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Our last evening on mission in Slavonski Brod provided us with this wonderful sunset.


———This past week I had the pleasure of joining the Bless team and News Release Basketball in hosting a basketball camp in Slovanski Brod, Croatia. It was a fun filled week packed with lots of basketball, worship, salami, bipolar weather, warm afternoons at the pool and late night races down the street. We got to learn a little bit of Croatian and build relationships with lots of amazing local kids! ——— liveforothers #newsreleasebasketball #croatia

Often we forget the impact it has to sit, share a meal and just talk to someone that you don’t know. No distractions… just enjoying each other’s company and genuinely getting to know each other. Jesus displays this perfectly many times but I was reminded of this as I read Matthew 9:9-13 earlier this week. We often forget that just because we are in the vicinity of someone often doesn’t mean we truly know them.

One night in the town’s main strip we were hanging out with the kids and Miriam and I were talking to one of our favorite kids (our biggest helper and just the sweetest dang thing ever). She asked him if they would still be friends in a few years time… That if she came back and they ran into each other would they still be friends? He responded “No, you don’t know me.” We were both taken a little aback, “Fair enough.” She said, “I don’t know you that well.” And he clarified..”No, no… I mean you won’t know me…you won’t recognize me! I am only 12 now. I will look different.” We laughed about it and she was sure that despite the difference in his appearance that she would still have that connection with him and would recognize him.

Both Miriam and I both thought that by his first response of “You don’t know me”, he was pointing out that yeah…we are only here for a week so we don’t reallyyyyyyy know them. We just know what we see of them within that week. He may have meant something different but it still stuck in my mind that in reality this IS just a short term mission. Our time spent there is short and even though we would love to get to know each kid on a deep and meaningful way…those kinds of relationships take time…time that we don’t have.

His comment got me thinking that we may be having a blast and spending hours with these kids playing games but we aren’t spending quality, get-to-know-you kind of time… I asked our leaders if we could have a girls/boys picnic after the last day of camp to sit down and spend some quality time getting to know them. Time to be intentional with our relationships with them and show them that we aren’t just there to put on a camp and have some fun and then pat ourselves on the back at the end of it. We want to sit down and have some quality girl time. So that’s what we did!

After the last day of camp we had a picnic and split into groups! We gave the girls opportunities to ask questions about anything. Basketball, family, life, body stuff, boys, sex… anything they might not be comfortable enough to talk to older women about. We had our pack lunches and time to kill. I wanted to focus mainly on our worth as girls and women. We need to have a strong sense of self worth but more importantly we need to know our worth in the eyes of our Creator. I wanted to make sure that these girls knew that they were absolutely beautiful and valued in God’s eyes.

"Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious." — 1 Peter 3:3-4

We split up into older and younger groups and Kristina and I took the older girls. As the conversation went from clothing, to hair, teeth, and weight….we, of course, finally landed onto the topic of boys. (Don’t we always?!) They asked questions and we all got to share some experiences. Good ones…bad ones. Times we felt pressured, times we cherish. We talked about values we should look for in a guy and what our standards should be. Once more, driving home the fact that they are worthy of a man who respects them and loves them. BUT no matter what realizing that a boyfriend should not be the main focus in our lives. I wanted them to leave with the understanding that, despite what they might think…a boy or a relationship with a boy DOES NOT define you. The most important relationship we can have is with Jesus Christ. He is our defining factor…He is where we find our worth. Boys will come and go but God will be a constant companion throughout your life. He will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

At the end of our picnic I made them do one last exercise and that was to fill out a piece of paper with a word that they have connected with so far that week or with their relationship with Christ.

"Ja sam" …

Ja sam means “I am”… I left it to them to fill in the blank. To fill in what Christ can mean to them…can be for them…in this stage of their lives.

I realize that our time spend in Slavonski Brod was short lived but our prayer is that the impact will far exceed the time spent. That God will use this week as a step in the lives of these boys and girls so that they will come to fully know Him and give their lives to Him. That they will see their value and worth and dream as big as they possibly can so that God can fulfill His purpose in their lives in amazing ways. Please keep Slavonski Brod and all these amazing kids in your prayers!

On Friday we split the Basketball Camp into groups to chat about self worth & identity and the girls responded really well. We wrote down on paper ‘I am…’ and they came up with positive words to put in.

Ja sam LOVED
Ja sam HAPPY

Friday night in Slavonski Brod was a real hit. We performed our little hearts out and had a few locals get involved too. We had kids from both Basketball Camp and Kids Club come along to the ‘Church in Development’ and ran the event straight onto of the unfinished roof! Once we were all full we rounded off the evening with some Line Dancing ran by Cassie (one of our News Release Basketball Coaches) and had some arm wrestles… Unconventional maybe but everyone seemed to have a great time!

Yesterday TEAM CROATIA took some time out to hit the river hard.

We love. Team France

This week team holland painted a wall stencil of the Rotterdam skyline in Coen, Katje and Jens new house. Coen is the pastor of ICF church who we have been working with throughout the week. They moved house last weekend so we all feel pretty amazed that they trusted us to create the stencil in their new home.

Today team holland hosted a patch party at the local community garden in Carnissesingel, Rotterdam. Over 50 people came for the free lunch and it was amazing to see so many diverse people from the community gather around one table.

For the party we made…
Carrot and lentil soup.
Orchard salad.
Cucumber salad
Potato, bean and celeriac salad
Loads of sandwiches
Lemon curd cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes
and Lemonade.

The majority of the food we made (except the soup and the cakes) came from the garden itself.

Hannah wrote the following prayer in our worship hour the previous day which we said before we ate…

“We scatter gospel seeds of love on the fertile soil of brokenness and watch wholeness blossom. We uproot the weeds of greed and wealth and sow hope where there is isolation. We gather the diverse blessings of community and harvest the goodness of all He gives us. We scatter, we watch, we uproot, we sow, we gather, we harvest. He waters. The kingdom grows.”

Tonight we are going to celebrate a great day by eating lots of pizza.


Kids Club at Slavonia Dva this morning. We painted faces, braided hair, played football and gave the parachute a good rustle.

This morning team Rotterdam helped weed and harvest vegetables at ‘carnissetuin’ - a community garden in the city.

Tomorrow we will host a ‘patch party’ at the garden for the local community making soups, salads and quiches from the vegetables grown there.

Back to the kitchen for us…

"The dancing God is on the move.

The dancing God Moves throughout this city,
In and out of bars and cafes,
Brothels and bakeries
Churches and colleges
Mosques and metros
The dancing god is on the move
And leaving a trail of grace behind.

Follow his trail
His scent
His movement
And find your place in the triune dance of love.”

"The Dancing God." Written in team Hollands outdoor prayer and worship hour for the city of Rotterdam.

Walking through the Presqu’ile in Caen, we noticed a crane covered head to foot in rust.
We felt that God was promising a redemption in that place, a renewal of all things.
A lick of white paint over everything, just like our own fence painting.

Rust to redemption.

Croatian LUNCH WIN #liveforothers