Bethany and I just walked back in to the house tonight after being a part of the Josiah Venture 20th anniversary celebration. It was an amazing night, filled with stories of changed lives, testimonies of God’s faithfulness, and a whole lot of praise about what God has done in Central and Eastern Europe. There was more than one time that I had tears in my eyes. Even though I was part of creating the visuals for tonight’s event, and I’ve seen the videos numerous times, they still brought tears to my eyes. It’s especially moving to see video of young people in very difficult countries talk about how much Jesus has done for them in saving them from their sin. The whole event at the conference tonight was a big story of what God has done in the lives of many different people both here and in the States and we left very encouraged. Praise God for His faithfulness!
As exhilarating and amazing the celebration was, we also had some other excitement today. We had the privilege and joy of spending an extended time with some of our favorite people in the world, Scott and Patty Ardavanis. They had arrived yesterday but we weren’t able to go out with them until tonight, a few hours before the 20th celebration event. By God’s grace we were able to find a babysitter today! We had been looking for days but everyone was either out of town or couldn’t do it. Thankfully our friend Misa came watched our little ones for almost seven hours.
We had such a fun time with Scott and Patty. We went to dinner at a local place which was pretty hilarious because trying to understand a Czech menu is impossible, but I digress. They were asking us so many great questions about ministry here, our marriage, our kids, and how we’re adjusting. We laughed a lot and just shared how we’re doing. At the end of our dinner we took them back to where they’re staying because they said that Grace Church of the Valley in Kingsburg sent along some gifts to us. In fact, Patty told Bethany, “Bring a suitcase!” At first I though the suitcase was going to be overkill until Scott and Patty started unloading all of the amazing things that were sent to us from the church. Here’s a picture of what the suitcase looked like tonight.
That suitcase is full of some amazing things. I would list out my favorites, but it’s all favorites! We are so thankful to Grace Church in Kingsburg for overwhelming us with these goodies and especially for sharing Scott and Patty with us this week. They have encouraged our hearts, especially in such a busy season of ministry. Thank you so much!
My heart is full to the brim tonight. Today was just an absolute amazing day. Spending time with dear friends and enjoying a celebration of God’s faithfulness is really overwhelming. More than anything, I think at this moment I’m humbled. Humbled by God’s incredible power to transform the lives of thousands of young people and humbled that He has called my family to be part of a movement He’s doing in this part of the world. I’m humbled by the generosity of the saints in sending us gifts and for sharing with us wonderful friends. We are so undeserving of such kindness. Praise be to the King for how He loves us. Praise to Jesus for His wonderful grace.
Today was the third full day of the fall conference. At one point I had a Czech leader come up to me and say “Ciao” and we began to talk. I think he and I had met a while back, but I couldn’t remember his name. He told me he wanted to meet some time for coffee and just talk and share about what we’re doing. It was a short conversation, but I left smiling. During that moment I realized how much fun it was to be around so many different people from around Europe. These are men and women who love Jesus want to see Him glorified. They want to see more disciples of Jesus and they want those disciples to make more disciples who make more disciples…mature disciples. It’s fun to serve them and use whatever gifts I have to support their work and ministries.
This evening I had one of the best surprises of my day. I had the chance to see my friends, Scott and Patty Ardavanis (above is a photo of them standing with Dave Patty, the president of JV). Scott is on the board of directors for Josiah Venture and he and the board are having meetings this weekend. Since Josiah Venture was already have a conference and will be having a 20th anniversary celebration tomorrow night, the board is here in Czech to have their meeting. Although I only saw them for a few minutes, I could’ve cried seeing them. Patty said to me, “You live here now!” It’s a lot of emotions thinking about how much she and Scott have influenced me and my family, and how God used them as instruments in leading us even to Czech Republic. We are supposed to spend time with them tomorrow night and I just can’t wait. Bethany will be coming out to the conference tomorrow too and we are all going to be spending some time together.
My days at the conference are really full and I’m only seeing Bethany and the kids for a few minutes in the morning, and Bethany late at night (like tonight). Tomorrow is the last full day of conference we’ll have a half day on Friday. I’m looking forward to finishing the week strong and hoping the many leaders who are being trained will leave equipped for more fruitful ministry.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 months to day since we boarded an airplane for Czech. The time has gone so quickly, and I sit here tonight amazed at how much the Lord has done. Admittedly, I’m pretty tired tonight. I just got home (it’s 11:30pm) from the second day of Josiah Venture’s fall conference. I left our house this morning at 7:45. Needless to say, it’s been a long day. Good, but long.
The conference is going great. I’ve been spending most of my time doing photography, helping with some video work, managing the social media, and meeting with people from around the conference. With so many people from so many different places, it’s fun just to walk around and listen to all the languages being spoken. In fact, we actually have translation booths where some of the different teams can translate in these booths which are connected to wireless headsets. I took a photo today of the booths because they are just fun to stand near and listen to the translators. Here’s the photo:
It’s been fun to serve here. In fact, it’s been a real joy. Everyone has been so appreciative of the videos, photos, and overall feel of the conference and they have expressed it many times to me the past few days. The weather has been pretty cold, at least for this California boy. Even though it is the first day of fall, it might as well be winter to me. We do, however, have a great big heater in the ten that is keeping everyone warm, including me! In fact, check out this shot I took of the tubes that are pumping in the heat!
Bethany and the kids had a good day as well, from what I hear. She went with our friend Kristin to visit another mom that has a new baby. Later, our friend Kara drove from the conference to come and say hi to Bethany and spend a little time with our kids. I was really appreciative of that, especially since I can’t make it home during the afternoon conference breaks. It’s definitely hard to be away from them all day, but it’s only for a week. It’s nice to see the kids for a few minutes in the morning and I will look forward to seeing them tomorrow. That’s all from me tonight. Until tomorrow…goodnight.
Today was the start of the Josiah Venture fall conference, which is what my team and I have been preparing for for a few months now. Tonight, at 7pm, we had our first session complete with an introduction to the theme, a time of worship, and even a few games. After the session, all the attendees met in their assigned small groups for some discussion.
It was an exciting night with tons of energy with people from a lot of different countries. For me, it was my first time experiencing all of the leaders from Josiah Venture and their teams. Josh Patty, the country leader in Slovenia, led tonight’s session on why we’re naming the conference “Re-Jesus” which is really just about going back and looking at how Christ did ministry and modeling our own ministry after his. Even though I couldn’t be in the big meeting tent for the entire talk, what I caught I thought was great and am excited for those who will be here this week.
These are long days during conference for me, and Bethany and the kids are back at home. I’m driving to and from the conference to be home at night with them. Bethany said the kids and her had a good day today and tonight they had popcorn on the couch and watched a movie together. Titus has been wanting to eat popcorn for a few days now, so I know he enjoyed that.
It’s late, so I’m cutting this blog short tonight, but wanted to say thank you for many who have prayed for us. My health is improving, but still not 100%. I’m hoping I will get better as the week goes on. It’s actually a blessing that I got sick last week and am recovering, than being full sick now while trying to help run a conference!
In the above photo you can see my view for most of the day today. There were a few breaks in there for meals and some random things, but for the most part I spent my day in the back corner of a big conference room. I was attending and somewhat participating in the Josiah Venture camp team meetings. They are the team that puts on all the camps through Central & Eastern Europe and an important part of young people hearing the gospel for the first time. Today they were working on next year’s camps and talking through the theme. When I left tonight it sounded like they were leaning on something around the life of the apostle Paul which sounds great. I was there to lend my brain to the theme itself, the theme name, and even some of the thought behind what it all might look like graphically next year. It was a pleasure to with them and I’m thankful for the invite.
Tomorrow everyone will arrive for the first evening session which will actually kick of the fall conference. Our team is busy, but we’re excited about what lies ahead for the attendees. Please continue to pray for me as I’m still not 100% healthy and am hoping to get better and better.