Thursday, September 27, 2012

my favorite night as a JV missionary

In 1999, I spent my first summer interning with Josiah Venture in Poland. I lived in Torun with Greg and Heidi Carlson (some of the very first JV missionaries). That summer, I gave a piece of my heart to Poland that I will never get back, and it's nights like last Friday night that remind me of that.

Here I am that summer in 1999, with much longer hair, baggy jeans, and a sweatshirt that would fit my dad (those were the 90s). My cousin, Melanie, and I were at English camp. That summer, I learned the beauty of the triple kiss. Traditionally, you are supposed to kiss three time on alternating cheeks, but once is "enough" if you make it count!

Last Friday night, Brian and I were invited to a very special Fala (JV's partner organization in Poland) dinner. The leadership of Fala was transfered from Greg Carlson to my dear friend, Michal, a national who came to faith in Christ around the age of 14. Him and his wife Silvia have been with JV for nearly ten years serving Fala and their local church.

It was probably my favorite night since joining JV full-time nearly three years ago. It seems strange that it's my favorite, but when I think back to all those summers serving in Poland, my heart for Poland and the young people of that country still beats loudly, and my desire for more and more people in Poland to be transformed by Jesus is part of the reason why I serve with JV today.

There were three beautiful things that happened last Friday night at this dinner. First, Greg gave Michal the freedom to lead the organization in Michal's style. He conveyed this with a gift, as Greg often does. He gave Michal a pair of sunglasses, and then, told him that Michal could exchange the sunglasses for any color or style that he wanted. Explaining the same to be true of how Michal needs to lead Fala. Lead it your way, Michal.

Next, Michal shared his vision. When Michal speaks, he speaks from his heart. What he shared was simple; it was his testimony. But, he shared from his heart in such way that Brian is ready to "follow him" (but Brian can't really because we serve on the Bteam in the Czech Republic). Michal shared about what it was like for him as a young Polish teenager living without Jesus. He said he was lost, and he cannot even imagine who he would be today if not for Jesus. Then Michal said, that is why I am here, and that is why we are here because there are so many Michals in Poland today that need Jesus, and if I had not found Christ when I did, at the age of 14, it might be too late. (Michal's my age, and we're old now.)

Then, Lukasz, who is another national JV missionary in Poland said something very powerful. He explained that just hours before when the Fala board had their official voting time, he hesitated to write down Michal's name. The reason Lukasz hesitated is because he understood the responsibility that he was placing on Michal by voting him into leadership, and Lukasz also knew that if he gave Michal this responsibility that Lukasz would have to stand beside him faithfully.

As I sat listening and watching what was taking place in Poland one week ago, I cried like a baby because I sensed something really important happening in the ministry in Poland. A national is now running the organization there, but not just any national, a dear friend of mine with a heart for Jesus and a heart for the young people in Poland. Keep praying for Poland. There is a whole new generation that doesn't know the transforming power of Jesus.

Here are some other photos from my favorite night as a JV missionary, so far.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

no small task

Last week, my Uncle Neal was here visiting. His initial mission was to help another JV family in Poland with landscaping and concrete work, which he did. Then, he was to spend "a few days" with us. 

Well. At first . . . we were unsure of what he would do . . . then, an idea turned into this:

Let's just call this project get rid of communist concrete!

Spend a lot of time digging!

And then, lay down some nice pavers!

Still needs a few finishing touches, but our yard is "better than it was" (as a Czech friend said the other day)! Huge thanks to "Uncle Neal" for all his time and hard work!