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.
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.
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.
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.