Sunday, December 2, 2012

Czech Language

This class has been a blessing. When we were talking about living in Ostrava instead of Cesky Tesin, I was more excited about the prospect of living in a bigger city with more ministry opportunities and more students. I didn't think about the prospect of a Czech class that was free for foreigners.  In late September I was introduced to these classes by a fellow American from the CB church in Ostrava. I started going to every class I could in the following weeks, and have learned so much! At first it was a little over my head, but now it's at a good level for me.
My roommate reviewing on the board (teacher on the right)
I've found that my previous summers of listening to Czech, asking questions, and learning simple phrases has set a great foundation for learning to speak Czech. Now we're getting into the nitty gritty of grammar principles and I'm not stuck being overwhelmed by simple things in the language. That's not to say that sometimes I don't feel extremely overwhelmed with some things that the Czech language does, but I'm in a good place to move forward in my speaking ability. Not only are these classes free, but the teacher is a really good teacher! She doesn't let students get away with not talking after their first lesson, and she'll often end up calling me or some of the other regulars to answer questions (meaning or vocabulary) that we might not know the answer to. She keeps us on our toes!

Beyond my time at this center with free classes, I'm also trying to meet with a tutor. Right now are having a little trouble coordinating our schedules, but when this class finishes I will definitely need her to help me keep studying Czech well. I'm also doing study on my own, which is key to taking the concepts from class and tutoring to heart.
Czech Class Tools - books, charts, tea, water, and my brain (not pictured)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend with Josh

Josh H and I at the end of the Summer.
We didn't get any pictures from this weekend, but we had a great time together.  Josh H., Jonathan, and I roomed together during Thanksgiving at Malenovice, which went well despite Jonathan being sick (poor guy!). Since we're in the same place in life being single guys around the same age learning this whole missionary/ministry-in-Europe thing (though Josh moved over a year earlier), we get along well.

So after Thanksgiving Josh came to our place for part of the weekend. Since we had both run a 5K and played Football on Thursday, we didn't feel like doing anything too active.  Instead, we hung around home, talked, watched some shows and a movie, ordered pizza, went out to eat, and enjoyed some time together.  I am thankful for Josh, and loved our time together. It's so good talking through life with him. Friday and Saturday were a refreshing way to get a little bit extra out of Thanksgiving holiday time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Czech

This week our team took a little break from our normal week schedule to celebrate Thanksgiving as American missionaries serving with JV in Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Hungary. We got together at our training center in Malenovice Wednesday evening through Friday afternoon for a time of fellowship and JV family fun. Thanksgiving day was planned full of possible activities, and it was my most active Thanksgiving day ever (5K plus a football game before noon!).  While I missed my family during this time, I love the "family" we have here as well!

We kicked off the morning with the First Annual JV Turkey Trot 5K - my first 5K ever. It was a pretty hilly route, and with no training I got tired out easily, but I finished in just over 33 mins. The countryside was beautiful, and we admired God's creation as we ran. Check out the route. I am still sore three days later (Sun)...I should run more.
The 5K runners
We also had our annual American Football game.  For me personally, playing and watching football on Thanksgiving is not a home tradition, but is becoming one with the JV family.  My last Thanksgiving in Czech was in 2008, when I was doing my ESI internship, and we played a snowy game. It's now becoming a part of my traditions. We had a lot of fun playing flag football, and definitely some good hits and plays.
I can't find a group pic, but the other team took such a long time in their huddles!
Of course we had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal that we all contributed to. I brought a cheese platter and fruit salad, which took longer to cut than I anticipated. I missed being in the picture below, but here's most of the people at our Thanksgiving celebration.
The family
About eight of us guys also played some videogames both nights. It was so much fun to get some of that guy time (amongst the deeper conversations of the week), and I'm thankful to Noah and Jacob (TCKs) for setting it up.
Guy time - videogames (macgaming!)
For some other good blogs and pics on the day, check out Living by Lysa (or here), Claire's Corner, or HartCzech (the missionaries down the street).

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Snowing!

Snow falling at the train station today.  The weather HAS changed.

Frydek-Mistek Station 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Normal

I have settled in to life pretty well so far. The last few weeks especially have started to look like my normal year routine:
• Czech lessons downtown, being tutored, & other study
• Time in the office with the team + meetings
• Weekend visits to youth groups to keep outreach/evangelism on the radar, plus working to encourage leaders (Hradec Kralove visit and Zlin English Weekend)

The weather is getting cold (see instagram pic of "Freezing Fog" forecast) with some nice days along the way (like today).

Monday, July 30, 2012

Update from Serbia

Thanks for all your prayers over the last week and a half especially. Our last camp with Podebrady went well even though I had to leave early to head to Serbia. Two girls gave their lives to Christ at camp, and many others had great conversations. As my team rests today and tomorrow to prepare for another training then camp, I gear up with a team here in Serbia to start camp in the morning.

That's right, I'm in exile in Serbia doing ministry with the Josiah Venture Serbia team! I've been here since Thursday, when I traveled through the day to get here. I met the intern team serving in Sremska Mitrovica, hung out with students from their first camp at the river, and got to experience a Serbian church service. We picked up Americans arriving at 2am this morning and came straight down to Leskovac for final camp prep.

We're staying in Leskovac and doing camp in Lebanae with a group of Gypsy/Roma students. It's exciting to hear that they're culturally more excited about camp and that we'll be able to go deep with then right from the beginning. It's a day camp Tue-Sat, and it'll be a very different experience for me. I'm excited to experience this camp.

Pray for my intern team as they gear up for another camp. The camp 2 to camp 3 transition is always a rough one every year as my team is tired and getting relationally drained. Pray for the strength I know God will provide (I want you to be able to join me afterwards in praising God for providing).

I also know that God has His exact timing in when my visa will come in and when I can return to ministry in Czech. Pray for it to come in soon so I can get back to camp in Czech exactly when God intends. I will go directly to Bratislava when it does come in, and head to camp or training after that.

Keep checking my twitter feed on the right for updates. -->
Thanks for partnering with me on this crazy journey in prayer and faith that God's got it all in his hands.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The 6am Train to Serbia

Here I am, on the 6am train to Serbia having left camp last night after pouring out my heart to Czech students. It was hard to leave them and yet gave me a unique opportunity to really illustrate the my hope is in God, not my "job" here in Czech.

So why am I here?
Basically Americans get 90 days free in country and my time is up. I've already applied for my visa to stay for longer than 90 days, but it's still on process. There's nothing we can do to speed it up, do I have to leave Czech until its approved. The good thing about free travel (within the Schengen/EU states) is that border crossings are as simple as crossing the street. The bad thing is that you cant just cross into another country and get 90 more days free.

Why Serbia?
First, Serbia is not within the Schengen countries, so I get time allowed there separate from my time in Czech. Second, there are some missionaries and interns working with JV in Serbia that I can join: they'll have a place for me to stay and I can help with their English camp. I'm very interested to meet students in Serbia and do a camp with them.

The visa
The visa office reserves the right to take up to 120 days to approve a visa. They say it takes 90 days, and have approved most visas in 60 days. I applied the 20th day I was here, and we hoped they would be able to approve it by now. We don't have to wait to apply until we get to Europe, but flying to Washington DC (the Czech embassy) is our other option. I'm not the first to have this problem. We've been calling the visa office and all they can actually say is whether its approved or not: no details or time frame are given. My application could be next or could be under a big pile of papers. We just can't know. We have no timetable for when it is approved (our guess is within the month, almost for sure), but after 90 I can come back to Czech even if it's not approved.

So I head to Serbia in the hopes that it's just a weekend trip so I can get back to things and my next camp on Czech. Rachael is fully leading the team (versus us leading together) in my absence and they'll be okay. Keep them in prayer in this ministry even as you pray for my visa. My team is very capable and have been serving so well all summer.
Check my twitter feed on the right of my blog (or for pictures and/or updates on the situation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hradec Kralove - Our First Youth Group Visit of the Summer

Rainbow in the Square
The Cathedral and "White Tower" opposite
We got to go to Hradec Kralove this weekend as a team! This is my third year doing camp with the Hradec team, and I have been able to visit every year.  Friday we promoted camp in Czech schools and did a "Greater Than Night" as a preview of things to come at camp. We played games, sang camp songs, and of course had snacks. I also had the opportunity to speak on Mark 12:28-34, the greatest commandment. I encouraged students to look at what is most important, and showed that Jesus says loving God (as He reveals Himself in the Bible), loving others, and drawing near to Christ are of the utmost importance.
Camp Songs and Worship
Saturday we took a lovely hike up to the top of a mountain with a view of the highest peak in Czech on a clear day.  The hike down took a lot longer - Czechs really value the journey and to my knowledge don't ever return the same way they came up. We got drenched, but it was a fun experience with some of the youth group.
While waiting at the train station, one girl wrote out the theme Greater Th>n
Sunday we had church service, where we got to participate in the children's minute by sharing our experience with sunday school and our favorite games. We also encouraged the church to truly partner with us in camp through prayer.  We went out to lunch after the service and had a team meeting immediately following that. Megan, who will join us for this camp, was also able to spend the afternoon with us. The rest of the afternoon was supposed to be for sports with the youth, but rain kept us inside for card games and chatting most of the time. Ten of us went outside for frisbee in the rain, though, and had a tons of fun.
An Intense game of Dutch Blitz!
Card games inside during the rain
We concluded our visit with a packed 6 lessons of school visits on Monday, with several students expressing interest in camp. That afternoon we arrived in Podebrady to a BBQ/youth hangout celebrating the end of another school year and one graduation. Our team is now in Podebrady for rest, team time including a study in Jesus' ministry, and English lesson/evening program planning.

Hike group on the slain dragon!

Amazing Race and Intern Training

The last two weeks have flown by so quickly! The day after my last post the interns arrived, completing our team of five. The next two days were spent on a great Amazing Race through Krakow for the first half and a journey to Czech (with stops) for the second half. I was also blessed to visit H2O, the new training center in Poland. After the Amazing Race we had several days of intern training.
Our Summer Team: Bethany, Jitka, Rachael, Nolan, and Josh
H2O - What was so exciting about visiting this place and staying in it our 2nd night of the Amazing Race is that I have not been there since my first trip out with JV in 2007.  At that time it was not even owned by JV and they were in the purchasing process. Hearing their heart for the place to be used as a training center and a place for students to experience Christ was exciting, and we prayed for the purchasing process to go through.  God has answered that prayer and many more that the team has prayed since then. They've got a lot of it remodeled (except for the big meeting rooms) and ready for summer use, and we were the largest group to ever stay there. Please pray that Polish students would experience Christ there in a powerful way! Check out a video of the transformation below from H2O's Extreme Makeover Site

Amazing Race - God used this event to bring our team together, and the food challenge (blood sausage) wasn't even that bad. This was one of the best races to be a part of, and I've been involved in the last six.  My team did a great job, though on the last day we dropped from 4th to 11th place due to a decision to walk to our first destination. We arrived in Malenovice for intern training as a team ready to serve together all summer, and it's set a great tone for the summer.

Intern Training - Our days at intern training were a blessing. We had morning devotions and evening messages focused around the Holy Spirit, and I trust the Lord will use that to bless his ministry through us this summer. We also had a lot of seminars centered around the core tasks of the summer, and some of the practical things we must do together.  It was done under new leadership, but was still as great as it's always been for preparing our interns for service this summer.

Follow what's happening with Josiah Venture throughout Europe this summer on Twitter

Making a model of the solar system out of food!
In the Krakow Square
They're here to give us another task - bingo
Treated to beautiful views at Malenovice all week

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Intern Team Leaders Arrive

Intern leaders arrive in Krakow - @micczech1212 on Intagram
This last week has been spent with the intern leaders serving in Czech this summer. They arrived on Wednesday in Krakow. We've spent time together preparing for the summer and getting to know each other better.  Rachael is my co-leader, and a very encouraging person. Friday and Saturday we had a leaders' retreat where we worshipped together, prayed, and went over some particular details about budgets. We also talked about what camp with each of our churches would involve. Sunday we were in church (my third week in Cesky Tesin CB in a row...woo hoo!), and Monday we had our quarterly KAM (Czech nationally-led version of Josiah Venture) meeting - my first one as a full-time missionary. Today was rest/some minor preparations and Wednesday through Friday is our Amazing Race. We head to Krakow in a few hours.

Pray for our team as we run around Europe in an effort to build team unity quickly and effectively. This has proved to be an awesome indicator of what our team will look like this summer, and will enable us to bond together quickly as a team. It's always been effecive for my teams, even in the years I haven't led well. Pray that Rachael and I use it well, that there would be no injuries, and that we would do well! (This is my 6th JV Amazing Race btw fyi)  Look for tweets under #jvamazingrace for updates of the insanity from me or others.  Intern training follows the race until Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Upcoming Events and Prayer Requests

Upcoming Events:
 5/21 Visa Application (Bratislava, Slovakia)
 5/23 Intern Team Leaders Arrive (Krakow, Poland)
 5/25-26 Intern Leader Retreat (Czech)
 5/30-6/1 Interns Arrive, Amazing Race (Krakow-???-???-Czech)
 6/1-6/6 Intern Training

Prayer Requests:
- Summer preparations - that I stay on top of it and prepare to the point that I can focus on relationships and discipleship during the summer
- Car buying - that I find a good one before the summer so I can use it in English camp ministry - Interns - as they finish things at home, pray that God would fill them for the summer ministry
- Camps - that the leaders would be encouraged, that students would grow in their Gospel sharing effectiveness, and that students would come to Christ!
- Apartment - find one for the fall that will be close to students and in a good location in the city

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Summer Prep

Interns arrive in just over 2 weeks and the summer will be in full swing! I've been taking this time in the office and where I'm staying to email Czech leaders to arrange our weekend visits in June and are preparing my interns for the summer. My co-leader, Rachael, is from Northern Ireland and has been a great asset to me in staying on top of things and is using her English camp teaching experience to prepare our team. My interns are Nolan (coming from TX), Bethany (coming from IA), and Jitka (from Czech). * My other summer prep has included thinking through additional details for the summer, reading Prodigal God to prepare for our evening talks, and going through our leadership study on Jesus' ministry.

Currently Reading:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

JV Spring Conference (with families!)

JV Family of Over 200
Conference was the first thing I did in Czech. It started less than 24 hours after my arrival, and it was a great introduction to the Josiah Venture family. Our theme was Found By Your Father, focusing on the Fatherhood of God and what that looks like in our lives. I was challenged by the messages to think about the areas in which I am lacking (because no earthly father is perfect and cannot provide all that we need) and where I need to rely on my Heavenly Father. I was also able to walk through some of this with a friend here, which is what relationships should be about.

I'm excited to join this crew in ministry across Czech, Slovenia, and Slovakia
I also loved having missionary families here. There were both old and new faces in the group; I reconnected with the old and got to meet the new families. Our whole Orientation/MTI group from fall 2010 is finally on the field (I'm last), and it was a great homecoming.

Another highlight was playing Star Wars Mafia with the older JVKids and single missionaries. They're a great group of missionary kids and welcomed me well. Thanks JVK!

Welcoming new missionaries to Spring Conference!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Arrival and Conference

A 5-year process of coming to the Czech Republic and responding to God's call has become a reality. I arrived in the Czech Republic as a full-time missionary on Wednesday at 1am! JV's Spring Conference began onWednesday evening, and it's been a great time connecting with the JV family (as well as working to get over jet lag), and I'm excited for the rest of our conference. More thoughts on it to follow.

I praise God for being my provider and my source of strength through this time. He has brought so many encouraging people my way in this process of raising support and moving to the field, and I'm excited to be a part of the work that He's doing in the Czech Republic!

My missionary anniversary is officially May 2nd. Let's see what God does in and through me in the next two years!

Location:Malenovice,,Czech Republic

Saturday, April 28, 2012

100% Raised, Leaving Monday!

I have reached 100% of my monthly and one-time support. I am officially headed to the Czech Republic for 2 years on Monday morning. Pray for a smooth transition and good preparation for the summer ministry!

A Special Thank You to those who are supporting me financially and prayerfully...
Thank you so much for your prayers and finances over the last year and a half. God has slowly but surely been faithful to provide for His work in Eastern Europe. I can see clearly that God has moved in your heart to give and pray, and has blessed me through it. He has also used this time to work on my heart and prepare me for this ministry I’m called to, I can see that His timing is perfect. Thank you for giving, continue to pray, and remain a part of this ministry by staying in touch via Facebook, email, phone, or text.

If you would like to receive my monthly emails, contact me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

97% Funded & a Few More Pledges Need to Be Received

I've been working on keeping things updated on Facebook, neglecting a bit my blog.
Here's where I'm at in my ministry partner development (financial and prayer support). I have 50 people praying for me specifically one day a week. I'm at 97% of my monthly support, but have several pledges that haven't been received. It all has to be receieved (at least the first month) before I can get my ticket to leave.

I would like to leave April 29th, moving to the Czech Republic for my 2-year term. There's our spring conference with all the missionary families next week, and it would give me time to meet everyone, get settled a bit, and be ready to kick off the summer ministry.

Would you pray that mail moves quickly this week, that some partners would give online (so it can be marked "received" this week), and that I get the final 3%, which is only $110 a month?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Substitute Teaching for Two Weeks

I have the great privilege of spending the next two weeks substitute teaching at Aiea High. It is a God-given blessing, as I broke my phone this month and will need to replace it. I plan to still be headed to Czech VERY soon, and this job is a good way to fill the next several weeks. I will be able to work on raising support in the afternoons and evenings, and teach during the day.

The class I'm teaching for is relatively relaxed this week. Students are researching colleges as part of their career goals, and turning in answers to questions we give them. I also get to work with one weight training class.

Today we had a great presentation on goal-setting by a representative from Heald College, Paul. I believe students not only enjoyed the presentation, but were inspired and encouraged to set goals for their future. I was even encouraged a little bit as I've been setting some short term goals every two weeks to fulfill my long-term goal of moving to the Czech Republic this year. The guest speaker was also a Christian, and it was fun to get to know him a little bit. Paul shared with me how he shares bits of Christian morals in his presentations even if he can't overtly share his faith, and I was able to see that in action even before he told me. I also appreciated his speaking style and hope that one day I can be as engaging when I speak at English Camps or the youth groups in Czech I minister to. I'm glad that the Word of God does speak for itself, and that I have had the opportunity already for God to speak to students through me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Real Marriage

So why is the single guy posting about marriage? Glad you asked!

I have been listening to Mark Driscoll's "Real Marriage" sermon series over the last few weeks, getting into his podcasts like I've wished to be for a while. In general I've wanted to be listening to podcast sermons regularly, and have decided to "redeem my commute" or trips around town with a podcast.

The Real Marriage sermon series has been great so far. It is not directly out of a single passage like the Luke sermons I've heard, but is very much biblically based and brings together God's Word on marriage. I also love Mark and Grace's honesty together as they strive towards healthy marriages in their congregation and those that they visit. They have used their experiences and failures to really show how marriage (in God's eyes) works out. They also have some sort of Q&A after each sermon, where it is great to hear them both unpack a question someone has. Some of the questions are ones that I have wondered about but have not necessarily brought together into a specific question. They constantly reference their book, Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together, which encourages me to read it. I plan to purchase the book at a later date.

So why is Real Marriage good for singles as well as married couples? It presents a biblical foundation for a healthy marriage that is important whether you are already married (and need a little to a lot of help) or single (so you can head into marriage with the right perspective and work on yourself as a single person by the grace of God). Here's a few takeaways:
~Pray for your spouse now, and keep a journal, writing to her. It will be a wonderful gift to her someday.
~Your wife is to be your best friend (my question: then what about when I"ve been "friend zoned"?)
~No secrets: Most couples have a secret that is destroying their marriage, Jesus wants us to walk in the light
~If you view Sex as God or as Gross, you will not appreciate it as the Gift God has given to us for marriage
~Porn includes lustful thoughts, creates unhealthy neural pathways, and is an industry of slavery, exploitation, shame, and drugs/alcohol abuse.
~At the cross there is not only forgiveness for our sin, but healing from the sin committed against us. You can emerge from sexual assault into a healthy marriage by the grace of God.

Most of all, God is encouraging calling me to again work on myself, in his grace, to be ready for when I meet my spouse. I'll do that, and hope that she comes my way soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

God's Faithfulness to Provide

As I sit here tonight preparing my ministry board for tomorrow, I am overcome with Joy and Thankfulness. I thank God for the support that he has provided in the first quarter of this year - for the ministry partners that He's prepared for me to meet. This week God has shown Himself faithful to provide - I've gotten 4 new ministry partners giving $200 a month together! I am now within $600/mo of being fully funded, and am halfway to my goal of 50 prayer partners. I hope that tomorrow as I share my heart for God's work movement in the Czech Republic He would provide more of the remaining financial partners.

This is going to happen, and I trust/pray that it is soon. Thank you Lord God, for moving in the hearts of these people at home and for bringing me into your movement among the youth of the Czech Republic that finds its home in the local church and transforms society.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Closer to eighty, and a bunch of phone calls

I'm close to eighty percent of my support, after speaking with two new supporters at $50 monthly each. When I tell my family about my support levels, I get the statement "this is really happening soon, isn't it?" It's true that I am getting closer all the time, with only 14 more people at $50 a month until I'm fully funded. That's less than $700/mo!

I've been making a bunch of calls this week everyday in the afternoon. I'd like to meet with my current contacts and share my heart for the Czech Republic with them. I'm asking for only about 1/2 an hour of their time, and I am so exciting for these meetings. So far I only have a few meetings planned, but I'm hoping for more. I also hope that for those who I cannot meet with in person (ex: the many friends I have on the mainland) I can still Skype with them. If you're reading this and have not received a call or want to Skype, please get in touch with me!

This is gonna happen, and God is working in the people I've already talked with. I have a meeting tomorrow as well as more phone calls, so keep me in prayer for the final 21%!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Right Around Seventy

I'm getting more and more excited to be on the field. Today I took another look into my finances and have around seventy percent in each category of support. I have 73% of my monthly expenses pledged for, meaning that I am less than $900/mo away from being fully funded! I also have 69% of my startup costs accounted for, leaving me with about $8000 left to raise (see my support levels on the right side of this page). God has been bringing several people to me over the first part of this year to pray and give financially, and it's been exciting to have them partnering with me in this ministry. Keep me in prayer for the last 30% by March 31st, my goal to be fully funded. It's time to get going!

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Resolutions

As we start the new year, I wanted to refer you to a post by my friend (and supporter), Brad. He captures well the thoughts I have had going into last year and this year, reminding us that our God is "making all things new".

Pressing On (A New Kind of Resolution)

One of my resolutions is to up my posts and contact in order to better share how God is working in/through me and the ministries I'm involved in.