It’s very cliche, but the song that’s be going through my mind is Michael W. Smith’s song “Friends.” The start of this mission trip has centered on friendships. First, the friendships of the team members. I love these people, and I’m enjoying the time with them. We’re getting to know one another better (how could you not over four days of travel, including three planes, four trains, two taxi rides, miles of walking, and at least fifty flights of stairs—all while carrying big luggage). We’ve laughed and prayed and sang together when we weren’t in transport. And then laughed some more.
We’d only been in our Prague hotel thirty minutes when John and my friends Ivana and Pavla showed up. (Bunny showed up, too!) They walked around with us for a while, and we caught up on life. The time went fast, but hugging their necks was so wonderful! This mom and daughter were campers we got to know during our first two mission trips, and then we were blessed when they came and stayed with us a month when we lived in Montana. During our walk Ivana shared about how God recently answered one of their prayers, and it was encouraging to hear that!
Thursday we traveled to Vysoke Myto and stayed with our dear friend Gabi and her daughters, Klara and Elishka. Gabi is one of the pastors’ wife, and we’ve worked together on two camps. We felt comfortable in their home (her husband and son were away on a camping trip), and we had a great time sharing God and worshiping together as a group. To sing worship songs together reminded me again how the Holy Spirit unifies. We’re believers who life half a world away, but our hearts were united in a way that only God can do.
The Vysoke Myto church also planned a get-together so we could see many of our friends. It just felt right to hug and laugh and talk with those we’ve gotten to know over the years. The best part about friendships is that we just picked up where we left off two years ago. We rejoiced to see believers from the church and to reconnect with those who haven’t made a decision for Christ and are still on their faith journey. The more I see these people. The more I want to see these people. I can’t imagine living life without them. I’m so blessed!
Then yesterday we traveled to Olomouc, and we reunited with our daughter, Leslie. This is “her” city, and we was so excited to share it with us. Over and over again we’ve heard from those in leadership what an amazing job she’s done building relationships and ministering to the people of this city. She is greatly loved here—by those inside the church and those who’ve yet to take a step inside a church building. Jesus’ love flows through her, and I’m thankful she’s dared to take this step of faith. So many times questions or doubts or fears cause us to hold back from the hard things God asks us to do. May we all be willing to take steps of faith because God indeed shows up!
Now that we are here in Olomouc, I’m excited to get to know the pastor, Petr, and his wife, Jana, better. We’ll also be working with the Czech team for camp next week, and our hearts are all focused on pouring out onto the teens at the camp. Petr and Jana are great people, and I can see how much Leslie has grown to love them during her time here. Please pray for us, that God’s Spirit will guide our teaching and leading at the camp!
Finally, I have to mention Alyssa’s friendships. Over the last few days she’s played and played with her new friends her age. Last night Alyssa and Daniel (Petr and Jana’s son) jabbered for hours as they played, and I don’t think they realized they speak different languages! That’s such a clear example of joy that crosses cultures and languages. A smile, laughter, and outstretched arms go a long way . . . crossing over when words—language—fail.
I’m eager for the new friendships that will be built over the coming week. May each one we connect with know they are special and that God’s love has propelled us to come and tell him or her so.