Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unpacking, Settling, Reading Cece the Same Book Over and Over

We don't have internet at our house, yet. I have been so busy trying to unpack, clean, and "get settled" that I haven't left the house to get internet access, until this afternoon. I don't have a lot of time, so I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves, mostly.

Here is what it was looking like:









Here is what it looks like, as of today:





Notice the missing oven and dishwasher? They didn't work, so we're going to get some new ones, soon!

Does anyone speak German? We are learning, so we can do our laundry!






Notice the book in all these pictures? This is the book Cece asks me to read to her over and over and over and over . . . .

There's still more work to be done! We are sure missing all of you!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Feeling a Little Bit Like This . . .

I'm feeling a little bit like this today:

By no means if life terrible, but the chaos of transition is real. We are truly excited about the house we are renting; however, it's just taking some time to be able to move in. The landlord is remodeling the bathroom, which is really great. On a minor side note, he asked me what I wanted in the bathroom before they started, which was so kind of him. I said, "white, modern, neutral". Well, somehow that got translated/carried out to be tiles with brown, orange, and yellow flowers:)!

Back to the chaos. We were living in the Patty's apartment until they ran out of gas to heat their home (they have a great wood stove in their house, but it doesn't send heat to the apartment), so we packed up our stuff and moved in with the Ellenwood's over a week ago. We are so loving their family, but we were thinking any day we'd be unpacking our boxes, but . . . remodeling takes time, so we wait.

Hopefully, we'll be moving in late this week. Just to give you a little glimpse into my heart, here is my prayer today:

Lord God,
Please help me to be encouraged today. Help us to get settled quickly. Give us the strength and grace we need in the chaos of being unsettled, being disconnected by dear friends and family by several time-zones, learning a new language (we had our first language lesson last night:)), connecting and developing new friendships, living with and depending on others, working and learning new jobs (especially Brian), continuing to be a good wife and mom, trying to stay motivated to work-out, spend time studying your word, pray, send updates, schedule our weeks, plan our summer, think of ways those we love can serve short-term, and do laundry. God help me!

Please Lord Jesus give us strength, the right heart, encouragement, love for each other and others and peace! I am glad I'm here, though! Amen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brian's Birthday: March 14th

Saturday was Brian's birthday (I'm not saying which one because we're both getting to the age where we're just having birthdays, but we're going to stay the same age). We are far away from home; however, we were able to spend Brian's birthday with the Carlson's, and that felt like home! So much thanks to them for making Brian's day so perfect!

We met them in Poland at an indoor water park. I have some great video that I will post later. Brian said his favorite part was taking Cece down the water slide. Kelsey, Jillian, Brian and Cece all went down and got up out of the pool at about the same time. Kelsey turned to her sister, Jillian, and said, "do you want to go again?" Cece said, "yeah!"


After the water park, they took us to a great restaurant with really tasty pizza. Then, we went to their house for cake. They made a cake with coconut frosting, which is one of Brian's favorites.





Then, the cherry on top was that the next night the Patty's took Brian to a restaurant in a near by city, Ostrava, for his FAVORITE dessert: creme brulee.



I'm so thankful for Brian. These pictures show how amazing it is to be here and how well we are being taken care of. But, there are certainly some hard things too. I will surely have posts from time-to-time that will share some of the hard. However, right now, I just want to say that sharing life with Brian makes life better than I ever dreamed it would be. I am honored to share this adventure with him. He is such a great man, and I am beyond proud of him for stepping out in extreme faith and saying yes to something that is going to have such a huge impact on Cece and I (not to mention the Kingdom of God). I love you, Brian!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Postcard from Czech

It's not supposed to stay "Starring Postcard from Czech" at the beginning. I changed it to say "Postcard from Czech", but as amazing as iMovie is, sometimes the program doesn't listen to me! I'm too impatient to uploaded again! Hope you enjoy despite the minor error!

Postcard from Czech from Aleisha Stephens on Vimeo.

Wordless Wednesday

My cousin's wife, Melissa, got an idea (from another blog) to do something called Wordless Wednesday. The gist of it is that you just post a picture and let it speak for itself. So, without further ado:


Monday, March 8, 2010

Missional Church

Reflections from my quiet-time this morning (well, it wasn't quiet because I was listening to a podcast, but it's quiet now as I'm reflecting):

Several weeks ago, my brother, Joel, introduced me to Nomad Podcast. A small group of young couples in Nottingham, UK interviews Christian authors, leaders, ministers and explores questions of church, community, missions, etc. I have not listened to all of them, but the ones I have left me thinking, thinking, thinking. (Joel said he doesn't agree with all the interviewees, but it certainly makes one think.) I LOVE when I discover something like this. For a person who has grown up in the church, it can sometimes be hard to find teaching that challenges my thinking. Couple that with asking the Holy Spirit to really move in my own heart and teach me something, and, to me, those moments are Kingdom moments! Thought I'd share a taste with you.

So, I'm here. I'm a missionary, but what does that mean? Don't get me wrong, we have a clear calling, a clear role (especially Brian), a mission organization with a clear mission, vision, focus, etc. that we so believe in and are honored to be a part of. I just find myself thinking that I need to constantly be searching my own heart to ask important questions about Christ, His heart for the world, His church, His mission and His calling on my life to serve.

This podcast really stirred and inspired me. The Nomad Podcast was an interview with Mike Frost. I know nothing about him except what I heard in this podcast. However, his words just resonated with me. You really should just listen for yourself because I wouldn't do the topic justice by trying to summarize. Though, I will share some of my thinking.

We're really starting a "new" life here in Frydlant. Before diving head first into many responsibilities, I am now desiring to really spend time in prayer asking God to whom is He sending me. Now, you may think that's crazy because I've already "been sent", and yes, that is true. But, more specifically, who are the people that God is sending me to (as a gift to them is the way Mike Frost put it--love that--"as a gift to them"). It is definitely to this city, with this organization (Josiah Venture), but I really want God to direct me more specific than that. Is it moms with young kids? Is it young missionary couples joining Josiah Venture? Is it our new neighbors? Is it young teenage girls? (Possibly some of all of these?)

For sure, I have responsibilities to serve with Josiah Venture. I will be working with JV families to help with the education of their kids. That's missional, for sure, and my head spins with ideas all the time, and I can't WAIT to get started. What I'm talking about, though, is relationships, friendships, our life! To whom is He sending me?

The aspect about the topic of this podcast that I love the most is that it's not a podcast intended for missionaries! In fact, our life in Charlotte was missional. Life in Christ should be missional. What I think is unique about our situation is the need. Eastern Europe is dark spiritually. It won't take long (but, perhaps a lot of effort in language learning) before friendships will be with people who have never really experienced the love of Christ or the joy of living as a part of His Kingdom. In fact, the needs kind of overwhelms me until I stop and think, okay, God wants me here, I need to seek Him, so that I truly bring His love to people; He will guide me.

Please, dear God, in the midst of so many new things, please help my life to be missional. Bring people into my life whom I can love with your love. Help our life, our marriage, our parenting, our friendships to be examples of Your community and Your design. God help me.

Here is our new town (however, it is covered in snow currently:)).

And, a picture of Cece--just because:)! Taken by Hannah Ellenwood, a JV missionary kid whom you will hear more about soon:)!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rental House Post #1

We are renting a house! So far this week, we have seen the house, met our landlords, picked out paint colors, listened to a lot of Czech that we couldn't understand (had some of it translated:)), met with the painter (well, Brian did this morning).

I have to expand on that. Brian said the funny thing about talking with someone who speaks another language than you is that you both speak in complete sentences. Today, Brian met the painter at the house we are renting. We had gone previously, and I had tried out the colors I had picked in each room. The painter was there to measure, so he knows how much paint to get at the paint store. I have already communicated (with the help of a dear friend, Katka) with the paint store owner which rooms are to be painted which color. Brian was just going to let the painter into the house, so he could measure. However, how can you resist trying to communicate, so Brian was showing him around the house, pointing to the colors, and the painter was asking Brian questions. Brian said they both spoke in complete sentences, and they understood each other the opposite of completely! :)

Here are a few pics of the house; just keep in mind that I took them really fast, so they aren't that great. Regardless of what you think, keep in mind who my parents are--with a little paint, and my mom's creative genes following through me, I'll have it looking like "our home" in no time! Those pics in a few weeks (hopefully:)).

Also, Peter (another dear friend) talked with the landlords during our meeting and convinced them to remodel the very outdated bathroom before we move in! When we went there to try out the paint, a guy was already starting to demolish the bathroom. In fact, Brian helped him carry the old tub out! So, add that to the previous list--so far this week, we have seen the house, met our landlords, picked out paint colors, listened to a lot of Czech that we couldn't understand (had some of it translated:)), met with the painter (well, Brian did this morning), and Brian helped carry out the old tub of the house we are renting. Life has begun.

The living/dining area:

The kitchen:

One of three bedrooms (there's also an office):

The laundry room (you're looking at the current dryer, but we'll probably get a different kind:)):

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eleven Years Later . . .


We are here! Flying into Krakow, Poland yesterday with my husband and child was surreal to say the least. We were greeted by new friends and old friends. The old friends, the Carlson's, were the first Josiah Venture missionaries I ever met; I first served as an intern with them about eleven years ago.

It's crazy to think that eleven years ago, I first arrived in Eastern Europe! Last night, I was laying in bed, awake at 12:30am Czech time, and the excitement started to seep through again. For the last several weeks, the sadness of all the good-byes was really hitting me. It is amazing to me how it is possible to feel two sets of emotions so strongly.

Here is Cece at my parents' house in Minnesota. I wish I had taken a picture of my mom, dad, brother, Joel and sister-in-law, Crista waving good-bye to Cece and I as we were peeking through security. As Cecelia and I rounded the corner at the Minneapolis airport, Cece started blowing kisses saying, "good-bye, love you!" What a beautiful moment in my life--how blessed we are be to loved by people so much that it hurts so much to say good-bye.


Brian's sister, Susan and kids, Sydney and Colton came to Chicago to say good-bye our last two days in the states. It meant so much to us to have family with us then.


So began our eighteen hours of traveling from Chicago to Frydlant, Czech Republic! (I don't look so great in this picture, but Cece seems ready for the adventure:).)


Cecelia did amazing on the plane. She slept for the first five hours on the first flight; she woke up, though, with three hours left, so Brian was trying to get her back to sleep. He put the blanket over their heads in the hopes that she wouldn't be distracted:); it didn't work, she was wide awake!




And, here we are after arriving in Poland with the Carlson's (who arrived back to Poland after a short trip to the states; our flights were in an hour of each other). How special to be greeted by them after all these years of considering Josiah Venture!

Here I am several years ago in Poland with Kelsey, the Carlson's oldest daughter, when she was a young girl. I first met her when she was Cece's age!

So, we had our first meal with Kelsey--not a young girl anymore, the rest of the Carlson's and Nate and Emily Hughes (huge thanks to Nate and Emily for coming to pick us up - we can't wait to get to know them better!). And, we are eating at McDonald's in Poland. This was ironically Cece's first time eating at a McDonald's!


After that, our new friends, Nate and Emily, drove us to our new home-town, Frýdlant nad Ostravicí, Czech Republic where we were greeted by the Patty's. We'll be staying at the Patty's until our crate arrives in a few weeks. Brian, Cece, and I woke up this morning at 10am (Cece slept twelve hours last night--whoo hoo), and we were giddy! We just couldn't wait to start life here . . . a dream that God put in my heart eleven years ago!