It’s here. Today is the last day of the last year of my twenties. It’s intriguing really. I’ve heard a lot of banter from my younger friends, my players, and even my ‘older’ friends who are well past 30. It makes me wonder what next year will be like!
To be honest with you, I’m not afraid of getting older and the banter doesn’t bother me. In fact, I welcome age coming! Getting older means more experiences, more wisdom and the like. So I say bring it!
With that, last year I wrote a post entitled, 28 Reflections, and as this year’s birthday approached I’ve pondered, “Can I do 29 new reflections?” I’m not sure, so I’ve tweaked it a bit and I’ve got 29 reflections/highlights/insights/things I’ve learned from the 28th of my life. So here we go, complete with pictures!
- I have been “on the field” longer than I’ve ever been “on the field” before. With that being said, this means I’ve been separated from family and dear friends longer than ever before too. I was so very blessed to have my worlds of Xenia, Ohio (AIA Headquarters and Czech mix last summer with the visit of my dear friends the Garretts!
- I love my roots and would love to learn more about them! This is my Swedish friend, Gustav, and his birthday cake from last year. Gustav and I studied together and now sadly they are back in Sweden. Gustav helped me love on my Swedish roots more than ever before!
- I’ve once again, been inspired by the person of Jan Hus, the Czech reformer from the 15th century. This statue of Jan, is in the city of Tabor, and I loved it. “Why?” He’s clutching his Bible with flames at his feet. The courage, the faith, and more of this man inspire me. I normally pray that God would raise up Jan Huses within this generation, now and that God would move mightly to bring deep changer here.
- Last summer I drove 790 km and spent 12 hours in a car alone driving around this country helping out with AIA sport camps. In the midst of that I was once again reminded of the overwhelming need all over this country. The need is so overwhelming! As I was traveling, I again fell in love with this beautiful country! This is me in the beautiful, quaint, medieval town of Telc. Check out a zhtv from the camps! Or to read more head to my July 2008 archive.
- I often pinch myself and ask myself something like, “Is this really my life?” I never could have imagined that I would live where I live, travel where I have traveled, and do what I do. It’s all unreal to me! Very unreal! Like Saint Basil’s Cathedral. in Moscow, that seemed like it was out of a book or Disney. I’m so very grateful for every bit of it! Thank you to each of you readers and ministry partners who make this possible and are part of this! Thank you so very much.
- One of those “pinch myself moments” came last summer, when I had the opportunity to travel to the Olympics! It was an amazing experience and I was equally amazed by the Chinese people. Who were Olympic crazy, but were also so warm and friendly!
- While I was in China it felt like a Twilight Zone episode to me, as I tried to grasp the many different time zones that I was dealing with.
- To make the experience even more amazing last summer, I was so excited to take Honza Gabriel to the Olympics with me. I’m hoping that in the future I will be able to take many more guys outside of Prague to experience things like Honza got to experience! Thank you to each of you helped Honza get there!
- The Great Wall – need I say more?
- I felt like a rock star in China! Being a 6’3″ white man attracted some attention. I think people thought I was special, meaning an athlete, but I sadly wasn’t there to compete!
- Last October, I got to meet my sister’s then boyfriend, Tom, when Megs and him came through Prague for a long weekend and an interview for Megs. I instantly fell in love with Tom – in a “hetero life mate” type of way! ;-)I’m now excited to call him my future brother-in-law, as he asked for my sister’s hand in the big “M” word! Love you two!
- I love what I do with AIA, but I do have had a growing passion, that is controlled and checked, to church plant in this city and in this country. Last fall, I met another young man, Bedrich, who has a heart to plant churches in this country, and who is also a pastor! It sparked my heart and desire to see the Church in Czech grow in love for its countrymen in practical, relevant, loving ways to see the hard soil of this country burst to life!
- I’m still very much committed to seeing God transform the sport of American football in this country, and Europe, for His glory and the good of the Czechs! Last fall, I loved coaching once again and being able to work with guys from other teams here in Czech. Shortly after this I was also asked to become the head coach of the junior team, which has been a blast thus far!
- I still scratch my head over some of the customs of this country. They aren’t wrong, they are just different! I like that every year I have the same wondering and head scratching experience! Read about my 2007 experience here.
- After I returned from my short trip to the States to surprise my family for Christmas, I noticed several pics of my sweet littlest sister, Mikaela, and I. I realized how much she loves her big sister, Megan and I. She looks up to us and reveres us and I love her dearly and pray for her often! She’s an amazing little woman!
- I once again realized, my parents rock! This picture might be one of my favorites from my time back in the States! My dad is busting a move here and had a huge smile on his face! I love it! I know my goofiness drives him crazy, but there are moments where I realize where I get it from!
- Quite simply – my sisters are gorgeous! I’m repeatedly moved at the things they say about and their actions towards me. I love being their big brother!
- I love seeing budding love! It was at this time where Tom, in a rather gentlemanly manner, approached my parents and myself asking for permission to purpose to Megs! Classy, classy, classy…. I love you Megs and Tom and I’m excited to see how your marriage unfolds!
- “SURPRISE!” One of the highlights of my 28th year was surprising my whole family for a Christmas visit! So cool. I loved seeing the faces of shock and joy! Love you Harrods, Shislers and Backs!
- Here are a few of my guys at my place, while we were watching the NFL play offs on my projector (graciously provided by a supporter! Thank you!). I love the NFL season because every Sunday night we watch to games, eat pizza and hang out! So much fun!
- I love my church, Faith Community Church, and the dear friends that I have that I worship and serve with. This is one of the many blessings to me here in Prague. In the midst of hard weeks, struggling to get the language, work with the hard soil that is this place and the toil I feel, I’ve continually been blessed by this growing body of believers from many walks of life.
- Highlights! Megs moves to Prague to manage the hub office of Czech Inn, Miss Sophie’s and Sir Toby’s!
- My director, Billy, is a Stud! He directs, leads, guides and runs…. And runs a lot. This year has presented a few unexpected challenges and I’ve had the privilege of seeing the Gospel played out between Billy and myself and amongst my AIA teammates here. It’s no secret that doing ministry is tough, especially in a place like Czech, and of course there will be hard things to work through and with. Throughout some bumps this year, I’ve learned much about myself, leadership, and ministry, while Billy has had my back and gone to bat for me.
- Having the Rutgers guys here! (read a previous post) Thank you Bel, Billy, Tariq and John for giving up your spring break to come and serve and love my guys and myself here! One word to describe their time here – Momentum! Please continue to pray that this momentum increases!
- While I had the Rutgers guys here, I was praying about who I would ask to translate for me and I immediately longed to have Ondra translate for me. He did great and it was so encouraging for me to here him translating the Gospel to his countrymen! I’ve written much about Ondra in the past (here is the oldest post on my blog and here are some others about my dear friend) and how he was the first guy that I’ve seen come to faith. He continually grows in his walk with Jesus and will be getting married this summer! Click here to see some engagement pics!
- New Life! The newest Stewart arrived this spring, which meant that I am yet an “Uncle” again! So stoked to have little Izaak here and see the Stewart clan increase to 4!
- Most recently I got some good time with another one of my dear friends, Jason, in Salzburg. Sadly in the next few weeks Jason will be leaving us and Prague for some support raising time in the States and then a move back to Europe, but unfortuanly not to Prague but to Kandern, Germany. Jason will be missed, but I’m glad we got one last little adventure in before he leaves!
Did I really do 29 of those? Really? I was thinking I would struggle! There was even one more, that I don’t need, but in honor of my 30th year, which is approaching, I’ll post it anyway!
This is my home. Well kind of. This is at the center of the city I call home. Unfortunately, I can’t get any living space in the castle!! Over the last year of life, I’ve felt my love, passion, resolve and much more for this city, it’s people, this country and it’s people increase! This has all increased in ups and downs, and I would say that I’ve never longed more for this place than I do today. Thank you for being part of what God is doing here, what He’s doing in my life and just being part of this crazy thing we call life! Here’s to 29 and bring on 20-10! Ok, bring on 30!