Friday, November 19, 2010

With 26 days to go...

Yesterday I shared about my weekend in Zlín.  Today I want to share about my week in Tabor.

High Schools:
God, in the last two weeks, has opened up two schools for Greg and I to go into.  This means students who need Jesus have been placed at our fingertips (so to speak).  God has given us access to the lives of students of all backgrounds who all need Jesus.

School 1: This school is like the middle/upper-middle class high school comparable to Ronald Reagan High School or Alamo Heights High School (for those that live in San Antonio).  Almost all the students here will go on to universities.

School 2: This school is comparable to Roosevelt High School (again for San Antonions).  It is a technical/vocational school.  Most of these students will not go to university, and the simple truth is there is less money to be had there.

In both schools, the students have equal need of Jesus.  In both schools there is the pain caused by sin.  In both schools there are walls of different shapes and sizes between Jesus and their hearts.  In both schools, I believe, is low-hanging fruit waiting to be picked, a bountiful field ready for the harvest.

I have had two weeks to go in to classes at School 1 and one week to go into classes at School 2.  God has decided these two doors would open up with one month left in the Czech Republic.  God has given me 26 more days in this country for this season.  I hope it is 26 days of preparing the way for these students and teachers to meet Jesus Christ (Mark 1).  26 more days...

Prayer Requests:

  • We will be having a sports afternoon for School 2 on Wednesday, November 29.  We are hoping and praying it will be an opportunity to connect with students, especially guys.  "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us" (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
  • For wisdom in pursuing relationships with individual students - where, when, who, how, etc.
  • For wisdom and courage in telling them the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • For the Thanksgiving youth group night/outreach - for the youth group to be loving and inviting and welcoming and for relationships to begin between Christians and non-Christians, to the glory of God, the sanctification of His children, and the salvation of the lost.
Dekuji moc (Thank you very much)!

P.S. I may be mostly offline this next week.  I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.  May it be a time of rejoicing, praying, and thanking.  In all these God is faithful.  Amen.

A weekend in Zlín

Below you will find the story/account of my weekend in Zlín.  For those that have less time, you will be able to skim through the bolded words or phrases for a quicker read while (I hope) still getting all the main ideas.  Čau!

One final weekend:
I want to thank you for your continued support of the ministry I am a part of here in the Czech Republic.  My final weekend (of this season at least) in Zlín and Olomouc was great.

I got to teach on Friday night, and I talked about God's call on our lives.  God is ultimately unique (Isaiah 64:4), and He imparts this uniqueness to His children (1 Corinthians 2:9-10), and then we split for the guys to read and talk through 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and for the girls to read and talk through Proverbs 31:10-31; both pictures of what a life called by God look like, and we as brothers and sisters are called to exhort and encourage one another toward these pictures of Christ-likeness, with our prayers, our words, and our actions.

The rest of the overnighter was a lot of fun, especially introducing them to P.O.W. (Place, Occupation, Weapon).  I love it because it is an improv game that overcomes language barriers.  We also ate pizza, which is an essential requirement of any youth group overnighter.  We walked around town and closed out the night with a viewing of "Fireproof".

Saturday was full of surprises as plans changed and changed again.  When it was said and done, I got to spend the day in the beautiful city of Olomouc.  David, one of the students at the overnighter, goes to college in Olomouc, and he took the afternoon off to give me a tour of the great sights - walking, pictures, churches, architecture, statues and sculptures, a black and tan and fried chicken and cheese, dorm room coffee, and good conversation - so good.

Back in Zlín for the evening, I went to Samuel's house for the night.  He is the elder who is responsible for the college and youth ministry of the church and the Czech leader I led Zlín camp with.  Staying with him and his family is always a joy.  Full of hospitality and love, the Huštovi family has been a source of great joy and encouragement for me.
The Huštovi family and me.  L-R: Samuel, Eliška, Šarka, Barunka, and me.
Sunday followed with a wonderful farewell in the church as I got to enjoy seeing Filip, a student who became a Christian this summer, share his testimony again, and be given the opportunity to share my testimony.  I was only asked about five minutes before, so I did not have anything planed (for those who may come and visit Czech churches, always have a message/testimony in your back pocket because you really never know when you will be asked to share).  I ended up sharing about the people in my life who impacted me - Mom and Dad, a 65(?) year old Sunday school teacher named Ed, my first and third youth pastors, my first and only college pastor, and roommates (and this is only scratching the surface).  I read Hebrews 10:24 and exhorted them and myself to not put off what we can say to someone today until tomorrow because you never know what God will do with your words and actions.  Like the five loaves and two fish, we do not know how God will multiply our obedience in "spurring one another on to love and good deeds," but we have hope and assurance that He will because our "Father is always working" and "the wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."  We believe that God has done, is doing, and continue to do great things.

I got to thank the church for their hospitality and spend a relaxing afternoon with the Huštovi for lunch and dessert, then I boarded the train to head back home to Tabor.  I was given the opportunity to tell three people about Jesus.  So thank you for your prayers.  God acts because of our prayers (Isaiah 37:21ff. Keyword: "Because").

And that was my weekend in Zlín and Olomouc.

For more pictures from the weekend, please click here.

Prayer Requests:

  • I am traveling to Ústí nad Labem tomorrow.  I will be joining the youth groups from Litvinov camp for a weekend retreat.  I am teaching Friday night, and this will be my final weekend (in this season) with these friends.  So, prayers for teaching, relationships, and goodbyes.  "[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
  • For a restful week after the Ústí weekend.  I will be traveling to Orlova to visit friends and then is Thanksgiving conference (WooHoo!).
  • Next Friday is a Thanksgiving youth group night/outreach for the Tabor youth group.  I will be sharing a short word, and we are hoping to build relationships with some new students who (we are hoping and praying) will be there.
Thank you all.  It is hard to believe I am near the end of this season.  It's been amazing.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday, November 12, 2010

Week 25 of 30 (give or take)

I want to show you all pictures of what has been going on, and then I'll add some text.  Sound good?  I hope so.

More photos from the "Autumn" themed English club (like I promised):

Leading English club.
Greg, Danča, a Matě listening "eagerly" and enjoying čaj.
Eliška a Kačka cherishing a pre-butchered (carved) pumpkin.
My partner in crime, Franta, and I as we decide how best to carve our pumpkin.
Our finished masterpiece.
Bara, Danča, and Greg beginning the Jack-O-Lantern process.
Bara eying up the potential pumpkin spook.
The squash, the myth, the is Jack-O-Potter (and Greg).
Someone's relationship status on Facebook got updated ;)

Okay, now more a few pics from our first men's group last Sunday night:

So, I didn't get any picture of us guys actually, but here are a couple shots of the aftermath: burgers, roasted pumpkin seeds (which I made for the first time - score!), drinks, and the Word.
Pretty good ingredients for a guy's night.  The key verse was 1 Corinthians 11:7.

So, that's that for pics right now.  Onto the text:

This week has been an explosion of sorts, mainly in regards to new opportunities.  This week doors opened to two different high schools here in Tabor, which is great.  Both of these schools we were trying to get some things started at since September or October, and now, they have finally opened up for Greg and I to come in and teach English, which for us a bridge to meet students initially and begin to pursue relationships and evangelism with them.  I am so thankful God has opened these doors.  This also creates a whole new area of prayer needs:

  • Scheduling, pursuing calling and not potential, pursuing fruitfulness and not busy-ness (thanks to Mark Driscoll for that phrasing): Basically, with these new opportunities, there is lots of overlap: Which school do I serve at more?  Do I balance both?  Is one supposed to be my primary focus and the other supplemental?  How do I balance these two new opportunities, new open doors?  Prayer for wisdom as I pursue God's direction is much appreciated.
  • Connecting with students: I do want to pursue teaching English with God-honoring excellence.  If the students do not know English better by the end of the class, I have failed.  That being said, for me (us), English is far more a means to an end - that end being meeting with and connecting with students for the sake of Christ and His elect.  Wisdom in knowing how and when to pursue students (collectively and individually) - in and out of school - is something I need intensely.
  • Bridging relationships I build to Greg and the Christian students and youth group/church here: I leave soon.  This truth makes it all the more important to be a bridge to those who are staying here and continuing in the labor among God's harvest here.  I do not want students to leave when I leave.  I want students to be connected to God's laborers here when I leave.  So, prayer for this as well is needed.
  • "John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
    He must increase, but I must decrease.
    He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:27-36 ESV).
Finally (for this post), I go to Zlín this weekend to spend time with the youth group there, teach the Bible, and enjoy fellowship with the students and leaders.  This will be my last time seeing these people for this season in the Czech Republic.  Please pray that when I speak to the group it would be a fulfillment of 1 Peter 4:11-12, and that it is a good last time with them, that it is a time we can have and look back on with joy.  I hope for and believe great things for these brothers and sisters, and I am thankful and humbled that God has called me to be a part of their lives and calling and His work in and through them.

Thank you all so much.  I look forward to more.  Čau!
If you want more to pray for, please pray for more laborers to come to Tabor, southern Bohemia, and the Czech Republic as a whole; please pray for people to come to salvation in Jesus Christ; and please pray that the Christians here (including myself) would really go and make disciples and speak boldly with power, love, and a sound-mind/self-control (2 Timothy 1:7ff.).

Dekuji moc!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An evening of autumn

Today was a pretty good today.  I got to help teach in the jr. high this morning, which was followed by a morning search for candles.  Why candles?  We needed them for our jack-o-lanterns tonight.  Yes, tonight was the autumn/fall/late Halloween/taste of Thanksgiving English club.  Well, I got the candles, and then I took another look at a recipe for apple cider I found online.  After using Google's online translator to try and figure some stuff out I went to Billa (the local grocery store) to begin the hunt.  I was able to find everything I needed except for cheesecloth and kitchen string.  The journey toward getting all the items was certainly laughable and humbling - limited Czech + online translations + somewhat confused workers + laughing with Martina Pixova as I talked with her on the phone asking, "What is hřebíček?"  Turns out they were the cloves I was looking for.  Score!

Well, since I could not find the cheesecloth I figured we would just throw all the ingredients in and strain them out or just be careful when serving it to not give someone a few allspice berries or orange rinds in their drink.  However, after talking with Greg and getting into some good ol' American ingenuity, we decided we could make our own tea bags out of coffee filters.  We threw the ingredients in those and stapled them off and into the cider they went for brewing.  And it turned out flippin' awesome! (you may read that in whatever tone of voice best works for you).

After cleaning up, I decided we needed more apple cider.  The tea bags couldn't be out of flavor yet.  So I went out to Billa for the fourth time today and bought two more bottles of cider.  They are brewing away right now.

Greg and Štěpán took a lot of pictures, and I took some also.  Right now, I only have mine on hand.  I put up a link to the other pictures when I get a chance.  Enjoy!

Pumpkins from Tesco for the Jack-O-Lanterns

Everything you need for hot apple cider. 
Post English club mugs.

Our homemade tea bags.
So, that was Thursday.  I have a full day head of me tomorrow: jr. high in the morning, workout after that, lunch with friends, back to the junior high at 2, Czech lesson at 4, and my first graduation ball.  So, prayer for any and all those things is appreciated.  I really desire that I would decrease and Christ would increase as I spend time with others.

Oh, and we saved all the pumpkin guts.  I am thinking of trying out this recipe some time soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A post of pictures

I just got back from Multicamp.  Now that I'm rockin' my Nikon Coolpix 4600 4-megapixel digital camera, I got pictures for all of you.  Go this link to see them all.  Čau!