Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ice Skating with Munchkins!!!! :)

Last Friday I accompanied the whole elementary school from VCS to the Albert Schultz ice arena where we went ice skating for the better part of the morning. I was worn out afterwards but I know that the time spent being energetic with my students has really advanced alot of the relationships I have with many of them. I think God might have made me for relational ministry. It was a great time and the kids loved it as well! I am really looking forward to doing it again March 2nd. Pray that the Lord gives me the strength to be an engine for the 6-10 kids that wanted me to pull them! :)

Support Raising . . .

Hey everybody,

It is great to sit down and write a quick note to those of you reading regularly. I am very sorry that I do not update more regularly, but as I am also a full time teacher my time is sometimes less than I would want. What I would like to do in this entry is explain a little bit about what my typical week would look like.

I have been thinking alot lately about you guys, my supporters in prayer and finances, and I came to realize that maybe I don't give you a good enough view of what my life is really like here in Vienna. Maybe I tell too much of what I do and where I am physically and maybe sometimes it might seem a little general. Again I am sorry if it appears that way as I really desire to share with you as much as possible how my life is here, how the school is working, and how we reach kids' lives for Christ, but the Truth of the matter is that it is all really hard to capture in writing. One really has to physically come to VCS to see what the school is like, to experience the sense of loving care that we as teachers and staff give to these kids, and no amount of my writing will totally give you that picture. That being said I would like to permanently extend the invitation for any of you to come and visit me here in Vienna. I would love to meet with you and show you around the school that has become like home for me.

I know that many of you are excited for me and how the Lord has brought me to Vienna to teach at VCS. I am truly excited to be here; however there is an aspect of this job that affects it greatly. While I am a full-time teacher, teaching elementary grades K-6, I am also a full-time missionary. The wife of our elementary principal said it best in a seminar recently, that this whole missionary/teacher job is a tough one because not only do we have to juggle the balls of our lives, teaching, family, etc., but we also have to keep the ball of support raising going as well. She said that if the ball of support raising falls the others are surely soon to follow. So yeah, it is really hard for me, a first year teacher, to juggle all of these things. Could I just ask you all to pray for me as I try to get used to it all. I am trying to prepare for my wedding and the marriage that follows. No worries there as many of my married friends here in Vienna have taken me under there wing and given me a heads up as to things they faced in marriage. I am also going through the time where I am actually teaching regularly and being faced with criticism which is character building and is really needed if I am to progress into becoming a better teacher. I am really realizing that teaching takes alot of work and that I am in a perfect place to try things I might not otherwise try or to just learn from others more experienced than me and to grow as a professional. It is amazing to me how the Lord has provided enough for me to be here even though the future projections look a bit grim.

To be really honest with all of you, and I don't mean for it to seem that I doubt the Lord's ability to provide, but there has been a shortage of support coming in during the last few months. I am averaging for the last couple months around 50% of the total that I need just to get by here in Vienna. The total figure for my immediate needs while serving in Vienna is upwards of $1400 monthly. The only reason why I have been able to stay here and haven't yet had to return to the States to raise more support is because there were a few donors early on that gave big so the account at RCE was stocked up. Right now I am slowly draining that and really need to get more people willing to support for a monthly amount. Big one time gifts are huge and still help this ministry to flourish, but it is the monthly supporters that really keep me going when times get tough because I know that every month there is a reminder that they are helping me in ministry at VCS. So I would really just like to encourage you guys that when you are looking at your summer plans and your budget in the coming months, please be in prayer as to how you can help bless these students at VCS through support of me, one of their teachers, monthly.

I love all of you guys and think about you and pray for you daily. I pray that this finds you at a blessed point in your life. Although times for me right now are very hard I feel blessed to be serving a Lord that is greater than anything we can even hope to imagine. Man . . . it has been a ride, care to join me? God bless ya'll! :)


P.S. Be checking your email and mail boxes in the next few weeks. My February newsletter should show up soon! :)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Post Energy Break Update

It occurred to me today that I haven't written in a while so I thought I would update you all as to how things are going here in Vienna and this part of Europe.

School wise we are getting ready to re-start school after our "energy break" which is sort of like a winter break that they have here in Austria and Czech Republic, maybe in other parts of the world, I am not sure. But anyway we observe it as well, being in the Austrian culture. So familes and sometimes school groups go out to the mountains and go skiing and/or snowboarding. It is really pretty nice to have this break. I guess itmwould be too difficult mainly because it would be like having two spring breaks. I was unable to go skiing but I was able to make a visit to Czech. Honestly I think that turned out being better than skiing would mainly because I can't get hurt as bad just visiting Czech.

While in Czech this time I not only had a good chance to really discuss wedding preparation issues with people, but I was also able to attend a concert and a funeral one right after the other. i took the bus from Vienna to Brno. On Student Agency you can get a one way ticket to Brno for 5 EURO which is a whole 1.50 EURO cheaper than getting a discount ticket to Breclav on the train. Amazing deal and I would urge anyone that is traveling around Czech or the surrounding countries to check out that site for great deals on travel if you have flexible travel times. So Monday after the superbowl I went to meet Betka in Brno.

Then the next day we went to Valtice because she and her classmates in Conservatory were scheduled to do a practice run of their final pieces in Valtice. It is kind of like the mentality that if you can do well for a group of a few people that know you the best you can play for a huge group of mostly strangers no problem. Let me just say, and my friend Dee can attest, that betka was really good. I haven't seen many performances, but she really knows her piece. my favorite part, and Betka thinks its silly, was when she was right in the middle of a very complicated part with lots of fingerwork and a hair on her bow broke on one end. The hair was flying around not necessarily affecting her playing but definitely hitting her in the eye and could possibly break her concentration. So, during a four count rest she quickly grabbed the hair on the bow and tore it off the other end and then continued with the complicated part of the arrangement. That was awesome! On with the show huh!? Betka I wish you the best on your Absolventum Concert April 23rd.

That was Tuesday evening. So I stayed in Lednice while Betka returned back to Brno to babysit the following morning. The next day, Wednesday, I attended the funeral for mr. Vaclav Hajek. His daughter Irena is a very good friend of Betka and me and we felt the need to be there. Pane Hajek was a very interesting man and I feel very honored to have known him and part of his family. He was a United Methodist Pastor during communism and was able to help direct the UM church through those difficult times. He was 89 when he passed. Please keep his family in your prayers. His daughter Irena has been an endless source of support and encouragement for me personally and I am sure that many people can credit her and her father for leading them closer to Christ through their loving examples of His love. It was touching to see how many people were there for the funeral of this Godly man. Many of Valtice's citizens turned out for the ceremony including many people from church and others that I remember from my time living there. I was really happy that I had the chance to be there for it.

Wednesday night I had the wonderful opportunity to meet up for tea with Jirka and Stepanka two of my really good czech friends in Brno while Betka babysat again. I finally understood at that moment that I had really missed their friendship as I moved away. I was also reaffirmed that they still want to pursue a friendship. They said that they want to try to visit sometime in March. I hope we will get the chance soon, they're a blast! Betka babysat late until like 2:30 in the morning then again from 8AM Thursday until noon. Then we met up with Jirka and Stepanka again to have lunch together at Jirka's cafeteria at school. After lunch we went to his place and watched the DVD of his sister's wedding. That made Betka and I really nervous. I guess it is all starting to become really real. Then we headed back to Lednice.

Betka knew that her parents wanted to meet with me and her together with Michal and Pavlina to discuss the weding details as Pavlina has agreed to help us pull all the ideas and started getting it truly planned out. Well, nothing is really how we think it is going to be and the meeting was strange and difficult, but Betka's parents have given their blessing and we really needed that time to get on the same page. Some things were brought to Betka's and my attention that we need to keep in mind, but nothing more.

Friday was a day of discussing what had gone on in the meeting and researching what we need to do as well as possibilities for our honeymoon. We had decided that we wanted to be in the high Tatras mountains in Slovakia. So Saturday we found a really good place near to the highest peak in the range. It looks really nice and not too expensive. Some pictures of Vila Aurora are included below as well as some shots of the High Tatras if you aren't familiar with them.

So we have part of our wedding experience planned, I sent the email for the reservation today, and we are working on the rest of the details. We hope to have the exact details out ASAP. We are checking on the availability of the place that we're going to have the ceremony and reception in and I have my tux reserved. I tried a few different ones on and believe it or not white looked the best. So I will be married in a white three piece suit/tux with shirt and tie to match whatever colors we choose for Betka's flowers. Should be nice. I really didn't think I would be wearing white though. :)

I am actually ready for school tomorrow and have planned almost everything for the week. It sure feels good to have things ready. Please pray for me and Betka these coming months not only as we prepare for our wedding, but also as we prepare to return to the States this summer to raise support for the next school year. Our month time "home" will be a difficult time as we will be required to travel often, not really staying in one place very long, and we hope to meet with as many people as possible concerning our support for my second year of ministry at VCS and our first year as man and wife. Please pray that the Lord would mold me and make me into the man He wants and that Betka and I will mold our family on Him and not on what we know. Thanks so much for your continued prayers and support and I do look forward to hearing from you all. Please leave a comment or email me if you would like more information about any of the aforementioned things or if you just want to say hey. Love you guys!

Blessings in Him alone,