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A Snapshot of Intern Life~ June

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“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”

The interns have been sent.

You have been praying, and asking me how they are doing.

Here is a collection of photos they have posted on Instagram, along with prayer requests from their blogs and newsletters.

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Czech Republic

Czech Republic will be hosting English (KECY)  and Music (FUSION) camps all summer. Right now, they (along with all JV countries) are preparing for those camps.

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“Today we taught English classes at a school and promoted camp. We worked with close to 75 students over the course of 5 periods…Please pray for these students as some of them think about coming to camp. Pray that they are thinking about moving further toward Christ. Pray as He is working in their hearts and the hearts of those on my intern team. Pray we all grow closer to Him this summer.” Rachel Berkebile (rachelsczechsummer2015.wordpress.com)

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Poland

One of the intern’s jobs is to promote camps in a variety of public schools. They spend most of June traveling across the country meeting with high school kids and inviting them to summer camp.

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So far, our team has bonded beyond my expectations. The five other interns I’m directly working with come from a variety of backgrounds and possess varying personalities, but throughout the challenges of the Amazing Race through Prague, Olomouc, and Ostrava, grew to both like and love each other… Pray for the local churches and youth leaders throughout Poland. What my team will do this summer with local youth will, Lord willing, plant seeds and see people grow closer to God, but we are only here for a finite time. Pray that the local churches will be equipped and ready to disciple and minister to the students we pour into at camp. Elliot Phillips (ephillips93.blogspot.com)

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Latvia

Each country has the same materials and training for camp, but each is a little different because of culture and terrain. Latvia is on the Baltic Sea- which makes camp promos at the beach a fun outreach!

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“The last month has been a challenging, exciting, meaningful learning journey for me and our Latvian Intern team (English team and Fusion team). We have gone through summer intern training, visiting local churches, camp promotion, and camp supply preparation (It is so much work, but we made it today finally!)…Please pray for energy, wisdom, even more bonded love and unity for three of us. One week ago three of us all caught cold and our intern leader also got back pain. After one week, we all almost got over the sickness and started working hard for training preparation for North American teams. I am actually thankful for these challenges, which helped us recognize that God is in control and the spiritual battle is so real.” Bella Zhang (newsletter)
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Ukraine
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Ukraine Interns are visiting schools on behalf of both English and Fusion camps, but they also had a unique experience this June and were able to attend Festival of Hope- a Franklin Graham outreach in Lviv, Ukraine for the very 1st time. SO exciting to see God on the move in this country!
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Slovakia
The ministry in this country is dear to my heart. I was able to take two short-term teams here several years ago and I love the people in Slovakia. I have dear friends serving here and a dear friend raising support to be full-time here.
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Bulgaria
“If you could continue to pray for the interactions we have with youth outside of school, that God would open their hearts to what we have to say. Please pray that we will be able to get back into the schools, and that the superintendent would let us in. Please pray that everyone stays healthy and safe on this first trip and that Christ continues to move in each individual’s life. There is a lot of difficulty getting youth to come to camp as they have heard from parents or friends that ‘the church is satanic’, please pray that our lives would demonstrate something different and they would recognize that.” Samuel Bertram (newsletter)
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Estonia

Estonia has traditional interns working with camps, but they also have something unique: EXIT band interns. EXIT tour is a program within JV that invites Christian rock groups over to visit local schools during the year, teach moral lessons (anti-bullying, anti-drugs etc.) during the school day, and put on a concert at night where they share the gospel message. This year, we have a new EXIT tour director, Tim Cheshire, from Scotland. He hand-picked interns to train and tour with him this summer in Estonia, and here they are:

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“What a difference 2 weeks can make! Let me introduce you to thebandbranches. Serving in Estonia all summer. Follow them and support them over the next 2 months. #thebandbranches #JV #exitband #estonia”  ~Tim Cheshire

They led us in worship one night at intern training, and wow….!!! Pray for them as they serve this summer, and pray for Tim as he grows this particular portion of Josiah Venture.

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C-team

Another special team of interns this summer is a group working with the Communications Team. Daniel Reimer is JV’s incredible photographer and videographer, and he has two interns this summer. They are traveling all throughout JV’s countries and camps, capturing the stories of interns and students. These photos and videos will help to tell the story of all that God is doing for eternity in Eastern and Central Europe. One of the projects is a video showing the life of an intern. We are hoping this video will help us in recruiting interns and giving them a clear picture of how they will be serving overseas.

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They are hauling all kinds of equipment all over Eastern and Central Europe this summer- pray for safety and for the projects they complete to bring glory to God!

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Albania and Romania

These countries have just a few interns serving this summer. Albania has the two girls and Romania had SO many interns drop out for various reasons that only Jonathan (on the right) remained. Pray for the missionaries (Brian- on the left- and Katie Burkhardt) and for Jonathan. They are running all of Romania’s camps on a shortage of interns this summer. Pray for all camps to run smoothly and for LOTS of energy!

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Hungary

Hungary is also a country with just a few interns this summer. Pray for the camps they are doing. Many of the activities in these camps will be extreme sports like climbing and white water rafting, so pray for safety.

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Serbia

Serbia has three interns this summer and they are also hard at work preparing for summer camps. They are also, apparently, enjoying the ice cream! Pray for continued unity in this small intern team, and for camps to reach many students with the gospel message.

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Slovenia

Interns in Slovenia are also hard at work preparing for summer camps! I love how each country takes the Josiah Venture theme and logo for the summer and makes it their own!

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“Bold faith is my prayer for the summer. He is so faithful and I love the way He is teaching me to follow Him in the big and small things in life. It brings me joy just to know that He cares for me enough to patiently teach me these things because He wants me to have joy in full and to lean on Him every day. ‘We know not what to do, but our eyes are on you…’ that is my prayer and my song, throughout this internship and through all my days. I am simply amazed by His patience and love towards me. He is SO good.”  Mary Knoch (Instagram)

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That last quote makes me smile…

YOU are a part of this movement of God among the young people of Eastern and Central Europe. Every one of you who is praying for these interns and making it possible for me to do this job is a part of THIS.

Thank you.

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Making Ripples

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11401348_10206413075913364_1281614915403877430_n“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Mother Teresa

This is my new job. This picture was posted a week or so ago on Facebook and I downloaded it and made it my screensaver to remind me. This is my new job. Not charts of finances, not folders full of passports and visas, not lists of airline itineraries. Real. Live. People. All over Eastern and Central Europe. Sharing the good news of God’s love with young people who have never heard.

Makes me smile. Take a long look at them. There are missionaries-to-be in this group. There are pastors and teachers and youth leaders. The ripples God creates with their lives will go on into eternity, and we get to be a part of helping that happen.

Have you been with me on this journey since the beginning? When I puzzled over losing a career in medicine and entered into the quietness of God on the Navajo Nation? When I learned to butcher sheep and make fry bread and love sunsets over the desert? I would have never guessed that my path would (or even could) lead to here.

Sometimes when it’s just me and God, I wonder about these things. I wonder over all the hours I spent asking God for other things- for a husband and a family- for security and safety- for health in my life and in my family. I think of all that has not been given. The heartbreaks and disappointments. I think of health and healing that didn’t come in my family. Of loss. I think of my quiet job- counting chromosomes each day- and how I had determined in my mind to do this job for my whole career. How I loved it.

But here I am.

As I was able to watch God move among these young lives during Intern Training week, I caught myself whispering prayers of thanks to Him. Thanks for giving me something so unexpected. Thanks for entrusting this job to me, thanks for Your grace in giving me what I needed- not always what I wanted.

“You’ve been so good to me….so gracious and patient and kind”, I whispered to Him over and over.

I wonder at what He will bring in the future. I want to stay close and listen so that I go exactly where He needs me to be.

I’m just beginning the process of streamlining the entire intern process. I’m praying and writing down thoughts and ideas. I’m staring at this photo of all these young lives and imagining it twice this size. Ten times this size. I’m dreaming and hoping and asking God to direct me as I plan and process.

I’m also thanking Him for you.

The only way that I can wake up in the morning and dedicate each day to this is because so many of you are making it possible financially. The only way I have the strength to stand in the midst of all the change and loss this year has brought, is because God has answered your prayers for me.

I thank Him for you all the time. I’m so glad we get to do this together!

“Show me your ways, Lord teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.”

Psalm 25:4-5

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The Amazing Race has Begun!

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DSC_0190 It has begun! All of our interns are finally here in Europe for the summer!!

We had 5 with a delayed flight that arrived about 3 hours into the race, and one completely cancelled flight that resulted in an intern arriving at 11 today (day 2 of the race). Thank you for praying!

The race began at the airport with a puzzle to unscramble, travelled into downtown Prague where they learned a Czech dance and came to the station I was manning, with our intern leaders from Ukraine… flicking a ping-pong ball up the 100 steps to Prague Castle, and counting them at the same time.

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DSC_0238As you can see, it was a difficult task, and it took the teams a little over 2 hours, start to finish. Many of them arrived at the top and reported the wrong # of stairs. Back to the bottom to count them again! A few teams had to walk the stairs 3 times before they counted them right.

Then they had to find a JV staff person hiding around the castle grounds, play Bingo on the Charles Bridge, create a map of the solar system and ride paddle boats before bed. Team #1 was Albania/Romania.

Today they started in Prague with prayer, did a climbing wall, matched pictures of each Metro stop with the correct stop, memorized a Bible verse in Czech and came to us at the train station to buy tickets to our next city- Olomouc. We had set trains they could take- some were express trains and some were very slow local trains, which made things a little interesting. I was stationed with our travel agent, Regan and her friend Paula and we spent almost 4 hours waiting for teams to arrive. We left with the last teams and I had a great train ride getting to know “in person” some of our interns- loved it!!!

We arrived in Olomouc (the “c” is pronounced as an “s”, and when I face-timed with dad tonight he quipped, “Well, at least you’re Olomouc there!” )

My dad can make me laugh even at a distance… 🙂

The interns had to find staff in a large mall (we “hid” with the staff for awhile in a cute restaurant and got dinner), they had to carry a lighted candle across a park loaded with squirt-gun carrying JV staff, and they had to duplicate fountain poses.

I’m not sure the teams are all checked in yet- it’s about 10:30pm here and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were still racing.

Tomorrow we will finish the day at Malenovice. This is the hotel that all JV conferences are held at and everyone loves being there- so I’m excited to experience it for the 1st time.

Thank you for praying! I’m watching the bonds of friendship form in each team and it is a joy to think of all that God is preparing them for this summer! I’ve also been able to connect with so many of the people I’ve been working with and I have loved putting an email name together with a real live person! I’ve been asking them to tell me their stories and I wish I could share with you all that God has done and is doing through these individuals who are sacrificing so many comforts of home to reach young people with the good news of God’s love.

Makes me smile.

Last Sunday I attended Czech church in Beroun with Dave and Angie, and the sermon was about being fishers of men and how not everyone involved in fishing has a net in the water. There are many behind-the-scenes roles like mending nets, and building boats. This is the same in reaching the world with God’s love. I met SO many fishers of men yesterday and today. What we are doing together, you and I, is the behind-the-scenes work in this particular ministry. The recruitment, processing, paperwork, airline tickets, encouraging….

I am SO thankful for each of you that is making it possible for me to be here. As interns have hugged me and thanked me for helping them I wished you could feel those hugs too- because you are a big part of all they will do this summer for the Kingdom!

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Ponder Anew What the Almighty can do!

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Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

I’ve arrived in the Czech Republic, and I’m staying with dear friends who have been church-planting with TEAM missions for 6 years near Prague. The last week was a flurry of last-minute preparations for both interns and myself. I wanted to throw a little party when the very last bit of paperwork came in from the last intern! They are ready to go!!!!!!

I arrived on Thursday, and I’ve been able to work from here, and spend time with my friends Dave and Angie (and their three fun and energetic kids!) Today we spent several hours hiking up to this cross. It’s on a cliff overlooking a little village called Svatý Jan Pod Skalou. I loved the rugged wind-torn look of it, and wondered about this cross, existing on a cliff in a largely atheist nation.

Even in dark places, the cross is found- a symbol of everything that brings hope, and life, and freedom.

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The view from the top was unbelievably beautiful~ overlooking a quaint Czech village, rolling hills, and fields of flowers. As I stood there, I thought of the cross in Rough Rock Arizona, lighting up that little corner of the Navajo Nation. I thought of little villages of believers in Mexico and faithful in Russia.

It really is so amazing that the love of God is so universally known. The good news of Jesus crosses all cultural lines. I remember smiling at how the Navajo latched on to every bit of Jesus’ story that referred to Him as a shepherd. Today, as we hiked, Dave explained to me how young teens here want to know the serious things of God. They want theology. They want to understand what they believe in great detail. He said that the Czech pastors don’t usually incorporate humor or personal stories into sermons- they just teach solid scripture.

Sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my mind around how different we all are- and how God meets us in exactly the perfect way for us to understand His love for us and His plans for us.

It makes God feel so much bigger than my little view of him. I thought of how mom, up in heaven with all nations, tribes, and tongues, gets to see such a wide view of God’s love for mankind. I was a little jealous!

As we hiked our way down, blew dandelion fluff, showed the kids how pill bugs roll into little balls when you touch them, and collected pretty leaves, I kept catching myself humming the song “Praise to the Lord”.

ALL that hath life and breathe come now with praises before Him! 

All Czechs, Mexicans, Russians, Slovaks, Navajo…………….

The last bit (I’m not actually sure which verse it is, but the last bit I wrote above) seems like a blessing. I found myself praying these words over our interns, and missionaries, and camp leaders this summer. Over Dave and Angie leading here in Beroun, over pastors and teachers in the states, and on the Navajo Nation:

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

I love that last part: Ponder anew what the Almighty can do

Anything.

Everything.

More than we can ask or imagine.

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So, friends, pray with me tonight and the rest of this weekend. Pray that our interns will arrive safely next week and that God will prosper their work and daily defend them here as they serve in Eastern and Central Europe. Ask God to give them vision for all He can do in lives this summer and beyond!

Thank you for praying with me! I will be excitedly waiting along with you to hear of all that He does!

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Spring Cleaning!

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“I like power-washing. I like power, and I like washing. Win-win.”

Ruthanne VandenBosch

Hehe…I just quoted myself. *smile*

A couple of weeks ago my dad decided that the outside of my house needed to be cleaned. I had mold and dirt and stuff on my siding. He came down and brought his power washer along and showed me how to set it up. I find myself paying much closer attention to how things are done since we lost mom. I will forever regret not learning to make her potato salad or her cinnamon rolls. So when I catch myself thinking, “I don’t care about fertilizer or what kind of spray you use to kill weeds-but-not-your-grass,” I remind myself what a blessing it is to have dad here to show me these things that he’s good at, and I focus and try to learn.

Anyway, he showed me how to set things up, and off I went, cleaning my house on the outside. I loved it! I can’t believe how dirty my house was! It was an entirely different color underneath! As I gradually made my way around the house I was struck by the irony of how DIRTY it is on the inside. Sparkling clean on the outside and badly in need of a dusting and scrubbing on the inside. Life has been such a whirlwind of activity and change that spring cleaning was postponed…indefinitely.

Since power-washing a house is not a quick job, I had time to think about the similarities to life.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees about the issue of being clean on the outside and a big filthy mess on the inside in Matthew 23: 25-28~

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

I think that it is really so tempting to try to live life to please people and to make them think you have it all together, but not think a thing about what God’s thoughts are. I fall into that all the time. I remember my friend and pastor, Paul, used to tell me that if, at the end of each day, I can stand before God with all of my thoughts and actions laid bare before him, and know that I did my best to honor Him and please Him- that it was a good day. Even if the people around me disagreed with my actions and decisions.

I like that. God knows my insides. All of the good and the bad and the downright ugly. He is gradually shaping me into his design and cleaning up the insides. You all don’t know my insides, but He does (and loves me anyway…wonder of wonders!)

A couple of falls ago, my sister-in-law Stephanie and I decided that we wanted to be able to hear God speak into our lives more clearly. We talked about how the Holy Spirit lives inside of us and about how much yucky junk we put inside of us with Him. The books we read, the movies and TV we watch, our music… We decided that we were probably crowding his still, small voice out. We decided to do an experiment. For an entire month we would not put anything IN us that wasn’t God-honoring.

Man. Almost nothing is God- honoring. Almost nothing. I left the TV off. I stopped reading a book I was in the middle of. I said no to several movies. Instead, I spent more time praying, more time in God’s word, and more time listening. Steph did the same.

God spoke. He spoke the seeds of what would be a trip to the Navajo Nation and ultimately this work with Josiah Venture. I learned so much during and after that time. With God’s help, we cleaned out the inside of our souls and in the absence of all that clutter of sin we found God waiting to talk with us.

We continued for several months after that (because it was AMAZING!!) and it was during that time that I offered myself up to do “whatever you want me to do with this life, God!”

It’s such an unnatural thing though- we gradually slipped back into the “normal” way of life. It’s just easier. I’ve often thought that I should set apart a month again to do this, but I procrastinate.

I’m convinced I’m missing out on hearing from God.photoI want to challenge you (and myself!) to examine what’s inside and do some spring soul-cleaning. I want to be able to hear that quiet voice of God clearly in my heart!

“How blessed are those who are pure in heart, because it is they who will see God!” Mathew 5:8

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Josiah Venture news: Please pray!!! This is GO time for our interns! We are only 2 weeks away from their departure (and only a little over 1 week away from mine!)

  • Pray that they will get the funds that they need in NOW. Several of them are praying and praying for God to provide. The absolute deadline for them is Friday. Pray for extraordinary provision!
  • Pray for logistics. Almost 90 interns will all be flying (from all over the US) overnight on May 26th and arriving in a 4 hour timeframe on the 27th.
  • Pray for me to learn all of the things that are coming at me fast. I’m headed to Chicago in the morning for one last work/training session with Brenda before we head to Europe. We have a HUGE list of things to tackle. Pray that I will retain all that I need to use in future years.
  • Pray for my support to come in. I’m at 68% (!!!!) of on-going support and I will have to take a break from meeting with people and churches now, until intern training is over in early June. But LOTS of people have been invited to join me– pray that God will work behind the scenes, and put it in their hearts to join my team.

Thank you so much for being the incredible support that you are. I know that all things are possible when we pray, and I’m so thankful to have people in my life that I know are praying- you are making an eternal difference!!!!! Hugs! ~r

Summer Camp!!

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The above picture is from my very 1st experience with Josiah Venture, in 2010. It was the last day of an English camp we had helped with. This photo is a glorious combination of our “American” team, a youth group from a town called Zilina and a variety of high school students who were invited to come to camp to practice conversational English with Americans.

The seeds of this camp started in late fall, 2009. A youth group from a church in Zilina, Slovakia decided to host this outreach to the young people in their community. They would host a camp to teach conversational English the following summer. This youth group is connected with Josiah Venture and they had hosted camps like this one in previous summers. They asked JV to find them a church in America to partner with- one that would send a team over to teach English. I got this request through a friend of mine, Josh Howard, who is a missionary with JV in Slovakia.

I led a college ministry at the time, and after some prayer, we decided to go. We got detailed information about how to prepare as a group, how to raise our support and how to teach lessons in English at a variety of levels. We worked very hard as a team to be ready to serve that following July.

In Slovakia, the youth group was also preparing. They were also given material from Josiah Venture to help them plan. They put people in charge of translation, games, lessons, decorating, parties, worship, outreach, and a variety of other things. Everyone would have a job.

In the spring, help came to Slovakia from Josiah Venture in the form of summer interns. A group of interns came to Zilina and partnered with them as they went into local schools, inviting students from all walks of life and understanding of God to come to camp. The interns also helped the youth group think through some of the areas they might be”stuck” in, and helped them communicate with us about what supplies we could bring to help with the camp.

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Finally the day arrived. Our team packed our bags and flew across the ocean. We were picked up in Vienna, Austria by JV missionaries from Slovakia. We had a huge bus full of teams from the United States. They brought us to JV headquarters in Slovakia- Kompass Training Center where we had an evening introduction to the country followed by a half-day of training the following morning. After lunch, this variety of teams were sent to all corners of Slovakia to meet their youth groups.

We were driven up into the mountains to an adorable hotel along a beautiful stream. Our youth group from Zilina was there- along with a couple of interns- and we were overwhelmed by their welcome and excitement! We spent the evening and next morning together with them. We had activities and games designed to help us really get to know them and to become a team with them. We worshipped and prayed together over the coming week. The interns work hard to connect the two teams and overcome any cultural differences.

That next afternoon the students arrived! They were a little nervous, and we tested them in English to place them into appropriate classes. We played fun games to help them feel more at home and had dinner getting to know them.

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The week fell into a routine for us: Up before dawn for devotions and prayer with the team, breakfast, and English lessons. The English portion of camp is critical- students need to be fluent to graduate, and the draw of having actual Americans to speak with is huge. This is why these campers chose to attend a “church” camp- to practice English with Americans. Our role was to teach the best lessons we could, and to help the campers build relationships with the youth group.

229736_10150257768797513_1751761_nLessons were followed by a game time called “Initiatives”. These were games with an object lesson- something to get you thinking about the topic of the day (what the evening lesson would cover). They were really fun games followed by a time of answering questions together in your small group. Our group could never understand the instructions, so we lost every time and laughed a lot!

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After lunch we played sports. The Slovaks were especially interested in American football and baseball, and they had fun teaching us new games like HuTuTu… fun crazy games!!!! Plus the scenery was beautiful.

428914_10150952452457513_734312483_nAfter dinner we had the evening program. It always started with fun songs and funny skits that the youth group had worked on all year.

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It finished with lessons directly from scripture and testimonies. Each lesson stepped a little closer to sharing about Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. That gospel message was presented on the last night at camp. After the evening program was a fun “themed” party- like “American night” or “Sailor night”- food, music and games galore- but also a time for some serious conversations with questions about God for some of the campers.

In the middle of the week the schedule abruptly stopped and there was an “all-camp hike” day. My 1st year at camp was a rainy day, so we didn’t really get to experience this, but the hike during our 2nd year was EPIC. A 17 mile all-day scavenger hunt in the mountains. It was SO much fun. We had so many great conversations with the students in our group- because we had all day long to talk.

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After the evening program on the last night, students were invited to walk a “labyrinth” which is a path set up all through the camp with stations to stop at and things to think about and process at each station. This walk reminded students of all they had learned during the week about God and at the very last station they were asked to take a rock and place it in one of several jars, indicating where they are at with the idea of having God lead their lives. If they put the rock into the jar indicating that they are interested in following God, they were invited to step aside and pray. The night ended with s’mores and a bonfire and at both of the camps I was a part of, conversations about God went into the early morning hours.

603438_10150952621842513_275056273_nThe next morning, after cleaning and packing up, EVERYONE returned to the host town of Zilina. We were taken on an enthusiastic tour of their hometown, bowling (lol) and then in the evening to an “after-camp party” where the youth group hosts everyone, and the kids invited to camp- who maybe have never set foot in a church- came. The youth group handed out a fall schedule with all kinds of fun events and invited all these new camp-friends to join them.

I kept in touch on Facebook with many of them. Not only did many of our campers stay in the youth group, but many accepted Christ and are leaders in the camp they are planning for this summer.

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This summer….

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This is the theme… it is being printed on 6, 730 shirts that will be worn at English, Sports and Music camps all over Eastern and Central Europe this summer!

There are so many young lives being impacted by these camps in the coming months.

-The youth groups preparing to host a camp

-The campers that will be invited to camp shortly

-The interns who will be traveling over in May to help with the whole summer

-The American teams preparing to go over and serve.

284507_10150257758477513_5639266_nAs I was looking though pictures for this post, I came across this one. This was the very 1st night of our 1st trip to Slovakia, and my friend Ricky and I were trying a Slovak soda called “Kofala” for the 1st time. That trip changed Ricky’s life. He went back two more times on short term trips and once as an intern. He is raising support to become a full-time missionary now. Oh, the things we didn’t know about God’s plans when this picture was taken!

Please pray for this summer. Pray for all the different groups that will be connecting together to bring the hope of Jesus to young people. Pray for the planning and the traveling. Pray for the teaching and discipling. Pray for health and unity in each church involved.

I know this post was long, but I hope it helped you catch a vision for all that is about to launch in JV in just a month’s time! It’s so exciting to think about lives changed because of God’s great love!!!

Thank you for being a part of this with me- with us- I love that you all are along for the ride!!!

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The Carillon

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I love my new job. It started at a time when my world was already tipped upside down, and sometimes I wish I could go back to the security and “known” environment of the lab- just to have a day where I’m not in learning mode- but I love it here and I know that it is this path God has led me to, and down.

I have two favorite parts: Thinking through how to streamline our processes so that we can invite more interns in future summers, and the interns themselves.

I’ve always loved college-age groups and individuals. It’s an age of so much possibility and growth. I love hearing from interns about life and how they are processing this call from God on them to spend the summer away from home.

Today I replied to an intern named Kayla who plans to spend her summer in Ukraine. She sent me this email: “I’m praying daily that God will make a way for me to go this summer and serve in Ukraine.  Currently, I am low in funds and I know that God can do a mighty work.  If for some reason I don’t have enough funds by May 1st, what happens from there?”

I’ve seen so many of the college age students in my own mission teams over the years wrestle with those scary “what ifs” (man, I’ve wrestled with them myself!).  My heart just went out to Kayla and I stopped right then and prayed for her to see God’s provision for her summer in a mighty way. In my own life, my faith dug deep roots during all my scary waiting times and I prayed God would dig her roots of faith in Him deep through this time.

I sent her an email encouraging her to trust him- because when God calls, he ALWAYS provides.

I hit send and then just sat there thinking about how much I needed to be reminded of that too. I stopped to have a heart-to-heart with God. There’s so much change in my life right now that if I think about it very long I just panic. Are we ok? Are we still on the right path? Are you still in front of me?

In the quiet of Rough Rock, His presence was so big, and there, and calming. In the never-ending bustle of Indiana, I’m trying to stop and listen and follow, but it’s harder here. I miss the calm.

As God and I talked, Casper jumped on my lap and stared directly into my eyes, which is Casper-speak for I have got to go outside!!! I distractedly put his leash on and wandered into the backyard with him- still working through what it looks like to find the calm peace of God in the middle of busy.

There is a church nearby that has a carillon and they play bell music sometimes- which I love. Today, as I waited for Casper, they played an old hymn:

He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom,
by waters calm, o’er troubled sea,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by his own hand he leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.

I sat on one of my patio chairs and whispered along with the words. I’m not sure how I am unable to remember my zip code but I can remember this entire song… that is a great mystery. Sometimes I think my long term memory filled up at a young age and now all I’ve got is short term. Very short term.

As my heart was reminded of these words I felt that calm I knew on the Navajo Nation return.

God’s got this.

When He calls, He provides.

Nearly every day brings a new change in life I wasn’t prepared for- but he goes before me and he saw those changes long before they showed up in my path.

“Content whatever lot I see, since ’tis my God that leadeth me.”

Or in the words of King David in Psalm 16:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

With him at my right hand I will not be shaken!

Amen.

Bajadera TorteI just got a little thrown off, because I don’t have a photo to go along with this post…? So here’s a dessert photo with a prayer request. This is a picture of a “Bajadera Torte” that I made this week for my blog at easybaked.net.

It is a dessert recipe from Croatia, and I have deliberately been looking for a yummy dessert recipe to use in introducing my (thousands!) of Easybaked readers to Josiah Venture. This week I will be writing this recipe post and I’d love for you to pray that God will use it. You don’t have to know God very long to see Him move in the craziest ways to connect people  and change entire lives and communities for His glory. I don’t often delve into personal things on Easybaked- I just stick with recipes and maybe short stories here and there, but this week I will tell about Josiah Venture. Pray that God opens doors and sends just the right people along to read about what He is doing in the young people of Eastern and Central Europe. Who knows what God will do, or who He might call to join us in sharing the love of God with these precious young people. Immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine…. so we imagine BIG and pray.

Thank you for your prayers, dear friends! I’m more thankful for you all than I can ever express….!

Hugs!

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Easter thoughts and seashells.

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1970818_10152090714022513_2497417626409315654_nHow deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
(Phillips, Craig & Dean)

I love Easter. I love everything it means for us as followers of Jesus Christ.

Easter means that death has no hold on us anymore. Christ took our sins and mistakes onto himself and paid the punishment for them. The punishment was death, and he took our place.

That has special significance this Easter. Mom is celebrating it in heaven because of Jesus’ sacrifice for her, and we will be together with her someday- in God’s very presence- because of that same sacrifice.

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Easter weekend 2014 was full of new Navajo traditions. Movie night with boot-legged copies of “The Bible” and popcorn from Wal-Mart, breakfast casserole baking with Navajo friends and Story Night.

Easter weekend this year was a road-trip to Florida with my dad to look into the possibility of him relocating here sometime next year. We have had a full weekend, and he has found the area he really wants to move to eventually. We had fun looking though various communities and homes together and I’m not complaining about all this sunshine(!!!)

Easter morning 2014 began with a “sunrise service” at Rough Rock friends that didn’t start until 8:30, which left me watching the sunrise with just God and Casper by my side. The picture above is from that morning.

This Easter, we watched the sun set at mom’s favorite beach, Bean Point.

sunsetIt was beautiful.

Some of my favorite memories of my mom are at the beach. Growing up, we spent nearly every Thanksgiving break at Sanibel Island in Florida. We spent hours and hours hunting for shells. My favorites were called shark eyes. Mom’s favorite shells were called lettered olives. She liked them because they had beautiful markings and if you found a perfect one, their surface was shiny- like glass. Just before I left for Arizona, we went to Hilton Head and she and I took long, long walks each morning looking for shells and laughing at pelican dives.

I’d never been to Bean Point, a beach on Anna Maria Island, but she had told me all about it. She loved the sea grass and the long tree-covered walk back into the beach. Today I got to see it finally and it is beautiful- and it reminded me of her.

I’ve never been one to believe that people who have died spend any time communicating with the living- it seems like they must be incredibly overcome by the joy and beauty of being in the presence of God in heaven. Plus, the Bible says that there is no sadness in heaven- or tears- so how could they look back on all of us still here?

I do think that God sends us little reminders though-to tell us that they are ok- and that He loves us and understands the hurt of  loss.

Tonight we arrived at the beach, plopped our beach chairs in the sand, and I kicked my flip flops off and headed to the waters edge. Just as I put my toes into the ocean, a little wave washed an absolutely perfect lettered olive shell over my toes.

photo copy

*smile*

Dad and I will be here until Friday. We are staying with my parent’s good friends, the Harrises, and while dad golfs with friends and family during the day, it’s back to work for me! Intern travel arrangements and questions are on my agenda (although I have a beautiful table on a sunny porch picked out to work at!) It is such a blessing to be able to work from here this week!

Please pray for us to have safe travels (traffic is INSANE here!), for dad to make the right decisions about where to live in the coming years, and for my support to continue to come in.

Please pray for our interns as they raise the funds they need for this summer and pull together all of the paperwork they need to turn in beforehand.

Please pray for the youth groups all over Eastern and Central Europe that are planning camp outreaches for this summer. These camps are incredibly effective at reaching young people with the good news, and HOPE of Jesus, and there is a lot of planning to make them happen effectively. Everyone is kicking into high gear, and it is such an exciting time of year!

Thank you dear friends, for your prayers, encouragement, and support. Sometimes I feel like I am literally being held upright and propelled forward by God- through the fervent prayers of people like you all.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

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Make Disciples of all Nations

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DSC_0911“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Tonight I had the great joy of packing up 5 spiral bound books for Navajo families and praying that God will use His powerful story in their lives.

Last spring (right about now, last year), I was given a wonderful idea for teaching the Bible with the Navajo. The Navajo have a history of oral tradition- passing the great stories of Navajo creation and life down through generations by word of mouth- and my friend Paul suggested I start a new story-telling tradition among the Navajo by telling the story of the entire Bible, cover-to-cover. We started in the spring, and 21 lessons later (including a Christmas in July party to celebrate Jesus’ birth!), we were finished with Revelation.

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The goal was to hear and learn the story well enough to be able to re-tell it over and over- so that everyone can hear about God’s love! We practiced by making a 30 minute video at the end of the Old Testament.

The Story Photo clip

We became a little community of friends during those weeks and I promised each person that if they saved their worksheets from each week that I would take them with me to Indiana and have them made into books for them to keep. I’ve been slow in keeping my promise, and last week a little voice came over the phone asking me if I forgot. Little Aaliyah asked if I could send hers soon so she could practice telling the story, and she asked if I could send her a copy of the notes I wrote and practiced from before I told the story to them. She wants to be a story teller of God’s Great Story to her people. I took everyone’s notes and had them bound the next day- and I made up several “Story Teller” books with all the notes and scriptures that Story Night came from.

I got them back today and I can’t stop reading through them- Aaliyah went above and beyond simply filling in the blanks and coloring a picture. I didn’t realize it, but she went home and wrote out a detailed account of each story on a separate piece of paper.

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Every once in awhile, you meet someone who has an obvious call of God on them. Aaliyah is one of those people. Although she is young, she is passionate about God and His word. We have been writing letters back and forth since I left, and she asks the most incredible questions about God. Pray for Aaliyah- ask God to bring people into her life to disciple her and encourage her!

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You see, there are young lives like Aaliyah all over this planet who God is placing his call on. These young people will reach countless lives for Jesus and change the course of world history in the process. They are asking questions now- and who will answer them? Who will “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you”? For Aaliyah, I pray her family and her church will come alongside her and do this (and I will certainly be a long-distance encourager to her!). But what of the others? In Africa, in Asia, in Europe?

I am so incredibly thankful for the people who are pouring their lives into reaching and discipling the young people of this world. It is happening here. My friends Gabe, Lane, John, Dave (among many others) are investing in young people here. This weekend, my friend John Grafton at Battle Creek Friends Church is hosting an event called Soul Blast as an outreach to the young lives around him. The event is sold out, and my Facebook feed is full of joy at what God will do this weekend in these young lives.

This is happening in Eastern and Central Europe too. Hundreds of people pouring all of their time and heart into reaching youth with the good news of God’s love- and then discipling them, teaching them to pray, to study, to obey, and to share.

God- changing the world one young life at a time.

making disciples

Pray, as you read this post today, for the young people God has placed in your life. Ask God to show you how you can get involve with discipling a young person toward a deep walk with Jesus. Is there something in your church or community that you could be a part of that would reach young lives for Jesus? I bet your church’s Sunday School could use help (they can always use help!).

Many of you are a part of what God is doing overseas in areas with far fewer resources for reaching young people than we have here. My position with Josiah Venture is dedicated to getting more youth workers into areas that are desperate for them. Many of you are a part of my prayer and support team, and you are making it possible for me to dedicate more and more of each day to this task- THANK YOU! We are sending almost 100 new workers over this summer!

I do still need 42% of my ongoing (monthly or annual) support, and I’m praying for God to call people to join me in this. There is more than enough work for this to be a full-time job, but I am only allowed to work part-time because I am not at 100% yet. Would you consider joining me? If you have any questions, I’d love to get together with you and talk! You can click here to read more about what I am doing, and to contact me.

Thank you so much, for all of your prayers, support, encouragement and love through the past year and 1/2. I certainly never thought, when I started this blog, that the journey would cover such difficult, yet beautiful terrain.

Remembering the very last bit of those verses in Matthew makes all the difference:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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But what can you do?

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Terezin Concentration Camp near Prague

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

There’s not much that is more frustrating than feeling powerless in the face of great injustice. This feeling hits me every once in awhile and I’m not sure what to do with it.

I took a class in college (one of those dumb freshman seminars) and the professor was given leeway to teach on pretty much anything he wanted, so we spent the entire semester talking about the holocaust. By the end I knew way more than I ever thought I would about this horrific event in our world history.

A few years later I found myself stranded alone (long, kind of crazy story) on the mall in Washington DC for an entire day. I made my way to the holocaust museum with some questions I’d had for years. How could this happen? Where did the decent people go? Why didn’t the world stop this? Could this happen again?

The museum (if you haven’t been there) was an incredible and sobering experience. A mountain of shoes taken from executed people in concentration camps made an especially strong impression on me. You are given a card as you enter, detailing the life of a person who suffered in the Holocaust. It made it real- made it feel like this could happen anywhere with the right circumstances.

The tour of the museum ends in a Hall of Remembrance. You are encouraged to sit in a silent, sun-filled room and consider what happened and commit to making sure this happens nowhere ever again. But I kept thinking- how? How can I, girl from the midwest, have an impact on whether this happens again?

On my way out, a sweet girl handed me a flyer about Darfur. The holocaust was happening there. Genocide and mass graves.

“But what can I do?”, I asked God. “What can I do?”

Give money? How in the world to know who is trustworthy? I committed to pray- and I did pray for the dear people in conflict there. I told God to show me if there was something He needed me to do. Such injustice. But what can you do?

I’ve asked God that question many times since.

About a week ago I read a message from Dave Patty, the president of Josiah Venture, and God began to answer my question. I realized first of all, that my prayers mattered. I also realized that He has given me something- an action– against this sort of injustice. I’m just going to quote Dave here.

“To be honest, it is hard for me to follow world news these days. The brutality of the ISIS fighters and the devastation being experienced in Ukraine are causing so much human suffering. I feel for these people, but at the same time feel powerless to bring any change.

For me these stories hit close to home since Central and Eastern Europe has seen two such waves of injustice in one generation. The quick succession of Hitler’s atrocities and communist totalitarianism were devastating to this region. People my age remember the second very well, and those my parent’s age had to endure both.

Yet today most of Central and Eastern Europe has unprecedented religious freedom and stability. We can share the gospel freely, even in schools. The torture chambers are silent; the concentration camps have been changed into tourist destinations.

How did this happen? Looking at the present through the lens of the past, here are a couple of lessons for us.

  • Prayer does change things. The persistent intercession of God’s people has and is changing this region. Never minimize the effect of your prayers.
  • Young people are extremely strategic. A young generation radicalized in the Mid-East is driving horrible atrocities. Young people reached with the gospel in Central and Eastern Europe are at the forefront of transforming an entire region.
  • You and I are not powerless – even if we feel like it. All power has been given to Christ, and we have been sent in his name.

Just last week a 17 year old girl named Maruska trusted Christ in one of our Fusion choirs. Her parents are divorcing and she has to move to England with her mom. She asked the Fusion leader to explain how to give her life to Jesus so she wouldn’t have to go to England alone. That day one more life was transformed by the gospel.

There is much evil in the world. And you ARE making a difference through your gifts and prayers.”

I love how he contrasted the young people radicalized by ISIS with the young people reached with the gospel and transforming their nation for Jesus.

Fight dark with light. Fight evil with good.

I’m thrilled to be a small part of God’s movement in Eastern and Central Europe- and I’m thrilled to have you join me in this fight against the dark.

Pray this week for countries that are hosting youth leader training. The goal is to raise up youth leaders from each country to reach their own people with the gospel, and God is providing!

Last week in Serbia, JV trained about 40 young leaders and became connected with new churches throughout the country.

This week, Slovakia held a training conference and had 700 young leaders in attendance.

Next weekend Poland will have about 100 young leaders for training and equipping.

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KPM conference in Slovakia

I love this feeling of movement. God is changing lives. God is raising up leaders. God is using you and me to bring light into dark places.

Thank you!!

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