The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


Measurement is the only similarity.

July 31, 2010 - 10:00 AM

When we were initially deciding where to travel/drive after English Camp, we used references like: Camp to Salzburg is like Davenport to Ames, or Salzburg to Munich is like Iowa City to Des Moines. 

But, OH, how the view was different!


Shortly after entering Austria (for reals this time) our horizon became filled with shadows of what was to come.  Similar to that feeling you get when you are driving through the plains before reaching the Rocky Mountains, their presence carried the most amazing anticipation and excitement.  With the foothills of the Alps drawing us to them, it was impossible to want to stop and walk around the picturesque little Austrian villages I was so looking forward to see.  I did look and admire each one along the way to Salzburg though!  They were adorable, clean and not industrialized, filled with cute concrete cottages with tile roofs, and the most beautiful gardens covering every yard!  But sadly, the best photo I took of them was this...

Drive By

We arrived to the bustling city of Salzburg, waved "hi" to Mozart's home as Josh quickly checked into our fancy hotel (more on that later), and then we got right back on the road and kept on driving up the valley.  On this absolutely picture perfect day, we simply had to go as high into the mountains as we could.

We're not in Iowa

We were driving along the beautiful Salzach River, located between two mountain ranges and known for its white water rafting.  While the mountains in this area don't top out higher than around 9K, the view from the valley to mountain top was good enough for us Iowa folk.  The water of the river is a mesmerizing aqua blue and the road we were driving on hugged and criss-crossed back and forth over this beautiful water.  We got to a National Park at the top and then turned around.  And once again, we found ourselves crossing a border and not realizing it until AFTER we were headed back down the river.  (Tricky, tricky, Germany!) 

Yes, we did not end up hiking up in the mountains because the aqua blue water was too much for the Three and they HAD to go in it.  We found a little off road, a lightly overgrown footpath, a family of locals and we were there.


And within our literal first two minutes there, Max had pinned down this...


Water Snake

Thankfully, we convinced him to let it go, phew! 

We played here forever and I think the Three will remember this as their favorite place in all of Salzburg.  They LOVED playing in the aqua blue water, walking along the rocks, pinning the water snake, and the only thing missing was us allowing them to get their clothes completely soaked, though they tried really hard to get as wet as possible.


They simply did not fully understand the fanciness of the hotel we were soon going to be sneaking them into.


Wait... Are we in Germany or Austria?

July 30, 2010 - 12:10 AM

English Camp ended around 11am on Saturday and at that point the Cramer 5 began our own little 2 day adventure alone.  We were planning to drive to Salzburg, Austria then Munich, Germany.  Within moments of getting into the car, leaving camp and driving along the beautiful countryside roads, I was completely and totally and utterly... r e l a x e d. 


Once again / ask my husband, that is always an amazing feat, but incredibly true.  Even Josh driving the windy, hilly, Bohemian countryside, I was completely r e l a x e d.  English Camp is TONS of non-stop fun that I can't wait to do again, but I think everyone would agree it is nice... that first moment of silence after camp is over, similar only to the *sigh* right before you fall asleep at night after an amazing day.  Being in the car, our three kids happy in their car seats, Josh driving wonderfully, a picture perfect day, no agenda, nothing to do but sit... *sigh* 

I was so r e l a x e d we drove right through a border crossing and didn't realize until 30 miles later that we had crossed a border.  After a quick search on the internet, we learned that it didn't matter anymore since Czech is in the EU and thanks to Schengen border rules.  (Phew!)  I was so r e l a x e d I thought we were in an entirely different country than we were.

Our first big, planned stop we programmed into TomTom Europe was specifically for our kids...


Yeppers, for their first meal after camp we let them eat at McDonald's!  Our kids were super champs with the camp food so we happily let them have this as their reward!  (I don't think we've eaten at McDonald's in over 4 years, whenever it was we saw Super Size Me.)  I did have a bite of Zeke's Big-n-Tasty, and I must say, it tasted like a real hamburger.  We heard this was because Europe has different standards on the quality of food in fast food joints, but whatever the case, it was surprisingly decent.  From a McDonald's?  Who knew!  Except for the fact that they only took cash, it was definitely a meal and surroundings that the kids recognized from "home" and really enjoyed!

bikes and beer

Josh and I didn't have our celebratory meal at McDonald's, instead The Wirtshaus Beirgarten was where we ate our lunch.  We had our stomachs set on eating some delicious local food and me drinking local wine and beer.  Since we were unsure if other European countries had the same drinking rules that Czech has and since I wasn't authorized to drive our rental car, I got to do all the drinking, :)!  

(The city was absolutely covered in cyclists of all shapes and sizes and kinds, from the 65 year old decked out in gear from head to toe to the hippy-esque carrying their home on their bike.  Everyone parked their bikes, unlocked, around the city, and right in front of this beer garden.)

beer garden

Maybe it was because we are novice foodies, maybe it was because we were hungry, maybe because of camp mystery meat, maybe because of the restaurant itself, whatever the case... With each bite we took of our food, we sighed the most happiest sigh, we yummed the happiest yums, we marveled how everything tasted so, so good it literally melted in our mouths.



I about cried when I ate this salad, I was SO happy to eat a salad.  If you know me at all you know how much I love, love, love eating salads, and OH how I loved this salad.  The dressing was different but delicious!  The veggies were normal veggies but they were veggies(!) and they were green, red and orange!  SO colorful!  OH, how I had missed color!




We knew we were in a city named Passau and this was their local brew.  It was delicious!  It's interesting how in the states the local brews are more common to be hit or miss.  As we would find in our travels around Europe, the local brews were always amazing.  Once I had this beer I started to question exactly what country we were actually in... I thought we were in Austria, isn't that south of Czech?  But maybe we were in Germany.


Once back in the car, I looked up on TomTom where exactly we were and it turned out we were NOT in Austria as I had been thinking (since the border crossing!) but we were actually in Germany.  Doh!  Obviously before leaving I hadn't looked at the map close enough to see the little jut in part of Germany.  In my defense, TomTom Europe did NOT have dark/obvious border lines on their maps.  They are this light gray, lighter than the below Google map.  Just saying!  (Oh, and if I could put this photo in quotes to prove my point, I would, :)!  But see, see how I could have been confused?)

google map

When I realized we had been in Germany the whole time, I was SO happy!  See, the short little jaunt we did make into Germany, where I thought it was Austria, I was very bummed.  I have always had these very picturesque visions of Austrian villages.  Every little village we had driven through thus far was not like that at all, there was tons of advertising on buildings, lots of modern buildings, very industrialized.  Once I figured out that what I thought was Austria was Germany, I was tickled pink!  I had not missed seeing the cute little Austrian villages, we just hadn't gotten to them yet, hooray!


So, how was Jesus received?

July 29, 2010 - 10:00 AM

I mean, it is a camp that talks about Jesus.

The Thursday night's Evening Program was about Jesus.  After the program, we were dismissed into our Discussion Groups and from there we were dismissed into a "Labyrinth."  The Labyrinth* was a simple and beautiful candlelit walk around the camp that had 6 or 7 stations set up with messages to read and an action to take or reflection to make. 

My job during the Labyrinth was to dismiss the Discussion Groups to the first station.  Needless to say, I didn't get to participate in the actual stations.  To be honest, even though I had multiple staff describe the stations to me at different points, I was so concerned and in prayer for the students, my memory of all the stations & details is fuzzy.  I know I am missing 2 or 3 stations in there. Gack!  (Also, since it was at night, I have no pictures to record how amazing it looked with all the candles everywhere.  I mean, I tried but my old camera couldn't hack it.)

The Labyrinth was set up so the students had a quiet place to reflect on the things they have heard while at camp.  From a station to think about those close to you, to creating with clay sculptures, to a letter to yourself... the station I heard the most comments about was the one where (I think) you dipped your hands into water then sand and then someone else would wash off your hands.  A lot of students said that was a very meaningful lesson for them.  The final station was a large cross on the grass made out of unlit tea lights.  The written message said something to the effect of, if you have chosen to take the step and trust Jesus then to light a candle as a symbol of that commitment.

Most of the students enjoyed the Labyrinth, though honestly there was a very small group of students who didn't (and admittedly, they had been grumpy about everything throughout the week, so it was no surprise).  But I do know of several students who lit candles at the end, who previously did not have faith in Jesus.  I am very thankful for Leah & the JV/KAM Team being there to follow up those students!

Class  Photo by Pavel B

Josh's Class Photo by Pavel  B

In the end, Josh's class had one guy accept Jesus at camp and a girl make a commitment to reading the Bible.  As I said, in my class we had amazing discussions throughout the week.  We talked about topics like, "Why did King David's first son with Bathsheba have to die?" or "What will happen if my brother who has cancer and does not accept Jesus, dies?"  Every question was very genuine and from the heart, and some of the students were thinking about for the very first time.  I am thankful that ultimately it is between them and God but I trust that everything they heard and saw at camp will be for good, and I am continuing to pray for them.  "So as the Holy Spirit says, 'Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts against Him.'" 

If you have a moment, please continue to pray for all of the JV English Camp students.  They are all amazing kids and I pray it was not by chance they all made the time and financial sacrifice to come to English Camp.  In the Czech Republic there can be a city of 100,000 people and literally only 1 small chuch, literally.  English Camp is often the first time some students hear about Jesus.  The Czech Republic is also one of the most atheistic countries in the world and some of the kids have come to camp for years, enjoy the camp, but want nothing to do with God.  Pray this would be the year their hearts are softened and they take a step of faith.  Pray for God to continue to raise up leaders among them, especially for the men.  Please pray for the follow up that Leah and the JV/KAM team will be doing, this summer and the new school year.   

The awesome/exciting thing is, God IS on the move!

(*I know there are varying levels/seriousness/goofiness/rituals of Labyrinths.  At camp, the Labyrinth concept itself was a tool not a belief structure.  Don't read too much into it, :)!)


Dear Ministry Support Team of Leah,

July 28, 2010 - 12:05 AM

If I could find a way, I would LOVE to send a letter to everyone who prayerfully and financially supports my sister Leah in Czech.  Because WOW, having seen it first hand, it is amazing to know how much my life has been multiplied simply by supporting hers!

Dear Ministry Support Team of Leah,

Ahoj!  For those who don't know me, I'm Dana, one of Leah's 2 younger sisters.  My husband Josh and our three kids just had the trip of a lifetime!  We were able to go and visit Leah in the Czech Republic and participate in the Strakonice English Camp.  Let me tell you, it was fabulous!

Like you, as a family we have supported Leah both prayerfully and financially in Czech since her beginning there, 10 years ago.  You all have met Leah so you know how great she is, her love, her enthusiasm, her youthfullness, her drive, her giving, her creativity, her compassion, her empathy, everything, she is a beautiful woman inside and out.  Supporting her in Czech doing high school ministry has always been the perfect fit for her. 

Leah's sports team, picture by Pavel B

Like you, over the years we've read all her stories about Czech through her emails and blogs.  She has written about the good times and the bad without hesitation and from her stories we/you could tell she was having a huge impact with those in her sphere of influence.

But having just been there, watching her live it out in person, all I can say is WOW!  It was as amazing as I thought it would be PLUS so much more!  Y/our prayers and financial support are truly being used to their fullest, nothing has been wasted or in vain, her stories are spot on, her impact has been and is eternal, and YOU have definitely multiplied your life through hers!

hand  gestures while singing, picture by Pavel B

dancing leah in lower middle, picture by Pavel B

And yes, she is more amazing in person than in print!  Yes, her youthful look DOES make her fit right in with high school kids.  Yes, her energy DOES help her keep moving when playing sports and dancing.  Yes, she DOES an amazing job teaching English and translating Czech.  Yes, her apartment is not her own and it is constantly open and available, whether she is there or not, to be used by clubs, studies, dinners, parties, etc, it is a safe place for so many young people.  Yes, she is serving the Lord in a place that is need of many more men and women just like her!

But it is more than that... We got to meet two Engligh teachers from the local schools and they are so supportive of Leah's work in the schools.  We met an older woman Leah visits at the nursing home and her young daughter happened to be there too, and you could see the appreciation in their eyes for Leah's love of them.  Then, one young guy at camp genuinely talked to me about how Leah is a main spiritual leader for them in that area of the country and how she gives so much wisdom to him and the others.  He was so grateful that he personally had Leah there in Czech to give him that spiritual wisdom.  And over and over young teenage girls were telling me how special Leah is in her love and support of them as young Christian women and encouraging them onto be leaders of other women.  Young lives are truly being changed for good!

leah translating for  jozef

My main point, is THANK YOU!  Thank you for all your love, prayers, notes of encouragement, packages, but especially your financial support of Leah in the Czech Republic.  She would not be able to have this amazing impact for Christ without all of you!



(And to those who read my blog here, in case you are interested, there is still a great need for more laborers like Leah in Czech & other Eastern European countries.  If you'd like more info on supporting nationals through Josiah Venture, the 2x3 Campaign can help you do that and much more, :)!) 

(Maybe this also means we can go on trips to visit all the other missionaries we support so I can write the same type of letters about them!!!  Hooray!!)


Camp Song & Dance!

July 27, 2010 - 12:05 AM

Each year English Camp has a new theme song and dance with gestures.  They teach the dance the first Saturday night at camp and then they do the song once or twice a night for the rest of the week. 

Here's the theme song and dance for Redeem 2010, Never Going Back to OK by The Afters:

As promised, notice around 1:50 you can Zeke busting a move with his air guitar solo, :)!


Trying not to screw up in two languages.

July 27, 2010 - 12:01 AM

On the last night during the 7pm Evening Program, they planned to have a number of people get up and share parts of their testimony with the entire English Camp.  At 3pm Leah asked me if I could share part of my testimony with the camp.  Leave it to my sister to make me face one of my biggest fears.

Over 6 years ago I was invited to speak at a woman's conference in Ames.  A few days before that I changed entirely what I was going to share and didn't take the time to have my husband reread through my outline.  Needless to say, moments after sharing at the conference an older woman approached me and let me know I screwed up with what I said BIG TIME.   She was right but to say I felt miserable would be an understatement, I was crushed so deep inside I couldn't see an end.  After that, I swore I'd never speak in public again.

Earlier this year though, I had a heart to heart with my sister Leah on Skype and she called me to the carpet.  Not only did she say everything Josh had been telling me the last 6 years, say I couldn't swear such a thing, but she went one step further and said I had to try and speak in public again, actually she told me I had to speak in public again.  (She even hinted to finding a way for me to speak at English Camp, and I said kindly, "No.")  But a few months ago, by random chance Rachel asked me to share for a couple minutes at a small women's time, in front of about 10 women.  With lots of prayer, Josh's prodding & editing, knowing it was a small/safe environment, I did it.  It was very, very short, I read exactly what I wrote on my sheet and I did it.  While most would have seen it as no big deal, it was a huge step for me.

But now, here it was, 3pm on Friday afternoon, and my sister was taking the opportunity of a hole to fill and asking me to speak in public, in front of a large audience.  With a LOAD of encouragement from Josh, I wrote a short part of my testimony, read it word for word off my sheet, and Eva translated wonderfully.

public speaking

It really helps that I am forever/eternally grateful for the fact that I have a testimony to share!  I am happy when I can share it with others.  I am also very thankful for the amazing encouragement I got from Josh and Leah in order to even speak in front of English Camp.  While I'm not running to speak in any sort of public setting again, I feel like in these two instances helped me to approach speaking with a prayer-filled, God-centered confidence, as well as a plan of attack on how to do it.

With how much time, effort, heart, prayer, soul, and tears went into me preparing a simple testimony, just think how long it'd take me to give a State of the Union address! HA!


Can Little Kids & High Schoolers Mix?

July 26, 2010 - 12:16 AM

Boy, did our kids have a blast at English Camp!


Outside of our three, there was one of the Czech Team, Alca's, sweet little baby boy at camp and one family from the Cherry Hills Church.  The Hartman family are planning to move to the Czech Republic next year and be on full time staff with JV.  Their kids were 8, 6, 5, & 2, the oldest a girl with three younger brothers (Caden just turned 7 last week and Hannah will be or is 9 soon!).  Our kids and their kids hit it off really well, like they had been friends for life!



The kids all loved the camp setting!  They loved our room, the main lodge, the games, the students, everything!  They also immediately found a home in the creek that ran along two sides of the camp.  During Free Time the kids walked in the creek the several hundred feet from the man made dam (which was also the designated smoker's corner) at the southeast side of the camp to the natural dam at the northwest side, back and forth, back and forth.  Closer to the natural dam there was a deeper pool and trees.  The kids would slide down while holding onto a tree and splash into the deeper water.  It was cold water but they absolutely loved every minute of it.  We finally had to limit the time all the kids played in the water because even though they had swimsuits they were jumping in constantly and we were running out of dry/clean clothes for the kids! AH! :)!



And in case you were wondering, little kids plus high schoolers can and did mix really well at English Camp in Czech, too!

During English Class in the morning two Czech high schoolers would watch the littiler kids, which would always include Miriam, Asher & Hayes and sometimes include Max and Caden.  It was always goofy but they all had a great time!  One day Miriam and Asher came running through the main lodge shouting over and over, "Cookies!  Cookies!" as a high schooler ran after them giggling.  After 5 minutes they came back running the other way shouting, "Cookies!  Cookies!" with cookies in hand and the high schooler still running giggling after them.  Whatever the goofiness, this time was a great way for the littlest kids to spend time with Czechs and for the Czechs to spend some one on one time with the cuties.


During the Sports Time the older little kids would join in with the teams, like Hannah and Zeke and their Sports Team, the Cougars!  Zeke was always right in there participating during Sports Time and it was great for him!  Max would sometimes join in and on Water Day he especially had a great time!  During the Evening Program our three would join the song and dance portion before going to bed.  At first the three were apprehensive about dancing with all the students but after they saw Aunt Leah, singing and dancing like a crazy woman on a chair at the front of the room, they got over their shyness.  Again, I have a video coming of this, one has Zeke running up front doing an amazing air guitar solo, it's great!

The Czech high school kids were great sports throughout the entire week with these 8 cuties!  They welcomed the kids into their games (except Viking Football, only Zeke was allowed in that one), pushed little baby Martin in his stroller, and played the Freezer Dart Game, even when the little kids were going a overboard playing the game.

Majda & Max

Freezer Dart is this game where you say someone's name and when they look you in the eye you put your hand to your mouth and pretend to blow a freeze dart at them.  They then have to freeze until someone comes up to them and pulls the "dart" out of their neck.  However, while the person is frozen you can do something to them, tie their shoes together, put their hands in strange positions, etc.  In the above photo Majda froze Max and then proceeded to pick him up while he was frozen.

Even though our kids did make mistakes at camp and were often times being "kids," I easily had over two dozen students come up to me and comment on how well behaved our kids were, or how they obeyed their parents, how they weren't wild, or how they were so loved and loved us.  I can only imagine it was because our kids weren't like this little boy I saw from a German Language Camp nearby walking down the curb with his penis out of his shorts, peeing on the curb as he walked, while a little boy and girl walked on either side of him giggling.  Yeah, at least my kids didn't come up with that idea. HA! :)!

whole camp

Overall, our family of 5 was greatly blessed during our time at English Camp!  It truly united us together as a family in a fresh and new way!  It was amazing to have our kids at camp laboring with us in this type of non-stop setting, but also encouraging to have them enjoy camp as much as we did.  The boys really understood why we (and JV) were there (Praise God! What an answered prayer!) and they prayed for the students, who were now their friends, every night.  It is awesome too that one of their favorite high school friends accepted Jesus at camp!  Whoo hoo!

In a heartbeat, I think we would all love to go back as a family and participate in another English Camp!  I would not hesitate about bringing our three with us either!  (Though I still contend at my age "I" need a week or two to recover before going to the next camp.)  :)!


All Shades of Brown UHO

July 24, 2010 - 6:57 AM

Leah had told us before we left for Czech that Strakonice had "the best camp food" of all the Czech English Camps, that we'd be eating ostrich eggs instead of chicken eggs, and that dumplings would be flowing.  Normally, Josh would have said, "I'll be the judge of that," but we took her at her word that the food we were eating was good, typical Czech food. 

While the soup, potatoes, dumplings and kraut we had were good & typical, the chicken and roasts were good & typical, there was this one type of "meat" that seemed strange from the start.  Not that were were upset or complaining, in all honesty we found the whole thing very funny and entertaining!  :)!

They were using what we loving called Mystery Meat in a majority of the dishes.  Leah was unsure what it was actually called but we guessed it was bologna-esque "meat," though it sometimes had bones and sections of fat in it.  She also thought/confirmed that the meat was very untypical for this camp.


Mystery meat in our first dinner at camp.  The "gravy" is actually called UHO in Czech, which translates to Universal Brown Sauce.  They served the UHO in a variety of forms, some light, some dark, but no two the same.


Mystery meat with a Chinese-esque sauce, pasta noodles, and white cheese.


Mystery meat thinly sliced for breakfast sandwiches.


Mystery meat hidden inside a pepper.


Mystery meat ground up with pasta.  This meal was the breaking point for me, it was very hard to swallow.

While we were incredibly thankful for the hard work the cafeteria ladies put into making these meals, by the end of the week I would find myself consciously trying to not think about the meat I was eating and just eat it.  Again, we didn't complain outloud there, we were able to manage, take smaller portions, ask for only dumplings, or go hungry.

It helped that breakfast was the best meal of the day, with a really delicious bread, cereal & yogurt, and sometimes meat & cheese.  Sometimes the meat was the mystery meat, but other times it was a really good ham with a nice smoked cheese.  (Though once they incorporated the mystery meat into a paste like butter and served it for breakfast.)  Nicely too, for a treat, one of the camp kids would take his motorcycle into town and bring back dozens of donuts to sell during breakfast.  (Our kids LOVED this guy!)  The camp did serve hot dogs for breakfast, though, that I thought were good...


And once the camp served these delicious donuts for dinner, the boys were seriously bummed they only got 3 of these.  (Though, truth be told in the middle of the night Miriam threw up these donuts all over herself, her bed and the room.  Not fun.)


As Leah foretold us, we were served an ostrich egg casserole.  It had tomatoes on top, fish on the bottom, & creamy mashed potatoes on the side.  Everyone liked this meal and it was actually Max's favorite meal, and that is saying something!

egg bake

A farm, literally 30 feet right outside the camp's backdoor, supplied the ostrich eggs.  It was so close that one of the camp rules was you couldn't touch the ostriches or go inside their pen.  The flimsy fence was the only thing that protected you from the ostriches.  The students at camp loved to get a rise out of the birds and I think Josh may even have a video of their attack stance, I'll look, ;)!


While the food wasn't necessarily spectacular, it was food, and we were very grateful for it!  (Even though both Josh and I thought we lost an easy 5 lbs while at camp.)  Our three kids ate it, especially Zeke who generally went back for seconds (he would even figure out Czech sayings so he could get just what he wanted from the cafeteria ladies).  But as you could guess, it was Max who was quoted as saying, "When can we eat good food again?" 

Yes, very fitting coming from Max.  :)!


Are we there yet?

July 23, 2010 - 11:57 AM

The majority of the Czechs we met love being outside, biking & hiking and simply enjoying the outdoors, their gardens and their countrysides.  It is only perfect then that English Camp sets aside one day as Hike Day.  For the Strakonice camp, the Hike is a 6km hike straight up to a lookout point and then a 6km hike back down to a Rope Course.


The hike started at 9:30am and the way up was simply beautiful.

hike up

The rolling countryside turned into woods and we were hiking straight up a hill.  Some of the students were trying to do the entire hike walking backwards but when some got to this steep section they switched to face forward.  By this point everyone hiking kept asking "How much further?" (or maybe it was just me?  :)!) but it seemed to keep going and going. 

Now, at the end of the hike there is a lookout tower and at the lookout tower there is ice cream for sale.  Max simply couldn't wait any longer for ice cream so at this, the steepest point of the hike, he took off running.  I then took off running after him, thinking he'd get ahead of the whole hike and not know where to go.  I chased him and we ran straight uphill forever!  Well, maybe for just a kilometer, but it was going up and it seemed like forever!

top of lookout

By the time we finally reached the end of our 6km hike, we were at the lookout tower where it went from beautiful and sunny to rain in a heartbeat.  We ate our sack lunch & ice cream (which had mystery meat in the sandwich) and then we started the hike down.  1.5km down the hill we came to a little village, where we ran into Jozef who kindly offered Miriam (and I) a ride back to camp.  Miriam had been a super trooper hiking 7.5 km thus far but you could tell she was exhausted, not complaining but absolutely exhausted from working so hard.  (She was a zombie once she sat down in Jozef's car.)  At this point too, we drove with Jozef to go and rescue some camp hikers who missed a turn along the hike and ended up over 2 villages away from where they were suppossed to be.  Yikes!  Thank God for cellphones!  Our boys and Josh continued on down the hill with the rest of the students and then participated in the ropes couse.

rope course

The Rope Course was put on by what is normally a weekend/week long Adventure Camp based out of Prague.  The guy who runs the camp, David, also incorporates deep theological discussions into his camp.  When the hike & rope course were all over, around 5pm, David held an optional theological discussion time (in Czech only) at Benesova Hora.  All but 1 of my students went and they all said it was a great time and David really approached topics very intelligently and thought provokingly.  His talk also lead into some amazing discussions for us which was so great!

The more I learned about the Czech culture through the students at camp, the more perfect it is that they have this kind of day during English Camp.  When we had stopped in Leah's city, on a Saturday, it was like a ghost town.  Everyone leaves their cities and go to the countryside on the weekends to be outside doing something, anything.  I think Hike Day refreshed us as much as it did the students!


Teacher says, "What?"

July 22, 2010 - 6:25 PM

With a whole LOAD of thanks to Leah laying out a lesson plan outline, I was able to teach an English Class of high school students at English Camp.  Students were divided into English classes based on skill level. My class was considered an entry level English class with most kids having "only" 6 years of previous English classes (I know, 6 years!). Leah taught the other entry level class and Josh was in an advanced class.

leah's class

Leah's Class meeting outside on a beautiful day.  Notice Zeke right in there participating! He did an amazing job both at participating and being a great example!  Praise God!  One day of class all the kids interviewed Zeke (in English) by asking lots of questions about his family.  At one point someone asked Zeke to describe each person in his family and he said his dad was "open minded," his mom was "thoughtful," his brother was "creative," and his sister was "crazy and funny."  Leah said it was SUPER sweet!  On the flip side, there was another day when the class was talking about dating/marriage and one of the girls started talking about her boyfriend /kissing at which point Zeke says to Leah, "I don't think my mom would want me to listen to this," and he asked to leave.  Awwww!!!

josh's class

Josh's Class meeting outside on a beautiful day.  It was taught by a great bible college guy from the Cherry Hills Team who went by the nickname Ragu (which is based off his last name).  They had an advanced class and after the first day they realized they need harder class work.  Josh's internet connection & iPad came in great handy at teaching some lessons with harder vocabulary.  Josh had great conversations with some of the guys about deep philosophical topics and it was a simply perfect fit for Josh.  They also had lots of fun too when they wrote a short film and Josh filmed / edited their shorts.  They're great & if I can upload them from Josh's computer to YouTube I will!

In my class I had Zuzka as my translator, an amazing young woman from Moravia who came out specifically to translate.  She was an amazing support for me both in teaching class and in praying for our students.  Then there was Ondra, a great young guy from a local city who was there to translate and to love & pray for our students.  Aaron was a high school kid from the Cherry Hills Team and I want to say this was his 6th or 7th English camp?  The other 6 in our class were high school kids from local Czech cities, one of which was sweet Bara who attends the school year long English club that Leah leads in Strakonice.  For 4 of the students, Honza, David, Jana & Mirka, this was their first English Camp and for Klara, this was her second camp.

One of the perks for a Czech student to coming to a JV English Camp is that they get to speak English with Americans 24 hrs a day.  They get to learn more about American traditions, culture and slangs, but also learn English in a very creative setting.  (Though the one downside is that in school they are taught British English, not American English and yes, there is a difference.)  Even still, each English class went about teaching English in very creative ways so that camp was not exactly like "school" and we played a lot of games, acting, relay races, etc in class.

body vocab

For example, this was a relay game we played to work on English vocab of body parts.  Aaron and I were the guinea pigs and the students had to race to put all the body part names on us.

taste test

Or the day we did food we had blindfold taste tests like you see Jana and Bara doing.  I brought along A&W Root Beer from the US for this game that thankfully did not explode in our suitcase!  They do not have Root Beer at all in Czech so it was new for our students!  :)!


This is Honza and David doing an activity where they created their own menus using a US Steak-n-Shake menu for an example.  (Thank you Steak-n-Shake for giving me tons of your take out menus!!) 

All the activities we did were for the students to practice both speaking conversational English and writing conversational English.  For example, dressing up and acting out a traditional American wedding...

wedding day

Or in Josh's class (like I mentioned) when they wrote and filmed their own movies in costume...


Overall, with the 3 hours of English Class plus the extra Discussion Time at night, we got to know all our students really well.  I am probably fairly biased when I say I had the BEST class!  They all contributed so much in class and in discussion time.  I appreciate watching people really think through deep topics, it's a beautiful thing.

Admittedly, I have not spent much time with high school kids.  Outside of the 3 awesome and only high school kids in our church, the only other high schoolers I've dealt with has been in less than desireable circumstances.  But my students were amazing and I love each of them so much!  I am incredibly thankful for Facebook so that we can continue to keep in touch!


The class minus Aaron & Zuzka.  Bottom row Klara, Ondra, Bara, Honza, Jana & Mirka with David & me on top.


The tough girls.  Nice muscles, girls!


The silly guys. (Minus Aaron, who was spending 5 hours filling up 1750 water balloons.)


A Day in the Life (at English Camp)

July 21, 2010 - 11:00 PM

Everything was said twice at English camp.  Everything was said once in Czech and once in English, from announcements at breakfast to the Evening Program.  It is an English Camp but because the high school kids at the camp had varying levels of English experience having both languages constantly spoken eased the skill level differences.  And I must say, all of the translators did an amazing job! 

Starting Sunday morning until Friday night, so for 6 straight days, a typical day at English camp looked like this:

7:30    JV / Staff Devotion, Worship, Prayer, & Info
8:30    All Camp Breakfast
9:15    All Camp Video & Announcements
9:20    English Class
12:30  All Camp Lunch with Free Time after
3:30    All Camp Sports
6:15    Dinner
7:30    All Camp Evening Program
9ish     Discussion Groups
10:30  Maybe Evening Activity

The Strakonice English Camp is the largest of the 21ish JV Czech Summer English Camps with 105ish people total, again, the majority being the high school kids.  The high school kids who sign up for these English camps know that the camp is sponsored by Josiah Venture and that during the evening programs they will hear Bible stories.  My guess is that more than half of the students who attend the camps are not Christians.

Thanks to Leah, our mornings would start with a hot pot, french press, and (thanks to Dexter) a bag of fresh roasted & ground Brazilian Roast Coffee from Capanna Coffee.  Then we would leave a note for our sleeping kids & go to a morning time of devotions, worship, prayer and info for our day ahead.  This was always a refreshing time, even during the one morning they gave us off from meeting, ;)!

7:30 devotion

The JV Team / Staff was made up of an assortment of people.  First, there was a full time JV missionary, Leah!  Then, there were JV Summer Interns who had committed to spend 3-7 months in Czech running summer camps, we had 4 from the states and 3 from Czech at our camp.  Then, there was a church team, our camp's church team was from Cherry Hills Community Church in Denver.  They brought with them a team of 4 adult leaders and 8ish high school students (not to forget 4 cutie little kids).  I love the fact that JV purposefully has American teenagers reaching out to Czech teenagers in their summer camps.  It is a brilliant and effective setup!  Then, there is a group of Czech nationals, some are translators, some are kids who go to the school year English camps, some are seasoned Christians and some are young in their faith but they all have a heart for the lost.

By 8:30 we would go back to wake the Three from our room and take them to breakfast. 

At 9:15 the whole camp would meet and they would watch a 5 minute music video that told a story.  The theme of the camp this year was "Redeem."  Each video, story, question, and the camp theme song revolved around redemption.  The stories they shared in the evenings tied into these morning videos as well.

Immediately after the video the students were dismissed to their English Classes.  The camp was divided into 10 classes of 10 people each.  Each class had an American teacher, Czech translator, American teenager and maybe an additional Czech Christian or translator.  Zeke went to the English class taught by Leah, Josh assisted in a class taught by a leader from the Cherry Hills team named Ragu, I taught an English class that Max would sometimes come to, and yep, Miriam played with a babysitter & the other missionary family kids during English class.  English class would start with a journal time where they would answer questions about the video and then it a a full blown English class that lasted 3 hours long, right up until lunch.

journal time

At 12:30 was Lunch followed by Free Time.  Most days the little kids would play in the creek while the students would go swimming or play soccer or board games.  One day they had separate VIP Girl's Time and Man Hour.  The girls sat and did nails and massages while the guys beat the snot out of each other playing this incredibly violent game called Viking Football.  Every single guy who played this game had scratches and bruises and stains and cuts and aches.  Josh ended up knocking a guy out and in return got a HUGE gash on his shoulder along with many other wounds.  Every single guy LOVED playing the game.

VIP on the left, Viking Football on the right

By 3:30 it was group Sports Time, which the older little kids would participate in as well.  The entire camp was divided into (I think) 8 teams complete with team names and team dances.  During Sports Time they would compete at a variety of games, most were goofy like dodgeball with finger darts or more sportslike with basketball shoot offs.  The last full day of camp is always Water Day.  Every "sport" is a water sport from Duck, Duck, Goose with water to Freeze Tag with water, to the concluding ultimate water balloon fight with near 1,750 water balloons.

water fight

At 6:15 most people were starving for dinner and by 7:30 it was time for the Evening Program.  The Evening Program always started with songs with hand gestures led by Leah and Janu (sp) one of the Czech Summer Interns!  Whoo hoo!  That was a fun time!  As the last song we would do the camp theme song and dance, "Never Going Back to OK."  (At this time Josh would put our kids down to bed and be back in time for the story.)  As a transition into the story there was a great skit organized by Eva, another Czech Summer Intern.  Then the speaker would come up and share a story from the Bible about redemption.  Based on the theme for this year, the Bible stories were tied together through the family tree of Jesus; stories about Rahab, Judah, Ruth, David, Jesus himself, and the last night was a series of many testimonies of redemption and I got to be one of those testimonies.

Near 9ish, whenever the Evening Program would end, we would break down into our English classes for Discussion Time.  During Discussion Time we would go over questions about the story told that night.  This was one of my favorite times of our day!  The 15-16 year old kids in my class had amazing and genuine questions, most were incredibly deep and thought provoking.  My Czech kids were really chewing on some heavy duty topics, and never stopped asking questions to find their answers.

Around 10:30 the discussion would wrap up and games would be played, more talking would be had, but sooner than later, I was heading to our room to check my students' journals, get my lesson ready for the next day of class, and get myself ready for the new day that was now quickly approaching.  Phew!


Welcome to Czech! Need a carseat?

July 21, 2010 - 10:30 AM


At 9:30 am, our first few moments in the Czech Republic were quite the blur since our bodies thought it was 2:30AM Iowa time.  Leah met us at the airport with a super large blue bag filled with water, snacks & 3 car seats (yes, in Czech all three kids had to have a car seat).  It was amazing to see my sister!  It had been two years too long!  Josh drove us the one and a half hours to Strakonice (while I dozed off for a few minutes*) so we could pick up Leah's camp luggage and have lunch at her favorite restaurant.

After a brief stop in Leah's apartment (and after I accidentally took a short little nap for a few minutes*) we headed to lunch where the kids snarfed down pizza.  It was there we learned all about the fact that you can't have any alcohol in your system while driving in Czech, not even 0.0000001.  If you get pulled over and have even 0.01, they take you to the hospital where you have to take an official test.  Crazy, but at the same time seems safer.

We went back to Leah's apartment where I fell asleep again for a few minutes*...

sleeping dana

...then we drove the 20 minutes to the Strakonice English Camp at Chata Benesova Hora.  It was Saturday, July 3, and camp registration started at 3pm with dinner served at 6pm and the first camp meeting at 7pm.  As soon as we got there at 5 we started being introduced to all of Leah's friends.  This was really cool to be meeting people in 3D we had only heard about for so long.  It was also great to see again the Czech friends we had met 2 years ago.  In Czech a lot of people have the same name but they can also can then have a fun nickname to help distinguish them from the next person; one Martin would be called M. J. and the next Martin would be called Mister.  I was incredibly thankful for name tags!  :)! 

*Now you may be wondering about my super power of not needing sleep and the fact that I feel asleep 3 times since landing but even this ended up being a huge blessing for me!

The Strakonice English Camp had 10 classes of 10 people.  The way it worked out, Leah divided Josh and I into different classes; Josh was in a class lead by Ragu and I was going to lead my own class.  What that meant for our first night was it was ok for Josh to go to bed with the kids but I had to stay up late and have my first introduction meeting with my class kids.  By that point, except for the 3 snip-its of sleep, I had been awake for over 30 hours and had to stay up another 3.  See?!  Blessing my super powers seemed to have failed but in reality they were giving me that extra push to maintain through to the end.  Phew!

Speaking of bed...

our bed

kids' beds

For the 8 days of camp our family of 5 called a 10' x 12' room home.  Josh and I had two twin beds pushed together, the boys had bunk beds, and Miriam had a chair that folded out into a bed.  The beds were basically 4" thick cushions on plywood, each coming with a large pillow and small sized douvet covered quilt.  Thankfully, our room had its own bathroom, that although the toilet was broken for the first night, it was a huge blessing that it all worked for the rest of the week.

Even with states of being trashed to being clean, living in this small room with our whole family worked out surprisingly well AFTER we got rules laid out and got things organized.  The rules came AFTER the first day when our three kids invited an additional 4 little kids into our room and all of them were all jumping on our beds with sandy shoes, raiding our snack & candy stash, and being careless with Josh's electronics.  Sigh... live & learn... :)!

Our room, emptied, and right before we said goodbye to Chata Benesova Hora...

empty room


Rollin' with my homies!

July 21, 2010 - 7:00 AM

When I was single and living in Italy, I hopped on the train to go everywhere and it was perfect!  So honestly the idea of train travel with kids sounded like tons of fun to me, but in reality it was going to be incredibly expensive for our family of 5 to travel by train to all the places we wanted to go because, well, anything times 5 gets expensive.

Thanks to Rick Steves we knew what we were getting into when we started looking to rent a car in Europe.  We foreknew about the insane insurance rules, toll charge tags for different countries, and lots of other hidden fees.  Surprisingly, renting a small car in Europe could be cheap, really cheap.  However, renting a car large enough to hold 6 people (our family plus Leah) was proving to be expensive and difficult to find that right sized car in Europe. 

Enter my amazing husband and his skill of the internets!  Josh had looked through consolidated websites and the like but he was finding lots of hidden fees, shady business deals, and could not confirm the right sized car.  Soon enough though, Josh was able to find a coupon from an external site to use on an official Budget site so we could get the right sized car, find an external insurance company (with help from Steves) and all said & done we were able to rent our car for a fair price.

The VW!

Looking back, renting a car was a great plan for our family especially since the weather was unbearably hot and the car's AC was our only retreat from the heat.  We were able to go our own speed to the cities we wanted, enjoy more of the countryside & mountains, and not to forget, drive our VW van 105 mph on the Autobahn while getting passed by a Porsche Cayenne driving 130 mph.  Seriously, it was amazing!  And, until our kids are big enough to carry their own week's worth gear on their back, I think renting a car is the best way for us to go for if/when we return...

jam packed car

Who would want to miss out on all this fun?!


Snak... I mean, Kids on a Plane!

July 20, 2010 - 7:15 AM

Our family trip to Europe was the first plane ride for our three kids. 


Not knowing what to expect or how to entertain a 9, 8 & 5 yr old on a plane ride for 2, 8 & 11 hours, I asked lots of questions and read many blogs/articles about flying with children (this one was great!).  While most focused on traveling with newborns and toddlers, I did read some universal notes that really helped our trip. 

Here's a small collection of them in case you are interested:

- New $10 toy.  Prior to leaving, I let each of the kids pick out a new toy that was a something-to-do kind of toy.  Zeke picked out an album for his sports cards with some extra packs of cards.  He sorted his collection of baseball, football & basketball cards into the album while on the plane.  It was a fabulous idea!  Max got a doodle book that showed you how to draw characters but left a large white area so you could practice right there on the sheet.  It too was fabulous!  Miriam got a little key chain toy called a Tamagotchi.  It is a silly little thing that you have to check in on, feed, play with, etc.  It was small and cute and a great toy for her.

- Socks.  For the trip itself, a blog had suggested the kids wear socks and shoes and not sandals on plane rides because of when they would have to go through security.  While we did let them wear either shoes or sandals, they all had to wear socks and it was a truly brilliant idea.

- Gum, but not too much.  We did have the kids chew gum for take off and landing on the first flight but I think we pushed it too much and by the second flight the kids never wanted to chew gum again.  (I felt the same way.)  I think now it was the flavor of gum, it was fruity not minty, and I think it was a bad choice.  By the end of our flights we just had the kids yawn instead of chew gum and it worked just as well.

- Barf bag on hand.  Oddly enough, there was not a barf bag in front of each seat.  Before taking off I double checked each kids' seat to make sure a barf bag was in front of them just in case.  A blog has said that kids can get sick at landing more often than take off so I wanted them to be prepared.  None of our kids got sick during the take off or landing but Miriam got nauseous during the middle of each long flight right after eating dinner.  She didn't throw up, but she really thought she was going to and dry heaved a few times before falling asleep.

- Journal.  This was our friend Angie's suggestion so before we left I got each kid a hand picked journal for the trip.  To be honest, Max was the only one who used his on the plane, but Zeke and Miriam definitely used theirs on the car rides back and forth across Czech.  Either way, it was great they had a blank book all to themselves to record or do whatever they wanted.  Zeke recorded the things he saw, Max & Miriam wrote songs with dance moves, etc.

- Empty water bottles.  A blog pointed out that it is easy to dehydrate on a plane ride and to make sure to keep kids especially well hydrated.  I got each of the kids the new style of CamelBak Water Bottles with built in straws in hopes of more water drinking and less water spilling.  They worked fabulous!  The only spill was by ME when I spilled OJ into Josh's computer bag.  Yep, that was the one accident on our entire trip.  Lucky me!

- Good meals before flights.  Same blog recommended making sure the kids ate good and healthy meals before getting onto the flights.  Due to timing, I packed a sack lunch that we all ate before we boarded our noon flight to Atlanta because they were not serving meals on that flight.  Having a balanced meal with meat, dairy, grain, fruit, veggies, really helped them.

- Healthy snacks.  I packed a ton, I mean a ton, of granola bars and fruit leather.  I got ones high in fiber because constipation due to nerves was another comment I had read.  While I could've brought more, it was really great for flight-sake and English camp-sake we brought as much as we did.

- iPad.  Our kids don't have game boy/ DS type of toys and most blogs recommended just letting the kids play with those on planes.  However, our kids do have a gadet dad who has an iPad.  Josh loaded the iPad with movies & games for the kids.  This proved to be a huge blessing because all the movies they played on the plane were strictly for adults and not for kids.  We did ration their time on the iPad so they weren't glued to it constantly, a little here and a little there, but they really enjoyed it when they did get to use it.

- A Relaxed Mama.  Like I mentioned, I don't like flying, but God really gave me grace and I constantly kept looking at the kids and smiling and making them feel comfortable and safe.  Only one cutie, on our way to the airport was getting kind of nervous but thankfully, with much prayer, they were calm when the time came to fly.

The Three did a fantastic job flying!  From the 2 hrs to Atlanta, the 8 hrs to Prague then the return 11 hrs back to Atlanta and the 2 hrs to Moline, they really did a great job! I wouldn't have changed a thing except for the timing of the flights.*  That was the toughest part about flying was getting back on the plane in Atlanta for Moline.  We had a long layover and the Three were walking zombies and they don't remember getting onto the plane.  (By that time their little bodies had been awake for over 20 hours and it had caught up with them hardcore.) 

But in all honesty, I can't wait to travel on a plane with them again! 

Max asleep at Atlanta airport

*Ok, ok... the one more thing I'd do different would be to have us save a little more money so we could let Long-Legged Josh sit in First Class, :)!


Bit by a deer tick

July 19, 2010 - 10:15 AM

Less than 2 weeks before leaving for Europe, we went on a wonderful camping weekend trip with dear, old friends to NE Iowa.  It was very late on Sunday night when we arrived home and I was still trying to unpack when Josh insisted I take a shower and scrub off.  Even though I hadn't showered in 3 days, I just wanted to finish cleaning and fall into bed.  But I listened to Josh and got into the shower and scrubbed.

While I was scrubbing I noticed a very small "mole" I had never seen before on my upper thigh.  Then I thought it was dirt, so I scrubbed some more.  Then I saw that it had legs. 

It was a deer tick.

(Photo Credit)

I quickly yet calmly pulled it out with my fingernails (which I now know is a no-no) but as soon as it started to walk across the top of my fingernail I SCREAMED!  Josh came running, confirmed it was a deer tick, and due to my screaming/freak-out, he flushed it down the toilet per my request.  I had Josh search the rest of me and then sopping wet I proceeded to wake up each of the kids, strip them down and check them for ticks while Josh researched just what this meant - getting bit by a deer tick.

I was glad that he was doing the research because prior to this I had only known friends who had gone through the horror stories of Lyme Disease.  The first thing he read was that you are suppossed to keep the tick. Doh, Dana!  The sites all agreed that symptoms would not show up for 1-2 weeks, right around the time we were going to be leaving the country.  We decided to wait a day, talk to our doctor, and keep an eye on it.

Within 48 hours both my doctor & Josh agreed that being preemptive and putting me on the antibiotic Doxycycline for 14 days would be best.  The medicine has great results at treating Lyme Disease but it also has all these strange dietary requirements and side effects, one of which being sun sensitivity. 

I tried to stay in the shade, or inside, keep 85 spf on me, but I never thought to cover my hands with sunscreen.  Welp, I ended up with a severe toxic reaction on the top of my hands.  They literally felt like they were on fire, burning fire, cannot be stopped fire, intense and constant fire that was not going away even after many days.

After one incredibly painful night I finally called my doctor.  They recommended switching medicine but the switch would cause more crazy side effects.  Not wanting any other whammies before we left the country, we decided I should finish the entire 14 day treatment of the first medicine.  I tried to keep covered in sunscreen while at camp but on two separate occassions I forget to put sunscreen on my toes and on my nose or even enough on my hands.  I ended up with bright red and blotchy hands, toes and nose for the rest of our trip.  (Hence my Rudolpf nose in all our trip pics.)  

Thankfully, before we left for Europe a friend recommended Burt's Bees Res-Q Ointment.  While it didn't cure the intense pain, it was nice to have on my burns and knowing it was all natural, I knew (well, hoped) the ointment wouldn't make it worse.

In all honesty, this whole ordeal was a blessing in disguise.

Prior to this, I had never seen or removed a tick.  Being that ticks were the one thing people worry about at English camp in Strakonice, and I now had full and calm knowledge of ticks and Lyme Disease.  This made for a lot more relaxed mama at camp!  Also, since I had the burns I had the Res-Q Ointment on hand in Czech.  When Max ended up with his entire body covered in hives (as a reaction to a type of grass in Czech) the Res-Q Ointment was the prefect treatment to stop the inflammation of his hives. 

Really, a blessing in disguise!

Here is my PSA I posted on Quora on how to remove a tick:

(Photo Credit)

If you find a tick DO NOT twist, use a match, cover with nail polish, cigarette, etc the tick.

1.) DO grab a pair of tweezers, plastic baggie and antiseptic/soap.
2.) Carefully position the tweezers close to the skin (without touching) and gently place the tweezers on/toward/near the tick's head.  Gently/steadily pull up, making sure not to squeeze the tick's body, which would cause bacteria to enter into the person/animal the tick is biting.
3.) As you are gently pulling upward, your skin should be pulling upward as well with the tick.  The tick should back out, head and all. (Do not touch tick with your hands.)
4.) Look to make sure you have removed the entire head of the tick.  If you are concerned or don't think you got it all, seek help from a physician.
5.) Place the tick into the plastic baggie and freeze.  That way, if you do come down with a sickness they can test the tick or instead of waiting it out you can have the tick tested for your own piece of mind. (Don't do what I did and scream like a banshee and flush it down the toilet.)
6.) Wash the area with soap (antiseptic) and water.

For more information:

For information about what sicknesses are caused by tick bites:


We're Freakin' Going!*

July 1, 2010 - 8:38 AM

*In honor of my sister Leah, I may use the word freakin' in this post. If I was really going to do Leah slang justice, I'd use crap a lot too, :)!

I was in college the first time my older sister Leah went to the Czech Republic for 3 months as a summer intern for Josiah Venture.  I remember at the time that our family thought that she was freakin' crazy (or maybe just I thought she was freakin' crazy) and it seemed like the strangest place to choose in the world - the Czech Republic, really?  Where is that?  She's going there to teach English to high school kids?  What the?  (Yes, #notquestions galore!)

Well, two years later she went back and moved there commited to serve a 2 year stint with JV.  Now here it is 10 freakin' years later and she is still kickin' it in Czech!

leah on the left

Czech is freakin' perfect for her, not only as a country but also how perfectly she was made her for the job she was called to do there.  It is amazing to see how many lives have been affected and changed because of my sister's love for Jesus and for others.  Those 10 years have seen much fruit and much heartache, and the hand of God was in them all.

As you can imagine she has always wanted family & friends to visit.  My mom, aunts, a few of her college friends, and just last year, my younger sister!  (The real shocker will be if we get Dad in a plane to go there!)  We Cramer 5 have always wanted to go and visit her but it has never been possible, both financially and logistically, or newborn-babily. 

2 years ago we got to see Josiah Venture's 2x3 Campaign presentation.  After seeing that, both Josh and I wanted to not only go and visit her for visiting-sake but also go there to see what Josiah Venture is doing in action.  It took those 2 years of praying, planning, saving & hard work by my husband (with a BIG load of thanks to Dave Ramsey FPU and "Living like no one else, so we can live like no one else" logic) to get everything in place and here it is...

We're Freakin' Going!


For the first week we're there, we will be participating in one of Josiah Venture's Summer Camps.  They are English camps for high school kids, they teach English class for the morning, have sports in the afternoon, and have teachings in the evenings.  (With a theme song and hand gestures to boot!)  I will be teaching an English class for the week, Josh will be assisting, and our kids will be right beside us or Leah during those morning classes.  (Well, we'll see how Miriam does, :)!)


We are very thankful/honored to be able to get this first hand experience with Leah and the JV Team.  JV has an amazing impact in the Eastern European countries and I pray we don't mess it up!  (Insert Clark Griswald type of experience here, oy!)

If you would, please pray or keep us in your thoughts for:

- Prepared hearts of us, the Cramer 5. That we would be ready to love, serve and sacrifice for others and each other while on our trip, to be an example as a family, and to be able to pour out ourselves to the teenagers we come in contact with showing them the love.

- Prepared minds for our kids.  The boys are old enough to really "get" what we are doing.  I have been praying for them specifically how this trip will open their eyes to the world as a whole around them, moving out of the "me" centered mindset.  Miriam has a sweet, little, heart-filled attitude, so she gets what we are doing in her special way, so I am simply hoping she doesn't get hurt.  (We Cramer girls have more accidents than those boys, imagine that!)

- Prepared minds for all the teenagers participating in the camp and for what is in store for each of them.  "So, as the Holy Spirit says, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts against Him."

- Safety while traveling everywhere, esp. with 3 kiddos in tow. No sickness, no pick-pockets, no theft, no emotional scars, no abuse, no trouble with the law, no hiccups, no anything!  Let your over-active imagination go wild and pray for safety from that.

- Protection for our business.  Being a business owner comes with a LOT of responsibility, which Josh takes very seriously.  Thankfully we have been given an amazing team of employees to trust to keep things moving while Josh is away but he will still be leaving a hole.



Welcome! I am glad you're here! If you are new and would like to get caught up on what's going on, check out these quick links to get you started:

About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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