Final Reflections

Our final days in Czech Republic flew by before we knew it! It’s now Saturday morning, and we are in Amsterdam, Netherlands on our way back to the United States. It has been a great week, with many “God sightings” as we’ve sought to be a “Barnabas Team” … encouraging people in whatever way we can. Our hands encouraged the Josiah Venture Staff as we were able to so some construction work on the Pstruzi House Retreat Center. Our lips expressed words of encouragement and prayers for the leaders and families who live and serve here. And last, but certainly not least, our hearts connected with the vision and passion of the entire Josiah Venture organization. We’re hoping and believing that there will be many more connections and opportunities for people to join with us in this part of the world!

Thursday was our final work day. Our hope was to get our project to a point where the work remaining was easily “transferable” to a next group coming in. We finished nailing on the 1 inch sheathing on the end wall of the barn … soon to be guest house … and framed in a roof system for a wood storage area that will store wood to heat part of the facility. Oh, we should mention that the weather on Thursday was a full-blown mountain blizzard, so cutting rafters outside brought its own challenge!

Dave and Mark rejoiced to “reach the top” of their project, and congratulated each other as they thanked God for the work which He was able to accomplish through them.

One highlight of Thursday was a side trip to a log home building factory in Frydlant nad Ortravici. Josiah Venture is seriously considering hiring this company to put up a traditional style Czech “timber home” complete with exquisite dovetail corners and massive beams! This visit really lit Dave’s fire for the facility. The log/timber construction would provide a very peaceful and calming environment for JV staff to come and refresh and recharge.

So, our day ended with one last walk down the hill …

... and memories of a week well invested for the Kingdom of God.

Please pray with us that, unlike these locked barn doors at the retreat facility, the doors of peoples’ hearts here in Central Europe will be open and unlocked to receive the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

Pray also that God continues to lead NEXT as to how we may continue to build a strong partnership with Josiah Venture to help move their God given vision forward in Eastern Europe.

Oh, one last thing. We want to thank our dear “Czech brother” Marek Susta for the use of his car for the week. Marek and his family has been wonderful friends for many years, and it was great to reconnect during this trip. His generosity and friendship are very special to us, and we look forward to more time together in the future. And thanks to everyone who has read and prayed and followed our adventures this past week. We’re excited to see many of you very soon!


Girls at School and Training a Young Zednik

Today we split up ... girls and guys. While Dave and Mark got up at 6 and took off for the work site by 7:30 as usual, the girls stayed back in order to go to the high school where Amy Ellenwood teaches. Before going to the school the girls were able to go across the border to Poland for a short sightseeing/shopping trip.

Joyce and Amy spent the afternoon interacting with senior English students at the "gymnasium" ... college prep school. The students asked Cathy and Joyce questions in order to find out about them, told about the Czech school system and described typical Czech students and teachers. The time together was enjoyed by both students and teacher(s).

Dave and Mark had the joy of working with the Ellenwood's son, Noah today. Our first stop was the building supply store to pick up a couple more bags of mortar mix. They've gotten to know us quite well! We needed to build a couple small brick walls, so Noah learned the skills of a "zednik" or bricklayer. Although he's been around some building projects, he told us that he has never layed bricks, or seen anyone lay bricks, up close. But today, that all changed!

Mark taught Noah how to mix a perfect batch of mud, and Dave had him layin' down bricks one after another.

The day ended with the supporting brick knee walls in place, all the framing in place to support the rafters, and some rafters cut. Working as a three-some including Noah was definitely one of the highlights of our week. It's great to pour into a young man's life! Oh, and Mark and Dave kinda enjoy working together pretty much as well!

Tomorrow will be our last work day ... so we're hoping to complete as much as we can. We're also going to take a "field trip" to the log home company that the Ellenwoods hope to have build the retreat house and we're looking forward to that as well. Stay tuned for at least one more blog to see how our week ended up!


Goofy Tuesday

Our team moved into our second work day with great joy! The weather turned from a beautiful sunrise to a blizzard in less than 2 hours ... but that didn't squelch our enthusiasm.

We started by stopping by the stavebniny (building supply) to pick up some mortar mix for laying up a small brick wall. Mixing mud in the snow was a real treat!

While Mark and Dave got things going with that, the girls (Joyce and Cathy) started picking out rough sawn pine 1 inch boards to use as exterior sheathing on the new barn wall. Not only did they pick them out ... but they measured, cut and installed over 50 boards!

For a warm-up, we went into the nearby town of Frydlant nad Ostravici to a restaurant for a hot meal. Joyce thoroughly enjoyed her hot pear drink ... along with halusky s zelim (small boiled dumplings and boiled cabbage!).

Mel Ellenwood stopped by to discuss some ideas and plans ... and we made a shopping list of things we needed at the hardware store!

We finished the day with the knee wall in place ... and a great 30 minute ride back to the Ellenwoods where Amy had some delicious chili and corn bread waiting for us.

Oh, by the way, the main reason for this being goofy Tuesday, is that Cathy entertained us with the giggles most of the day ... and we're glad to say that, "missionaries do have fun!"

So long until tomorrow.

Dave & Joyce and Mark & Cathy


Work Day Monday

Today we were able to get after some of the projects that the Josiah Venture folks had in mind for us. We're working on the Pstruzi House ... which will soon be used as a retreat/vacation center for the staff of JV here in Eastern Europe.

We had to shovel our way in because the snow is still piled pretty high in these mountains!

Joyce and Cathy tackled a "deconstruction" project which entailed using hammers and nail pullers to disassemble a floor system. The reason they are doing this is that the JV leaders have decided that they can rebuild a brand-new square log home on the old foundation for just about the same amount of money that it would take to renovate the old house. This will provide a much nicer facility ... with much more flexibility in construction!

While the girls were hard at it, the guys were figuring out how to re-frame the end of an old barn which will be used as a guest house at the retreat center. The rough sawn 2x6 pine (5x15s in cm!) were amazingly straight ... and the final product is kind of starting to take shape.

Tomorrow we'll continue on with the wall framing, along with laying some brick to support a knee wall and nailing on wall sheathing (2.5 cm thick boards) on the outside of the frame wall.

Thanks for keeping up with us, we'll try to update again tomorrow!

NEXT CZ - March 09 Team ... Dave, Joyce, Mark and Cathy


Czeching It Out!

Greetings from Chotebuz, Czech Republic (try typing that in on Google Maps ... you'll find it!).

Joyce and I, along with Mark and Cathy Jensen arrived here in Czech on Friday morning. Our dear friend, Marek Susta, met us at the airport and took us to our hotel to drop off our bags.

Mark and Cathy wanted to see Prague, so we showed them the way to the Metro stop and jumped into the car with Marek to head off to Chomutov ... the city where we lived from 1993 - 1996.

We had a wonderful lunch of svickova (beef tenderloin with cream sauce) made by Marek's mom ... and a great visit with her and his dad, Stan.

After lunch, Joyce and I wandered 3 blocks over to the Novak's house ... the family who shared their house with us for three years ... where we had an amazing afternoon with the entire Novak family! All of the family members were there, so we shared many stories in an emotional two hours with them. This is the first time that Joyce had seen them in over 10 years! Its hard to imagine that we've been gone from here nearly 13 years! So, after stories, tears and hugs ... it was back to Prague.

Mark and Cathy saw all the main sites in Prague ... so we reconnected with them over dinner. By 9:00 pm we were all plenty tired (Mark hadn't slept in almost 36 hours!) ... so we hit the hay in order to get ready for our 4 hour drive to Eastern Czech (where the Ellenwoods live).

The day was beautiful ... and the ride perfect ... with Dave driving Marek's car, Joyce and Cathy navigating ... and Mark lending his wisdom every once in a while (Mark - "when I see some of those Czech words, I want to buy a vowel!).

The Malenovice Hotel was our first stop! This hotel is an awesome setting on the side of a
mountain! They've had a ton of snow ... so we were stunned by the beauty of this place that is being used by God to touch hundreds of lives each year!

Following our time with the Josiah Venture leaders, Dave Patty and Mel Ellenwood, Mel drove us through the valley and up the other side to the Pstruzi House, which is the retreat house where we will be working this week. By this time, we were all ready to go ... but it was dark, so we'll have to wait until Monday. We're ready!

Sunday we went with the Ellenwoods to their church plant in Karvina. Dave was asked to bring a short greeting ... and praise God, the Czech language came out of his mouth pretty clearly! It was fun to bring greetings from our friends and family in the US.

Our day is nearly done ... and we're ready for some work tomorrow bright and early. We're excited to be able to serve the Ellenwoods and their ministry with Josiah Venture in a variety of ways ... so keep us in your prayers and look for future posts in the days to come.