Friday, October 2, 2015

Our trip to Czech Republic

Many of you know that we recently returned from a mission trip to Czech Republic. Words fail to describe the experience we had while in Czech Republic. God is up to some amazing work and we were both encouraged and strengthened during our time there. 

Czech Republic is a beautiful country. All week long we were amazed by the beauty around us. 

We drove through rolling hills filled with trees, livestock, villages and fields. 

We saw extremely old and beautiful castles with rich history. 

On top of the castle walls, we could see as far as our eyes could possibly see. 

Inside the walls were more beauty and history. 

Even the conference center where we stayed was filled with beauty. 

Even though we felt as if our eyes had seen so much beauty since our arrival... Two days before we left the country we drove into Prague to tour. Those of you who have been to Prague laugh because you understand the beauty of the city. 

These photos are such a vague comparison to the actual beauty of Prague. Seriously, every photo I took almost aggravated me because it didn't even come near to capturing the true beauty of what I was seeing with my eyes. 

The city is FILLED with beautiful cobblestone streets. We navigated all day through the city walking on cobblestone. 

We passed by the astronomical clock in old town square. People gather to watch it do "it's thing" every hour. 

We crossed the St Charles Bridge and the views from it are purely stunning! Photos were simply unable to capture the beauty. We took about an hour to walk across the bridge because we were so struck by the history and beauty. 

Yes that dark spot on top of the hill is an amazing, beautiful castle! 

Finally, we began our up hill journey to Prague castle. The hill was steep but COMPLETELY worth it! 

Overlooking the side wall. 

We walked through the gate. Wes (the missionary in Czech) showed us photos of the Nazis and Hitler standing in front of these very gates that we walked through. 

We entered into the cathedral. We were awestruck. I didn't even want to take photos because they did it no justice. 

We walked outside the cathedral and more breathtaking views awaited us! 

Then... As we were standing outside looking up at the beautiful architecture around us... 

Wes Stafford (the missionary living in Czech) asked a question. 

"Everything that you have seen... All of the beautiful architecture of this city, castle and cathedral.... Does it make you want to worship God?" 

We were silent for a moment. 

I wanted to answer the question honestly. 

It felt as if my answer should have been "yes" because of the vast beauty around us. But my honest answer was "no." 

Yes, the things we were seeing were beautiful but they did not make me want to worship God. If anything, it drew my heart to think of man. 

Thankfully Lee answered before me and he confirmed my feelings. 

He simply said, "No. It's beautiful but it doesn't make me want to worship God." 

That moment stuck with me. 

As I remember our trip, none of the physical beauty of Czech Republic strengthened my faith or made me want to worship God. 

Do you know what DID make me want to worship God? 


Not the church. 

Meet Radim. 
He is the guy on the left facing the camera. Radim grew up in Czech Republic. When he came to America, he was not a believer. This trip was his first time to return to Czech Republic as a Christian. He was both excited and nervous. 
His life has completely changed since he became a Christian. 
This is his childhood church. 
In this photo, Radim is translating the history of the church to us. 

Watching Radim on this trip made me want to praise God. God truly gives us new life. Radim stepped back into a country completely redeemed. 

Watching the lives of Wes and Sherie Stafford made me want to praise God. These two packed their bags and moved across the ocean to share the Gospel. The left family and all they had ever known behind to share the love of Christ in a foreign land. 

Praise God. 

Walking into a local church that has a ministry called "Majak" (Lighthouse) made me want to praise God. 
Young Czech believers give up their Friday afternoons to pour into the lives of kids who come to Majak. They love Jesus and desire to share the gospel in a dark world. 
Watching these 6 Czech believers continually sacrifice their time to share the gospel made me want to praise God. 

Being able to share a meal with both American and Czech believers as if we were family made me want to praise God. 

Watching them extend love to the workers of the restaraunt who were both exhausted and overwhelmed made me want to praise God. 

Seated around this table are 6 Czech believers ages 20+ who gave up their weekend to learn more about Jesus. 

7 Americans who traveled across the ocean to disciple local leaders. 

2 missionaries who live in Czech Republic. 

Simply sitting at this table was overwhelming. Two languages. 15 believers. Two nationalities. Different ages and seasons of life. 

Yet one common goal: To know more about God and to share the gospel with a lost world! 

This made me want to praise God. 

Watching Nela share the gospel using a concept that we learned at our church here in America was awesome. She shared in the Czech language and Radim translated for us.

This moment made me want to praise God. 

Worshipping God together in both the Czech and English language made me want to praise God. 

All of the Czech believers present this weekend spoke English. However, Tomas is deaf and though he can speak English (which is amazing), he has a difficult time lip reading English. So Martin (pictured above) did an amazing job translating all weekend so that Tomas did not miss a thing! Tomas eagerly did not want to miss a single thing! Tomas probably had to work harder than any of us as he lip read and took notes on a huge amount of material. 

Watching these two all weekend made me simply want to praise God. 

At the end of it all, I wasn't touched by the physical beauty around us. 

I was inspired, encouraged and strengthened by watching the glorious work of The Lord in the lives of all His children. 

For in the end... seeing His work in people's lives is what makes me want praise Him! 

We love Czech Republic. We love our new friends (our brothers and sisters). We love and adore our Heavenly Father who allowed us to have a small part in furthering His Kingdom! 

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