Spring Conference Day 4

It’s weird that Saturday feels like Thursday. I’ve been thrown off with the days all week because the conference started on Wednesday night and the days have been full. Today was probably the fullest day yet, but it was another good one!

Last Full Day of Conference (5/9/15)

Today was just non-stop with two main session in the morning. During the first session this morning our friend Tanya Miller who serves in Poland did this incredible recitation of Scripture called The History of Redemption in which she literally was just quoting a series of Bible verses for at least twenty minutes straight, all set to music and accompanying artwork. It was a very moving and rich time of just listening to God’s Word being recited. The verses are all organized in such a way that it goes from Creation to Revelation and walks through the redemption story. Towards the end when she was reciting from Revelation I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the room including her own. It was an incredible thing to witness and both Bethany and I were in awe of the amount of work that must have taken, but more importantly with the truth of the Scripture.

After lunch today I went from rehearsal to a meeting and then to a larger “Communications” meeting that I spoke at. As the director of the communications team for JV I got the opportunity to speak to a number of different communication areas and get the whole JV family excited about different things we’re working on and serving them in. I had fun with them and hopefully they enjoyed the meeting and left with a few things that are helpful to them in the future.

Last Full Day of Conference (5/9/15)

Tonight we had a special worship night in the big tent that we’re meeting in and I again had the privilege of playing the drums and being part of leading people in song. It was a family-focused event and so all the kids were with us and I got the above photo of them singing and playing in the front of the room near the stage. A little later they all congregated on the actual stage and we sang worship songs that were for kids and then for everyone. It was a sweet time tonight and I had a lot of fun.

Bethany has been having a lot more discomfort today than previous days in this pregnancy. She has been an absolute trooper with taking care of the kids and other things while I have been involved with various things at this conference. I have been so impressed with her this week and she heart has not been one of complaint. She’s a model of sacrificial love to both me and the kids and that couldn’t have been more true than today.

I really haven’t had much sleep this week, but I believe the Lord has really sustained me and given me the energy needed to serve the Josiah Venture family this week. It was one of my joys to serve and support others and I have been blessed this week just to be part of the conference. I go to bed tired tonight but hopefully that’s because I spent my energy on others and not on my self. As I’ve heard said by others, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”


Getting Ready for Conference

We have been on the go today and it really started this morning with Bethany’s doctor appointment. I decided to stay home and watch the kids because her appointment was a longer one which required her to lay back and relax while they monitor the baby’s heart beat for fifteen minutes. She ended up taking a book and headphones to stay relaxed because laying on her back this late in the pregnancy is never comfortable for her. The doctor said everything is looking great and she said Bethany is “really close” and that things are progressing. We’re still a few weeks out, but I have a feeling we’re going to meet this baby this month!

As soon as Bethany got back I was out the door headed for the Josiah Venture spring conference where we were setting things up and getting it prepped for tomorrow night’s first session as well as the rest of the week’s activities. There is a ton of work that goes in to getting things ready for the conferences and I’m so impressed by the team of JV missionaries that work and serve to get it prepared. Below are a few photos I got during setup today.

Conference Setup (5/5/15)

Conference Setup (5/5/15)

Conference Setup (5/5/15)

This evening we enjoyed an easy spaghetti meal at home with some IKEA Swedish meatballs mixed in! They are pretty tasty and this week was the first time we had tried them. For dessert we had little ice creams that we enjoyed in the back yard. I got the below photo of the kids and even took some video of them. They were just kind of cracking me up as they were eating and talking. They were like an old couple just hanging in the back yard. I love it.

Backyard Ice Cream from Shay on Vimeo.

Back Yard Ice Cream (5/5/15)

I’m playing drums this week for a few session during the worship music sets for conference and even playing guitar for another set. I just got off the phone because the main worship leader who was supposed to lead tomorrow is sick with the stomach (actually, his whole family is!). So right now the team is trying to rearrange the sets a bit and make sure everything is good to go. It’s great to see the team pulling together and trying to make it work. That’s just one of those things you learn often in ministry: be flexible. We’ll be ready tomorrow night, even if it isn’t all as polished as we would like. I’m looking forward to it!


The Last Day of April

The Last Day of April (4/30/15)

“Daddy, I have to show you something,” Avery said as she grabbed my hand and pulled me in to the living room. “I made a playground.” Above is a photo of what she made and this was her version of a “playground.” Her little mind continues to create and explore and I think it’s an incredible and wonderful process.

Back at the JV offices today we were hard at work trying to put the finishing touches on a bunch of different projects as we get ready for the spring conference next week. Everything from name tags, conference booklets, conference materials, etc. we were trying to get out to the printer to have by early next week. Tomorrow is some kind of Czech holiday so we lost a day, but we’re hoping it’ll all be done in time for the conference to start on Wednesday. It’ll probably be a busy week for me as I’ll be helping with photography, leading a communications session, and even playing drums/guitar for a few worship sets. It should be a great week and I’m really excited to see some of our friends from around Central and Eastern Europe.

The Last Day of April (4/30/15)

I took the above photo tonight of me with Titus and Avery because they were in an especially good mood as we sat on the couch. It’s been so nice to be healthy for the past month or so and I think it’s the healthiest we’ve been since we arrived in Czech. I honestly thought when the weather turned a little cooler this week that we might get sick, but so far we’re doing well.

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the first of May. The past ten months have absolutely flown by and Bethany and I were talking about it last night as she’s now 35 weeks along with baby #3. We’ve have about a month left before we get to meet our second daughter and I’m getting excited! God’s timing is perfect and we’re looking forward to another little one in our home. They are all a blessing from Him!


Just Down the Street From the Gestapo

On our way to Poland yesterday, we stopped at a McDonald’s to grab lunch. The kids were asleep in the car, and attempting English in the drive thru is pretty much out of the question, so I went inside to order. The nice Polish woman who helped me spoke great English which was a blessing and as I went to pay I realized I didn’t have my debit card in my wallet. This was very strange because it’s pretty much my lifeline here, but I had to pay so I just used a different card. After getting back into the car I searched around and couldn’t find it. The last place I remember seeing it was the night before when I went to the grocery store for Bethany. Either I had left it there or put in my pants pocket that night. I guess this would have to wait until we get back from Poland.

Today I checked all my pants pockets and couldn’t find it so I went to Tesco where I remembered having it last. Since I can’t speak Czech, I used my phone (Google translate) to communicate with the ladies that I thought I had left my bank card there. Amazingly, and thankfully, they had it! I was told to go to “informace” (customer service) and showed them my passport and got it back! Praise God I didn’t lose it because getting a new sent here from the States would’ve been tough. And in the end I thought the whole experience was yet another language learning opportunity.

Walking the Town (10/11/14)

I took the kids out late this afternoon for a little walk to the park while Bethany started dinner. We live in a pretty historical area, so much so that they have little plaques along the square near our place explaining the different building and their significance. I’ve read a few of them, but today I found a new one over by the park that I hadn’t seen of the building in the above photo. Apparently it was built in the latter part of the 19th century and was an administration building then a secondary school. But in 1939 the Nazis occupied this area and (are you sitting down?) it became the headquarters for the Gestapo! A block from my apartment is where the Gestapo had their base of operations. Crazy! Wait… you don’t believe me? Here’s the plaque (written in Czech, Polish, and English):

Gestapo Building (10/11/14)

Tonight I attend a youth conference at our church where the main speaker was none other than Dave Patty, the president of Josiah Venture. He speaks very good Czech and I watched in awe as he preached from Romans 12:1-2 to a few hundred Czech teenagers. I did my best to listen for words that I knew, but genuinely had no clue what was going on. Had it not been for the person next to who spoke a little English, I wouldn’t even have known we were in Romans. From what I could tell though, Dave had the attention of the students and I’m sure they were blessed. I know I was encouraged, especially from the singing tonight when they did a familiar Phil Wickham song in English! Here’s a short clip of everyone singing “This is amazing grace:”


This is a room full of young people gathered for a Christian youth conference here in Czech. Such a joy to see this.

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Hearing that song sung by so many young people almost had me in tears. The spiritual climate in Czech is so dry that to see all of these people praising Jesus in a small town in Czech is kind of mind blowing. This is fresh to me because just tonight a friend forwarded me a link on Twitter about just how atheistic the Czech Republic is. It’s yet another reminder of why we’re here but how God continues to move among the youth.


The Last Day of Conference

The conference that I have been serving at all week came to a close today. With around 280 attendees from all over Central and Eastern Europe, it was a full and fun week. I was especially moved today by of the very last things we did. The Josiah Venture country leader in Ukraine, Ben Williams, came to the front and shared a little bit about the unrest in Ukraine as well as a verse from Scripture. He then showed a news footage clip on the screens from a few months ago about a ministry tent that was down in Kiev, Ukraine. The news showed a prayer tent where they were passing out tea and Bibles. It also showed a couple being interviewed and they were sharing about the tent and their belief that God could change their nation.

Last Day of Fall Conference (9/25/14)

As the video ended Ben called that young couple to the front, and I realized they were attendees of this week’s conference. Ben asked Oleg and Oksana to share some prayer requests, which they did, along side a few photos of them with gas masks and army gear at various times around their tent. Some of their requests included prayer for the soldiers to hear the gospel before they died, the churches to stand strong during great affliction and destruction, and finally that people would read the more than 50,000 Bibles that have been handed out over the past few months. Ben directed those standing around our team in Ukraine to just lay hands on them and he began to pray. The whole time I was in tears and just trying to take photos and listen. I was overwhelmed with emotion, but thanking and praise the Lord for people like Oleg and Oksana who are staying faithful to Him during real, serious affliction. Oh that God would call more souls to Himself in Ukraine!

Last Day of Fall Conference (9/26/14)

Once the conference ended, my team and others helped tear down the equipment. Bethany and the kids drove with me early this morning to the conference, so they were around too. I was wrapping up cables and helping put things away so the kids joined in on the fun too and started copying what I was doing. Titus kept saying, “Look daddy, I’m doing it!” Here’s a photo Bethany got of the three of us “working.” You’ll notice the kids are bundled up…it was a bit wet and chilly today.

Last Day of Fall Conference (9/26/14)

I got home around 4pm this afternoon and tried to spend a little time with the kids. At one point tonight the kids and I took out the recycling to the dumpsters down our street. Both our kids get really excited about it, especially when we recycle the glass bottles because they put it in and hear the CRASH of the glass breaking. Tonight we did all three recycling bins–paper, plastic, and glass. Here’s a photo of them putting some paper in to the big blue bin.

Last Day of Fall Conference (9/26/14)

We actually had our friends Kristine and Cory Cramer over this afternoon and evening since they were in town for the conference and won’t be flying back to Albania for a few days. We had a great time with them and will hopefully be spending a lot more time with them tomorrow so I’ll definitely write more about then. But Bethany took our kids and the Cramers to Tesco, a local grocery store, and they used the little car cart. In the photo below you’ll see the Cramer’s daughter Shiloh and our daughter Avery enjoying some cruising time at the store.

Last Day of Fall Conference (9/26/14)

As we conclude a busy day and week, I’m thankful to the Lord for his calling on our lives. It was a joy to serve so many different missionaries, both nationals and Americans, and by His grace they will all go out and serve the Lord better because of the time of training they had this week.

I’ll leave with this photo I took of the tent where we had all of our sessions this week…so fun.

Last Day of Fall Conference (9/26/14)