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

Monday, August 09, 2010

heads up on follow up

The boys tearing down after our Strak camp after party. Any kind of camp is great--it gathers people, encourages, motivates and often helps reveal a new vision for the following school year. Once classes start again, though, the CZ youth group team has to be wise about planning activities and energetic and loving enough to pursue individuals. Year long follow up is one of my fave things eva--I think about it constantly and am always trying to get better at it...please join with us in praying for the seeds from camps to keep germinating and the fruit to ripen!

Kuba and I during Alpha showing how Christ took on our sin and gave us His righteousness. In Strakonice, our follow up activities are Alpha for youth courses, sports afternoons, Bible reading and the faithfully random party/hang out/etc. When the school year starts, Strak will again host Monday English Clubs and VIP parties and most def small groups for the ladies AND the gents. In Pisek, English Club will be Wednesdays, smallish groups will be for sure, as well as basketball and soccer teams. And there are also parties happening at varius venues: mr's haus, Verca's garden, Iva and the girls' place.

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Crossover 2010 Aug 2-5

"The Denver Nuggets." I am not an athlete. In spite of that, I ended up being a part of one of our church's basketball camps with the help of Crossover Int'l. My role, uh, yeah, role was to be a link between the boys and Pisek English club. I was assigned to the youngest boys team and had a blast. :)

Ondra talking, me translating. The boys practiced and did drills all morning, and from 1-2pm had "Bible hour" which consisted of games, songs, testimonies, a devo and small groups.

Guys leading their partners in English through the court for points. The last day of Crossover there was an optional basketball English club--the guys were great and we added lots of important vocab that day: "trash talking" "layup*" "rebound*" and the ever popular Southern slang "finna" (thanks Rod and Andre!). **both of which I now know in Czech!--dvoutak and odskok...maybe...

Vojta and Kuba were at Pisek English camp and Crossover--please pray that they and others like them find a true home in God's family!

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Pisek English Camp :) July 17-24

On the hike with Marushka, one of my all time favorite people (even though she ruthlessly corrects my Czech :)

Cutie petuties Marketa, Dominka, Kamila, Julka. :*

Ivca's clasmate Bara came to camp for the first time and loved it--she's been hanging out with us ever since. Oh yeah, and Reid was there too :) As was the supercool team from Christ Community coming at us outta Elgin-ish IL! Bah BOOM!

Last day of camp--there was a lot of love up in that place!

The Sunday after camp we all headed to our church Elim. Dominika's holding our little Martin after the service was over and people were changing the sanctuary back into a basketball court.

Later that night we went to various restaurants to hang out and, mmm, eat. And take incriminating pictures. Here Zahry, Simon and Petr are looking tres intelligente at the Chinese fast food place. Love you Pisek!

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campy with my Strakies: how it was

This year's camp was quite large, but in spite of that we somehow maintained a family atmosphere. Miss you cuties!!!

One day the ladies decided to give each other hand massages and pedicures, so the guys decided to take off their shirts and tackle each other...hence, VIP girls and Viking football met during free time, in mutual appreciation of each other (I think).

Lucka from the CZ team with Ryan from the intern team. We loved the intern team BonJon as well as the wonderful team from Cherry Hills, CO! Come back soon peeps!

Max and Majda. Max fell victim to the dart game and Majda's taking advantage of his frozen state. The dart game's peak glory day (that is, Tuesday) came fast, but we all carry fond memories of it.

Back in Strak, after camp, at the island. Petr, Leni, me, Zuzka, Petr F and Martin hovering like an angel, er, a falcon. ? Please pray that the truth heard and experienced will grow and bloom this school year!

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The Cramers at camp!!! Eeeeee!!! :))

Danie taught English and did a GREAT job! They flew in Saturday and Sunday morning she had to dive right in, pushing aside the jet lag. Here she and her Colorado sidekick Aaron teach body parts. Dana was a champ: being a great mom, loving students, teaching, encouraging and even got to share her testimony!

Josh motivating his afternoon sports team. I thought Josh would have to spend more time keeping up on things back at the home office, so I was happy and blessed that he got to be with us and invest in our students, especially our young men.

The leader of the American team brought their 4 kids with them: Max, Miriam and Zeke had a blast playing with Hannah, Asher, Caiden and Hayes!

One of their favorite things to do was to play in the creek--that is, until the dry clothes ran out.

Zeke helped me teach English :)

I loved seeing the kids interact with our students. And our students were GREAT with them, even taking turns babysitting so the parents could teach English during the mornings. Here Miriam gets to hang out with Leni, who she knew from our trip to the States in 2007 :)

Hanging out at the Ellenwoods. I knew it would be great to have the Cramers there, but I had no idea how great. They blessed our camp, our students and me by the way they served selflessly and loved continually. It meant so much to me that they saw my world and got to meet people who are very important to me...and that my dear friends here could meet them...and that I got to be with the kids! Since they left, I've had these bittersweet flashbacks: going to the little store with Miriam and Zeke, doing the robot with Max, lunch at the Brno Ikea, talking late into the night with Dane and Josh, laughing with them and the Ellenwoods...thank you Cramers. I love you!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Strakonice English Camp 2010!

Our camp this summer will be another big one with over 100 people. In addition to our Strakonice team and the interns (hereafter, Team BonJon) we'll also be joined by a group from Cherry Hills Community Church from Denver. Another group that's joining us from Iowa City is...

Josh, Dana, Zeke, Max and Miriam are coming to English Camp! I am so excited it's unreal! This is such a gift...I've dreamed of this for a long time :)

Of our campers, about half of them have been to camp before, and I'm looking forward to us making new friends. When I think about who's been a part of our group from camp last year--Martina, Bara, Ondra, Gabi, etc--I can't imagine our community with out them! And it'll be cool to see who the Lord adds from this camp. As you can see, the theme this year is Redeem, and our heartbeat is that students would find hope in this bent and coping life, that life would dawn on them. Please join us in praying that Jesus would redeem young lives this camp.


Friday, June 18, 2010

2 cool 4 school! June 10-15

Every June, intern teams visit the cities that they'll be doing camp with. We knew that we'd have a full camp, so we didn't need to do promotion in schools, but we still wanted to do something with the interns...through this, "2 Cool 4 School" was born. Kakushe took elements of the Exit Tour we were a part of and created a program to encourage students in language learning and as a service for local high schools. Part of this program was the Reality Show Challenge where groups competed against each other. Here at the business academy Euroskola, they're competing in Fear Factor, to see who can eat the slimy (gummy) worm first.

Kakushe and I explaining the Top Chef challenge. Kakushe did an amazing job delegating, organizing and emceeing--you go girl! What a joy to see young leaders bloom!!!

Team BonJon introducing themselves. These guys were energetic, fun and had great conversations with our students. It was ESPECIALLY cool to see our very own Eva as part of the intern team: leading, translating, and growing in faith!

Top Model challenge--I was so impressed by how brave, creative and just GOOD the students at the schools were. Way to go Euroskola, Gymnasium and the Technical HS!

Students at the gymnasium--we did 3 blocks that day with about 50-60 students in each. We are super thankful to the English teachers and headmasters at each school and look forward to more cooperation in the future.


what's up--spring edition

Our every-other-Sunday cooking club (aka VIP) is continuing to rock and roll--last time we even invited the boys to help us cook and eat.

English club, Strak style will go for 2 more Mondays and then...English Camp! July 3-10.

Volunteering at Jezarka Retirement Home (ongoing). Three of us visit some residents once a week or once every two weeks. We've also helped them with weeding a few times and we hope to continue this over the summer and add more volunteers once the school year begins. Yay! This has been a longtime prayer and desire of our group to get out in the community and serve, and God opened the doors through the amazing Ms. Kleckova, the home's director. We're pictured above with Bonnie and Jon's intern team.


weddings and loveisintheairrrr

The Dicksons: May 16. Dania getting into the vintage Skoda. Even though it rained like mad that day, we partied like it was 1999. Later that night, the newlyweds, Lucka, Jitka and I all got stranded in the middle of a flooded field. Wish I had a picture of that.

The Nevrelas: Tomas and Lucka got married the next weekend--super fun and joyful. Yay! And more weddings to come this fall :)


very important peeps: secret identity overnight 4/23-24

Hayley getting a hand massage from Irca and Eva. The first night, Amy challenged us to think about how we form our identity--by what we hear from others, media, friends? Is that who we really are or who we should be? We had discussion groups and one girl later confided that she'd never thought about these things before and that the talk and discussion "hit the nail on the head" for her. Then we spa-ed it up with massages, facials, a lots of laughing.

Zombie Kakushe and Martina attacking Gabi, the original VIP.

Breakfast--Jane (Naomi's mom) and Milena (Bara's mom) graciously agreed to take care of meals for the weekend. The teaching was powerful for them, too.

Amy teaching, Lydia translating. Amy talked about how God sees us and who we are in His eyes, and then read Max Lucado's You Are Special--that book makes me cry every time! At the very end we wrote encouragement notes to each other.

Eva and her small group. What a great weekend! We got closer to each other and the Lord, and many of us began to see the promised land--living in the freedom and security of God's deep love for us, regardless of appearance, performance, personality... :)


Monday, April 05, 2010

missionaries from CZ

I met Natalka at Cesky Tesin camp in 2005. After the summer she contacted me about giving her brother English lessons, and both of them ended up coming to English Club. Around that time my friend Zuzka approached me about leading a Bible study together, and Natalka came to that. Because she was from a village she usually came early and stayed the night (with her crazy cousin Ania :). Natka became one of my favorite people. The next year, the two of us led a Bible study together and she started co-leading her church's junior high youth group and discipling girls in her village.

When she graduated high school in 2007, she decided to go to a Bible college in Slovakia to study missions and continued to serve in her church. Last summer she went with OM (Operation Mobilisation) Now she's in the midst of writing her bachelor's thesis paper and raising support to be a missionary in Nepal for a year. Her steadfast love for Christ, uncomplaining, sweet spirit and passion for discipleship will make her as fruitful among the orphanages and remote mountains of Nepal as she has been in Terlicko. If you have any interest in supporting Natalka Fojcikova, please click HERE!

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

VIP weekend: secret identity/skryt√° identita

When: April 23-24, 4pm-4pm
Where: the Koebels' in Milonovice
Who: all the Strakonice holky PLUS Amy and Hayley from CT!
Whuh: It stinks when someone disses your ensemble, or when you find yourself in the midst of crappy gossip (either on the giving or receiving end), or when everyone around you is always better than you...who doesn't want to rise above all that, to be happy about who you are and to stop competing with others? Discover the VIP within!

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...all the single ladies...JV sl retreat 3.23-27...

Who doesn't love food? Especially when Cari and Laurie D. are cooking, and everyone's talking talking talking...thank you Laurie A. for finding this amazing house in Alferton, England.

Brit and Laura taking advantage of the perks. And there was a trampoline out back too!

Daniela and Lucka and me! I love these ladies. Dania's leaving the SL ranks May 16th for wedded bliss, so I'm glad we got this last hurrah. :)

Class of 2010. Right. But that's some sweet wallpaper, huh?

Just for the record--I hate single's stuff. I don't even like Kraft singles (not to be all eurosnob but is that dairy? for real) Maybe it is snobbery...I don't like admitting I have special needs, or that I'm weird. I'm weird enough anyway: the minute I open my mouth people hear my accent/I'm 35 and look much younger/I'm allergic to apples (I know right)/I'm on this comedic plane that baffles the average person. No, that's not true, that's just what I tell myself when I'm the only one laughing at my own wit. *sigh*

Anyway, I wasn't laughing when I heard that there would be a single women's retreat this year. My reaction was "Nobody better friggin' tell me how great it is to be single." Really--I know how great it is to be single. I live it. I'm daily thankful for the amount and flexibility of time I have, for freedom from care and responsibility, for being able to do what I want, when I want...I serve, I travel, I have people over, get to read books and, you know, don't get woken up at nights by someone crying. I know I have a lot to be thankful for...I just don't want to be told that I do.

This retreat wasn't about singleness, thankfully. Two women from the US came and taught us about coaching (click here for more) and had individual coaching sessions with us. Guess what the core of some of my problems ended up being? Mmmm, singleness. Ohhh, the irony. Like I said, I appreciate the benefits of being just me, but it still chafes. Sometimes I worry about what people think about me, what's going to happen when I'm 60, and mostly I worry that the freedom from responsibility becomes irresponsibility. I worry about that a lot. I also crave family and a certain type of companionship that you just can't make happen. In this area, like no other, I am helpless.

But not hopeless. The awkwardness, the loneliness, the fears--in all that there's a call to something more: higher living, purer sacrifice and deeper love. I am a long way off, but the strains are wafting down...something like Psalm 16, something like Hosea 2, something like an invitation to great joy.

Yesterday was Good Friday. At small group we talked about Jesus, free will (God never forces us to be with him--neither in this life or the next) and I realized again how Jesus decided to love us, decided to be tortured and die for us. If he can decide that, I can decide to let my life be poured out however and for whomever he sees fit.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

a few of my favorite things

Elements grrrrls: me, Zuzka, Martina, Naomi, Sabca, Bara (not pictured: Kakushe, Alca, Eva, Leni, Lucka... :) In November we started going through JV's Elements study, designed for new believers (it's excellent and free--click HERE). These small groups are my absolute most favorite thing ever forever. We have great discussions about the trinity, what it means to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, abortion, sin... We pray for each other and all of us, wherever we're at with the Lord, are learning a lot.

Honzimil and Maruska at New Year's. Both are part of the team that prepares Pisek's English Club and they rock. They're 9th graders and have recently come to faith and are blessings to serve with, because they're fun, humble, creative and faith-filled, along with the rest of the team (Buna, Verca, Martina and sometimes mr. :)

Another one of my favorite things is a good party. Above is a party thrown by Kakushe for her younger brother's 8th birthday. I think parties are a super important part of ministry--it's a joy for me to provide a safe place where people's needs are met (food, acceptance, connection, laughter, etc) and where we can share the light of Christ. And where we can play with the whoopee cushion Jachym (in the front with the monkey around his neck) got for his birthday (hence the plugged noses).