Brian O'Grady on April 23rd, 2017

It was brought to my attention that the Amsterdam posts never concluded the trip. Tonight we met together as a team for a final time to enjoy home made pizza, share pictures and discuss the trip.

Speaking for the team, I want to thank each person that prayed for us, helped us financially, and provided items to take over to the O’Grady’s. The time spent with this missionary family was as much an encouragement to our team as we were hopefully to them.

While in Amsterdam we were able to experience worshipping together with a newly formed church that is less than 3 months old. We were able to be part of a Missional Community evening sharing a meal in a home and visiting with people from many different cultures. At one point during the evening people from five different countries were sitting at the table enjoying conversation. We visited church buildings that have been open since the late 1500’s, saw art from some of the most famous artists in the world and attempted to try to adjust to a new culture by participating in a scavenger hunt requiring us to find things a missionary would need their first weeks in a new culture.

One of the great parts of our trip, was the perspective of building relationships and the need to be intentional in sharing the Gospel. We see a little clearer the people around us that we can have an impact on for the Gospel if we purposefully strive to be an integral part of their lives.

In closing we shared a note this evening that the missionary sent specific to our team but can be applied to any mission trip. “When considering what you wanted to do when you got back, think about the “WHY” before the “What”. It is easy to come back from a mission trip with a list full of “What I Should Do.” But we need to solidify the “Why”. Why do I want to do these things? Why are they important? Why did I not do them before? When we biblically answer the “Why’s” in our heart, the biblical “What’s” will more naturally and consistently occur.”

Thank you from this mission team for the many ways you supported and encouraged us on this trip.

 

Brian O'Grady on April 6th, 2017

For our final two full days in the country, we experienced the Dutch culture and missionary life from different perspectives. Wednesday started out with a bus ride out to Keukenhof to see where over 10 million tulips have been planted and are coming into full bloom. The tulip crop is in the top 10 of export revenue for the country. Returning to the city in the afternoon, the team ventured out on a canal cruise, viewing buildings that were built before America was a country. The evening topped off with a wonderful dinner at Amsterdam Café providing a more traditional Dutch menu.

 

Thursday started with an amazing look at Dutch art and culture. We visited the Rijk’s Museum which opened its doors in 1800 and includes the largest library for Art history in the world. We viewed paintings from Rembrandt, VanGough, Vermeer and others. It was truly incredible to see these world famous paintings, including depictions from the Bible. We stopped for lunch and had traditional Dutch pancakes with ingredients like apple, cheese, bacon, onions, or mushrooms. Following lunch our missionaries gave us a list of items and sent us out to experience normal life. It took 2 teams of 5 people working together over an hour to complete their list of 10 simple things that could have been purchased at a Walmart in less that 10 minutes. The realizations of adjusting to a different culture (and in this case with no car for transportation between stores) really hit home. The evening wrapped up with dinner at the O’Gradys and time spent sharing personal “take aways” from the trip. Corey helped us talk through the needs we can look for and deliberately be a part of in our own missional community.

 

The week concludes a great time spent with Corey, Kaylee, Lyla and Eloise. We appreciated the opportunity to love on this wonderful family. The team enjoyed the several chances we had to spend time with the members of Grace Church Amsterdam in worship and fellowship. We also received a clearer view of missions from the perspective of a missionary family. Please join us during the service Sunday evening as we share pictures, videos and take time to report back on the trip.

 

We will be traveling tomorrow (Friday) and ask for your prayers as we fly from Amsterdam to Chicago and take the vans back to St. Charles.

 

Brian O'Grady on April 4th, 2017

     The week started out very busy. On Monday, Chris Harris’s step counter registered over 19,000 steps.   No one on the team complained, especially considering we were being led by 6 month pregnant Kaylee. The morning began with the men and women each going to different restaurants for breakfast. This provided opportunity for us to discuss what Amsterdam ministry life is like in a much more personal setting. After breakfast, the two groups walked together to the Amsterdam City Museum. The museum gave the group a brief history of Amsterdam, and explained the influences which have made it the city that it is today. When our time at the city museum was over, we had the opportunity to explore Amsterdam together before enjoying dinner downtown.

 

     On Tuesday, we visited the city of Haarlem. This city is located just outside of Amsterdam, and is home to the Corrie Ten Boom house and museum. We were privileged to receive a tour of the Ten Boom house from a member of Grace Church Amsterdam. She told us of Corrie’s belief in the gospel, and how that belief influenced every aspect of her life. Later that day, we visited St. Bavo’s Church. This is the church that the Ten Boom family would have attended prior to World War II. It is the oldest church in Haarlem, and is referenced in history as early as 1307. Upon returning to Amsterdam, the team had dinner at the O’Grady’s apartment with members of their community group as well as other members of Grace Church Amsterdam. It was wonderful to see our group engage with the people from all over the world who call Grace Church Amsterdam their home.

 

 

 

Brian O'Grady on April 2nd, 2017

This morning was spent worshipping at Grace Church Amsterdam. We had the opportunity to fellowship with the church before the service. The worship through music was awesome, and we enjoyed a great message from Luke 23:1-25.

After lunch today several walked around the area for the afternoon.  Jo, Megan, and Chris went into an antique bookstore and had an hour long discussion with the owner about Anne Frank and her journals. The owner then gave them a tour of Anne Frank’s first house, which was located next door. They also saw gold stones on the sidewalk in this area remembering over 14,000 Jews, from a community of 17,000, that were captured and killed in the WWII concentration camps.

A wonderful dinner prepared by Kaylee O’Grady was followed by a little fun watching team members riding the “bakfiets” (box bike) down the street.

The evening concluded with a relaxing time with the O’Gradys as we discussed ministry in Amsterdam, missions in Europe, and missions where ever we are.

 

Brian O'Grady on April 2nd, 2017

Praise the Lord.  We appreciate all your prayers. The team and luggage arrived in Amsterdam on schedule. We were able to get through all the connections and customs with no problems. The weather was great for flying. A special thanks to Nathan and Doug for driving us to Chicago.

The first day was spent getting through customs, checking into the hotel, and delivering the generous food gifts. Finishing dinner early provided for us to get some much needed rest after being up for over 36 hours.

The day will start out with us worshipping with Grace Church Amsterdam. This will be a great opportunity for the team to be a part of a baby church in Europe worshipping our Lord.

Later tonight we will post again with pictures.

Brian O'Grady on March 30th, 2017

The GBC Amsterdam Mission team is less than 24 hours from departure to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Perhaps most have already packed and are checking their To Do list for the second time. Some of us may not start packing until tonight. Either way we head out from Grace Baptist Church at 6:30 Friday morning on the first leg of our travels. Please pray for us as we drive to Chicago, get on a flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul and from there at around 7:30pm depart for Amsterdam. We should arrive around 10:50 Saturday morning (3:50am CST). We have a full week planned with our missionaries, the O’Grady’s, including a worship service at Grace Church Amsterdam, an evening with a Community Group, and a scavenger hunt for items the missionaries need.

We will be posting activities throughout the week. Please keep this team of 10 in your prayers.

Kevin Kolb on February 3rd, 2016

On Sunday we were privileged to participate in the fifth anniversary celebration of the church in Queztal.  Jerry Kinman is the lead pastor of this church but he has a staff of three Guatemalan men who help him by serving in various ways. Lord willing one of these men will assume the pastorate within the next two years.  Our family was honored to participate in this special celebration. On Saturday we helped decorate the auditorium, hallways and fellowship hall with streamers and balloons.  We also helped aunt Karen bake and frost two big sheet cakes.  On Sunday Emma and Ellie were able to sing the song “Jesus Thank You.” in Spanish.  They did an excellent job and have very good harmony.  I was able to preach while Jerry translated.

I preached from Col 1:24-29 and encouraged them to ask five diagnostics questions of their church to make sure they wouldn’t “break down” as they continue their journey as a church.  The Lord gave me the analogy of the city bus system.  I asked them how many have been on a bus when it broke down.  Literally everyone in the room raised their hands. We all agreed that the riders have a right expectation that the owners of the bus do regular maintenance in order to provide reliable transportation.  I told the church that people who come to your church from the community will also expect their church to do regular check up to make sure they don’t stall along the way.  The five areas to check were from the passage were: 1) Their motivation. 2) Their Message 3) Their methods 4) Their mission, and 5) Their means.  (The alliteration works in English but not in Spanish).   Paul reveled that his motivation was the reveal the mystery to the Gentiles.  His message was Christ is the only hope. His methods was balanced proclamation.  His mission was to help people be like Jesus and his means was the power of Christ which was already working in him.  Several in the room were encouraged by the message.  The analogy to the Guatemalan bus system helped me connect the truth to an audience I was unfamiliar with.

20160131_103838[1]Prior to the message I presented Brother Jerry with a stone that Brian O’Grady took from the property seven year earlier.  I told Jerry that this stone reminded us to pray for the church that would one day be built on that sight.  But now we no longer need that stone because it is “dead”.  Now that we have visited the church we have meet the “living” stones (the people according to 1 Peter 2: 5).  We can not forget the dear people of this church who have come to Christ and are struggling to mature and do the Great Commission in a difficult place.  In the message I told them that my prayer for the church will shift.  No longer will I pray that God will establish a church on the property.  From now I will pray that God will mature the church that gathers on that property.

After the sermon and invitation the church sang happy birthday in English and Spanish and then enjoyed  a meal together.  My girls helped Aunt Karen pass out anniversary cake to the 160 in attendance.

Kevin Kolb on January 30th, 2016
Beautiful sunset over Lake A'titlan

Beautiful sunset over Lake A’titlan

The last couple of days have provided our family the opportunity to really enjoy much of Guatemala’s natural beauty.  We have spent time relaxing in Panajachel, travelling across the highland lake A’titlan, enjoying a coffee, herbal and textile tour in San Jaun La Leguna, exploring the ruins of Iximche near Tecpan and hiking up an active volcano near Guatemala city named Pacaya.  These many adventures have given the family opportunities to learn about the history of the Mayan people and understand what makes ministry in this place both rewarding and challenging.

 

 

 

Grilling Burgers is among one of Karen's Fine talents. YUM!

Grilling Burgers is among one of Karen’s fine talents. YUM!

The time spent with aunt Karen has been a real joy.  She has shown us the people and country that she loves and demonstrated a high level of competence in many things (her language and driving skills are superb).  She is not only sharing her time, but more importantly her heart.  I love my sister and I’m very proud of her and the work that she is doing for the Lord.  In so many ways I can see how God has equipped her for the ministry here in Guatemala.

Doing these tourist type activities have helped set the stage for a busy weekend of ministry.  Over the next couple of days we will spend time in another orphanage, participate in kids clubs, attend Quetzal’s fifth anniversary celebration service, fellowship with the church in Sumpango, and experience a manna feeding center.  The indoctrination of the last couple of days have helped set the stage for these ministry activities.  Please pray that we will see what God wants to show us and serve with his love.

Enjoyed roasting marshmallows over volcanic rocks with the family.

Enjoyed roasting marshmallows over volcanic rocks with the family.

Our guide lead us along the trails on Pacaya

Our guide led us along the trails on Pacaya

Kevin Kolb on January 29th, 2016

IMG_3425Psalm 8:5 – You have crowned him with glory and honour…
On my first trip to Guatemala in 2009 we visited the orphanage  called “New Life” in Solola near lake Atitlan.  My heart was saddened with the reality that these beautiful and precious babies would not have the opportunity to be adopted by foreigners because the adoption laws in Guatemala had recently changed.  Those laws are still in place seven years later, and those babies have now grow into 8 year old children.  Sadly many are still living in the orphanage.

Three guys hanging out.This reality was both my high and low for the day.  The low was that a young boy named Kevin had lived all his life in an orphanage never having the opportunity for adoption.  He is a bright, well-behaved, and kind young man.  My sister told him that I had come to the orphanage when he was a baby and held him.  The high was that this young boy has been loved on and so well cared for by the staff of this christian orphanage. The director has a loving heart for the children and does a fantastic job with his staff of 16 caring for the 41 children who call this orphanage home.  The facility and property is absolutely beautiful. The love of Christ was displayed all over the property through the excellent private elementary school (which enrolls over 120 kids from the town and orphanage), a manna feeding center which  feeds poor neighborhood children once a day five days a week (over 50 kids each day), by providing summer camp facilities to many churches in the month of December and of course at the orphanage.  The orphanage even cares for 8 children who are disabled.  Their newest arrival came a week earlier when she was just ten days old.Photo Time

Schools OutThe christian ethic of human dignity teaches us that all lives matter because they are created in the image of God.  The missionaries and staff of this orphanage live out this ethic every day in a 1000 different way.  I’m thankful I was able to come back, find Kevin, and show my own children what Christians mean when we say that “all lives matter to God.”

Kevin Kolb on January 26th, 2016

TOUCH DOWN:
The alarm clock went off way too early.  By 3:30 am the family was dressed and loaded for the drive to the airport for an early morning flight.  The three youngest enjoyed their first plane ride today.  I asked Zeke what his high was for the day.  It was the take offs.   I asked Evie what her high was for the day .  For her it was the landings.  After a quick breakfast at the the McDonalds in the Atlanta terminal we boarded the flight to Guatemala.   Immigration and customs was a breese and all our bags came through undisturbed.  We stepped into the sunshine appreciative for the uneventful first leg of the journey.   Heidi and I are thankful for all your prayers for our family’s safe arrival.  The Lord certainly blessed us with a calm day.

POINT AFTER:
After rapidly unpacking at Karen’s house, we ventured out for dinner at the Kinmens home.   As I type this tucked comfortably in bed, I’m again struck by how necessary a good, safe, reliable home is for our missionaries serving abroad.  Jerry and Mindy have lived in the same home for ten years this month.  Stability for our missionary families is greatly aided when they know where they are going to pillow their head year in and year out.  Missionary homes provide space for kids, pets, dinner parties, prayer groups, and overnight guests.  Today two Guatemalan missionaries have shared their homes with the Kolb tribe.  Yummy Tacos at one, and a hot shower and comfy bed at the other, blessed fellowship enjoyed at each.  Tonight I have more than one reason to be thankful for our missionaries homes.

CHALLENGE:
Before you close this page, think about the last time you used your home for the purpose of christian hospitality and fellowship.  If it has been a while, why not talk to your spouse and then engage your family with a hospitality challenge.   Invite someone over for tacos or homeade pizza and use your home as a blessing to others.