Wednesday, 26 December 2012

As the end of the year draws near...

"My prayer is that you'll create a little space in the days to come to reflect on the year, and on the Christ child, and you'll clear away just a few moments to be thankful, to listen, to weep, to be still and present and fragile in the presence of a God who came to earth to be with us, near to us, connected to us."
Shauna Niequist 

There are many blog posts in my head, and it's been a busy couple of months.  Hopefully, in the days to come I'll be posting more as I look back on what 2012 has been and what 2013 may hold!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Stories of God's Faithfulness

There are around twenty of us new missionaries here at orientation and each couple or person are in turn telling their stories of how God called them to serve Him in central and eastern Europe.  Tonight we heard from the Strocks (top) and the Millers (bottom) and I shared my story.  

As I've heard stories and shared (and processed more) my own the thing that blows me away is God's faithfulness, and this verse:

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness."
 (Psalm 115 v 1)

There is absolutely nothing special about me.  But there is something incredibly special about the God who loves and saves and calls.

Jet lag is being brutal (last night I managed to stay awake until 10pm but woke at 3am!) but it's been so good to be at orientation.  I am so excited about this process and where God is leading and all the other details.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Five months ago

Five months ago today I left Ireland for three months in the Czech Republic as a summer intern leader.

Today I was at the first day of Josiah Venture's full time missionary orientation.

As I sit here, battling jet lag, I am just in awe of God, how good He is and how crazy His plans are.  It has been so good to learn more about JV and to meet new people with equally crazy stories of God's grace and calling.  

It is so good to be here.  God is so good.

Monday, 22 October 2012

What now?

I first experienced the Czech Republic when I went out to serve at an English camp with a team from First Saintfield in 2007.  And that September saw me go off to university with my future all mapped out, the destination being Dr Rachael a few years down the line.  And if you’d told 18 year old me what 23 year old me would be doing she’d laugh and perhaps tell you to “catch yourself on”.  But 23 year old me?  She’s pretty excited about what she’s doing…

Over the course of my trips to the Czech Republic I felt God calling me to full time ministry, potentially full time ministry in the Czech Republic.  And God has confirmed that call over the years in a variety of ways.  The summer internship was seen as a further testing of this call.

At intern training I heard about a role on the newly formed S-Team (Specialties Team) and I was rather intrigued and started having conversations with different people, including Casey Yorman who heads up S-Team.  It was just a thought and an interest but I left intern training praying about it, convinced that even if it was what God was calling me to it would take a few months to discern that and figure out all the details.

A few weeks into June I remember emailing Casey saying that the reasons for me to say no to the role were disappearing and the reasons to say yes were stacking up.  At the end of June Casey and I had another conversation and Casey started talking to people who know me well to figure out if this might be a good fit.

At third term training, at breakfast just before heading off to our last camp, I sat down opposite Casey and was officially invited to apply to Josiah Venture as a full time missionary.  Spending time with the lovely Yorman family after third term was over was wonderful, as we started to dream about me serving in Czech.  I went back to Northern Ireland with an application form that was accepted and I’m now officially a full time JV missionary!

So, what’s the role?  My role will be S-Team Co-Ordinator.  So I’ll be serving the camp ministry in all of the countries JV works in, by providing structures and support for the ministry and those serving in it.  In these countries there are 32.5 million 15-29 year olds, with only 1% of them being evangelical believers.  This summer JV did one hundred camps in central and eastern Europe, with camps being an amazing tool to reach the youth of Europe with the glorious Gospel. 

Through serving at English camps I’ve seen God move in mighty ways, drawing people to Himself and raising up new leaders who are passionate to reach their nation for the Gospel.  I am so excited to use my experience and giftings to serve this incredible ministry. 

While serving JV I’ll live in the Czech Republic, as I’ll be based at JV’s offices in Frydlant (in the east of the country).  And I’ll also be spending time learning the beautiful Czech language and being involved in local church ministry.

I’d love to be on the field in the spring of 2013 so I’m now in the process of contacting people who want to partner with me in this work by praying for me and/or supporting me financially.  Please be praying for this support raising process!  It’s an exciting time and I’m excited to see what God has in store.  

Saturday, 20 October 2012


Back at the English camp in 2009 I spent a lot of time reading Isaiah 42 and 43, especially the verses:

And I will lead the blind    in a way that they do not know,in paths that they have not known    I will guide them.I will turn the darkness before them into light,    the rough places into level ground.These are the things I do,    and I do not forsake them. They are turned back and utterly put to shame,    who trust in carved idols,who say to metal images,    “You are our gods.”Isaiah 42 v 16- 17

But now thus says the Lord,he who created you, O Jacob,    he who formed you, O Israel:“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;    I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,    and the flame shall not consume you.Isaiah 43 v 1-2

Since that time these have become some of my favourite Old Testament verses and again this summer they became very real to me as I experienced God turning rough places into level ground, turning darkness into light and keeping His wonderful promises to never leave or forsake us.

The word that jumps out of me is “redeemed” and I’ve spent time looking into what the word means, with the ESV study Bible saying this:  
"The focus is on God’s intent to rescue his people from their captivity and to foster the conditions under which their piety can flourish.”

I love this description: that God not only saves us from the judgement and hell we deserve but He also places us in situations where our faith will grow.  I certainly experienced that this summer. 

At the beginning of my internship I remember going through a coaching document and highlighting different areas I wanted to grow in.  In one column I highlighted that I wanted to grow in leadership, conflict resolution and in organising/facilitating.  And, yes, God hit all of those.  He hit all of my “goals” for growth this summer, even those in other columns, to the extent that I remember looking at the document in the middle of the third term just to make sure that there wasn’t something God hadn’t grown me in that I was about to get a lesson in.

Of course now I joke that I’m never setting another goal for growth again..  Growth can be painful as I am stretched and challenged in ways I’d maybe grown rather comfortable in, too comfortable in. 

But as I look back on the summer I am so glad God grew me, I am so glad I see Him in a bigger way than I did in May.  There are elements of the summer I wouldn’t necessarily have wished on myself but through those situations God faithfully led and in that place my faith grew.

I am so thankful for how I saw God’s abundant provision in all things this summer – especially as the story continues….

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


After our last English Camp the intern team didn’t do follow up with the town – instead Nolan, Jitka and Bethany headed to our home base and I headed to Cesky Tesin to spend some time with the Yorman family which was a really great time dreaming about the future.

I got into Podebrady (home base) late on Sunday night after surviving six hours of train time on my own - it was wonderful, and oh how I miss train time.  But with some delays and fewer trains on a Sunday I was grateful to be home and my “kids” had left me a beautiful bowl of curry to enjoy!

On Monday we left Podebrady for the last time and caught the train to Prague.  Our days in Prague were wonderful.  It was really great to spend time with other teams again.  It was so good to tell the stories of what God did during the summer – in the hearts of those around us, in our hearts.  It was also good to spend time looking forward to “re-entry”. 

And it was amazing to spend time in Prague.  I was able to have some alone time, scouting out some cafes after some great recommendations, and to process the summer.  Prague is a beautiful city and one of the highlights of my week there was getting up at 4am with a group of people to watch the sunrise on Charles Bridge. 

When I got a phonecall at 3.20 on Wednesday afternoon from Martina to say that Josh’s visa had come in, on literally the last day it could have to allow him to come back in time to say goodbye to everyone, I didn’t quite believe it.  But it was so good to have team HawaiIreland reunited for twelve hours before we started to fly out.

The week in Prague was a great time of processing, spending time with people who had become dear friends and relaxing a little in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Flying out on that Friday was hard but hopefully it won’t be too long before I return again…

Term 3

So, I’ve been back two months now and felt it was time to write about the third term before it completely disappeared from memory!

Well, my co-leader, Josh, had to leave the Czech Republic in the middle of the second term and he managed to get back just twelve hours before people started to fly out at the end of the summer.  So that meant that I was the main leader for all of our third English camp.  A full time JV missionary came along to help with camp but unfortunately he became rather sick just a couple of days into the camp and had to leave. 

So there were lots of jokes about me being abandoned for this camp but that felt far from the case – I feel one of the biggest things God did during the third term was in my heart, reassuring me that He was all I needed and then giving me a very practical lesson in that when suddenly the most experienced person at that camp was me and I felt so inadequate!  Thankfully He is abundantly able and His strength was made perfect in my weakness, especially when I felt horribly unwell during the week. 

And I was far from abandoned in human terms too: we had a team of twenty Alaskans who loved students so well and the HawaiIreland team were great in Josh’s absence.  A shout out to technology too: HeyTell is an app that lets you send voice messages to people and was such a blessing as encouragement came down through it!  Not to mention phone calls and texts.  And, weirdly, lack of communication was also rather reassuring: I knew there were people I could call in a heartbeat if I needed to but other than that they were confident that English Camp was not doing to dissolve. 

And English camp did not dissolve!  It was such a privilege to work alongside the amazing team from Havlickuv Brod.  Their passion to reach Czech students with the glorious Gospel was so evident even in how they thought through all the details of camp and they were a joy to work with.  It was also an incredible privilege for me to do five of the seven evening programs, to once again clearly present the Gospel to students. 

God’s grace was so clear that week and I’m sure I’ll be remembering those lessons for a long time to come!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Processing the Summer

I've been back in Northern Ireland exactly one month!  And I've just sent out my last summer prayer update.  You'd think that after a month I'd be able to succinctly and eloquently summarise my summer.. but I can't.  And as I talk to other interns we're still finding things weird - things like my toothpaste tube is in English again, or wanting to laugh at a joke from the summer but knowing those people aren't around to laugh with you!  

Having said that, it has been so good to be back and to rest and to spend time with dear, dear friends.  Thank you all for your grace as I've adjusted to life back in Northern Ireland again.  Thank you for asking questions about my summer!  

I hope to update here "properly" about the summer soon but, until then, this verse seems the most appropriate about the summer:  

“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  John 21 v 25

Because God did amazing things this summer, in me and through me and around me.  It was incredible to be able to witness and experience these things.  And I know that I only saw a fraction of what really happened, because God is a God who can answer prayers in ways we can’t even imagine.  I’m excited to get to heaven and find out what all God did this summer, for His glory. 

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Term 2!

Camp Number 2 with Podebrady was amazing!  God really blessed our time with the students and it was a joy to see people wrestle with big questions and draw closer to God.  And two girls gave their lives to Christ on Gospel night.  Now we pray that the students will get connected with the local youth group throughout the year and continue to have places where they can be discipled or simply ask questions.

We were serving alongside a team of Californians who were here for the first time.  It was so great to have their energy and it was a joy to see them connect with students.

And the intern team continues to serve so well.  Jitka was with her home church doing camp but Nolan and Bethany were with us.  On Wednesday night Josh had to leave because his visa was not in.  In his absence I had the immense privilege of being able to clearly communicate the Gospel in the evening talks on Thursday and Friday night. 

On Friday we head to our third and final camp with Havlickuv Brod alongside a team of Alaskans.  Josh is still in Serbia as his visa has not come in so I will be responsible for the runnings of camp.  Please pray his visa comes through soon, if that is God’s will!

Pray that as we enter these last few weeks we would finish well and that God would be glorified in all we do.  It has been so amazing to see how He has provided for our every need, I am so grateful for His provision.

And I can’t believe that I get to see what God is doing in this beautiful country!  I’m so excited to continue to share stories of His goodness and grace with you all.