New Relationships!

Hey all!  So, we missed a couple days of updates ... which doesn't mean they were uneventful ... on the contrary, our days are pretty full, and when night-time comes, the gang turns in rather early.  But, we want to keep you informed of as much of our activities as we can.

On Sunday we were able to attend church in Frydlant nad Ostravici with a number of friends, both old and new!  It was an inspiring service, with great singing and a very appropriate message on spiritual gifts.  We all came away with new insights as to how God has gifted each of us and how those gifts can be used for the good of others and the Glory of God!

After church we enjoyed a great lunch with our gracious hosts, the Bozons!  Lauren and Petr and their kids are a hoot to be with, and, again ... our hearts were warmed by sharing a few hours together! ... complete with amazing Czech desserts!

Lunch was followed by a quick trip back "up the hill" to the Malenovice conference center, where we donned our work clothes and started our last "major" project ... replacing a temporary timber staircase in one of the larger cabins.  The reason we started on Sunday afternoon was that we need to finish by Wednesday noon, because guests are coming in.  We joined Tomas Klim and his crew and worked to get things going on Sunday afternoon and evening.

We continued the work on Monday, and by Monday evening, 8 guys were able to lift the 400 - 500 pound staircase into place!  Nothing like power by "Armstrong" to get the job done!

Today, Tuesday was another great day!  We started by joining a group of Christian leaders to celebrate the 6th birthday of Fusion, which is an outreach music ministry led by Josiah Venture staff.  We sang songs, ate cake and made great connections with the Christian leadership community here.  Inspiration was once again the by-word!

But, probably the highlight of the day was meeting a group of teenagers from the nearby city of Vsetin.  A few of the girls in the group "timidly" came forward to ask us some questions for a "group interview project."  The questions were:  "What are some ways to start new relationships?" ... and, "What are some ways to make relationships stronger?"  Marketa (the girl to my right) was the boldest, and she asked the questions while the other girls giggled!  The boys joined us for the picture!  It was fun to provide them some answers that will hopefully lead to some good discussions!

Tomorrow is our last full work day ... as we're going to pack our bags and head back to Prague early on Thursday to spend most of the day there, and then fly back to the States on Friday.  Please continue to pray for us ... for emotional, physical, and spiritual strength ... and to leave some lasting fruit from our efforts here!  Thanks for following us!


Sore Muscles, Encouraged Hearts!

Our third work/service day came with an accompanying bonus!  We were given the keys to "The NIVA!"  (click the blue "NIVA" link to read about it!)

So, equipped with chain saw, splitting axes, and a "ready-to-go" attitude, we donned our proper Czech stocking caps and ventured out in the "The NIVA" to conquer a pile of beech logs.  All went well!  See the video above to see the boys in action!

We hauled 5 trailer loads of wood and stacked it for groups to use in the 7 fireplaces present in the cabins and the hotel.  Many great conversations about life and faith occur around these places!  We feel privileged to serve in this way and know that our service is producing eternal results.

After finishing our work for the day ... we sat down with Dave Patty, president of Josiah Venture who inspired us by sharing some of the awesome things that God has done, and is doing through Josiah Venture throughout the 14 countries of Eastern Europe where JV works.  Again, we were encouraged to hear and see that we can be a part of a bigger picture of God's work amongst the young people of this region.  

Today (Saturday) is a "volny den" ... free day.  We are spending the morning with the Bozon family visiting the town of Rožnov pod Radhoštěm.  There is a very interesting outdoor museum and historical village with buildings that depict the special "Waldstein" style ... very similar to the log/timber buildings now present at the Malenovice Hotel/Conference Center.

We're taking some "free/alone" time this afternoon ... because tomorrow (Sunday) we will be in church, lunch with a family, and then actually beginning work at 3:00 in the afternoon.  We have a project in one of the wooden buildings that must be done by Tuesday evening, so we're going to get a jump on things!

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  They are vital for us to keep energize and focused to what God wants to teach us and show us through this experience!


Entertaining Strangers! ... What we do, or who we are!

Day 2 for the 2015 Czech outreach team took a number of different directions ... but all of them led to some very rewarding and encouraging experiences.

Our Czech carpenter friend, Tomas, arrived early to the conference center with tools and materials for us to use to do make some supports for stage sections which are used during large conferences (200+ people).  But, only did he bring tools and materials, he brought us special gifts ... authentic Czech stocking caps ... to keep our heads warm in the sometimes snowy, sometimes sunny weather!  We all donned them for a classic "selfie" ...

Have you ever seen such great looking bunch of guys??!!

While Dave Stone and Dave J continued with the platform renovations and chopped some more wood, Smokey and Lil' John cleaned up the grounds by burning brush and removing snow from alongside the temporary "conference tent" because the wooden floor was being damaged by melting  snow.

 But, all work and no play makes for a boring trip ... so the boys decided to make thrones for the "Co-Kings" of Moravia ...

Say hi to King Honza and King Smokey!

So, for some of the past years' Czech Team Veterans ... we aren't disappointed because we didn't get to shovel snow!!  There's still plenty of it here!  We miss you, Chris, Todd and Clint!

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and encouraging words ... we're doing great ... and looking forward to another week here!


Steppin' Up!

Our 2015 Czech outreach team spent their first day of serving here and its super evident from their heartfelt conversations that their service is having an impact ... both from a "what-did-we-get-done" point of view as well as from the conversations around meals and after the "work-day."

The team is having a great time getting to know each other and helping in whatever way we can!  There were many highlights to the day, so here's a pictorial synopsis of what this day looked like:

Assembling and installing office improvements.


 Walking to the work site in a blizzard!

 Chopping and stacking firewood!

And "Papa Dave" getting to hold little "Noelle Grace!"    Born on Christmas Day to Petr and Lauren Bozon ... our project manager!

It's been an awesome first day!  Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!

Stay tuned for future updates!


Another Chapter in "Sole Stories!"

Greetings friends!

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!"

For the 7th year in a row, its our privilege and joy to come alongside our Eastern European partner Josiah Venture (www.josiahventure.com) to help on some construction projects at their Hotel Malenovice conference center and ministry headquarters in Frydlant nad Ostravici, Czech Republic.

This time, our theme verse is from Isaiah 52:7 ... and we're excited to write some new "sole stories" ... because we believe that every place that the soles of our boots step, are places where God is writing stories on the "souls" of peoples' lives! Our goal is to invest our time and talents so that others are encouraged, energized and better equipped to share the Good News of God's love with the young people of Eastern Europe!

God continues to use the ministries of Josiah Venture (JV) to make huge inroads with the Gospel into the lives of young people in Eastern Europe where less than 1% know God in any sort of personal way. We're so thankful that the facilities we get to work on and improve are in constant use to reach young people! We're glad to be able to invest in serving this way!!

Please watch for updates and pray for the 4 of us as we travel and serve in Czech Republic!

Dave J (Rhino)              Lil John (Honziku)       Smokey                 Dave S


On the Road Again!!!

Well!! ... as some of you know ... we don't stay put to long! ... so, now we're on to the next "adventure!" ... New Orleans!!

We have 15 very excited University of Wisconsin Eau Claire students ready to embark this afternoon on what we hope is ... "the best week of their lives!!!" 

Our first leg will depart from UW - EC this afternoon and will take us to Community Covenant Church, just outside St. Louis.  Hopefully we'll arrive by midnight!!

Then, tomorrow, we'll "roll on down" alongside the muddy Mississippi to "the Big Easy" ...we're we'll join up with 30-40 other folks who we'll be working alongside all next week!

Joyce and I are, once again, humbled and privileged to facilitate a team of incredible young people on a "Spring Break Trip" to serve in Central City New Orleans.  It's our joy to come alongside our New Orleans Partner, Urban Impact (www.urbanimpact.org) to help on projects that will bring a brighter light into their community!!!  Again, our overarching goal is to invest our time and talents so that others are encouraged, energized and better equipped to share the Good News of God's love with people in their neighborhoods!

Urban Impact has been building an effective ministry in the inner city of New Orleans for over 20 years!  God has used the ministries of Urban Impact and Castle Rock Community Church to help transform their neighborhood into a place where, "kids can ride their bikes, to a church that cares, to schools of excellence, to a home their family owns, and to a safe place to gather!  (click on the above link to see a very cool video!).  We are so glad to be able to facilitate a team like we have to come alongside UIM and Castle Rock and serve in this way!!

Stay tuned for updates and photos of this adventure!!! ... It's gonna be some road trip, for sure!!!


February 2014 Czech Republic Team Update 2

It's hard to believe we've already finished 3 days of work on the lodge/dining hall - "Marlenka" ... which will be the latest addition to Josiah Venture's conference and training center in Eastern Czech Republic.

We're getting a lot done, and hopefully will finish what we set out to do!  Tomorrow is our last work day ... as we're taking a short "field trip" on Friday morning before we travel by train back to Prague in the afternoon.

So, what have we been doing? ... well, take a look!

Scott installing furring strips and tongue and groove paneling
John pre-staining boards
Dave playing Grampa with the Bozon kids!

Our time has been well spent, between 8 - 10 hour days on the job site, and evening meals and conversations with the Bozon family.  It's wonderful to get to know this family even better ... and we've all be blessed by being with them!
We've had some additional great conversations with some incredible people!  In John Prechel's words ... "some really some magical moments!"  

Today, some of Dave's friends from Slovakia drove for 1 1/2 hours one way just to have lunch!  These young people have been a part of some of the English Camps we've helped to facilitate in the summer!  It's so rewarding to see these young folks pursuing faith and leading others as well!

Then this evening, our carpenter friend, Tomas, stopped by with his 2 year-old son, Tomas Jr!  What a treat!  He brought us some Czech carpenter pants to take back with us!  We're hoping to spend an entire evening with him and his family tomorrow.

Please continue to pray for us and our work of encouragement here!  We're working with hands and hearts ... and using words and actions to see His Kingdom come and His will be done in this part of the world!

We'll be working tomorrow and traveling on Friday, but maybe Friday evening we can share one more post with thoughts from our last days serving in Czech Republic