Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Official Update

We were asked to write an article for our Tremont, Illinois church newspaper, so we wanted to include it in our blog for those of you who don't get that paper.

Greetings from Eastern Europe!

We have just passed the two-year mark of our time here in Slovakia, and are feeling a bit more adjusted to life in this part of the world.  We are happy that these first two years are finished, as we have heard that those tend to be the hardest in the category of adjusting.  Our church youth group has been wonderful in making us feel welcome here.  We so enjoy working with this team of youth who are joining together to spread the news of the Gospel to their friends and schoolmates.

The Josiah Venture team here in Slovakia held 9 English camps throughout the country this past summer.  Our family went to the camp that our town’s youth attended, in order to build relationships with high school and college kids whom we see throughout the year around town and at youth group events.  We are thrilled with how many of them are coming to these events, many of whom have no church, or do not know Jesus as their Savior.  But, they keep coming, and they are continuing to hear the message of the Gospel as we share it during these events.

Our kids are well-adjusted to life here…seems that kids tend to be more resilient than we expect of them sometimes.  While Shaylee is still home with us, wishing she too could go to school, the oldest four attend the Slovak public schools.  They adjusted better than we expected, transitioning from being homeschooled in America, to moving here and enrolling in the public school.  They amaze us how un-intimidated they are to talk to the nationals...quite different than their mother! :-)  This brings us to one of the most-asked questions we get…how our language study is coming.  We continue to learn under Zuzka, our original language teacher.  Although we don’t often feel it, we are making progress, and will keep learning, studying and practicing here.
Throughout the year, much of Ed’s responsibilities center on preparation for the following summer’s English camps.  These include communicating with North American churches that will join us for a week of camp in order to bring supplies, plans for activities, and the teams of people to teach the English classes.  Ed also has responsibilities on the Josiah Venture Slovakia team, as they work together to plan other events throughout the year to train and disciple Slovak youth leaders across this country.

We truly want to thank each of you for your continual prayers and financial support for Josiah Venture through our family here.  We cannot do this without you, and we are incredibly grateful for how you all have been, and continue to be, so generous in giving to this ministry that we are involved in here in Eastern Europe.  Thank you also for your many notes of encouragement, your Christmas cards, your care packages, and your prayers!  We so look forward to being with you all next summer, when we will return for our first furlough!

Our Furlough Calendar is a bit crazy, as you can imagine.  We will outline our itinerary below, so you can see the basics of where we'll be and when.
May 27-June 10   Florida
June 11-July 1   Illinois
July 2- 10    North Carolina
July 11-22   Illinois
July 23-31  Indiana
August 1-5  Illinois
August 6-13  Florida
August 13   Fly back to Slovakia
On July 1st, we will be sharing during a Sunday evening program at our church in Tremont, Illinois. If you are in the area on that day, we would love to see you there.  We will be giving a presentation of what we are doing here in Slovakia, and what is ahead for us as we return here in August.  It will be at 7:00 pm at Northfield Christian Fellowship, Sunday, July 1st.  

We hope to see you all during our time in the states.  We are so looking forward to being with you!!  

Ed and Wendi and family

Sunday, March 11, 2012

JV Women's Retreat

I (Wendi) just returned from our annual Josiah Venture Women's Retreat.  And yes, I am so refreshed and encouraged by the time there with the other JV Women.  Of course, what made it even better is the fact that the retreat was held in Millstatt, Austria in a beautiful old castle nestled in the Austrian Alps!!!  Had we instead met in the basement of an abandoned building in the center of a dirty city, I still would have come away refreshed by the fellowship of these Christian women, the times of worship together, our small group prayer times, and the encouragement that they were to me.  But, how blessed we all were by the serenity of the setting in which we found ourselves.  I am always uplifted by spending time with these women...it is definitely a highlight of my year!!  I always look forward to it and come away filled to overflowing.

This year we spent sweet quality time worshiping our Savior together, and then went off on our own to reflect on how God is working in our lives individually, and to listen to His guidance and instruction.  I rarely have such long uninterrupted times with my Savior, and it was SWEET!!!  I am home now, overflowing with love and appreciation to Him for His care for me and His encouragement for me to draw closer to Him.  Of course, coffee times with these dear friends was a definite plus to the already awesome week!

And, most importantly throughout the week...Ed was THE MAN back here at home!!!  He kept this house running so smoothly the entire time I was away!!  The kids love their time with Dad, and he with them, without Mom nosing around making sure everyone's hands are clean and teeth are brushed.  He always does an incredible job of being "Mr. Mom" and filling in during my absence, taking care of my normal jobs while keeping up with his at the same time!  Nice job, Hun!  It truly makes it so much easier to go away for something like this when I know that Ed and the kids will all be JUST FINE!!  By the way, to Ed's credit and my gratefulness, Ed made sure everyone's teeth were brushed!!!


Ed's Small Group

Every Wednesday night, a group of guys comes to our house for their small group meeting.  I have enjoyed getting to know these guys, and studying with them God's Word.  Sometimes we get into discussions about prayer or the holy spirit or other various topics and it is good for them to process through what has been taught to them since they were young and see what lines up with scripture and what does not.  We all take turns leading the group and right now we are studying leadership and what that means in the Christian life. 

The group is done in Slovak, unless I am leading, so often I have deeper conversations after the group finishes.  Often I don't understand what is going on when the discussion is moving back and forth quickly.  I do enjoy this group because we have a wide array of people in it that have the potential to be great leaders for Christ in their sphere of influence.  In this group we have a mortgage banker, pastor in training, student musician, pastor's kid, youth leader, leader of a Christian rock band and a former pastor in training in our denomination who quit the pastorate because he did not agree with everything that they stand for and chose to get a "normal" job.  Three of us are married, three are students in their last year of high school, one is in the "real" work world and the last one works in our local church.

During school breaks we invite other potential leaders to join our group as is true in the picture with this post. 

My small group plus a few extras
I am asking that you would take a moment now and pray for this group that Jesus would raise them up to lead in their home lives, students lives, ministry life and in their work lives.  Jesus wants us to live in the freedom of His life and I am praying for that in the lives of the guys in this group.