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 twitter.com/joshhawaii) for pictures and/or updates on the situation.