S.

Spring Conference Day 2 and USA Hockey in Czech!

Worship Time (5/7/15)

Today was the second day of Spring Conference and again I sit here tonight tired and worn out, but also super blessed. This morning was actually an extra special blessing because I had the privilege of leading music with my friend Zach. Zach and I have known each other since the fourth grade and been friends ever since. It’s an unbelievable blessing that we get to serve the Lord in the same organization and in the same country of Czech Republic today. It’s an even more incredible blessing that I got to serve with Zach this morning by leading music for the Josiah Venture family. In the photo above taken by our mutual friend Landen, you can see Zach and I playing guitar with another missionary, Christy. We did more of a “coffee house” feel for music today and it was a true joy to serve with Zach and to lead others in a time of worship.

USA Hockey in Czech! (5/7/15)

But if that wasn’t sweet enough, I had the second joy today of taking Titus to his first ever hockey game here in Czech! Oh, and it just so happened to be Team USA playing against Belarus! I’m still energized by the fun we had this afternoon at the game and I honestly can’t believe that the USA was playing just 30 minutes from us. Above is a photo of us walking at the arena with Titus wearing a paper “helmet” that they were passing out to the kids. You can see how excited he was by the smile on his face.

USA Hockey in Czech! (5/7/15)

The USA was playing Belarus today and sadly this was their first loss in this World Championship tournament. Despite the loss, however, we had a really fun time and it was quite the experience to see an international hockey game in Czech. Zach and Kara were the masterminds behind getting the tickets for us and putting the plans together and we had a ton of fun cheering for USA. Below is a little video I caught of the action and you see just how close we were to the ice!

USA vs Belarus in Ostrava, Czech Republic from Shay on Vimeo.

There were a surprising number of fans there supporting the United States, including two guys completely covered head to toe in American flags. I loved this guy sitting behind us that had an American flag draped across himself and the chairs.

USA Hockey in Czech! (5/7/15)

Titus and I got up during the first period to get some food thinking we could just come back in and continue enjoying the game. But I guess the rules are different here because after loading up on hot dogs and sausage we weren’t allowed to take our food into the stadium. So we ended up eating and watching the game on the screens near the food area. Here’s a shot of Titus where I perched up on these standing tables.

USA Hockey in Czech (5/7/15)

I think the absolute highlight for us tonight was when we got this photo on the big screen at the arean TWICE! Look at Titus sporting his new USA scarf.

USA Hockey in Czech! (5/7/15)

Here’s a couple more photos we got as we were leaving the game.

USA Hockey in Czech! (5/7/15)

USA Hockey in Czech! (5/7/15)

We made it back this evening to an excited Avery who literally ran down the hall to see us and give me a hug. We had an extra hat from the game that we gave to her and this is the photo I got.

USA Hockey in Czech! (5/7/15)

What a fun day! So glad we got to make a memory like that today and enjoy rooting for our home country. Thanks to my friends Zach and Kara for inviting us with you today and for being awesome. It’s a joy to serve with you (and watch hockey games)!

S.

Singing and Speaking

Little Guitar (3/25/15)

Every day before I write the blog, I ask Bethany if she has any photos or stories from the day that would be worth sharing. Usually we both go through our phones and see what we have, but today we only found this photo of a guitar (above) that I got today at the Josiah Venture offices. Our teammate, Daniel, has his brother and their friend here in Czech for a little while and they brought him this guitar from the States. Daniel brought the guitar in today to show us and we even enjoyed a few minutes of him playing and singing. I joined the fun too and played a few worship songs which I haven’t really done much of lately. Actually, one of the songs I played is a favorite modern hymn-like song from Matt Papa called “Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery.” The truths described in this song are great and it was one of the songs we should sing on Easter or at least the week before to get our hearts prepared. Here’s a YouTube video of it for you to listen to.

Other than singing for a little bit today, we spent a lot of time this after speaking during our Czech lesson with Jenny and Landen. The Czech language has been kind of piling up in our brains so we spent time today just reviewing and trying to see how much we could speak and remember. Jenny was kind enough to put together a little sheet for us to help learn a few of the different cases in Czech. It’s hard when you learn just how hard Czech is. There are so many cases and endings to words you can literally have dozens (yes, plural dozens) of forms for the color green, for example. Whereas in English we have one word for “green” Czech has a billion (not literally, but it feels that way). So we spent time today working through that and making statements like “five green pens.” It might sound simple, but it’s not. Hard or not, we are plowing forward and continue to do our best to get as much Czech in our brains as possible.

Lastly, and sadly, Avery’s sickness has gotten much worse. Today she had a really bad cough and was running a fever in the afternoon. We may end up taking her to the doctor this week if she doesn’t improve. Tonight we kind of wheezing and I think her throat is hurting because it was the first time she has ever asked us to give her medicine. Normally she despises the meds, but tonight she was walking down the hallway saying, “Medicine…medicine!” It was really sad, but she’s been a sleep for a few hours now and I haven’t heard her. Hopefully she’ll get rest tonight and feel better in the morning. Thanks for praying with us!

N.

Not A Typical Sunday

Today was not a typical Sunday. I’ll start with church.

We got a message on Facebook the other day from our Czech friends telling us not to go to church this week because apparently no one would be there. They explained that the entire church would be going to another town to celebrate another church’s anniversary. Church is hard enough as it is when it’s in our town, so we decided we wouldn’t try to navigate that this Sunday and that we would stay home (this actually turned out to be a good decision because we got a lot of snow last night and it probably wasn’t best to be driving out of town!). Bethany and I talked and thought we would sing some worship songs at our house and read devotional just to make it feel like a Sunday with time set aside for the Lord.

A Different Sunday (1/25/15)

Bethany also thought it would be nice to invite some of our friends over in case they too were wondering what to do with their Sunday morning. The Yorman family was excited to join us and after a little snow shoveling today they made it over to our place where we congregated in our living room. I had prepared a few songs and printed up some song sheets for everyone. We started with modern song “10,000 Reasons” because it’s a tune everyone knows, especially the kids. Above you can see Bethany and the kids on the couch and “Grandma Linda” (Kristin Yorman’s mom) in the background. Below are Casey with his son Caleb, and me on guitar. Many thanks to Kristin for sharing these photos with us!

A Different Sunday (1/25/15)

I believe we sang about four songs and then I ended up reading a little devotional from Paul Tripp’s latest book New Morning Mercies: A Gospel Devotional (which is a phenomenal book that we highly recommend–we have been reading it daily). For me, it felt really strange not to be congregating with a large body of believers today, but it was also nice to play and sing worship songs in English with friends. The kids were a little restless, I think mostly because of our the casual environment (e.g. our living room). At the end of our time I played the song “Pharaoh Pharaoh” and we had fun dancing and playing. Below is another photo while we were laughing and singing that song together.

A Different Sunday (1/25/15)

Outside it was and is a winter wonderland. It has snowed nonstop almost the entire day. With the Yormans over we decided just to do lunch together, but we were out of a few things. Casey and I walked over to a little local grocery market and on the walk I was overwhelmed with the beautiful scene of the square near our apartment (shown below). Sadly, the little market was closed and we had to walk back, but it was so amazing outside it was well worth it. We ended driving to another store and got lunch for our families which we prepared back at our place.

Snow Day (1/25/15)

After lunch the kids, Casey and I all headed outside for a little snow fun. Our landlord had a man shovel the driveway so the snow was piled up nicely for grabbing and throwing at each other. Avery kept bringing me “big snowballs” so I could attack Titus, but she was quick to note that she was basically off limits from the snowball fight that the boys were enjoying. I guess you gotta set boundaries like that when you’re the only girl outside with all the boys.

Snow Day (1/25/15)

Below is a photo of Benaiah (the Yorman’s youngest son) about to hit me with a snowball and one of Casey with the boys across the yard during the big snowball fight. We had a lot of fun playing with them and it was a special treat for the kids to be together.

Snow Day (1/25/15)

Snow Day (1/25/15)

We’re still expected to have a lot more snow this week, so we’ll see how things work out with driving and getting around. For this California family, it’s the first time we’ve really lived in snow and I know we have some more adventures ahead of us!

O.

Our First Sunday at Church

Church in Czech

Today we had the pleasure of worshipping at the church we will be part of here in Czech. The church was actually significantly larger than we had originally expected. In fact, we were told it’s the 3rd largest church in Czech with about 250 people. For the most part, the worship service ran very similar to what we might experience in the States, and we were super encouraged by the music and teaching of God’s Word. Obviously, everything was in another language, but our friends Mel and Amy were helping translate for us to keep us in the flow of the service. It’s especially sweet to hear Czechs sing in their native language and it’s actually a really helpful tool for language learning as it slows down the words and you can clearly hear the annunciation.

We sat upstairs because we were a little worried about our kids disrupting the service. There was no Sunday school this morning because many of the moms and kids were gone at a camp so we had the kids with us during the entire service. Avery was especially tired this morning as she was up really early, so we were trying not to be a distraction. At one point the pastor called our family to the stage and Amy introduced us to the entire church. It was fun to stand up there and see people smiling. I wish I could’ve taken a photo. The pastor shared a few encouraging words to us while we were up there which Amy translated into English. He was so gracious and kind and Bethany and I thought we were going to cry.

Church in Czech

In the photo below the pastor was actually talking directly to the couple you see in the front row. This was a baby dedication and they are holding little Daniel. One of the things that struck me was that the pastor was sharing with them how they are raising their son in a very dark and evil world, but that they need to be an example to him and show him Christ on a regular basis. He emphasized teaching and being an example and that both had to be at work in their parenting. It was fun to watch the pastor care for this young couple and he had the congregation stand and had the couple pray. What a blessing to participate in that.

The sermon this morning was around the book of Daniel in honor of the baby’s name who was dedicated. The emphasis was on the character of Daniel and how he served the Lord faithfully. One quote that I thought was interesting was that the pastor said, “The Bible says nothing bad about Daniel, even though Jesus was the only one who lived a perfect life.” He charged the congregation to live like Daniel in this wicked world and serve the Lord faithfully. Who doesn’t need to be reminded of that?

Church in Czech

After church we drove to our other teammate’s house, John and Erin Kloosterhuis. Even though Erin is basically full-term with their first child, she was kind enough to cook us a great meal and have us over for the afternoon. John and Erin serve on the Creative Communications team with us and they are a joy to be around. Thank you, John and Erin, for your hospitality and for sharing a meal with us. We’re praying that baby comes soon!

As I close my day here in Czech all I can think about right now is worship. I don’t just mean the act of singing songs, though that’s definitely part of it, but just the idea that we are all created as worshipers and will by our nature seek to worship something. The Bible teaches that we were created to worship the one true God, but so often we don’t and we worship our own idols and false gods who will never satisfy. Oh sure, I may never worship a literal golden calf, but I’ll bow down to the god of comfort in a heartbeat.

All of that to say my heart needed to sing with my brothers and sisters this morning the simple chorus to the song Here I Am To Worship. “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You’re my God. You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.” That may be a simple truth, but it’s a great reminder that we exist to worship a worthy and wonderful God.

Here’s a little video of the chorus from this morning’s worship service.