WINTER UPDATE 2019

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WINTER UPDATE 2019

We are a few months into 2019 now. Addey is 9, I have a little more gray in my beard and we’re into our regular rhythms in Olomouc. Except for the sickness that has been settling over our house for the last few weeks.

In January our church took a break from our regular small groups to do a church wide focus on inductive Bible study. We’ve been looking for ways to better equip the church with regard to Biblical literacy, and this was a great way to get the people to better handle God’s Word. Once February came around we launched our small group again at our house and it’s been a good start with the regulars coming. We share a meal every week and spend time discussing and praying over the text that was preached the previous week.

A few weeks ago I also had the privilege of preaching on Malachi 1:6-2:9, as we’re working our way through the book. It was a challenging text, but much needed for our family and the church. If you would like to listen to it, you can click on the player below. It begins with the reading of the text in Czech, and I begin speaking at around 3:40

It’s an honor and privilege to preach God’s word.

Baby dedication at Metro

Our small group meets on Wednesday nights with 3 different nationalities (Czech, American, and Russian).

Over the half of December leading into January we had the joy of visiting Lisa’s family in Montana for Christmas and New Years. It was a great short time of rest and reconnecting with family. The kids got to meet three of their new cousins for the first time, and reverse culture shock coming back to the U.S. was a reality that was a little adjustment for us. When the kids got off the plane in Denver the kids were speaking Czech at Chick Fil e (God bless America!), and when they realized everything was in English, they screamed in unison, “THEY ALL SPEAK ENGLISH?” It was cute. But we had a great time and the brain recharged well enough for us to get back and soak in the Czech language a little easier. Now, we’re back into a good rhythm of language learning and it is nice being able to read the signs in the world around you.

If you haven’t heard, we had a little problem with the residence permit application the day before we left for the U.S. We had to have a document to them within 7 days or our application would be thrown out and we were already passed our expiration dates at this point (which is normal). So, we prayed, went on our way, and when we got back we made our way to immigration to czech back in with them to let them know we’re here. Before we could ask any questions about the permits, we were told that everything was in order and that the application was accepted! Praise God! We did our little happy dance out of there, and our two year permits are now in hand.

We also learned of an organization (by the generous help of our tutor, Jana) that mediates between foreign families and Czech schools. So, now we have the kids in a separate Czech class along with a Chinese and Ukrainian student and Lisa and I are learning a little through it as well as we help the kids along.

Andrew learning to read in English and Czech has been a process. His brain is working double time.

Addey shared her 9th birthday with her Aunt Kathleen.

Pulling the sled got a little tedious, so we hitched it to the 4-wheeler.

Saying goodbye is never easy

After 20 hours we arrived in Vienna. After 23 hours we made it home!

Our 2 year residence permits are here! Each application process is a big test, but it is always nice to walk out of immigration with our cards in hand.

Kids ice skating in Brno…..Trying to.

Addey and Andrew with their friend Anika.

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FALL UPDATE 2018

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FALL UPDATE 2018

This year has been a time of growth for our family. The kids are getting older, my (Dan) beard is getting grayer, and we’re just becoming more accustomed to life in Czech. The first semester of school is almost over for the kids, and we’re working on new and creative ways to get them acclimated to the language. One thing we would hear from parents before moving here is, “Oh, the kids will catch on to the language so quickly,” but this isn’t always the case, and a lot of work must go into it for this to come true. I would be lying if I said the kids don’t struggle, but we are seeing the fruit of keeping them in the Czech school system. Walking with this alongside them has helped our family grow stronger, and our kids to become more confident with their world.

We were also given a few more opportunities to travel around CZ this year, with a few trips around Moravia for church retreats, and to see interesting sites. Recently we were able to see Andrspach park, where they filmed some of the Narnia films. There is so much beauty to this country, and we long to see that beauty matched with a desire for the true King of the Czechs, Jesus.

Nora getting ready at her školka/kindergarden

Nora’s kindergarden class

Playing American football with Andrew in the park

At the gate in Andršpach. Also a spot where they filmed the Narnia movies.

More Andršpach

Watching the new street art develop in Olomouc

We had the privilege of having Devin join us for the last week of his trip to CZ! It was a really sweet time connecting with him.

I don’t know if what this guy was doing was legal, but his layout looks better than the previous guy.

Addey’s 2nd grade class

Meeting the administration of the kids’ school

Andrew’s class

Sometimes we run into random things going on in the city. In this case we found cotton candy, face painting, and horse rides near our neighborhood.

The kids’ textbooks for this school year

While our main focus at this point is to study the language and grow more proficient in that area (this is a major part of our first term), we are also finding many different ways to connect with other churches and people along the way. We have a three fold aspect to our job: 1. Language development, 2. Church, and 3. Things outside the local church. And the need/our Pioneers team determines how big each of these areas will be. While we are working with Metro church and focusing on the language, we’ve also had the opportunity to work with a like minded church from Šumperk called Kostel Jinak to help develop a future layout for a new church plant in the next few years. So, connecting with this community has also been a joy, as we would love to see a bridge between Metro and this new church plant as the years progress.

A part of the men’s study requires you to visit another local church to get an understanding of their differences/areas of emphasis. I decided to visit the Apostolic church of Olomouc. It is much like the Assemblies of God denomination in the U.S.

Our Pioneers team had our Thanksmas meeting at our place this year.

We started a whisky tasting group for men a few months ago. Here we were drinking history (and possibly one of the last bottles) of the 1992 Czechoslovakian Gold Cock.

We have a bi annual meeting called the Institut, which takes about 4 hours on a Saturday to cover different topics in depth. Our recent Institut had a psychologist from Prague join us to have talks/panel discussions on the issue of homosexuality and Bibical ethics.

Over the last season, we’ve had a number of retreats with different churches, where we’ve been able to have a slower pace and more “relaxed” atmosphere to talk about life, meaning, and Jesus. Another retreat had a small group of guys out to focus on preaching. There we watched a series of popular sermons by people like Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, and even Steven Furtick, as well as a number of our own sermons. We would then critique the style, exegesis, and application. Most of these guys are also a part of a men’s study, where we are reading through the Gospels/Acts, the Major Prophets, and a book on Biblical Interpretation.

Walking through Olomouc

We joined Kostel Jinak for their weekend retreat. It was a great time connecting with them and the American team that came out to talk/pray/dream about the future church plant in Olomouc.

The kids going on a scavenger hunt.

Our Community Group meets every Wednesday for dinner and a group discussion about the previous Sunday’s sermon.

Lisa helping to lead worship at Metro.

We had our Metro Relax weekend, with a guest speaker from Slovakia to talk about the Bible and family.

Our new members at Metro Church

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SUMMER UPDATE

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SUMMER UPDATE

This Summer kicked off with a retreat for our community group. We invited some friends out, enjoyed nature, and had the opportunity to sit around a fire, while talking about the deeper things of life, God, and everything else under the sun.  

Over the Summer our church has a series of open house BBQ's, and we kicked it off this year in our backyard with a 4th of July celebration, with a good combination of burgers, beer, and fireworks . It was interesting celebrating the American Independence Day in the Czech Republic, but it was a good excuse to have people over and introduce new people to the Metro community.  

We also had a few outreach camps throughout July and August. The first was a family camp that took place in our backyard. The theme this year was on Fairy Tales, where we had different events for the kids and parents, and we ended the camp at an old Fort to have a Metro gathering. The most recent one was an English camp for families, where Lisa and I led different small groups for English lessons, and we even got to share our story and the Gospel on a panel discussion during the evening program.  The short term mission group from Grace Evangelical church in Memphis, TN was a highlight for us as well. They have been coming to this camp for the last couple years, and they are always a big encouragement to us. 

Metro kids showing off their scavenger hunt papers. 

We introduced our friends to pumpkin pancakes. 

Dan had the privilege of preaching on unity in the Gospel from Ephesians 2:11-22.

The group at the Family English camp a horse riding for kids. They weren't disappointed.

We had to light off the fireworks a little early for the families (it doesn't get dark here until around 10-1030 during the summer) 

4th of July BBQ in the Czech Republic. Anything is a good excuse for a BBQ around here. 

Face painting at Metro Family Camp

It got a little hot this year, but the family camp was a great time and we got to meet a number of new families this year.  

We went to meet a potential church planting family in Kroměřiž, and ran into a conference with Steve Lawson. 

Every other year Pioneers gathers our little side of Europe together for an area conference.  This was a really sweet time of encouraging and connecting with the wider Pioneers family. While the majority of our time is spent in our city in the Czech Republic, we also have a wider role to play as missionaries of the Pioneers organization, and we realized very quickly that our struggles and joys here are not unique to our situation as cross cultural church planters. 
There was also a team from the U.S. that came out to serve our kids, and they had an amazing time connecting with other Missionary Kids and spending time learning about their role in God's big plan. 

The MKs hit it off as best friends the moment they get out of the car

Our pocket of Pioneers Missionaries on this side of Europe got together for our area retreat. 

The Czech team got to have some quality time together too :-) 

Praying for our Pioneers families around Europe.

It's been a very busy Summer, and yet along the way we were greeted with a series of visits that wound up feeling like a cold glass of water for a long distance run.  In June Dan's mom and stepdad came out to visit, which was fun watching them experience European culture for the first time, but also watching them spend time with the kiddos. One thing we do miss here is having grandparents around. We've never lived near our parents since we got married, but we seen how big a help they are, and they're already missed.  Immediately after we dropped them off in Vienna, our friend Tiffany came out to spend the week with us. And she was a huge encouragement as well.  Hearing her stories of her recent trip to Romania gave us a better view of that part of Europe.

And the most recent of visits was by a small group from our Bridgeway family in OKC.  They were able to hit two birds with one stone, since the Fergusons had a conference to attend in CZ close to us, and Stacy came along to help them with their kids.  The Fergusons came out during our first month of being here to help out with a camp in Brno, and today they are planning to become missionaries in Hamberg, Germany.   

Having the Ferguson's and Stacy here was an huge blessing to us.  

Vienna has some interesting architecture. The whole city is an experience. 

Lisa and Stacy

Dan's mom and step dad had their first taste of Europe in June.  It was sweet having them here, and we all really enjoyed our time with them. 

We got to spend a week with our good friend Tiffany! 

Praying over our city on top of St. Moritz cathedral. 

As of now, we're planning to begin the next season with the kids going back to school in September.  So, there's a lot of preparation and walking the kids through what they will be going through. The nice thing this year is that Addey and Andrew will be in the same school with their classes directly across from each other.  It has been a slow progress of language learning for the kids, but they have always grown more significantly in that area with Czech school. It is hard still, knowing that homeschooling isn't a good option (at least not until they are fluent), but we are learning more about the culture and our city through the school system.  

Speaking of language, Lisa and I are now preparing for the A2 test sometime this Winter. This is the test to measure whether we are ready for the next level of language acquisition.  So, this means we will be working with our tutor more frequently and will be planning much of the Fall season around making sure this takes a higher priority.  We are well settled here as a family, but there is a part of the experience that can only get better with a stronger grasp of the language. We're praying the hard work pays off more as we enter into this next season.  

The girls received their diploma for the year of ballet. 

Addey has been very eager to have a Bible of her own, so she received her first Bible this month.  

The kids going on a field trip. 

Watching the main bridge that connects our part of town to the city center get demolished. We've been told it won't be back up until sometime in May or June. 

Nora lost her first tooth!

Celebrating Andrew's 7th birthday. This is making us feel wonderfully old. 

Andrew and his friend Martin buying zmrzlina (ice cream) on their own.  

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Spring Update 2018

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Spring Update 2018

After nearly two years here (we're about to reach 22 months), we can confidently say that this is home. The 2 year itch is a common thing for missionaries, and the question of whether we're going to stay has reached us a number of times, but the vision for being here extends beyond a few years of sharing Christ.  It has been one of the busiest two years of our lives, but this is a long term work toward Gospel Centered churches being planted in our city. I heard a pastor of one of the few Protestant churches say that Olomouc is reached, because of the number of churches that already exist here. But while there are a number of beautiful historic cathedrals, this city, the buildings, and the people are dry with regard to understanding and desiring God in the Gospel. There was a recent article by the Guardian that presented recent polling on the religious state of Europe, and Czech Republic has only gotten worse.  While the country as a whole is 70% non-religious, it is a much higher number with the youth (sitting at about 91%). You can read more about that by Clicking HERE

Over the season leading up to Easter our church network had a time of prayer and fasting. We want to see people come to know Jesus in our dry land.  And through that, it means seeing healthy churches coming to life by the work of the Holy Spirit. What the culture celebrates here is much like the U.S. version of the Easter holiday, only with an added number of traditions that stem from pagan roots. And we're learning a lot more about the ins and outs of these traditions through our relationship with the kid's schools. Even though the non-religious population is the highest in Europe, the traditions here tend to be incredibly religious and superstitious in nature. And that is a balancing act in regard to what we engage in as a family. There are traditions that we can easily adopt, while others (like witch burning day) are not so easy. Though, they can make for interesting springboard conversations to the Gospel.     

Addey and Nora dressing up as princesses for a special event at their school.  

The Czech Easter tradition of whipping girls with switches to purify them and give them good luck.  We had a boy come to our door at 6am wanting to do this to Nora and Addey.....A bit awkward.  

This is an Easter Bunny Meat Snack of some sort.  

Calvin at the park.  

Nora and her teacher. She has been one of the sweetest to our family, and we truly appreciate her being there for Andrew and Nora.  

One of Addey's teachers dressed in an old fashioned Czech dress, as she taught the students. 

Our family is doing well overall here.  The language process is still an uphill battle, but we're seeing progress.  Especially for the kids. Since we started putting our kids in national school, Lisa and I have watched them struggle, cry, and lament their way through the unknown.  But over the last few months we've seen them loosen up quite a bit with regard to their schools and we've even heard them speaking Czech to each other while they play!

So now, Adelyn will be finishing 1st grade to move on to second, Andrew will be moving on to 1st grade, and Nora will be in Kindergarten (Školka). We're proud to see them acclimating to their new world. 

The kids getting ready for a ride on the Tram.  

Addey had her first big birthday party, where she got to invite a bunch of her friends from school.  This made for an interesting day of watching over kids who don't fully understand us.  

The Birthday party at Krokodylek (A kids indoor playground) was a success. No one died.  

Andrew getting tested for 1st grade. 

There was a special guest at Addey's school, and she was called on to present the next subject.  

One of the vital things that God has used to sustain us here has been our support system. We have multiple layers of accountability and that has helped us to keep our head on our shoulders.  Between our Czech church, our Pioneers Team, and our Supporters/Friends/Family back home who pour into us, I have to say we are extremely grateful for the amount of people God has given. 

Our Pioneers Team meets once a month for mutual encouragement and accountability.  We live in different parts of the country, but I cannot tell you how invaluable they have been to our family.  We love this group of people

Addey's teachers like her art so much that they asked her to do this for the main entrance of the school during the Easter season.  

In February we had the opportunity to go back to the SHARE conference (don't ask me what the acronym means).  This has been one of our favorite events of the year, as we spent a week with other missionary families from around the world. There were some families who haven't had English conversations for an entire year, so it was really fun getting to hear their stories and be mutually encouraged by each other. There were people there who volunteered their time to serve us, and through a generous counselor, Lisa and I found out our marriage is normal (score!), and that Andrew is right on track with his development in speaking (double score!). The kids were reunited with old friends and it really filled our tanks for the next few seasons.  We're grateful to call this event a long term investment toward being a healthy family in the Czech Republic.

Worship at Share was sweet.

The kids had a medieval themed week, and they had a big recital at the end. 

Share is a great opportunity to learn how to do family ministry, and the TCKs (Third Culture Kids) get to spend time with kids just like them, and ask their teachers difficult questions.  

Addey and Daddy

It was really sweet for the kids to spend time worshiping Jesus with other MKs.

This last season we have continued to put on the parenting workshops. We will be taking a break from this for the Summer months, since most of the people who join us will be gone, and we will re-evaulate what the next focus will like be in the Fall.  But what we've seen with Metro Church has been positive.  We've been asking for God to raise up new people in the church, and not only has the college ministry grown in size, but we're also seeing new members of the church! We're praying God sized prayers that only He can answer, so we ask that you'd join us in praying for 10 new members by the end of the year. The Lord builds His church through the Gospel, so pray that our church would center our attention and affections there, and that we would be open to the Spirit's leading.  

Over the last few months we have also had the opportunity to connect with a church plant in the town of Šumperk.  Kostel Jinak (Different Church) is a like-minded church who are also a part of the Majak Network. I was given the opportunity to preach there in April, and getting to know the people has been a lot fun. They want to be a multiplying church, so we're excited to see what God will do with that in the future.  

Good Friday and Easter Sunday 2018

Preaching on Romans 1:8-15 at Kostel Jinak (Different Church...or a Church Differently)

It is easy to internalize with such a small Christian population. But our church has gained a broader view of what God is doing in the world, and we have even sent one of our own to serve on a short trip to an orphanage in Nepal that Metro supports. Their overseer recently died of cancer, so they are in a great need of prayer/leadership.

Our Church in Olomouc (Metro Church) has a new team of Elders! Grateful and excited to see God raise up local leaders to shepherd the church.

Connecting with Kostel Jinak has been really sweet. They are a Word and Spirit church in the city of Šumperk (about 45min north of us).

Lisa and Eva talking about babies, while Addey braids her hair. 

Pete and Dan at the Easter BBQ.

Our city Olomouc is like a living organism. It changes with the seasons and even the demeanor of the people is visibly different based on the time of the year. 

MKs (Missionary Kids) have a connection to each other that is very unique from single culture kids. When I was stationed in Okinawa, there was a closeness to my friends there that was different than the other amazing friends we've made elsewhere. It was because we were in a foreign situation together, and I would argue that third culture kids have a closeness that is even more different than that. They have an entire upbringing that doesn't fully mesh with their passport nation, nor their host nation. And there are really amazing characteristics that can come with that.    

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Fall + Winter Update

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Fall + Winter Update

MERRY CHRISTMAS/HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

It has been a fast paced couple of months. A lot has happened and we're excited to share a glimpse of what this last season has looked like for us. Back in October we were pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lisa's parents. We didn't think they would be able to get here for another year, so it was really nice to have the Grandparents in town.  Seeing them go through a taste of what we have experienced was fun to watch, and it gave them a better idea of the culture we're living in and what how important the work is here.  

We have mentioned it before, but one of the hardest factors of living here is walking through the struggles with your kids. Andrew has gone through stages of self doubt, and not having many boys his own age who speak English has been tough on him. But since we've found a wrestling club for him to join, he's grown in confidence and has a more positive attitude overall. The boys at the club speak some English and have taken him on as a little brother. It gives us more excuses to wrestle with him at home too. The girls have been continuing their ballet lessons and have even had a few recitals already. It's fun watching them put their all into it up there. 

Lisa's parents came out for a few weeks in October.  They were incredibly encouraging and it was great to see the kids spend some quality time together.  

Andrew has really found his place with the wrestling club.  

Our mushroom girls.

Addey and Nora during their ballet recital "Snow White." 

Ballet practice

Addey's in the front on the far right. This was an event put on by her school. If you want to know about what's going on just ask :-) 

The Christmas season tends to be a big deal in the U.S., and it is a big deal here as well. But while there are similarities in how we celebrate, there are some big differences. The lights and decorations are all very much a common expression of the holiday, as well as the rampant consumerism that tends to veil the real purpose of celebrating Christmas, but the smell and busyness of the Christmas market in the town square is still something special and a few interesting traditions can be a means of bringing up Gospel conversations. 

It hit us a little more that we were not with family this year, but that also gave us a greater motivation to make sure that our time together would be more memorable. The fact that we were sick a for a few weeks kept us at home, but we've developed a number of family traditions that have made for sweet times of worship and reflection on our Rescuer. For a lot of people the Christmas season is a stressful time of year, and it's no different here. But it is in the regular rhythms of pointing our family to the person and work of Jesus that has kept our perspectives in the right place.  

The Turtle is always a crowd pleaser for the kids. 

While we love walking her to school, little miss independent tends to want to go on her own these days.  And as of 1/1 this year, we have an 8 year old! 

They put up little shops in the city center during the Christmas season.  Half of them are devoted to Christmas Punch (a hot sweet wine mixed with....things).  

Every year we make sure that there is a purpose to our Christmas symbols (like the Christmas tree). Through the rebellion of Adam, we fell in our sin, but the decorations and light of Christ's righteousness cover us.  

Our Church has been very active over the last season as well.  One thing we've really appreciated about being a part of Metro Church in Olomouc is that they have a heart for their city and they want to see people meet Jesus. And not just that, but to do this in through the life of the Church. One major conviction that we stand on is that the Local Church is the primary means by which God advances the Gospel. It is in community that the Gospel is dramatized in real life for people to see Jesus more clearly, and we're honored to have a church that shares that ideal. 

A new addition to our church plant has been the ordination of elders. This gives our community a greater sense of structure and understanding of who we can look to in regard to leadership. I have also had a few opportunities to preach along the way. It is different preaching here, since I am doing it in English and it must be translated. So, I have to condense the sermons and that is difficult when you want to add so much, and I have to go much slower for the audience (which is ok, since I need to slow down the delivery anyway). All that to say, it really makes me long for the day that I can do that in Czech and it motivates me to work hard at language study.

We are also putting on a monthly family workshop, which alternates between marriage and parenting as a focus. It has been really sweet to see new families come out and wrestle through the hard topics that come with building a home. And it has helped us to re-evaluate our own goals and rhythms for ourselves.

Doing demolition work on the new Church office space in Vsetin

Tearing away the tile/stucco 

Surprisingly, all three demolition pics are Dans.  

We voted in 3 new Elders this last week. 

Our Sunday services take place every other week at an art center near the main square.  Thankfully God has given us a lot of favor with the landowner, who has allowed us to meet there regularly.  

Preaching on Esther.  

Our missional community never has a lack of kids. 

Last Fall we had a great time at a weekend retreat we call Metro Relax. The theme of the weekend was on the meaning of life and relationships. A good number of people came out, including a team from the Crossing Church of Fort Collins. We had a children's program and the adults broke out into groups to make a few videos depicting the cultural differences between American's and Czech's (with hilarious results). And we got to spend some time out in nature. But it gave everyone an opportunity to slow down, have fun, and get to know each other better, while reflecting on the deeper issues of life. 

Daniel from The Crossing Church and his little stud. 

Metro Relax 2017. A weekend to get away and reflect on what matters most. 

Czech cafeteria food is something to experience. 

Crazy mushrooms grow out in the wild here.  

Andrew in front of Bouzov castle. 

One thing we have attempted to make regular in our lives is by frequenting the same coffee shops, barber, and other places like that.  It has helped in practicing Czech, but also in relating with people in our city. There are also a few opportunities that have come our way that might be another means of integrating into the fabric of Olomouc. The kid's school has been a maze to work through, since their ways are not our ways in the education process and that can be very confusing when trying to understand them in a different language. Thankfully we have friends who have helped us along the way. But there is an opportunity to teach English as an after school program that we're considering and that would offer more opportunities to learn Czech along the way, as well as get to know Addey's school better. So along with that and everything else, we truly appreciate your prayers and support. 

Soli Deo Gloria
(Glory to God alone)

Bob is never short on puns.

Found Addey's cafeteria.  Thankfully no one noticed me taking a picture. 

Celebrating 9 years of Marriage. I'm happier than ever to be with this amazing woman. 

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