Saturday, July 13, 2013

Czech Mission Team Update #1

Getting over jet lag together...
 Hello Family and Friends!!!

In just a few hours, we'll be meeting our English Camp students! Ahhh!!! The past several days have been absolutely crazy and awesome, and as we are already nonstop hard at work, I'll need to keep this brief. The Lord has already demonstrated His power and love to us in so many ways, I could go on and on and on and on and on and on.   BUT if I make a habit of details, the camp updates will be novels, and ain't nobody got time for that. Just know that He has carried us so wonderfully, and continue to pray for His hand over us.

First of all, we're all safe! The journey was long and exhausting, but we didn't miss any connections (and the metal in Arthur's leg didn't land us in interrogation rooms--Huzzah!!) This bunch are natural world travelers I tell you!

With 11 people traveling across the world, it seems near impossible that the entire operation can go off without a hitch. WELL, you should all be pleased to hear that only one bag..... made it.

Don't you fret now, the other 10 of us were just fine surviving the 24+ hours without our bags. The team was prepared with necessary carry-on essentials, and it's not like deodorant is a staple in Europe anyways. Our bags all arrived safely to our facility the next night and there was hardly a complaint or panic the entire wait!

So we landed in Prague and met up with the rest of our team! Annie and Jessica from Pennsylvania, and Rachel from Peoria, IL. For the first time, the 14 of us were all together! I had no idea the team could look this massive. It rocks.

We also met our Czech leadership from the Prague church (in case you didn't hear, we're working directly with Prague, and in case you didn't know, that's awesome.) They are some of the nicest, most genuine, organized, and passionate people I've had the grace of working with. For all of us, this is our first times in these roles, so we're enjoying working and learning together.

We stayed in the castle on the far left!
American team training took place in this wonderful location called Brejlov. This was three days for all the Americans doing camps in Bohemia (that's Western Czech, folks. About 150 Americans just for this half of the country!) to have a concentrated time of preparation- spiritually, culturally, English-lesson-teaching-y, sharing the Gospel, our stories, and everything else in between--like getting over jet lag, growing as a team, and spending time in peace to connect with God and refocus our hearts after the chaos of travel.. and before more chaos of camp. It was also a time where we could hear from the Czechs--the mostly-young men and women who are the current and future spiritual leaders of this nation. To step out in leadership is not a common thing here, but it's happening more rapidly than ever, and JV seeks to invest in the lives of these individuals, realizing there's only so much the Americans can do (after all, how much is two weeks compared to an entire year?)

On a personal note, training was a such a precious time to reconnect with dear friends from all over the globe--JV missionaries, Czechs from past camps, former interns, the whole package. It brings such joy to my heart to see these people I love, to be back in a place I cherish so deeply.. and the best part is that for the first time like, ever, my friends came with me and I get to show all of it to them!! They haven't even seen the good stuff yet, and already God's movement in Eastern Europe is making itself so evident and penetrating the hearts of the Americans and Czechs alike. 

Preparing for camp with Czech leaders
Training was good stuff. Great stuff. A fantastic time to hang out and plan camp with our Czech leaders, to explore the magical forests (they filmed the Narnia forest scenes here, so that was no hyperbole), to climb castle ruins and old towers, and to be trained in all the little ins and outs that will ultimately make the sharing of the Gospel more effective in this culture.

We traveled by bus to our camp facility-- it is PRIME! Great location, great setup, and, wait for it-- the most friendly and helpful owners/hosts I've ever worked with. If you know anything about dealing with Czech hotel management and things like this, you know that even "somewhat nice" is just.. oh man.. just a huge blessing.

We've been setting the place up, preparing lessons, praying over every classroom, bedroom, outside room (use your imagination), everything and anything as we get ready. 

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep praying for us! Camp is about to start--this is the reason we're here!

-Health and safety. Such a cliche thing to say, I know. Don't care. 
We need prayer on this. We're about to be stretched out thinner than ever, but require the strength not only to survive each day, but to thrive in ministry and relationships with these students. 

-Protection. This is a safe place (calm down mothers), but spiritually it is dark battleground. This is the time where attack will come relentlessly.

-Camp! It's about to start! Pray that we will connect fast with the students-- here we have a team who has prepared for a long time, but this still doesn't stop the nerves-- teaching English, discussion groups, sports.. all of it with a different culture makes this an entirely new experience. Pray everything runs smoothly, that this camp will be one of the best weeks of these students' lives and that God will use it to bring many to Him.

Everyone's having a blast. On the next update, I'll likely have some more personal requests from the individual members. For myself, this is the first year in this role (no intern help this time!) All logistic things are going well, but I'm still nervous as heck for evening program.. lots of moving parts to this, and hiccups tend to serve as big distractions. I've never done the talks before this year, and tonight will be the first go. They're all written out, so that's nice, but please pray that these talks will be communicated clearly and effectively, for my translator, Paja, that she will also communicate these truths and that the students will listen. For me, this is where I feel most anxious.

Rachel and Annie are our only English Camp veterans on the team. They, as well as some key JV people say (and I agree) how impressed they are with this team. Honestly, these guys are one of the most well-oiled American machines I've seen out here. All are working so hard, and you would think they've done a million of these camps before! It's incredible! So please pray that this would continue, because we know it's by His grace that this team has even made it this far!

We are pumped!

Justin for the Team

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