Friday, 28 February 2014

Photo Friday - 28th February

I'm thankful for technology that allows me to watch Ireland play in the Six Nations!

Ice cream [cookie] sandwiches on a Sunday afternoon!

We had a bit of a tidy up of the office and found these - old visa photos and stickers from my very first year of camp - Underground in 2007. 

Czech homework generally needs some encouragement, like a couple of squares of chocolate.

Thankfully I live on the first floor of my building, so only climb one flight of stairs.

I'm thankful for FaceTime with friends!

I helped the Yormans pack and so on Thursday night I crashed at theirs. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Deep Dive is Free Again!

Deep Dive, a book published by my missions organisation, is free again for Kindle! It's less than 150 pages and free! Check it out on the or websites this week.

If you are interested in learning more about what we do, or why we do it that way, or the context we serve in, this book will help give you some of those answers. 

I would love to hear what you think as you read it!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Updates, Rest and Looking Forward

I finally sat down and uploaded photos for Photo Friday on 14th and 21st. It has been a busy, busy few weeks between the Academy, an English lesson planning retreat and a youth retreat. 

After so much busyness I was able take off Friday and it gave me time to rest this past weekend. It was so good to stop, sleep without setting an alarm, read some books and just marvel at all that God is doing in these nations. And all that He is doing in me. 

We have set up a Facebook group for the wonderful people who will be coming to serve with us this summer as summer interns. One girl excitedly posted yesterday that it's just ninety-two days until they arrive.

With the big winter events out of the way our eyes are focusing on the summer - on the camp dance and evening programme, on interns and short term teams, on travel plans and t-shirt orders, on lesson plans and a million other details.

I'm so excited about what God is going to do this summer as people from around the globe share the incredible story of God stepping in, loving us when we weren't lovely, and changing lives. 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Photo Friday - 21st February

On Saturday during the youth retreat we went for a hike, up through the woods and then up this ski slope. Going up this ski slope was much easier than going down a much steeper slope on the way down. I fell with or without grace a lot!

Sunday involved some baking after the youth retreat and spending time with wonderful friends as we watched a movie set in Scotland. It was absolutely hilarious to introduce them to more British culture and phrases.

Monday night Bible study was cancelled so Kristin and I used it as an excuse to hang out.

All this post arrived within a short while of each other - post from Welsh friends, a Christmas card post-marked December 15th, and a card from Lithunia. My windowsill is very multi-cultural.

Wednesday involved dinner - after feeding these goats!

Zuzka and Terry pictured working on their macs in Costa. With Czech lesson and errands and things I ended up working from Ostrava for a while on Thursday afternoon and bumped into these two. I'm still working my way through a gift card I received for there. Maybe Costa should become our second office? 

What my kitchen table looked like on Friday - Czech textbook, evening camp talks, English lessons.. busy, short days filled with things to do! 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pray for Ukraine

Last May I spent a couple of days in Ukraine, welcoming interns and helping with the Amazing Race. I was in L'viv and Kiev and remember walking through the Independence Square (Maidan) during the evening in Kiev. It looked like the photo on the left. But the photo on the right was taken yesterday.

Source (article)

Please, pray for Ukraine. You can read about the situation on the BBC or why it matters here

There are JV missionaries serving in L'viv and you can read the Williams' blog post on it here. Pray for necessary paperwork to come through. Pray for safety. Pray for wisdom for what to do about teams and interns planning to serve in Ukraine this summer.

Pray for the negotiations that, at the time of writing, are apparently happening. Pray for peace and democracy.

And, ultimately, pray that God would use this situation mightily for His glory and that people would turn to Jesus in this country. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Thrive: January

It wasn't hard to pick what I should do in the January of the year focused on thriving. The verses that inspired the year held the clue. What distinguishes the man who is like a tree planted by streams of water? "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night."

Now, I have started many a January Bible reading programme. But never one that has ever really survived January. And one of the reasons why? Numbers. And that's if I managed through Leviticus. 

Last year I started a reading schedule that had me read three to four chapters a day but every day of the week I was reading from a different section of Scripture. For example, every Wednesday I was reading from Psalms, every Thursday from a Gospel, every Friday from Old Testament history. 

I was grateful for the variety but it wasn't enough and it was too much all at once. It was hard to keep track of the story in Genesis when I was only reading that book every Monday. And having to read maybe four chapters of genealogies one day a week was hard to do. 

This year I stumbled across the McCheyne Bible reading plan at just the right time - a couple of days before the new year. It was printed in a book I'm reading that also restated the vision for why committing to read Scripture in this way is a good thing. 

And so, I began. And I made it through January and am continuing through February. Now, there have been days I've missed but there have also been days I've caught up. 

It has been so good to be consistently going through Scripture in this way, instead of doing studies in a particular book or on a particular topic. 

It has also been incredible to read Genesis, Old Testament history, a Gospel and Acts and hear all four chapters declare the same point in different voices and contexts. Four authors, spanning centuries, declaring the goodness of God, His salvation or promises.

So, it has been a joy in January to get stuck into a Bible reading routine and I'm thankful for how God is shaping me and pulling me deeper through this.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Insanity of God: Calling

What do you think when you hear someone say that God called them to something? Do you think they're crazy or exaggerating? Do you immediately recall times in your own life where you have felt God's call?

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripkin is probably the book I read in 2013 that I am most likely to recommend. Parts of the book tell the story of the Ripkins as they prepare to be missionaries.

At one point they are in front of the missions board being interviewed and they are asked to explain how they felt called to missions.

The wife begins with how she felt God call her to serve overseas when she was eight, specifically to Africa at eleven and she had a missions trip to Africa during college that confirmed it all.

They then ask the husband. His response? "I read Matthew 28... I read in Matthew 28 where Jesus told His followers, 'Go!' So I'm here trying to go."

After much discussion from the missions committee about what constitutes a call from God to mission Ripken replies "Well, it appears to me, that you all have created a 'call' to missions that allows people to be disobedient to what Jesus has already commanded all of us to do."

God has made the Christians' task clear: we are to go into all the world and make disciples. Whether in Africa, Europe or America.

There are moments in my life that I can replay in my mind as if they are movies. Moments that I know God broke in and clearly called me to serve Him in full time ministry, and later to confirm that His calling was to Central and Eastern Europe.

I'm grateful for those moments of calling and confirmation. Because there were times in the process, in support raising, and in moving here, that I needed to know, and know deeply that this was and is God's will.

But I'm also grateful that God doesn't leave it to the chance of us listening to Him. He has made it abundantly clear in black and white that we are all to go. To go in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities. To go by supporting missionaries. To go by loving our neighbour and living lives that proclaim Christ.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Photo Friday - 14th February

After working two weekends in a row because of a five day conference and a four day planning retreat I had a weekend at home! It involved a lot of washing... I'm pretty sure I washed every sock I own.

And on Sunday I was able to bake muffins, make soup and prepare veggies for the week ahead.

Monday morning held my evaluation and it was such a great time of remembering God's grace and faithfulness and looking at to what this year might hold.

This is the toilet seat my flat has always had.. and it's always been broken. Thankfully it has now been fixed! 

Thursday - I've started going to a second Czech teacher to supplement my other one. Both are great and having four hours a week of Czech tutoring is really helping!

Friday saw me off again - this time at our youth group's winter retreat. It was a great time of connecting with students and hanging out. And one of the most encouraging things was that I understood 80% of what the speaker shared! Mark has been a missionary here for fourteen years so even though he spoke in Czech it was slower etc and that really helped!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Word of the Year 2014

The new year is often a cause for reflection and repurposing as we make many resolutions to make our lives in the new year better. Last year I made a few resolutions and the only one I can really fully say I completed was that I stopped taking sugar in my tea. 

The other ones were such worthy things - exercising, learning five new Czech words a day, reading through the entire Bible, memorising new Bible verses. But life happened. I definitely learnt a lot of Czech, and I read my Bible and there are more verses ingrained in my head and heart but those resolutions seemed overwhelming when altogether. 

Add to that the fact I spent two months in America and moved to a new country in the middle of the year.. and, well, I'm letting myself off the resolution hook. Especially that exercising one.

This year I decided to pick a word that I wanted to describe the year. As I landed back in Czech on December 30th I felt like I had survived my first six months in my new home. And survival is something to be celebrated when buying the right kind of milk or not paying a bill late because you misunderstood something is an achievement. 

As I looked to the new year of 2014 I felt like God was asking me to trust Him for more than just survival. The verses from Psalm 1 came to mind:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Verse 3, which I've italicised, felt particularly appropriate. I feel like God was telling me that He wanted me to not just survive here but to thrive here. To grow down roots in areas of my life that have not had roots in the time of transition.

So, no resolutions but instead a resolve to make choices that help me thrive here. I have picked a word to describe a year before but they were more passive decisions that did not really influence how I lived my year. Instead, this year, I will pick one thing to focus on, to create a new habit in, each month.

Those things I focus on will hopefully become embedded in my routines and will become year round habits. But if I try something I hate it gives me the freedom to leave it after a month. Or maybe there will be some things I do that I will only do for a period of time. We'll see.

At the end of each month I'll blog about what I did that month and how I found it, you can look out for the post on January next Wednesday. I'm excited to share this journey with you this year as God faithfully guides me, and as I hope to thrive in the life He has called me to.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Sweet Prayers in the Prayer Room

The prayer room at the Academy was a very special place. It was a privilege to help create a space where people could creatively engage in prayer.

One of those people was Caleb - he did all the different activities.

He saw that no one had prayed for Albania yet, because no one had put a rock on Albania. So he got the piece of paper with Albania's prayer points on it and read through each one, so carefully, before placing a rock on the country. (Kristin snapped this picture.)

Another station was a "wailing wall" where people could write prayer requests on "bricks". The idea was people would pray for the prayer request written before theirs. To show him how to do it I wrote a prayer, above, on a brick.

And this is the prayer request Caleb chose to write - "Make it that I can teach Rachael Czech" 

Such a sweet boy, and so fun to see him connect with God through this room!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Photo Friday - 7th February

With all the snow we finally received I've gotten good use out of my snow boots! When I bought them the lady assured me they would be good up to -30 degrees celsius and they've been great down to the -15 we've already had. Very grateful for warm boots!

On Sunday the Six Nations rugby started with Ireland playing Sunday. I suppose technically the Six Nations started on Saturday but who cares about those other games? The Yormans lovingly embraced this part of my culture by inviting people over to watch the game. They'd even been in Prague earlier that week and found Irish sausages! Those are easily my most consistent craving living here. 

With all those Americans and one Czech in the room I did a lot of explaining and they, on purpose, asked hilarious questions, commented on a try being a touchdown etc. Unfortunately, I can't always explain the rules in as much detail as people want so they have to endure penalty explanations that included "He chose bad actions." But it was an afternoon that was so good for my soul, to have people I love love me by learning some Irish culture. And Ireland won! Sorry Scotland.

I even got to make cupcakes using Kristin's oven before the game so Monday morning looked like this: a chocolate cupcake with green, of course, frosting. 

7am sunrises sure can be pretty.

And the light at 4pm in the town square is also very pretty!

When the door saga, documented in past photo Fridays, was on it's way to being fixed I mentioned to my landlady that my oven has never worked - it doesn't regulate temperature and instead of there being different levels of flames there were just big flames. 

She told me she'd make a note of it but, honestly, I didn't think anything would come of it. I love baking so it was a little sad. Well, on Wednesday my landlord showed up with a man and wanted to look at it! I'd be getting a new oven! And they wanted to know if a combination would be ok (gas stove, electric oven)! 

I said of course, of course. And they said they'd call about delivery... I didn't know when to expect anything.

Well, on Friday I woke when my doorbell rang at 7.30 (I worked from home today) - it was the oven man wanting to know if he could deliver my oven in two hours! Above you can see my very pretty, very functional oven that has already been used to make cookies with Kristin and her boys. So thankful.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Catching Up

It has been a crazy three weeks. The Academy was an incredible time of our leaders being practically equipped to serve their ministries. I also spent four days with two other ladies starting to write this year's English curriculum for English camps.

In the midst of those things and preparations for them I've had normal life, working and learning Czech. I also sewed a 1.5x1.5 metre map of Europe and had a door fixing saga that is thankfully over.

I finally feel like I'm re-emerging out from the fog and out from under the mountains of emails and things that build up during busy seasons. Maybe this weekend I'll even manage to clean my flat and put away laundry? I can hope!

And I have a million blog posts swirling around in my brain that I hope to type out soon. 

Until then, if you want to see the last three weeks in photo form (along with fuller explanations of the door saga and a photo of that map!) check out the links - 17th, 24th and 31st.