To those whoso desire to learn of my travels abroad, herein is an account, not in full, but in part, as much as my memory allows me of my happenings.
That was a fun intro! I’ve read the first two Lord of the Rings books as well as the Hobbit since I’ve been here so you can tell where that came from. As well as these books, I’ve found time to read at least a dozen biographies written by Pastor John Piper about various influences in Christian history. On top of these, I’ve been keeping up with the Esther sermon series by Pastor Mark Driscoll so besides missions work, (which I’ll get to shortly) this trip has been nothing short of a learning experience.
Originally, as I told many people, this trip was supposed to be my fourth Exit Tour, the same thing I’ve done every fall for the last three years. Until the last month before my departure, I planned to be away for close to three months as I always have but things change, as they always have. The Exit Tour wasn’t in God’s sovereign plan, at least the one in the Czech Republic. I was asked if I would still like to come to Czech for the Josiah Venture Fall Conference and leave a little earlier but only be here for a couple weeks. Of course I said yes, I’ll gladly take any time over here so I booked the plans to be overseas for two weeks. I gave my two weeks at Starbucks and hopped on a train to the West Coast a week before my flight to spend time with friends and adoptive family in Fresno and LA. I met with my former band members of A Current Affair, now known as The Current, a few other friends and the Kenedys in Fresno before heading south to stay with my Mexican half known as Mario Gonzales. His wife Kim understands, don’t you Kim? While there, I was able to meet a few of my brothers from previous Exit Tours, including Mario, Jake, and Adam as well as some friends I’ve been able to meet in my limited time in SoCal. The day before my departure, Mario, Kim and myself headed even more South to Biola University to see our good friends Hannah and Ben, spending time in downtown Disney before dropping me off at LAX to spend the night as my flight left at 8am and we were two hours away from the Gonzales home.
Before I move on, a fun side story. I was actually dropped off at the wrong terminal (my fault). While waiting in line for this wrong terminal, I saw two guys who, after being in the music industry for a short but long enough time, I knew immediately to be in a band. I approached them and asked who they are to find out they’re the singer and drummer of The Afters. After a short conversation and farewell, I offered a handshake to the singer and to my dismay, one of his hands was carrying a bag, the other some papers. One of THOSE handshakes..politely he still returned the gesture, I got the paper-hand and a smile. As they walked away I couldn’t help but laugh and think “of course”.
On to my time abroad, I’ll skip the travels straight to the conference held at the Josiah Venture owned hotel in Malenovice, Czech Republic. One week of lessons and seminars with and by a couple hundred of Josiah Ventures missionaries from all over Eastern Europe! If you’re able to, search #jvfallconference in Instagram for 50 pictures of the event from various people involved. Amidst all of the lessons and fun to be had, we spent a day as a group going out to different cities in Czech, Slovakia, and Poland to share the gospel with whomever was willing to hear. Here’s one of the Instagram pictures showing the results when we returned!
Try to cross cultures for a second. This is HUGE! This was one day of a church body simply evangelizing and in Eastern Europe, these numbers are absolute victory! Even if the 8 people who trusted Christ were removed, the gospel being shared to this magnitude is a breakthrough and that’s victory enough. But let’s not forget those 8 people whose eternity was changed simply from a stranger sharing the good news.
You’ve read this far, hang in there!
During the conference and the next week, arrangements were made for me to stay an extra three weeks to help with Exit Tour in Slovakia and Poland. Now that’s more like it! During this week off, I traveled with Jena, my host and also previous bass player for Exit Tour to Prague and was so happy to spend my 21st birthday at a classy little jazz bar on the river called the Jazz Dock. Staying with Jena’s family for the next few days in the city of Cheb, I attended a Czech/German wedding that I wasn’t so much invited to but was still welcomed! Somehow I ended up playing drums at the reception with the best amateur worship band I’ve heard in this part of the world. I wish they would believe it! After visiting the famous little natural spring town of Karlovy Vary, we returned East to prepare for Slovakia.
I was now part of the Czech tech crew, responsible for the safety, set up and tear-down of three tons of equipment used for Exit Tour.
Thus ends the first half of my tale. The second half is almost over, mostly accomplished already but to spare the reader of exhaustion, I choose to postpone the rest!
I’ll make the next update before I leave (in a few days) but until then, I would LOVE to receive questions or comments! Feel free to use the comments section or contact me personally via email – JreddACA@gmail.com or Facebook.