Friday, September 3, 2010

On the Move

We've moved our blog to Visit us there to stay updated. We appreciate you taking the time to connect.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pray for Bratislava

Bratislava, Slovakia's capital city, was shocked today when a man went on a shooting spree that left 8 dead and the death toll expected to rise. It seems to be a racially motivated attack as the victims were all members of a Roma (Gypsy) family. Across Europe the Roma people are a marginalized group that are treated with mistrust, and Slovakia is no exception.

Pray for the families of those who lost someone, for the people wounded and in hospital and for the people of the city. When there is great need, Christians should rise to respond. The Peace of Pressburg, signed in 1805 in Bratislava (Pressburg), is a historical reminder that this city has been a place of violence and peace. It is our hope that a new peace would be present in Bratislava.

For more information on the shooting, click here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Wiza" Success!

Visas - we've got them! Shiny, new and all ours; these visas make this transition very real. Valid until July 2011 (2 months shorter than we had applied for), our visas were the last logistic in getting to Poland (now we just need to move our stuff, find a place to live, scrounge up some furniture and...well, this list could go on for awhile).

Thanks for praying about this with us. Keep praying as the next few weeks will be "transitional".

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Love my City 2010 Begins

The project begins today and both teams from Canada have arrived safely. The Canadians and Slovaks will have a day of orientation before the work begins. For up to the minute information about this year's project visit the Twitter page.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mozaika Still Loves Nitra

I Love my City 2010 begins exactly one week from today. It is odd to think about not being there for it. We are so proud to have been part of starting something that has outlived us and it gives us serious joy to see people making it their own.

We have been praying, and will be praying harder as the project gets closer, and ask you not to forget the people of Mozaika, the people of Nitra and the great potential of this project.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Step Three and a Half

This morning we were able to submit our visa paperwork in full. There was a bit of a twist as Amber went to submit the documents for both of us only to be told that we both had to be present. So an unexpected motorcycle ride and a trip on the SkyTrain had Matthew downtown Vancouver just in time for him to simply hand them the forms.

The Consular seemed positive that he would grant our visas, but for about 2 months less time than we were asking for. So it is out of our hands now and we're asking you to pray with us that we'll have our visas in our possession 2 weeks from now.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Bed Count - July

We've been counting beds since February as a way of tracking our time in transition since departing Nitra, Slovakia until we have a place to call home in Włocławek, Poland. Here's the running tally:

February = 6
March = 5
April = 10
May = 5
June = 6
July = 6
Total = 38

Suddenly 40 is not seeming so hard to obtain.

Step Three (almost)

As the hoop jumping continues in our journey towards Polish visas, we thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Turns out we were mistaken. Step One was getting everything required to apply for a university Polish language program (it was more involved than we had originally thought). Step Two was our acceptance to the university, which we thought would expedite our visa process.

On July 14th we thought we had everything we needed (pictured above) to successfully apply for our Polish visas. We went into the consulate for a review of our papers. It turns out some of our paperwork was not exactly what they wanted. Some was not "official looking enough" (actual quote). Some requirements had not been listed on the paperwork or online. The shiniest moment was when they told us that we had completed the wrong application embarrassing blow since we both had reviewed it and thought it correct. So, maybe this process is not as linear as it first seemed.

We've got most of the newest requirements covered and our goal is to have our final applications in (which means giving up our passports for a few weeks) during the first week of August.

We wonder what a nice, fresh, Polish visa will look like in our passports.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Newest Language

With life in Poland getting closer by the day, we've returned to one of our tried-and-true methods of vocabulary acquisition: labeling as many objects as we can! This picture is a simple, yet handy, example. We bet you can learn this word in no time! Slovak and Polish are both Slavic languages so we've got a good base for learning Polish grammar and our language course will be a huge boost in this area, but we'd like to arrive in Poland with a few basics under our belt (foods, directions, pleasantries, numbers etc.) so that we can at least speak in Slovak with a few key Polish words included.

Part of learning any language is keeping a good sense of humour and we're already interested to see what linguistical mishaps may await us as we learn Polish.

Friday, July 2, 2010

3 605.1 kms (that's 2,240.1 miles for the kilometer-challenged)

On the 30th we returned from our last major speaking trip during our time in Canada. 3 605.1 would be the number of kilometers we racked up on this trip alone. A significant portion of the last few months has been spent speaking and connecting with people both near and far. We really get a kick out of sharing the lessons we've been learning, meeting new people, and answering questions. Connecting the European and Canadian church is something important to us and we're all for engaging Canadians in missional living.

It isn't all roses and puppy dogs. There comes a point where living out of a suitcase becomes less-glamorous and personal space becomes a valued commodity, but we balance it with the fact that we get to see more places and more people and more churches than most (that probably includes you...just saying). After all, we did see 6 brown bears, 1 grizzly, 2 deer and 3 foxes in the past 11 days. Life, work, visa applications and correspondence does not stop when we are out and about and so we have taken-up temporary residence in coffee shops around the country (like this one in Terrace, BC).

The good Christian thing to say is that "there is no coincidence, only God's plan", and we've been reminded of that often throughout our travels. There have been so many times where we seem to arrive just as a friend or stranger needs someone. It's been a real privilege to see how God has got our calendar filled with meaningful encounters.

We have felt so loved and welcomed everywhere we have gone; in fact, we often don't feel like we deserve such hospitality. We continually pray that God would help us build meaningful connections, and each time we are surprised at how thoroughly he comes through on that front. We've covered a lot of ground, but it's been absolutely worth it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Bed Count - June

If you're not quite sure what The Bed Count is, we've decided that rather than tracking the number of places we visit, kilometers we drive, days we are here or numbers of nights we sleep in Canada, we would measure our time by counting the number of beds we have slept in. Here is the running total:

February = 6
March = 5
April = 10
May = 5
June = 6
Total = 32

Monday, June 21, 2010

Step Two

We've hit another milestone in our process towards life in Poland. We are now officially students in the Polish language and culture faculty at Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika (University of Nicolas Copernicus) in Toruń, Poland. These acceptance papers will help streamline our visa application process as we will be entering Poland on student visa's to start with.

We are now working on our visa applications and will be submitting these to the consulate at the beginning of July when we are back in the Lower Mainland.

And so, life in Poland becomes an even closer reality.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us

3 years ago today the rain was pouring and we were saying our "I do's" in a short ceremony surrounded (literally standing around us) by the people who know and love us best. We took some time to celebrate this milestone and kept our tradition of reviewing the last year together and setting a goal for this year.

Last year we focused on communicating in the moment. We worked hard on this and we can see some great progress in this aspect of our marriage. This year we are going to work on being more purposeful with having some fun and building memories. We're realizing that our lives can be so full, that unless we're purposeful about the things we enjoy, we'll quickly miss out on what things that are life-giving.

Here's looking forward to another year. We've said it before and we'll say it again: we're better together.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Bed Count - May

This month we still spent a lot of time on the move, but we were able to use some key places to launch from (and not be in a different place each night). At this point in time 30 is looking like a guarantee - 40 seems maybe a little out of reach as we hope to slow down towards end of July and August. Here are the numbers:

February = 6
March = 5
April = 10
May = 5
Total = 26

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Historymaker 2010 : Fearless

Historymaker (HM) is the annual youth conference for students from across British Columbia and the Yukon. We were involved in the planning and organizing of HM in May of 2008 and figured since we were in BC for this one, we'd get involved. It's not very often that we are in Canada to assist Canadians first-hand.

Admittedly, when we volunteered we were thinking that we'd help with Security or maybe set-up some chairs, but there was a need for some help on a coordination level and so we were involved in overseeing hospitality for bands and speakers (we had a lot of excellent help in this area), First Aid, Security, Parking, some of the volunteers and side stage artists, food services and Dispatch. We were able to do the bulk of the organizing via the phone and e-mail while on the road.

Over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the May long-weekend, 3,000 students (not including their leaders) filled the Langley Events Center. We won't lie - there were long days, a lot of running around and on-the-spot problem solving, but it was awesome to see students participate in worship through music, listen to challenging speakers and learn in smaller workshop settings...not to mention eat a lot of junk food and have a lot of fun (there might have been a few buses that were "redecorated").

We both can remember our days of attending youth conventions and some of the milestones in our lives that took place there. It is great to think that we were able to be a part of this event because who knows what milestones were reached in other people's lives.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

General Conference 2010

2,600 kilometers in 8 days. Here is the visual: we're driving a Plymouth Breeze, How to Learn Polish tapes (yes, an actual cassette) playing loudly, windows down, hair blowing in the wind, cooler full of V8 and nuts in the back - for almost 40 hours!

Every 2 years PAOC has a General Conference where pastors, global workers, support staff etc. come together from across Canada and around the world. This was the first one we've ever attended. For an organization that is so geographically spread-out, it is amazing how unifying a little time together can be.

This conference was in Edmonton. We shared on a Sunday morning, drove home, had lunch and then began the drive to Edmonton. It is a little overwhelming to be in a place with so many people you know, kind-of-know and might have seen before. Sometimes walking down a hall felt like running the conversational gauntlet. It was great to see friends, have some time with Matthew's dad, tackle some practical business with reps from Head Office and listen to the thoughts of our main leaders. It is surprising how sitting in services, meetings, workshops and then talking to people can be quite exhausting. We absolutely missed the directness of the Slovak language as English speakers seem to have a way of saying the same thing 4 consecutive times, but in different ways.

On the Sunday following the conference we were able to connect with a great Christian community, have lunch all together and then began the 10 hour drive back to Surrey (which we somehow did in 8.5 hours).

Overall, we got to connect and re-connect with good people and interesting thinkers, see the scope of what our organization is doing, cover some beautiful terrain and make some new Canadian memories.

Good for a Laugh and a Think

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Step One

In September we'll be attending a language course for foreigners who want to study in Polish at a Polish University. By the end of the 8 month course we should have university level skills in speaking, reading and writing. We'll be attending the Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika (University of Nicolas Copernicus) in Toruń (about a 50 minute drive from our soon-to-be home in Włocławek).

Our applications are in the mail. This is the first step in obtaining our visas, and already we can tell it is going to be a long process:

-application forms
-bank transfer of application fee's to the university's account
-doctor's notes
-our degrees legalized by the Polish Consulate
-a notarized copy of our degrees

Once we are accepted as students, our entrance letters will help us in the visa process.

This process is a tangible marker of the beginnings of our life in Poland.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

EMERGE South Bend... An American Whirlwind

I’ve always thought of myself as an independent and self sufficient girl, but over the past two years Matthew and I have grown quite close and spend almost every waking hour of the day together, so my four days away for the South Bend EMERGE conference were going to be a stretch. I was really anticipating attending the South Bend EMERGE conference as I had been asked to lead two workshops and moderate a panel discussion. I was eager to practice my facilitation skills that I’ve acquired over the past two years, but nervous about being without Matthew for those four days.

Matthew and I have definitely learned to function as a team. I understand why God created marriage; Matthew and I truly are better together. It has been so amazing to have a partner and support with me over the past two year and now it’s hard to imagine life any other way.

Across the miles I know that Matthew was thinking of me and praying for me while I was away in South Bend. I had the privilege of leading a workshop on the “Dynamics of Influence” and had the opportunity to interact with interesting women of all ages. I felt like the workshop and panel discussion were stretching for me and yet very successful. I walked away feeling more confident in the skills God has equipped me with and excited to be a part of what God is doing to equip women around the world.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Bed Count - April

With our change in location out to BC, the numbers this month are up. We spent a lot of time on the road and got our rest on air beds, regular beds, bunk beds and under-sized futons.

February = 6
March = 5
April = 10
Total = 21

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Volcanoes are Never Convenient

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Comes After a Tragedy

With a total of 96 dead, Poland's political, military and religious infrastructure has been left with a large gaps. With funerals still pending and bodies still being identified, Polish officials are already working on filling in these leadership voids. Elections are expected to take place in mid-June.

Imagine how different Poland will be as a new batch of leaders take the helm years before they would if the political process would have progressed normally. Poland could be looking very different in the near future.

It is odd for us to feel connected to an event that happened so far away, in a nation we barely know, and yet we do. Watching the news we've seen images of thousands of people lining up to pray and kneel beside the coffins of the president and first lady and our hope is that in the midst of the tragedy and the search for answers, that people discover a very real God.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tragedy in Poland

Today a plane carrying the Polish President and 80 other prominent government officials crashed in Russia while making their way back to Warsaw to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre (where thousands of Poles were killed by Soviet forces during WWII). The Polish Prime Minister has declared this the greatest national tragedy since WWII and has established a week of mourning.

For more information you can visit the BBC's report by clicking here.

We do not live in Poland yet, but they are already on our radar, in our thought process and now we keep them in our prayers.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

For Mozaika

Mozaika has been trying to purchase a piece of land in a developing part of the city. This would give Mozaika roots within the community and make it clear that they are there to stay. Over the last year Mozaika has been in negotiations with City hall regarding this parcel of land that would put them in the middle of a growing, family oriented area.

We spoke with our friend and church planter, Miro, in Nitra this week. He shared with us that City Hall has denied their request to purchase the land. The Vice Mayor, who we befriended during the I Love my City project, fought for us, but a particular party voted down the application.

Mozaika has changed locations 5 times (often not by choice), has been rejected from numerous rental applications and now this. Nitra consistently roles out the "unwelcome mat". Pray that people would not become discouraged and that God would give Mozaika and it's leadership momentum as they move forward from this.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Bed Count - March

The count has not grown as high as we thought it would by now - but we are ok with that. The count got a good boost with Amber speaking at EMERGE in the USA and Matthew still in Canada.

February = 6
March = 5
Toal = 11

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cliches About Cliches...How Cliche!

With our upcoming transition to Poland, we've been thinking about what are the essentials of church. Our mandate is to start a community centre, but more than just pick-up hockey, it must be a place where people can come encounter God and develop a relationship with him. The question on our minds has been how do we transport the essentials of a Christian community and allow them to take shape in the context of a community centre?

By now we've all heard the expression "think outside of the box" (a cliche about cliches that has become cliche - what a kicker). Within modern Christian culture there seems to be a stigma attached to anything in the box. Personally, we are grateful for Hillsongs, Billy Graham books, the present day church and programs. After all, they helped get us to where we are today. Christians are part of a subculture with our own celebrities, vernacular, and community practices. All of these things are "in the box", but none are necessarily bad. The real challenge of thinking beyond our borders is how to take the core elements of our faith and move them outside of these now commonly found forms.

We posed this question while speaking at a youth group and it was a good dialogue - we're not pretending like we have this all figured out. Within 15 hours of this talk, God put our own words to the test as Matthew had a great time with a self-proclaimed "orthodox atheist" (because modern atheists have gotten soft and he is from the old school of atheism) and Amber shared about life and understanding God's plans with a Pakistani Muslim lady living in an arranged marriage.

Admittedly we are working on the answers to the question "what is church?", but what is clear is that God is going to take us up on this question.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Bed Count - February

As we leave Slovakia we know that a lot of our life for the next 6 months will be lived out of bags and on the road. Rather than counting kilometers traveled or towns visited, we've decided to count the number of beds we sleep in.

Of course there are rules. We will begin counting the beds starting with the first night not in our bed in Nitra. We will keep counting until we have a home in Poland. Also, there will be no double counting a bed, even if there are weeks in between when we sleep in it. We'll provide an ongoing total at the end of every month.

February = 6

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hello Canada

One week ago today was our farewell Sunday at Mozaika. Amber delivered a power solo and Matthew got to speak. We were so thoroughly encouraged by the show of support and appreciation in the form of gifts, prayer and kind words. It was affirming and life giving...and tearful.

We've been in Canada just less than one week now and it has been great spending time with Matthew's family and connecting with friends (not to mention overcoming our old friend jet lag). This coming week will bring a change of pace as we hit the road to connect with partners and churches. In some ways the reality of leaving Slovakia has not hit us. There has been so much to occupy us - packing, goodbyes and conferences in Slovakia kept us going strong right to the end and here in Ontario there have been people to see, rest to catch-up on and a whole lot of favourite foods to eat. Right now it feels like we are simply taking an extended trip. Eventually the reality of the life shift will find us, but we have yet to feel the disconnect.

Not to play to stereotypes, but we've had a few moments of "oh right, this is how it's done in Canada". It has ranged from meaningful things to small realizations (like soda bottles are a different shape here). We ask that you pray for us as we adjust to living out of suitcases here in Canada, while processing the last 2 years and preparing for what comes next.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It has been an intense few weeks and we'll share further about them shortly, but for now, we just wanted you to know that we are safely back in Canada.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Our Totally Shallow List of Things we'll Miss

Over 2 years ago we moved to Nitra. What was once so unfamiliar is now a part of the everyday (though, admittedly, the post office still confuses us...and most Slovaks too for that matter). In celebration of our 2 years here in the Slovak Republic, we'd like to share some things we'll miss - and these are not the deep profound things like friendships, life changing moments and favourite places to watch the sunset - no, this our shallow list of the little things that serve as the icing on top of the cake that we call life:


In a country where the posted speed limit is 130 km/h, drivers here have a liberal understanding of the rules of the road and truly know how to use the gas pedal and high beams (to warn you to clear a path). We love it! The true beauty of the dance of passing other cars takes place on the smaller regional roads where no corner is too blind and no hill too steep to stop someone from passing that transport truck.


The true genius of Slovak drivers is seen in their ability to park a car anywhere - literally. While we feel we hold our own driving amongst the Europeans, we cannot park like them. They seem to have an inherent sense of where they can get away with plunking their car. Sidewalks, lawns, corners, meridians and building entrances are simply parking spaces in the making. Now throw in that they fit 2 cars in spaces smaller than a single SUV.


Traditionally made at Christmas time (though there is a year-round booth outside of the mall entrance), trdelník is dough wrapped around a metal cylinder, cooked and then coated in your choice of toppings. We like them hot, fresh and covered in cinnamon and sugar.


We've encountered some debate over whether this food is Slovak or Hungarian, but regardless of who made it first, we love it. It is basically extremely oily, friend dough covered in garlic, tartar sauce, cheese, kolbasa, onion and ketchup - though you can mix and match as you please.


After blindly picking it through a website and signing our contract before ever stepping foot in it, our apartment has become our home. We love it - where it is, the layout, the ability to host people, the view.


Leftover from the wars, Nitra still tests the air raid sirens the first Friday of every month at noon. Now it is done as a fallout precaution for the nearby nuclear powerplant. The first time it went off we were concerned as we had no idea what was happening (looking around us no one seemed concerned so we took it in stride). It's great to have out-of-town guests here when it the sirens sound...there is fun to be had.


There is a small airfield located in a tiny village just outside of Nitra. It is home to gliders and stunt planes that use the airfield to practice for airshows. So from our back windows we get a summer-long free airshow and chuckle at pedestrians as they duck at the sound of the gliders wooshing in from overhead to land.


There are no giant mistakes when Slovak companies use English - inevitably everyone who's traveled has encountered some funny error. Here in Slovakia it is more of the unique naming of things that we enjoy. Like Party Power, a competitor to Red Bull.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Welcome to Włocławek

Our move from Nitra, Slovakia to Włocławek, Poland will transition us 600 kilometers north (however due to lack of infrastructure, it is a 10 hour drive or 12 hours by train).

The first written record of Włocławek appears on a Papal Bull in 1148 (we Canadians just don't understand history in the same way). Located on both sides of the Wisła River, Włocławek seems to have made it's living from industry. In 1999 it lost it's role as the administrative centre for the Włocławek Region.

Situated approximately 500 kilometers east of Berlin, Germany, Włocławek sustained damage in both World Wars. During the Nazi occupation of World War II, Włocławek was renamed Leslau and would regain it's name following the cessation of the war. Włocławek had a thriving Jewish population who owned and operated many of the local industries. Being the first place in Europe to force Jews to wear the Yellow Star of David, the Jewish population was largely deported to the Łódź Ghetto and then onward to the Chelmno Concentration Camp.

In the fall of last year we were able to spend a few days in Włocławek as we were researching and praying through our options. Entering Włocławek by car we came through a large national park. We caught our first glimpses of the town as smokestacks peeked out from above the trees. We had been told that we'll never see a post card of Włocławek, and as we broke through the treeline we understood why. Most European towns are marked by steeples, but Włocławek's smokestacks rise higher than it's steeples.

As we drove through the forest we were surprised to see prostitutes standing on the side of the road (no real highway system in Poland yet) as early as 10am. Driving past we would see tents pitched in the forest. Upon arriving we decided to walk off our 10 hour drive. It was not hard to find drug and alcohol abuse as we walked through the town square. The formerly Jewish owned buildings are literally falling apart while the EU courts decide their future. Squatters have moved in and it was not uncommon to see port-a-potties outside these structures without power or water.

We spent a solid 48 hours walking A LOT, talking to people, praying and simply soaking in the surroundings. As we drove home to Nitra a few things were clear to us:
  • there is a lot of good that can be done in Włocławek
  • there are very few English speakers and our Slovak got us further than our English (gotta love Slavic languages)
  • even though Włocławek is lacking infrastructure now (highway access, main shopping area etc.), there is change coming as the 3rd largest mall in Poland is under construction and the new highway will pass right by in 2012 - now is a great time to connect with a city in motion
  • Nitra is more cosmopolitan (relatively speaking) than industrial Włocławek, but Włocławek pays attention to details with nice parks and gardens and we could have a good life there
We are confident that this is where God thinks it is best for us to be. Home is where we are together and where God asks us to be. Włocławek, here we come!

For more information, you can visit Włocławek's webpage by clicking here.

What Comes Next

Hard to believe as it may seem, our 3 year Missions Apprenticeship officially concludes on January 29, 2010. For months we have been praying, asking you to pray, dialoguing with our bosses, fasting, journaling, obsessing, talking with friends and family and staying up late at night in order to ascertain what comes next. There was a time when we were focused on these next steps in an unhealthy way. God had to remind us (rather strongly) that He's got this under control (which is challenging for us as Type-A planners who are most comfortable while in control). Since then, we've had a deep confidence that God would let us know what we needed and when we needed to.

Over the past few months we've had a wide range of offers (including an invitation to stay in Nitra by the local leadership - which was highly affirming for us). There has been months of research and processing each offer to accompany the aforementioned praying and dialoguing. In the summer we were invited to be a part of a new project that, in all honesty, when we were first told about it we promptly laughed it off. However, the more we learned about the project, the more sense it seemed to make. Beyond being an excellent fit for both our dreams and gift mixes, we believe this is what God is asking us to do:

600 kilometers north of Nitra is a town of 120,000 people on the Wisła (Vistula) River. Włocławek, Poland is a highly industrial town whose history still impacts life today. Following the Nazi occupation in 1939, Włocławek became the first town in all of Europe to require Jews to wear the Yellow Star of David. The once thriving Jewish population, which owned a large amount of the local industry and prominent housing, was deported to the Łódź Ghetto or sent to the Chelmno Concentration Camp. To this day the buildings once owned by Jews remain unclaimed as the European courts decide their fate. Meanwhile, what should be the historic core of Włocławek, sits decaying and is occupied by squatters with no water or power, but port-a-potties. During a two day visit to Włocławek we were surprised at the visible amount of drug and alcohol use and prostitution. It is a made of brick, blue collar, hard working kind of town.

As far as we know there is little evangelical Christian presence in Włocławek. Our goal is not to create a modern version of a church in Włocławek (especially in light of the inseparable nature of being Polish and being Catholic), but rather to create a space in which to build a community based on kingdom values. To do this we have been asked to start and operate a social enterprise. More than just a community centre with drop-in programs, a social enterprise is to be a source of regeneration. We want to see art, business, learning and relationships come together to create positive change within Włocławek. Of course all of this is rooted in sharing God's love while in proximity to people who may never otherwise come into contact with genuine Christianity.

This social enterprise will be connected to a waste-to-energy project that goes online later this year. This company takes solid municipal waste and converts it into gas used for energy and alagaes used for bio-fuel while separating recyclable materials and reducing the mass of the waste. This company will be governed by kingdom based business principles and will play a role in funding the social enterprise (we should note, that this does not impact our fundraising as we will still need to cover our costs of living and other ministry costs, such as Amber's work with EMERGE womens leadership development). Together, the company and social enterprise, will take a holistic approach to helping God's people and planet.

The Plan:
  • January 29 is the official end of our apprenticeship but we are involved with two regional conferences that will keep us involved until February
  • our last day in Slovakia will be in mid February
  • from mid February to the beginning of September we will be in Canada. This time will be used to: complete our exit interviews and transition from Apprentice to Full Missionary Status with the PAOC, debrief our apprenticeship, spend time with friends and family, connect with partners, share about what we've learned in Slovakia - we believe we grow together, eat borderline unhealthy quantities of Jr.Bacon Cheeseburgers from Wendy's, complete all of the necessary legalities of moving to Poland (quite the process)
  • in September we will be moving to Włocławek and attending the nearby Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. Here they have a language course for foreign students wanting to study in Polish. University level Polish sounds like a good place to start and we will be in this program for 2 semesters.
  • while studying we will be building our understanding of Włocławek and investing in relationships. Amber will also continue her work with EMERGE as there are 3 European conferences taking place this year.
There is the summary. We look forward to sharing more about this as this adventure continues. If you've got questions - we'd love to hear them.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. We would not want to do it alone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Surprise in Nové Zámky

Quick context: Nové Zámky is a town of 18,000 about 40 minutes from Nitra. The "mother church" that started Mozaika is located there. In July of last year, the Nové Zámky church won a bidding war, with a Social Services Agency, to buy the building they have rented and renovated over the past 12 years. The church was given 18 months to secure the financing and was already given permission to renovate part of the building formerly occupied by a night club.

Last month the company that was selling the building asked for the keys to the former club to be returned so they could perform restorations before the sale was complete. Last week the leader of the church was visited by the head of the Social Services Agency and the head of the company that owns the building. They informed him that they had sold the building to the Social Services Agency and the amount was paid in full on December 29, 2009. Seeing as both the Agency and the company that sold the building are owned by the government, we're guessing there was some extra cash to be used before the end of the fiscal year. The Social Services Agency intends to turn the night club, Centre for Mothers and the church into their archives.

The church's contract there is slated for another 2 years, but we are not sure what decisions the new owners may make. People in Nové Zámky have invested heavily of their time, energy and money into making that building, and the church's relationship with the surrounding community, an excellent one.

We are confident that good will come from this, right now we just want people to be encouraged and know that God's got this one.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The End of a Decade

2010 - sounds quite futuristic and yet here we are.

December was a blogless month for us - sorry about that - but still a full one. There were some great personal highlights for us as we were able to spend time with some of Amber's cousins as they visited a nearby part of Europe, connect with some Slovene friends, and gain the honourary title of "Aunty and Uncle" as good friends of ours had their first child.

Here on the homefront things were still full steam ahead. We were able to wrap-up PotichuNahlas for the semester with a Christmas party before university students took their winter break. Also, Mozaika's "I Love my City: Christmas Express" was able to further our connections and impact within Nitra. Whether it was cleaning up after city Christmas events or running kids programs, Mozaika was able to make a positive difference. Along with his friend James, Matthew was able to go and collect over 100 gifts donated by Samaritans Purse to use at Mozaika's kids programs in a community centre and a girls home. Amber also performed as part of a small ensemble on stage at the downtown Christmas market singing Christmas and worship songs. Mozaika also had a Christmas lunch and Christmas Day service (a staple tradition here in Slovakia). Matthew's scabs are still healing from cutting out the decorations for the lunch ("Merry Christmas" in 9 different languages seemed like such a good idea before all of the cutting and laminating).

Christmas also brought the unexpected for us. At 2am on December 18th our phone rang letting us know that Matthew's Nana had passed away. There was not much sleep to be had after that and we had invited almost 30 people over for a Christmas party. So we hosted our party (the last guests departed at 1am), booked a flight, packed (more like dumped things in a suitcase), showered and Amber drove Matthew to the Vienna airport to fly to Toronto on the most overpriced ticket we hope we ever purchase.

We wavered over whether we were doing the right thing, but as soon as Matthew opened the front door and hugged his Mom, he knew the right choice had been made. Nana was a huge influence on our lives, and the lives of many. Few people can say they read about their Nana while studying the history of the Pentecostal church in Bible College. In all honesty, there is still a lot of processing to be done - it was such a whirlwind trip. 4 days in Canada flew past and Matthew's only suitcase arrived the evening before he left for Slovakia. Matthew's Dad, who had been preaching in Nain, Newfoundland, was prevented from attending the funeral by bad weather, but Matthew was able to have lunch with him before he returned to Slovakia. It was the first time since our wedding that all 5 members of the family had been together in one place.

Matthew was home by 3pm on Christmas Eve and we celebrated traditional Slovak Christmas that evening with friends. We spent the remainder of the holiday season surrounded by friends. We especially love New Years Eve here as Slovaks are a firework loving people.

We can only imagine what adventures God has for all of us in 2010.