Friday, 25 September 2015

Fall Camp Meeting 2015

From 19th - 21st September a very special group of people gathered at Malenovice, our conference centre and hotel in the Czech Republic (which is home to views like the one pictured above!). Who are these people? They are our camp team - many of the people who serve in our fourteen countries (plus some staff based in North America), serving the camp ministry year round.

These are the people who recruit short term teams, and work with local churches, and look after interns, and the fifteen-hundred other tasks that go into organising camps in our countries. 

And these are the people I work closely with as I help support, resource and equip them. This is the one time of the year we all gather together and it's a really fun group of people! It was a joy to be all together - to debrief the summer, to rejoice in what God did through our one hundred and thirteen camps, and look ahead and plan for 2016 and beyond!

Here are some photos of our time together.

Shay introducing the camp theme and logo for 2016! We're really getting ahead of this process and it's exciting!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Today I became a little more Czech!

Today I became the proud holder of a řidičský průkaz - a Czech driving licence! It's funny to think that ten years ago I got my first licence (a provisional one for learning), before I passed my test in 2006 in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.

When I passed my test I hadn't even stepped foot in the Czech Republic and it's funny to think that because of a European law I had to renew my licence here. When you become a resident of another European country you can no longer renew your licence in your country of origin!

I'm very grateful that I didn't have to re-take the test! It was a lot of random paperwork steps - including getting a copy of my licence sent to the UK for verification. So I am very grateful that it's here and I'm all official for the next ten years.

And it has me wondering where I'll be renewing this licence in 2025!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Favourite shots from Albania

I loved my time in Albania and wanted to share a few more photos.

If you want to read some blog posts from the Cramers, the full time missionaries down there, I'll start by recommending this one, which is about the "team" I served as part of down there, and this one.

Between 8pm and 10pm the entire town goes on a "gyro" - a leisurely walk up and down by the lake. It's a big thing in Albania and it was a lot of fun to do it multiple times during the trip!

The doughnut waterfall, amazing.

Albanians: if there's a break, they're dancing!

Working hard in English class.

One day we had thirty people in class!

Walking to small group while the call to prayer rang out from the local mosque.

Oh my, eating corn on the cob straight of a bbq? Amazing. It tasted like yummy fresh popcorn!

I spent many afternoons jumping, sliding or being pushed into this lake.

Dancing on the last night of camp.

A man on the side of the street with his shoe shine business.


The bazaar!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Photo Friday - 7th August

Soaking up some last hours in Pogradec - by eating breakfast on the beach!

There were many joys in being in Albania but one of the biggest was seeing these two ladies, both of them JV interns, absolutely rocking life and ministry in Albania!

After staying in an airport hotel, and two flights (to Athens and then Prague) I just had a four hour train ride as the sun set over Czech to get home.

Throwing rocks into the river with the Yorman boys. We're standing in Czech but the other side is Poland!

The intern girls who have been staying with me over the summer left, and with that I regained my office/spare room. So there was a lot of reorganising.

Late night runs.

An empty inbox and an out of office on! I'm excited to hide away from emails for the next two weeks - I'm excited for some rest after a wonderfully busy summer season.

I'll be camping all next week and I really can't help but feel that the guy in this picture is a little confused - camping tables shouldn't be used for computers!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Photo Friday - 31st July

The view I woke up to each morning.

Church in Albania.

I feel like this can be perfectly described as a "doughnut waterfall" and eating doughnuts two minutes after they've been in the oil? Pretty amazing!

Cory (right) and Erion (left) sharing about people who met Jesus.

Many afternoons were spent with students at the beach - including jumping/being pushed/sliding into the lake!

Walking to small group through streets like this while hearing the mosque's call to prayer ring out.

The last day of English class - I was so proud of all that our beginner students learnt!

And small group - it was an absolute joy and privilege to walk through this week with these girls!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

In Albania!

I left my home shortly after 9am on Thursdag morning. After dropping my car at the Yormans' so it doesn't hang out in the town centre while I'm gone, I waited for my first train. 

I was at a little train station so they didn't have signs saying which platform the train would be at - and it turned out I was at the wrong one! So I had to run down a flight of stairs, cross the train tracks underground and then climb a flight of stairs. All with a suitcase, backpack and canvas bag!

Thankfully the train driver had seen me and he waited for me even after the conductor had blew his whistle. I was so grateful!

That seemed to set the tone for my travel here - people going out of their way to be gracious. After two trains I arrived in Vienna and the man on reception where I was stating was really helpful. And it was fun to spend some time exploring Vienna - it was my fourth time in the city, first time on my own so I just wandered around a little. 

I was up at 3am the next morning and after a five minute walk to the bus stop and a bit of a wait I was on the bus to the airport!

My flight was pretty early - so early, in fact, that none of the places in the airport had started cooking yet! I found this out when I asked for bacon and eggs and was sad to hear the reply of the kitchen still being closed. 

However, when the waiter brought me a coffee he said he talked to the chef and they opened the kitchen thirty minutes early for me. I was very excited to eat! 

I flew from Vienna to Istanbul and after a three hour layover, which included some Turkish delight sampling, flew from there to Tirana. I feel like landing in Tirana was a good indication of culture from the beginning - the herd of people in roughly nine lines for the four passport control booths for foreigners was a little chaotic but no one was worried. 

After a long time I eventually got the stamp in my passport and picked up my bag. I then had three hours of being driven to Pogradec. There was beautiful scenery and crazy driving and a nap for me. It was fun to arrive in Pogradec and hang out on Friday night! We also walked down by the lake - so very beautiful! 

On Saturday morning we had a meeting to talk through camp. We're doing a day camp in this town so there will be English class each morning, free time/hang out time in the afternoon and then a programme in the evening where we'll be looking at who Jesus is. 

Unfortunately the short term team couldn't come so Cory and Kristine, the JV missionaries here, asked people they knew to come help. That's why I'm here and including Cory there are eight of us English speakers to serve at camp. 

It was so good to all meet and get to know each other a little especially as well be a team all week. They're currently expecting around one hundred students at camp in the first day, with possibly double that by the end of the week! 

And the prayer for this camp is that we would have students who are searching and hungry and then they will be invited to a residential camp next week. 

The church we're partnering with is a new church plant and it is also hoped that this camp will help them begin. It's so exciting to hear about the growth of this youth group already - and it was fun to experience youth group on Saturday night! It never gets old to talk to young people who are discovering God and the Bible. 

And as well as Bible study groups with young people there is also one for their mums - women who have seen the difference the Gospel has made in their children's lives are wanting to know more. 

I've been in Albania just over 24 hours as I write this and I could write even more than this already long post! It has been so good to be here, to see Albania, to experience the different and beautiful culture, and to hear what God is up to here. I'm excited about what God has in store this week! 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Photo Friday - 24th July

A very kind friend sent these over from the UK - I found the packaging hilarious and the chocolate yummy!

The light at sunset is so beautiful!

Old buildings in town.

I cleaned out my purse and found a Chicago transport ticket and a dollar bill! I'm fairly sure both of these are four years old.

What packing for a trip looks like for me..

Late evening runs - because the only time it is cool enough to run!

The start of my crazy travel days to Albania - I left my house at 9am on Thursday and arrived at 7pm on Friday.

And this is where I arrived! Pogradec sits on the biggest lake in the Balkans, and is surrounded by beautiful mountains.