Friday, 29 November 2013

Photo Friday

The retreat house that was the home of our girls' retreat. I loved spending time with the youth group ladies here!

I cheered Ireland on as they played New Zealand! I so so wish the game had ended at 80 minutes. 

The first snow! There will be more to come!

A meeting of the seasons.

Food all prepared for Thanksgiving.

A slice of delicious pumpkin pie!

It was so wonderful to celebrate my very first Thanksgiving with the wonderful Josiah Venture family. Missionaries from Czech and a couple of nearby countries travelled to our hotel/conference centre at Malenovice to celebrate. I am so thankful for the missionary family God has called me to here.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Exit Tour and Spiritual Battles

Exit Tour is a ministry of JV that involves an American Christian band going into local high schools to connect with students through the universal medium of music and to provide education on real life issues. The Gospel is presented and students are invited to a big concert at the end of the week. This is all done alongside the local church who want to reach out to the young people of their communities.

The Dicksons serve in Czech and head up the Exit Tour here. Kevin's college recently ran an article on their work and what it looks like, particularly in terms of the spiritual battle that surrounds it and the incredible results they are seeing.  It also talks a little about the Czech culture and spiritual climate. To read the article click here

Exit Tour has just finished up in a few cities and it will be going to more Czech towns before the end of the year. Please be praying for this ministry! And for the churches who are now following up with students who were interested in the Gospel.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Deep Dive (Free book!)

Deep Dive is a book written by Josiah Venture! And it's free for Kindle (and, remember, you can read Kindle books on your Kindle, iPhone, iPad, computer... etc!) for another day or two. 

From the blurb: 

During 2012-2013, six teams from twelve national organizations of Josiah Venture, bringing the gospel of Christ to the emerging generation in Central and Eastern Europe, embarked on a qualitative study of their ministry environments. Through the Deep Dive Project, 90 youth leaders conducted 422 in-depth interviews in Slovenia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia. Their objective was to see more clearly and understand more deeply the youth and youth leaders they serve. This book is about what they discovered.

I really recommend this book if you'd like to know more about young people, youth ministry or the context in which I serve! 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Photo Friday

I went to the zoo in Ostrava with some other missionaries. It was 0 degrees that day and the flamingoes looked out of place!

I was moaning as I text Jo about my thermostat that I just.couldn't.figure.out. Cue her husband looking online for the manual and a FaceTime call to help me figure out how to properly heat my flat! The bonus was an impromptu FaceTime with Jo.

The sunset out my kitchen window... my very dirty kitchen window.

I get all my post sent to the office so this is what my desk looked like after my birthday! I am so thankful for my crazy thoughtful friends.

I was preparing to speak at my youth group's girls' retreat.

I've become a black coffee drinker. Crazy. (I still probably prefer having milk but I can definitely drink it black now).

The panel of ladies answering questions at the girls' retreat.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Book: God Knows My Name

I read this book a few months ago and it was such a refreshing read. It was such a great reminder of who God is - our Saviour, Restorer, Defender, Helper, - how great His love and grace is, and who we are in Him. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Lessons from Wellie Boots

I bought these wellie boots one rainy afternoon in Cardiff and I remember trudging to lectures in snow in them and, last winter, wearing them as I flew down hills on plastic bin liners…

It seemed like a good idea to bring them here with me but I didn’t clean them before I shoved them in a box for shipping. And then I wore them a lot at the rainy Fall Conference.

So now, as they sit in my entryway, they have both Northern Irish mud and Czech mud on them.

And maybe I should clean them and restore them to their original purple but for now they seem like a good analogy of my life – bits of Northern Ireland (and Cardiff) and bits of Czech all mixed together. Memories and experiences from various places all making me who I am.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Photo Friday!

I got a lot of food for my birthday - American candy on the left and then Northern Irish/British the rest of the way over. So so good. And, yes, caramel squares (or millionaries shortbread) are something I crave on a regular basis.

I was all tucked up in bed at 11:30 (because it had been a long day and I'm 25 now) when I got a FaceTime call from Rach and Amy at youth group in Saintfield! Which led to lots of hellos and was a perfect ending of my birthday!

My birthday weekend: breakfast with Kristin and Caleb on Saturday and then the other four pictures are from a beautiful walk around a nearby lake with my Czech friend Martina and a shopping excursion for a winter coat that ended in a lovely Starbucks shaped treat! There was lots of other unphotographed niceness - youth group, church, etc.

The fact the lady in the shop assures me that my coat is perfectly fine at -10 degrees C concerns me just a little... Because that is now a perfectly average temperature for my winters.

And here's what Monday morning looked like!

But then the post arrived and so did lots of hilarious and thoughtful birthday cards! 

Celebrating a very productive Tuesday.

Ministry often happens outside church walls, and instead over things like drinks of hot chocolate.

Czech homework in front of Narnia.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Meet the Cramers

Cory & Kristine Cramer are missionaries currently raising support to serve with Josiah Venture in Albania. If you click here you will find an incredible (and short) video that explains why they are heading to Albania. 

It is so worth three minutes of your day! 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Another Important November 9th Celebration

I had a wonderful 25th birthday on Saturday but November 9th is also important for another reason. Twenty years ago, on my fifth birthday, two couples moved to the Czech Republic and Poland and Josiah Venture was born!

Please check out this post by Connie Patty for the details and fun photos!

Thankful for those couples that stepped out in faith all those years ago! 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Photo Friday

My favourite walk in my home town - down by the river, and only about seven minutes from my flat.

Sunday involved baking these - spiced applesauce with cream cheese frosting - for the ladies' Bible study on Monday night.

It was so fun to have the ladies gather in my living room. Most of us serve with JV and it is such a great time of studying God's Word together. I'm so thankful for this community of women from America and Czech.

Tuesday was a really grey and rainy, dark day. A lot of my co-workers thought it was miserable but it made me smile as I thought it was a perfect Northern Irish day.

These lovely people (the guys are American and Martina is Czech) serve Czech English camps and are dear friends. I had them over for dinner on Wednesday night and it was a lot of fun.

With the lovely Chestnuts on home assignment in the States for two and a half months their dog Brooklyn is being looked after by other people. That included me for a couple of nights so I got to take late night walks in my town square.

For my next Czech lesson I have to write out my testimony so I've been learning some relevant words. I drove a Czech co-worker to work on Thursday and she asked me what my testimony was and how I became a missionary. And I managed to answer both those questions in Czech! Really bad Czech with all the wrong endings but it was still Czech and mostly understood. It was a wonderful confidence boost as I glimpsed some progress in my language learning!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Edge Sports: Floorball!

Back in September I introduced you to a new ministry starting within JV: Edge Sports, using sport to reach young men for Christ. 

Well, it's not just football in Slovenia and Poland any more! In Ukraine they have started floorball teams in local churches that are reaching out to young people there.

I watched a couple of floorball games at Brodfest - it's like indoor hockey with plastic sticks and a ball with holes in it. The goalkeeper doesn't have a stick but spends most of his time on his knees, using his hands and body to stop goals. It's a fast paced game!

You can watch the video introducing floorball and how they are using it to reach young people for Christ in Ukraine here.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Joining the Movement of God (Article)

Time and time again this part of the world, and particularly Czech, is highlighted as a region where few are evangelical believers. Across the countries that JV works in less than 1% of the population fall into that category. 

Czech is actually top in the world in terms of percentage of the population "unaffiliated" to any religion with 76% declaring themselves in that category. Even China and North Korea have lower percentages than that. And the evangelical population of Czech is less than a third of one percent.

And yet this country has a glorious history of the Gospel and movements of God. Jan Hus called for reformation in the church and inspired Martin Luther. And in the early 1700s a revival broke out in this part of the world that rippled throughout the nations.

You can read about this revival in this article which even mentions the town I now live in as the nerve centre of the revival, which also went on to inspire the people who became known as the Moravians.

The Moravians were pioneers of the missions movement and prayed continuously for one hundred years. There are stories of Moravian missionaries who were willing to sell themselves into slavery in order to preach the Gospel to those enslaved through the Atlantic slave trade. They also deeply affected John Wesley, contributing to his conversion experience when he saw their deep faith during a storm on a boat crossing the Atlantic. 

God has been drawing people to Himself in this part of the world for centuries and from this region ripples have went out that have changed the world. 

It is our prayer that again we would see God's mighty work in this region, that He would call many to Himself and that it would transform not only this country but the world. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Here's to 25

At White Rock Beach with Rose just before moving to Czech earlier this year. Rose wrote in the sand "Rach NI-Czech 2013-..." 

When I was younger I think twenty-five was one of the years I had definite dreams and plans for. I knew what I wanted to have and who I wanted to be when I turned twenty-five.

And in a week, on November 9th, I will celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday!

Pretty much none of the things I’d planned for twenty-five will have happened. Until I was sixteen I thought twenty-five would be celebrated by Doctor Rachael. And eighteen-year-old me certainly had no plans to have an address outside of the UK. I repeatedly tell the story of how I had zero plans to become a missionary. 

But God has written a different story. A much better story.

I am so glad things look a lot different than I was expecting. Although I will celebrate my birthday in a country where I’m not even sure how to say “Happy birthday!” I know, and know deeply, that this is what and where God has called me to.

It is such a joy to be making a home here, to be battling with language learning and to be serving alongside wonderful people to proclaim just how great God is in these nations.

As I look towards turning twenty-five I have been thinking about what I want to do before I turn thirty. I am slowly writing a list of thirty things I’d love to do in the next five years.

I’ve been doing some research as I try to write this list. Some of the lists I’ve been finding are not that helpful – there aren’t really any famous people I want to meet and I’m not sure I’ll own a home in the next five years.

Some of the lists have been reminding me of the amazing things that have been crammed into my twenty-five years of life so far, of how much life I’ve lived.

I’ve travelled a lot – in the last year alone I’ve slept in thirty-two beds in ten countries. I’ve been to Disneyland and Disneyworld. I’ve seen my favourite band (Mumford and Sons) as well as two of my favourite singer-songwriters (Foy Vance and Duke Special) live.

I completed school. And graduated from Cardiff University with a BSc and whole lot of wisdom from outside the lecture theatres after four years of living in the beautiful Wales with wonderful people. I’ve walked a few marathons – although running one would be incredible. I’ve been mentored and I’ve been a mentor.

I’ve moved to a whole different country. I’m learning a second language (I’m so not going to count the five years of French in high school). I feel like I have my dream job. I’ve stood up in front of people with a microphone in my hand. I’ve served on five short-term mission teams to Romania and the Czech Republic.

And I am so blessed to have such incredible people in my life. People who have loved me and continue to love me in the midst of all these crazy adventures. I have a fantastic family and friends who love me so much. It is such an honour to do life with all of you.

God has given me so many adventures in these amazing first twenty-five years of life! And I’m so excited to see what God has in store for the next twenty-five – and how He will most likely shatter my expectations of those too!

Now to find a fourteenth thing to write on my list…

Friday, 1 November 2013

Photo Friday

One of the great things about being at Brodfest was being able to catch up with friends - including these lovely Czech interns who served with JV last year!

It was also wonderful to see over one thousand young adults worshipping God together.

Monday came and the bracelet got cut off! It was a national holiday here (marking the establishment of an independent Czecho-Slovak state after the First World War in 1918) and after the crazy weekend it was good to have a slower day.

Life here is just a whole lot multi-cultural. On Tuesday I made a trip to Poland to go to a bigger/cheaper grocery store to stock up on essentials for the next wee while (and then supplement with smaller shop runs... and no, I'm not calling M&Ms or nutella essentials but somehow they ended up in my trolley). 

I used a Latvian coin to operate the Polish trolley and my shop included buying coffee creamer for an American living in Slovenia. Czech life includes lots of other countries!

A beautiful sunset on Wednesday.

Thursday was the end of the month which inevitably means it's time to sort out my receipts and expenses! And as I'd done a lot of travelling it required a lot of work (and M&Ms) as I have receipts in six currencies!

Friday - well, I've now lived here over four months! And four months is a long time without a haircut. So I finally braved it today. Hairdressers are the same world over - I used multiple phrases for "only a little" and she repeated them back... but my hair is a lot shorter than I was expecting! Thankfully hair grows and I don't hate it - so I'm still chalking it up as an accomplishment!