Leah Cox's blog of youth ministry in the Czech Republic with Josiah Venture (plus stuff)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

calling sons and daughters from afar...

For the past few years, kids from Strakonice have been going to neighboring Pisek English camps and coming to faith. They happily make the trip to Pisek for church and youth group, but as the number of those who love the Lord have increased, it's become clear that they should do something in town. The mother church Elim appointed Jozef to be the youth leader, then Alca and Martin found an apartment there, and a few weekends ago they had their first church service.

Elim Strakonice's meeting place, in the apartment of Alca and Martin. Jirka Kantor came down from Plzen and taught about the cursed fig tree, we finished by praying for the city and our friends and taking communion. There were 11 of us that Saturday afternoon...11 in a town of two small churches and a handful of small groups is pretty good. Strakonice is a town of about 25,000. ("Quattro foto" format courtesy of Jozef)

The Strakonice girls' small group (plus Pisek friends) from the right: me, Jana, Alca, Kakushe, Marketa, Iva, Eva, Martina, Radka. Please pray for these smart, beautiful, funny, creative girls to grow in the love and knowledge of the revolutionary Jesus.

Why Europe Rocks: Reason #21

The Ples: Not Your Typical Prom

Actually, "ples" is usually translated "ball," and if I had any experience with balls in the States, I'd do a little comparison contrast paper in the spirit of NHS (Davenport! Davenport! Davenport North!) But I don't, so what a Czech ples is, um, it's like if your school sponsored a prom but you could invite--& were expected to invite--your family and friends and if there were free flowing alcoholic beverages and lots of choreographed dancing and it lasts til dawn...that's a ples.

Strakonice High School seniors (including our friend Jirka) being presented to the crowd. Later that night, they also came out and danced to songs from Grease. The astute student of culture that I am (read: nerd) I charted the atmospheric flow of a standard ples. Arrival-10:30: general awkwardness, resulting from being too dressed up and not knowing many people, some dancing, watching the dance troup. 10:30-11:47: more dancing, people starting to loosen up, general excitment about the raffle. 11:47-12:22: The peak of the evening, lots of dancing and merriment, as most adults have imbibed. Notice this phase doesn't last long, because of the imbibing. 12:22-dawn: people falling while dancing, looking haggard, etc. Actually, I didn't make it till dawn, I made it till 12:32, but I think if I charted this on a graph the next few hours can be predicted with credible accuracy (read: super nerd).

Martin, Alca, Ruth and Jozef. I think this was still in the awkward stage, but WE weren't awkward and WE all danced, even to Czech songs I don't know the words to and still try to sing...ha! Some people don't even need to imbibe to be, mmm, cool. And if only the band would have covered some Roxette, I think we would have seen a side of Alca that few get to see, hey Pani Pospisilova?

So, in conclusion, the ples is a great chance to get to know students' families and friends, and if you cut out at the 12:22 mark you'll leave with a pleasant impression, and, if you're really lucky, a raffle prize.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

JV Women's Retreat, Feb 26-March 2: Roma, baby.

Some of the JV ladies by the Palatine. The theme of this retreat was taken from Song of Songs 1:6, that we were to let the Lord tend our vineyards *so that* we'd bear more fruit. I expected to have my spirit refreshed by time away with God, but the beauty of Rome--from the balmy weather to the lush green foliage to amazing food to indescribable art and architecture--unexpectedly feed deep, hungry places in my soul, too.

While wandering around by myself, I found this quiet little courtyard shop.

From the left: Laura T, Lauren, Amy L, Amy E, Hannah, Cassie and Laura H's back about to throw coins into the Trevi Fountain. One of the best things about our yearly retreats is being able to spend quality time talking with women I see maybe two times a year. Iron sharpening iron...thank you especially Amy L, Hannah, Kristy, Krista and Cassie for challenging and encouraging conversations.

The Trevi Fountain. I guess if you throw money in it you'll come back to Rome...hopefully that doesn't just count for euros, because I pitched in some Slovak crowns and definitely want to return to Roma. I know blanket apologies aren't so cool, but I'm sorry Rome for constantly speaking in a lame Italian accent! But thank you so much for the best eggplant parmesan ever!!!


my spot on the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica)

Krista on the Appia Antica. This road streches from Rome to Brindisi (which is in the heel of the boot). Wikipedia says that it was begun in the early 300s BC and used by Spartacus. We (along with Jaycee) took public transportation out that way to get to the St. Callisto catacombs. It was both tranquil and a bit sublime, seeing the graves of martyrs and early Christian catacomb paintings.

Where I had my "vineyard tending time": the Circus of Maxentius park, where they used to race chariots.

My view from the park. I had sweet time talking with the Lord (more on that later) and then a little adventure of getting locked into the park. I jumped a fence, got myself stuck in another park and, while in the midst of climbing a tree, a not-so-amused Italian man unlocked a gate and let me out. Thank you Krista!!!

Jesus the good shepherd, from the catacomb of St. Callisto, mid 3rd century. This is one of my favorite works of art of all time, and to see it live was literally a dream come true.

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I can't believe I saw this in real life

Raphael's The School of Athens 1509-1510 Fresco in Vatican City, Apostolic Palace

Roman Colosseum by unknown architect, at Rome, Italy, 70 to 82

Caravaggio's The Conversion of Saint Paul 1600-1601 Oil on canvas 90 1/2 x 70 in Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome


you know you're cool when...

...you're written up in a British mag. Check out artypapers.com to see what's so cool about my cool kin.


It's all part of the job

Nate and Lucka just acting natural in a London pub. Two thumbs up for fish and chips and chili topped with mashed potatoes!!!

I would anyways, gee whiz, bossy.

iNate on Trafalgar Square.

There are some things about the ministry I get to do that, when I step back and think about them, crack me up. One is that during camps I spend a lot of time dancing and/or making up dances. Another is that I get to/have to play a lot of games. And another is what I did last week.

Nate, Lucka and I flew to London for 4 days to film videos for English camps. For real. The theme of this year's camps is "Underground," and the JV camp committee decided it'd be cool to make a video journal about a girl's experiences in the London Tube. As much as I was not looking forward to having my face on film, everything worked out well and nobody kicked us out of the Underground. So, cheers, mate!

For better pics and stories, see Nate's blog (on the side, Fun Guru).

Why Europe Rocks: Reason #20

Wishes and Kisses

2/16 was the biggest party our Svibice apartment has seen: about 23 people came and celebrated my (1/16), Lucka's (2/16) and Daniela's (3/18) birthdays. One great thing about birthdays in Czech is that you get kissed (ha! that's right!) and wished. What? you might ask. Okay, I esplain it to you (Italian accent lapse, sorry...see above). When it's your birthday, Czechs come to you, shake your hand, kiss your cheek and wish you something. For example: "I wish you much peace, health and love in the next year." It's really nice. I especially like being wished lots of love. But in my first few years in Czech, I was weirded out by relative strangers kissing my face. Now, however, it's par for the course and I've even learned how to dodge unwanted lips.

So, I wish you much health, peace and mainly LOVE in the following year!

xoxoxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx!