Doctors, Kids, Dogs, and Taxes

Today was spring cleaning day at the Josiah Venture offices. This was a first for me, but it’s an annual event that’s actually on the schedule for us to clean anything and everything. For the international team, this not only includes our own offices, but also the garages (yes, plural) with tons of ministry materials that tend to get disorganized over the course of the year. I actually arrived late (shucks!) because Bethany had her last doctor’s appointment with her OBGYN. From now on she’ll be meeting with the doctors at the hospital that she’ll be delivering at because she’s officially in her 39th week! She’s only nine days away from her due date and we can’t wait to meet this little baby girl.

Avery Again (5/19/15)

Speaking of baby girls, I got the above photo of Avery this evening as we were playing in the yard. She was just looking really cute and staring at me so I grabbed my iPhone and got this shot. Almost nightly we go outside and play, which usually means Titus and I play tennis, baseball, or basketball while Avery walks around picking daisies and telling me stories. Almost all of her stories involve animals of some kind, but I was surprised by tonight’s tale of “monsters all around.” She ended up giving me “monster powers” so I could fight all the monsters which turned in to Titus and turning our tennis rackets in to what I’ll describe not as guns, but as Ghostbuster-like weaponry (cause guns aren’t for kids, ya know). These kids never cease to crack me.

Dog Gonnit (5/19/15)

There is a dog that continues to come around the JV offices and she was there today was we were cleaning out everything. I believe she has an owner with a garage near ours, but almost every day since the cold left us she has been around. Often I found her chasing butterflies and just wandering around the office. She seems friendly and everyone has fun petting and playing with her, but I still feel at odds with her. I actually like dogs and grew up with many of them, but I can’t seem to commit to this dog. I foresee and ongoing saga on how I feel towards this canine, so you’ll have to stay tuned for that. In the above photo you can see her wandering through the grass.

I spent a lot of time tonight working on our taxes. I haven’t written much about it (or at all) on the blog, but we’ve been on the search for someone to help us with international tax law as things get really complicated when you move overseas. By God’s grace, one of our friends in the States was able to get us in contact with a guy who has 32 years of experience in taxes, along with a ton of clients who live overseas. I was able to speak with him on the phone tonight and we’re getting things moving which is great! Now you might be thinking that April 15 has already passed and we missed the deadline. Well, that’s actually a bonus of living overseas because we get an automatic extension. I’m really hoping our new tax guy can help us and get us all those wonderful deductions we cherish so much. He was really great on the phone and I’m excited to kind of get that stuff of my shoulders.

I’m still not feeling great and don’t have my sense of taste back. In fact, I actually had a lot of sinus pressure today that was really bothering me so that’s a bummer. If you think of us, continue to pray for health. The kids and Bethany seem to be recovering quickly but I trail behind still clinging to my box of Kleenex.


Free Vitamin D

A Foggy Morning (9/5/14)

My dad grew up in the desert of California and delivered milk when he was really young. He would always tell this story when we visited my grandma’s house because the roads we would drive on were places he delivered milk. If my memory serves me, I remember him saying that the dairy farmer he worked for would give you your order for free if the sun didn’t shine that day. It’s been a few days since we’ve seen the sun here in Czech. We didn’t get any free milk, but we finally did get some vitamin D. By noon today the fog and clouds blew away and we got a beautiful, sunny day. I always loved cloudy days in California because they were so rare. If we never saw the sun I would be fine because I knew it would be back in full effect soon enough. I’m starting to wonder now how I will feel about that here when I’ve heard that there are literal months where the sun doesn’t shine. Only time will tell, but we’ll take a little sun in the meantime.

A Foggy Morning (9/5/14)

Above is a photo of half the office I share with our team here. I’ve written already this week that we are hard at work on a 155 page leadership training manual. It’s been a big project and one I’m hoping will be literally out of my hands this coming Monday when we send it out to be printed. But each day we come to this office and work hard at communicating the heart of what we do as an organization. On that whiteboard is a list of projects we’re currently working on, all of which I think reflect the work that God is doing in Central and Eastern Europe. On the floor you’ll notice some big photos that we printed out for another book we’re working on. Story after story of God’s faithfulness in the lives of young people will eventually fill the pages. It’s an exciting time here and I’m truly thankful to be part of it.

A Foggy Morning (9/5/14)

As I often do I spent some time outside tonight with the kids while Bethany made dinner. Titus and I were playing basketball in the driveway when Avery popped her little head of the kitchen window. Our apartment is the lower floor but’s elevated above the street so she was looking down on us and just giggling and smiling. Finally I took a photo of her because she’s so cute.

File this next photo under “random Americana in Czech.” Bethany bought cranberries at the local Kaufland (a German grocery store here in Czech) and after closer inspection of the packaging realized it was very, well…American. If you look, you’ll see at least 3 American flags, a cowgirl, and a sign saying “Las Vegas.” What do those have to do with cranberries? Your guess is as good as ours.

A Foggy Morning (9/5/14)

Tomorrow is an extremely full day with lunch at the preschool headmaster’s house, a birthday party for our friend’s kid, and then our first youth group at our church here in Czech. I’m praying for energy and hope our kids hold up. It’s probably not how I would’ve planned it but it’s what God has for us. I guess we’ll all find out tomorrow when we blog about.


The First Wednesday of Every Month

People told us it would happen. They said the first Wednesday of the month at around noon you would hear a loud alarm. After talking to Bethany neither of us could remember where were on July 2nd which was the first Wednesday that month, but then I checked the blog and we were actually in Poland that day. That makes sense because even the most jet lagged person on the planet wouldn’t be able to sleep through or forget this noise. And thanks to modern technology we can share the wonders of this amazing sound with all of you through video. Consider yourself warned (pun intended).

The speakers for this warning system are literally across the street from us on top of the fire station. It’s the kind of sound that blankets your entire body. There’s no escaping it. Thankfully it only last for about a minute or so. To be honest, even though I’ve asked I still haven’t really gotten a straight answer as to what exactly it is. Some other missionaries from the mid-west are used to that kind of noise because of tornado warnings but us West Coast kids just didn’t grow up with any kind of public warning system. The only warning we got growing up is “Hey! We’re having an earthquake!” Which now that I think about it, why didn’t they just let me sleep through it!

Always Moving (8/6/14)

This morning I had an early, but short meeting with Dave Patty. He was preparing to teach at a reunion event for leaders at Malenovice which is a hotel/camp center/training center that is owned by Josiah Venture. Malenovice (pronounced MA-LEN-O-VEE-SEH) was where Bethany and I came and stayed on our first trip to Czech. I hadn’t been back in 3 years and I think I just forgot how incredible the view is from up there. The hotel sits on the side of a mountain overlooking a few different valleys and it’s just breathtaking. I had a moment before Dave was free to chat so I snuck out on the balcony at grabbed a panoramic shot (above).

Back at the JV office it was “moving day” so to speak as we changed around most of the offices to accommodate our team. It was a lot of manual labor and moving desks, tables, and bookshelves up and down the stairs, but in the end my team has a bigger space and I think everyone else is happy with their new spaces. Below is the room we have been working out of which is now Mel’s office and below that is a photo of our new space on the 2nd floor.

Always Moving (8/6/14)

Always Moving (8/6/14)

On the home front Bethany has been working really hard to continue to empty boxes and clean, clean, clean. We had a language lesson this afternoon and when I got home the place looked amazing and Bethany even had lunch waiting for me. Who deserves such a humble, selfless, and sacrificial wife? I sure don’t, but I’m super thankful to the Lord for who she is and how she serves me and the kids.

Speaking of the kids, they tried on silly glasses today.
Always Moving (8/6/14)

They also enjoyed playing in the drying rack. In their minds it’s only a fort and serves no other purpose.
Always Moving (8/6/14)

Tonight we had our friend and teammate Rachael over from the late afternoon through dinner. Rachael is a joy to be around and you can’t help but enjoy her Northern Irish accent. Bethany and her just spent a lot of time hanging out and chatting but one of things that excites me the most about their time chatting was that Rachael is going to help us get better connected to the youth ministry at our church here. She said there are actually no married couples currently on the youth staff which hopefully means they may have a need there just for some balance to the leadership. The youth meet on Saturday nights at 6pm which isn’t the best for our family, but we’re going to see what we can do to get involved there and what God might have for us. This is really something we have hoped for, prayed for, and our excited about pursuing!

Finally, tonight as Titus and I were playing outside the sun peaked through the gray clouds just before sunset. Our place sits right next to a huge Catholic church and the sunlight shown directly on it making it look incredible. I took the photo below of the reflection off of our window.
Always Moving (8/6/14)


Containers and Visas and Paperwork! Oh My!

Paperwork Day (7/3/14)

Let’s be honest: not every day is fun and games and trips to Poland. Sometimes you gotta have an admin day. You know the days I’m talking about. Pay the bills. Run some errands. Or like us, wake up in a panic because your kids accidentally read your email on the iPad and you missed an email dated 2 days ago from the container company telling you to send a pile of a paperwork or they’ll start charging you a small fortune to store your stuff at the port! You know, one of those kind of days.

Honestly, it was a stressful morning trying to pull together a ton of documents from powers of attorney to foreign police documentation to get our container released at the port in Germany. The last thing we wanted was to be charged a daily rate for storage at the port. By God’s grace, we have lots of support here with Josiah Venture and everyone is chipping to help. If I’ve understood the emails correctly, I believe we have everything in place and paid for to clear customs this week and maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a date of arrival for our container in Czech!

Paperwork Day (7/3/14)

Along with our container paperwork, I spent a lot of time today working through the documents we’ll need next week at the embassy. Our long-term visa appointment is at 9am on Tuesday (July 8). Obviously, when you’re applying for a 2 year visa there’s a lot that goes into setting that up. With that, I took my first trip into the Josiah Venture offices (pictured above). This is a place that I’ll be spending a lot of time with the communications team, but I just really needed a printer and scanner today to get everything in order. We’ll be getting our visa photos tomorrow with a Czech girl who is helping us so I’m sure that’ll be a fun little outing.

Paperwork Day (7/3/14)
This photo (above) is of a little brick archway/window next to the Josiah Venture offices. I just thought it looked cool so I grabbed a shot of it.

Paperwork Day (7/3/14)

Today marked a bit of a milestone for the kids. Both Titus and Avery woke up around 5am (still too early, but much better than 1-3am), took normal naps, and even woke up from their naps on their own! This might seem trivial, but it’s been a challenge to get our kids on a normal schedule with such bad jet lag. We have had to wake them up so they don’t sleep too much during the day. In general the kids have been happier today and that’s why I wanted to post a photo of Avery playing with her lunch. She loves her chicken hot dogs and now she has found it entertaining to put the pieces on her fingers. It’s a joy for all of us to begin to adjust back to some kind of normal sleep pattern. We’re praising God for these little victories we get, even when it’s just an admin day.