! So they planned an online retreat - there were video teaching sessions and testimonies, and notes for the talks you could download to use.

The theme of the teaching and testimony times was fear. One of the key texts we looked at was Psalm 23 - I had never noticed how many verbs in that Psalm are things that God does, and how we "act" is we lack nothing, lie down, walk through the valley, fear no evil and dwell in His house. 

But they had thought through even more details than that - there were colouring in pages, playlists of music, suggested recipes (with ingredients that are easy to source, wherever you may be)... and even a "yoga" session (throughout which we were meditating on Scripture).


Kelly, my friend and a JV missionary alongside her husband in Poland, invited me to do the retreat with her and it was such a great time! I'm so grateful for our friendship and how we were able to process what we were learning together and apply it to our lives.

It also meant I was able to meet and hang out with their adorable puppy.


I even enjoyed the extended time driving (although this trip is a lot smaller than any of my summer drives will be) - it was good for time to process, and listen to music, sermons and podcasts.

I'm really grateful for people who creatively use technology for God's kingdom and to serve others! And for my time in the beautiful Wroclaw, with my friends and doing this retreat.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

A visit from a friend!


My guest room all ready for its visitor!

In April I had a visitor from Northern Ireland! I'm so glad that Czech and Northern Ireland aren't so far apart and I'm so grateful for the many visitors I've had over the past three years.



It was a joy to have Rachel here for a couple of days, as part of her trip to Czech. We spent time at Malenovice (in the rain!), where our story in the Czech Republic began. There were a few other coffee shops on our agenda, as well as time wandering through the town I call home. And Rachel brought some wonderful NI treats, from herself and others, which were a really beautiful taste of home!


I am so grateful for this friendship and the time we got to spend together. Thanks for coming to visit, Rachel!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Saint Patrick's Day!




One of the fun things about moving to a new place is figuring out how to celebrate your culture and traditions in that new place.

This year was my third Saint Patrick's Day in Czech and the Yorman family and Evans family came over to my flat to eat Irish Food (deconstructed shepherd's pie.. because when I first moved here my oven didn't work and so began another tradition). 

The Yormans have been coming over every year and each time another few people join us - usually visiting guests. It was really fun to have my home full and watch the VeggieTales Saint Patrick's Day video with everyone. Saint Patrick was an incredible man and it's great to have an excuse to celebrate where I'm from with great people!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Easter!



Easter had a delightful blend of cultures and events this year. Firstly, I found these beautiful treats at Tesco this year! Such a small, little, thing in the grand scheme of things but definitely something I was very thankful for! I'm still hoping for the day that Dairy Milk is for sale here, and Creme Eggs too!


At church on Easter Saturday all the girls from youth group gathered and we had a Passover meal. It was really interesting to learn about all the different parts of the meal, and it was a good time of hanging out and celebrating our Passover Lamb who died once and for all. (And, don't worry, that is most definitely grape juice in all those glasses!)


On Sunday morning we had church! And it was a beautiful celebration of the resurrection. After church on Sunday I hopped on a train to the nearby home of some JV missionaries. We spent the afternoon round the fire pit, eating good food, spending time together, and rejoicing in all God has done for us!

It was a good Easter celebration - and I'm so thankful that we have such a glorious reason to celebrate! 

Monday, 4 April 2016

S-Team Retreat



An Englishman and a Welshman making breakfast.


The result! And, yes, those are British sausages - smuggled over in airplane hand luggage.



In March we had our annual S-Team retreat. Despite how non-excited some of the people in these photos look it was a great time! I love serving alongside this team of people!

We had a really great time talking through our different ministries, the "special" ministries that exist in different JV countries. We spent time talking through Fusion, Edge, Exit, and Camps, as well as time discussing the ministries altogether. We also spent time dreaming and praying and there were some really exciting plans that came out of this time.

It is also just good for us to all be together, something that doesn't happen all that often, and eat and hang out. I love that I get to serve as part of this team in what God is doing in these nations!