Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back from the Great Odyssey

Dear Friends,
This story is about God answering prayers in an amazing way in the last months at BMA.  If you asked me what the three biggest things to pray for were, I’d say -- kids coming to Jesus, the school getting more committed, full-time, Christian staff, and the building.  This Spring, God has really moved on all three fronts.  First I will update you on some of the biggest headlines.  Then I would like to tell a detailed story about something wonderful Sharon and I did last week with my homeroom class.  
We simply can’t count how many kids came to Christ in May.  We know that shortly after the retreat (“Catch It”) which we asked friends to pray for, at least five kids (first year and second year) made first time commitments to Christ.  We also had talks with several students who said things like, “I thought I was a Christian before, but now it’s real” or, most poetically, “I am like a child in her mother’s womb -- I know I’m going to be born soon.”  The reason for the exciting season is, of course, God’s work.  The practical details are, as usual, all about the working of the body.  The student-led retreat was a huge factor. Dave Patty (Josiah Venture founder and BMA parent) was a guest giving exemplary teaching on the gospel, and I was a guest giving my salvation testimony.  The Christian students themselves were the main witnesses, leading worship, encouraging their friends, and praying faithfully.  In school, Jonny Lobel and I have been able to give a series of clear and pointed Bible classes with clear challenges.  Another remarkable development is in Frydek-Mistek, the town fifteen minutes north of us from which we draw about 15% of our students.  One of our BMA kids, 18 years old, felt led by the Holy Spirit to begin an evangelistic work in the city.  He got help from his home church, and this work has morphed into a new house church which draws many of our students who are new born or seriously considering faith.  The name of the group is Iskejp (which is Czech transliteration for the English work Escape) and they have meetings on Thursdays and Sundays.  I was a guest teacher for part of a Thursday meeting -- about 20 participants, all younger than 20 except for elders sent by the home church -- and my teaching was only a small segment of the evening.  There were hours for worship, small groups, doctrinal training and, of course, silly games.  In other words, all of these faithful believers, young and old, are doing their parts and God is pleased to grant blessing to the whole body. 
As for teachers, I can’t be too specific at this time, but I can report that we are expecting two more key players on the team in September, including a new American missionary and a very godly European sister.  These two have the potential to deeply impact the students, but also greatly bless Jonny, Petr and me who have had the key responsibility for the ministry thus far.
In the first week of June we heard that our regional government has given approval on the contract for our building.  This was the political step, and we had considered it the most difficult hurdle.  There is one more step in July, but we believe it to be a formality.  Even formalities need prayer!  So this is where we stand:  We have a unique opportunity to buy the building we occupy from the government, at a bargain price, by means of a no-interest loan for ten years.  The payments will be something like three times the regular rent we have been paying, but friends and supporters have already begun to pledge significant help.  Our situation is stabilized:  We are going to be able to stay in our building, and begin to repair it.  Thanks to some generous gifts, we expect to be able to begin work on windows and bathrooms this summer.
Now the long story.  In the first week of June, Sharon and I co-led my home room class’s annual trip.  If you know anything about me as a teacher, you know that field trips have traditionally been one of my great weaknesses.  They always make me very nervous.  There’s the kids’ behavior to manage, especially at night.  There are all the travel details: buses, trains, tickets, receipts.  Unfortunately for me, one of the key expectations -- maybe I should say commandments -- for any home room teacher in high school is that HE SHALL LEAD A SPRING TRIP.  Last year, Sharon and I took the kids to a little inn in a big forest where we had a very sweet time of sports, games and hikes.  This year, after much debate, my class elected to go to Prague, our beautiful capital.  This was an interesting decision.  The kids in my class constantly demand excitement and entertainment, but as soon as plans are made, begin to complain about the high price.  In this case, we agreed on a trip that would be four days and three nights away from Frydlant, and a cost ceiling of 2000 crowns total, all included.  That is about $120.  I worked very hard to find cheap or free attractions in the capital.  I booked rooms in a youth hostel, but even this wouldn’t have worked if one of our students didn’t have a granny with a big house just outside of Prague.  She agreed to let all 21 of us sleep on floors (or in her garden) for no charge on the first night of our trip.  
The trip began on Monday morning.  To get to Granny’s house in the little village of Černiky, we shepherded the kids onto and off three trains and a bus.  Of course, I got a few more gray hairs making sure that all the teenagers found the right platforms at the right time and that no one was left behind in a bathroom or snack shop.  We arrived in Černiky at about one in the afternoon, tired and hot and hungry.  I had spoken to the Granny on the phone, and was sure that she was kind and enthusiastic.  However, I had expected a rustic situation with a lot of work ahead of us.  As we tramped through the village to her front gate, I kept thinking over my plans to entertain the kids, and kept wondering if we were going acquire enough food for everyone.  The village had one main street, no businesses except a shabby little pub, one greenish pond beside a curious Catholic shrine, a small kids’ playground and lots of overgrown fields.  
Granny and Grandpa live behind a huge, medieval wall.  I really didn’t know what to expect when they unlocked the little wooden gate to welcome us through.  Inside is an amazing compound.  Grandpa told Sharon that a long time ago, this was housing for hunters who worked for the farm.  They have renovated a bungalow, and walled off a quad between barns, high walls and neighbors.  They have a perfect lawn, a spectacular garden full of blossoming flowers, interesting miniature trees and sturdy antiques like ironwork from abandoned church buildings.  They had also erected a marquis tent for the 21 of us, and proceeded to fill tables with a delicious Czech lunch.
After we were all overfed, the owner of the pub invited us to use the volleyball court on his back lot.  We played volleyball and “nohyball,” with comes from the Czech word for feet -- you play volleyball with your feet.  I did a decent job of volleyball, but my nohyball skills are nonexistent.  
In the evening there were sandwiches and pastries, and then some games and skits organized by the students or by me.  I have had success creating new games for my class based on American reality TV shows.  Last year these kids really enjoyed my “Project Runway” and “America’s (BMA’s) Biggest Loser.”  This time I had planned “Survivor,” expecting that we would be in a sort of wilderness environment on the edge of town.  Seeing as we could hardly ransack this beautiful garden for scraps with which to build lean-tos or bear traps, I designed a new game which I called “The Apprentice.”  I explained a little about Donald Trump.  Then I assigned volunteers impossible tasks as business assistants.  For example, in one scene, my poor volunteer had to get two business partners to  agree on a project name and sign a complicated series of contracts.  The “business partners” were a suspicious Pole who only spoke Polish (played by a student who lives on the border) and a rowdy Texan unable to speak Czech (played by Sharon -- don’t worry, her Czech is fine).  
Late that night, some boys got a guitar and sat around a fire singing old Czech folk songs.  I tried hard to understand, but only got snatches.  Then I sat for awhile with another student, a Christian, who is perfectly friendly and fun-loving by day but who told me he had no interested in the folk songs of his homeland because, in his opinion, they are all so pessimistic and self-pitying.
The next day, we caught a bus and a train to Prague.  I proudly led my troop across town by subway, and we found the hostel.  For those of you who know the city, our hostel was in a great neighborhood in between the “dancing building” (here’s a nice shot of it on the web: http://www.dsgnwrld.com/20-super-strange-buildings-from-around-the-world-15303/dancing-building-prague-czechrepublic-9/)   and the church building where the assassins of Nazi overlord Heydrich hid after they were wounded.  
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a great picnic at Vyšehrad, the site of a 13th century fort and now a celebrated chapel and graveyard.  The kids dined at various haunts along Vaclavské Naměstí (Wenceslas Square) and most signed up for a long walk to see Prague by night.  
The next day, we went to the National Museum and the Zoo.   By now, my kids were exhausted and declined my offer of a strategy game across the zoo grounds.  (Why were they so tired?  In true Czech School Trip fashion, this trip featured a total of 6 different trains and 4 different buses, not to mention 11 different subway trains and many miles on foot.)
I lingered with Sharon watching her favorites, the elephants, and then went to commune with my favorites, the Komodo Dragons.  (In case you didn’t know, Prague has two, and is the only zoo in the world where they have been successfully born and raised in captivity.)
After much debate, the kids elected to go to a shopping mall for fast food dinner.  In the food court, I put together a ring of tables and 21 chairs so that we could have a special discussion that I had been preparing them for over several days.
I told them that this last dinner would represent the half way point of our journey through BMA together -- it’s the end of their second of four years.  I said that each student would have to answer one of three possible questions.  
  1. What is the most important thing you have learned in the last two years?
  2. How have you changed personally and spiritually in the last two years?
  3. What has BMA not done for you yet that you hope it will do for you in the next two years?
The students were faithful and each one answered. A few were a little self-conscious, but everyone took it seriously and everyone participated.  This is where I felt like the many days of hard work on this trip began to pay off.
Four students elected to answer the third question.  These included some of the kids getting the best grades in English, and they all said the same thing: they want me to teach more English vocabulary.  This has always been a sore point with me.  Elementary schools here make students memorize long lists of everything -- dates, elements, even insect intestinal parts (Lucy’s 8th grade biology) -- with no context or application.  English class in elementary school usually emphasizes the learning of vocab lists.  So, by contrast, I emphasize new things: expression, mastery of verb tenses, practical application, creativity.  But for the first time I was able to hear the constructive criticism I was being given and I am going to find a way to meet the students’ call.
Answers to number two were all interesting.  Several talked about growing closer to God.  Most of these were kids whose faith I already knew about.  I am so thankful!  In my class, one girl came to Christ last month.  Most of the ones who were already believers are growing.  
Most special to me on this night were a few answers to number one.  Let me try to describe one student without giving a name.  Every teacher has students whom he knows he isn’t reaching very well.  For example, the sense of humor that works so well with 95% of the kids fails to delight the last 5%.  Favorite creative techniques that inspire most of the class seem to make these students bored, frustrated or confused.  The student I’m thinking about just didn’t seem to click with me or my teaching style, and worst of all, was aggressively the least interested in Bible class.  It’s been a long time now since anyone threw a Bible on the floor or leered at me while holding the Scripture upside down.  That was the first two years.  Nowadays, opposition is limited to rolling eyes, impassive faces, appearing to sleep on the desk or, most commonly, staring dramatically out the window.  The student I’m thinking about used these methods to check out each time I brought the Bibles to class.
But on the last night of our trip, this student shocked me by saying that the biggest thing of the first two years was learning about God -- especially through new Christian friends, peers who were good listeners, caring and loving, and also committed followers of Jesus.  This student has started to seriously listen and consider the gospel.  After that frank admission, three other unbelieving students said the same thing.
The third adult on our trip -- excuse me! Several of my students are now technically adults, since they’ve passed their eighteenth birthdays -- was Lukaš, our main Czech language and literature teacher.  He was a great asset in Prague, not only because he really knows his Czech history, but because he is ready and willing to do anything necessary to serve the students.  However, Lukaš isn’t a believer yet.  We pray for him constantly.  The kids pressed him to answer one of our questions, and he came up with something really intriguing.
Lukaš told us that in his experience, his own culture is based on fear.  Generally, Czechs have been used to doing things because of fear of the next level of authority.  On top of each authority was a higher authority issuing its commands also based on fear of a still higher authority, all the way up to some kind of authoritarian government.  I could certainly see his point.  For example, I still bristle at the memory of the secretary at the courthouse where the last stage of our adoption process is stalled.  She had a little chit of authority and wanted to enjoy its full value by intimidating Sharon and me, making high speed, complex demands and then ridiculing us because of our Czech.  
Lukaš maintains that Czech schools are all about fear.  The students only work because of fear of their teachers -- not love, respect or even interest.   The teachers operate in fear of their administrators.  Administrators live in fear of inspectors, and the inspectors work in fear of the government.  But Lukaš says that at our school, he has seen something new and different.  He is astounded by the freedom, love and respect in our BMA culture.  He loves the new experience of being among people who work hard because of their love for kids or their passion for education.  We pray that he will discern something even higher that is motivating us.  

Sharon and I were completely exhausted after our four day odyssey.  However, we were very thankful for the close contact with the kids and the clear evidence of God’s working in my class.  Thank you for praying for our school and our family.  The journey continues, but this was a great mile-marker.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Catch It" Caught On

     Thanks for praying for the big student retreat called "Catch It."  36 BMA students (a third of the school!) took part, and most weren't Christians -- most were kids wanting to spend time with friends and get to know more about Jesus.  The weather was perfect, the activities were ingenious, and the participants were very happy. I was invited to be a guest game designer (I created a "night game" about smugglers which we played in the woods from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.) and then I returned on the last day to share a half-hour testimony of how I came to Christ and how it affects me today.  Let me report on what I saw first hand, and then what I heard about the retreat from others.
     When I arrived to set up my night game, students had just listened to one of three talks about the gospel given by missionary Dave Patty.  Dave organized his message into three parts: "Who am I?", "Who is God?"  and "What's my biggest problem and how does Jesus solve it?"  When I got up the hill to the conference center on the first night, the students had heard this first talk and split into four-person discussion groups.  There's a coffee shop up there and as I got my caffeine fix to get me through the evening, I noted a lot of the groups having pretty serious and intimate conversations.  Then we all geared up for my game.  It was a bit crazy but the kids were patient.  Of course, the main element necessary for the success of a night game is to have people jumping out from behind trees and causing other people to scream and giggle.  By this standard, it was a pretty good game.
     I came back on the third day of the retreat, and found everyone still lively and really enjoying each other's company.  Before I spoke, we all sang some popular American worship songs led by a student band.  The participation and enthusiasm were great, but the thing that touched me the most was the position of the worship band's back-up singer.  These days, most media-saturated countries have some kind of "reality" television program that works as a talent show:  American Idol, X Factor or here "Česko-Slovensko Superstar."  One of our BMA students was in it this year and had a dynamic run into the very late rounds.  This created an event for our school, since millions of Czechs were watching on national television and the young man included us when he presented his personal story on the show.  All BMA folk were regularly stopped in shops and asked about him -- "Doesn't he go to your school?  How is he doing?  Isn't he great?"  He really was a superstar and really had screaming fans.  But just a few weeks after he left the contest, he was singing back-up in a little BMA band, because he's a Christian and wanted to support his friends who were leading worship.  His humility and servant heart really moved me.  I don't know if it struck the students in the same way -- he's one of them.
     While the singing was going on, I noticed that notes from Dave Patty's last talk were still on the white board.  He had done a detailed version of the great chasm between man and God, the one with failed bridges representing human attempts to cross the gap (religion, for example, or good deeds.)  Only the cross of Jesus can bring man to God the Father.  I was excited to see that illustration, since I remember so clearly when I saw it for the first time, right after my own salvation.
     The kids organizing the retreat had asked me for my testimony.  Besides fasting and praying, two other things went into my preparation.  I asked Dave for more details about his talks, so that I could fit into the context he had created.  I also meditated on some creative writing that I have been reading.  In my English classes, I ask for a lot of story-telling, and many students have shared powerful accounts about their recent or current struggles at home or at school.  I decided that I would give them the context of my salvation -- teenage years when I was really troubled at school and having some tough times with my family.   I gave specific stories that I hope were a bit funny as well as sad.  I tried to explain how I woke up to my own "biggest problem:"  pride and selfishness (sin) that I just couldn't escape from by myself.  I described the Sunday School teacher who invited me to the Toronto Billy Graham Crusade.  That's where I saw and understood the illustration that was on the white board right behind me now.
I gave this talk in Czech.  I felt pretty good about it.  Certainly the kids were very patient -- I felt that I had the attention and support of all of them.
     I've told you what I saw of the retreat myself, but there was much, much more.  I eagerly asked everyone I could for more stories.  Dave apparently had a lot of success giving very detailed presentations of the gospel.  His sessions went longer than you might expect with high school students, but the kids listened intently all the way through and then gathered around him for serious questions afterward.
     Student leaders of the small groups told me that some were fantastic, and some didn't find the planned discussions helpful so they used the time to share life stories.  The 36 kids grew together as a family, and felt very connected to each other.
In the first week after, I saw some immediate results.  When I asked one student where she was at now on her spiritual journey, she said that she was like a baby about to born... A number of the first year girls with no Christian background have started coming regularly to the student prayer and worship times during morning recesses...
     All in all, this is thing that makes BMA unique and thrilling.  God has given us a place where we can give the gospel in all kinds of different ways, and possibly the most powerful is what the Christian students do to show love to their friends in a creative, natural and exciting way.  I'm honored that the teenagers invited me as a guest, and thankful to everyone who supported the event.  - Paul

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BMA's Catch It Retreat Starts

“Catch It” is an amazing concept that God gave some of BMA’s Christian students a few years ago.  They were at a conference in Budapest and it seemed that the Holy Spirit was prompting them to take some new action to bring Jesus to their unbelieving friends.  The first “Catch It” happened in 2009 and several kids traced their conversions to this exciting time.  It was so encouraging that the third edition will take place this weekend (Thursday - Saturday April 28th - April 30th).
I’m writing this note as the students are gathering at the conference center up the mountain from us.  It’s called KAM Malenovice.  In a few hours I’ll be heading up there to lead a night game in the woods.  I made up a complicated three-team strategy adventure.  To help me prepare, the kids gave the list of the Catch It participants.  It’s a thrill to read the names.  There are 36 kids.  15 are first year students.  Less than half are believers.  All the kids signed up for a weekend in which they knew there would be games and fun but they’d also get serious teaching and a direct spiritual challenge.
I’ve been to lots of teenager retreats in our seven years here.  A lot of them involved   trekking through cold, wet wilderness to get to chilly cabins in the middle of nowhere.  Almost all of them involved early mornings without quite enough coffee, long afternoons with crazy activities, late nights with tea and profound conversation.  But none of them have borne the kind of fruit that this Catch It enterprise has.  Maybe it’s because this one is not top down (conceived by the youth leaders or teachers) but bottom up (we adults are the guests.)  

A couple of years ago, I was invited to lead a drama seminar.  I’m attaching some of the pictures from that!  The kids invited me to do that again this year, too, but I urged them to get a fourth year student involved instead.  He just landed a spot in a very prestigious university drama program.  So they signed me up to create a night game.  I will have three teams running around in the dark.  Two teams will attempt to smuggle gold through the woods and up the foothills of our mountain, and one team, the police, armed with flashlights, will try to intercept them.
The invitation that really honors me is to give a testimony on Saturday morning, near the end of the program.  They asked me to take half an hour, and to somehow coordinate with Dave, the lead teacher.  Dave will focus his three sessions on questions like, “Who are we?” “Who is God?” “What is our biggest problem in life?” and “How does Jesus solve that problem?”  I am planning to talk about my teenage journey -- how I grew sick of myself, began to recognize the problem of sin, and heard about Jesus from an amazing Sunday School teacher who took me to hear Billy Graham.  
But I’m not sure.  I really have to pray.  I’m definitely willing to get a completely new inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Great Praise!

We just received news of another B.M.A. student coming to Christ.  A dozen of our kids are on a service project with Petr Hermann and 2 graduates, working in an orphanage  in Ukraine.  Two Christian students led a first year boy to the Lord!
The story began in November, 2009, when Petr and I traveled around our region doing advertisements for BMA in feeder schools.  We made a first time visit to a village near Frydek-Mistek.  I remember it very clearly: as I did my English lesson, my voice had to compete with a construction crew right next door.  (If any of you ever had to teach in the classroom next to me, you know that I held my own.)  During and after the lesson, one ninth grade boy was especially enthusiastic, trying to use his English in creative ways and galloping after me as we headed out through the main corridor, wanting more time to chat.   The commercial was successful, and he entered BMA in September.  Starting with our traditional Fall retreat, he was full of questions about spiritual things.  
Jonny Lobel is his home room teacher and leads weekly Bible study.  The curriculum I wrote for them is “all Jesus, all year.”  There’s more about our Bible curriculum on this blog’s BMA page.
Jonny also organized this week’s trip to Ukraine.  There is a Christian school in Kiev with mostly English speaking students. In a footnote to our personal story, nicely crafted by the Lord, we seriously considered serving with the Kiev school instead of BMA seven years ago.  We know we’re in the right place now, but it is a delight to see Him bring these missionary students into our lives. They graciously invited BMA students to join their service project, and they raised money to help the less-well-off Czech kids pay for the long train journey.  But Jonny has a new baby, so he didn’t volunteer to lead the trip. Instead, our director, Petr, is with them, as well as two Christian graduates of BMA who are on break from university. 
I am so thankful for the Lord working through this team.  Think of all the people working in unison, playing their parts and helping this teenager find new faith:  a school in Kiev, BMA teachers, a family of supporters who uphold those teachers, BMA graduates, and a faithful pair of BMA students.

Monday, February 21, 2011

They're Still Here...

Sharon and I went across the border to Poland for our anniversary.  We saw several things that reminded us of the Communist heritage in this part of the world.  Check out the reading material our stone friend is carrying.  In the second picture, Sharon is standing in front of one Warsaw's most impressive buildings, "a gift to the Polish people" from Stalin.     But more significant than the architecture is the lasting political and cultural influence.  Here in the Czech Republic we are constantly coming across things that remind us that this land still needs deliverance.  Our attempt to buy our building will have to get past a legislature with many Communist Party members -- possibly the ones who go to the annual Spring fundraiser at the restaurant on our street.  (Please jump to the BMA page for more information about our building.)  The way people of our generation and older think about leadership, about business, about education -- all these things are still deeply influenced by totalitarianism.      I'm not just speaking as an American who gets frustrated by the tired shopkeepers who treat us with disgust until we acknowledge their authority.  Our Czech friends and colleagues lament their own bureaucracy, and the attitudes of the bureaucrats.  
     We took Izak to the clinic the other day, and a kindly nurse asked him what name he was giving to his new toy puppy.  She was a gifted health care professional who had given Izak the present a week ago with the assignment: "Why don't you tell me what it's name is when you come back?"   Izak decided on "Pomeranč" which means "Orange."  When he told the nurse, she said right away, "Oh, no, we don't give doggies names like that."  No affirmation for creativity or even cuteness.  It was remarkable that a woman who performed her job so capably felt that she had to squash our three-year-old's happy idea. We were puzzled.  Was this simply a cultural difference?  Later, though, Petr Hermann heard about it, agreed that it was strange. His comment was: "The heritage of Communism."  
One of the exciting things about BMA is the determined attempt to teach from a different kind of heritage.  Communist education stressed conformity without questions, and shame.  We try to encourage creativity and questions, and care for the students.  We hope this brings honor directly to Jesus Christ, author of creativity, who invited questions and cares for us still.

Izak and Pomeranč

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paul Hugh Peregrine Till

Paul Hugh Peregrine Till was born this day fifteen years ago.  He has always been amazing.  

  But today we are especially proud of the young man who struggled so hard to enter this new culture, who succeeded, and now is helping a demanding little brother find his way in Till culture.
A few of Paul Hugh's greatest hits...
Prayer time, August 22nd, 1999 (Paul Hugh was three): "Help no lions to come and no sharks and no swordfish and no bloody fish and no trees with mouths and black knights are evil, and gold knights are good... Amen." 
In the car, January 2nd, 2003 (Paul Hugh was almost seven): 
"I hate the word 'may.'  I always say, 'CAN I please?"  
"Because I hate words that start with the letter M."
"Because they remind me of people running around naked."
"Why is that?"
"Because 'naked' starts with N and M sounds so much like N." 

Much of Paul Hugh Peregrine's name is hidden in the older translations of Psalm 84: 5.
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage."
"Hugh" comes from an ancient word for heart or soul, and "Peregrine" means pilgrim.  
Please pray with us for Paul Hugh's pilgrimage, that he would truly go "from strength to strength" until he "appears before God in Zion." 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Blog

     Thanks for visiting our blog.  We are rookies.  Here's what we think is on this blog page, although you never know -- what I thought was a nice update on our family might actually be a link to something awful. Please let me know if I made a really silly mistake.
If you don't know who we are or what we are up to, please go to the Introduction page for an introduction.  Paul and Sharon's pages are for honest reflection -- less news than opinion and commentary.  We expect to be brutally honest in both our observations and in our thanksgiving to God.  We know that people who support our ministry want to keep track of our financial needs, so there is a page for that.  The Beskydy Mountain Academy page is about the school with a strong emphasis on spiritual developments and prayer needs.
     It is Saturday afternoon, February 5th.  Izak is supposed to be napping.  Paul Hugh and Lucy Rose are out in the woods somewhere with friends: Lucy walking, Paul Hugh fighting with wooden weapons.  Sharon is practicing the piano and singing ("Simplemente" from the old Rehoboth songbook) and Patrick is back at Brown University.  This evening we will cash in a big pile of food certificates and treat my director's family to dinner on the town square.  (All teachers in the Czech Republic are assigned monthly certificates to cover their lunch expenses and I've saved mine up.) My director, Petr, is a faithful and courageous believer and we are looking forward to getting our families together because it doesn't happen often enough.
     "Spring" break has just begun.  Czech school districts rotate their vacations and our region has just been put back to the front of the line where we started six years ago, in other words, early February.  I don't think I mind.  In fact, it feels like it's just in time for us.  We are a tired bunch.  Sharon has only just got the cast off her broken right hand and is learning exercises for rehabilitation.  Izak is still learning about obedience and truth-telling, and that's demanding for all of us.  The weather has been frigid.  We're weary.
     You will notice on this page a new e-mail address.  Please feel free to use it.  Up until now, the best e-mail for contacting us has been
but we are now experimenting with
so please feel free to write us at either.
     Thank you for your prayers and your visit! - Paul