Monday, September 20, 2010

My travels and things: 17/09 - 26/09

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The above map shows my traveling schedule from 17/09 through 26/09 (G is where I started and where I will finish).

I just finished up a great weekend with the mladež z Zlína (youth group from Zlin (might be incorrect Czech grammar, but only Czechs and missionaries here who read this will know for sure)).  I taught Friday and Saturday night (thank for your prayers).

Tomorrow I leave Zlin (C) for Bratislava (D) to get my visa.  Please pray everything goes smoothly and we actually get it.  Also, tomorrow after that I head to Malenovice, CZ (E) for Josiah Venture fall conference.  I think almost all of JV's missionaries and many staff members from all their countries will be there.  I am looking forward to catching up with friends and meeting new people and hopefully getting some rest and refreshment (I hope you get to visit Hotel Malenovice one day.  It's beautiful.  Near flawless sunsets behind mountains covered in a forests of trees while overlooking a valley with the city of Malenovice laid out right before you.  Yeah, I hope you get to see it one day.).

On Friday I head to Most, CZ (F) for a fall retreat with the Litvinov and Usti n. Labem mladežy.  I'll be teaching from Galatians 5, so please pray for that as well.  Then it is back to Tabor (G).  All the traveling is by train except from Bratislava to Malenovice.  Dobry Časy (good times).

So, a story to break up all the information feeding:

I have never spent more time or tried so hard to fly a kite in my life.  It was a morning and afternoon activity at the retreat.  We made our own kites in partners (My partner was Filip, and Šarka and Eliška helped decorate it - totally rocked.).  After lunch we climbed the nearby hill to fly the kites.  Filip and I then proceeded to run up and down and back and forth all over that hill to keep the kite in the air (which I learned you really have to do if there's no wind once you get it up 30 ft.).  I definitely got my cardio that afternoon (up and down that hill).  Also, I learned what they call kites in Czech - drak(y) - which means "dragon," and they don't "fly" their draky (možna (maybe) 'draci' for the plural); they "play" them.  So for our "flying kites" they have "playing dragons."


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Life and ministry in the Czech Republic, An Update

This post is a bit long.  It consists of many stories.  There are pictures with captions if you just want to scroll through, and prayer requests are at the bottom.

I usually give chronological accounts of my life and ministry from the last post to the present, but this time I will just share some stories (they will be in chronological order but not necessarily in the "this happened...then I did this...then this cool..." kind of way).  Hope it suits your fancy.

I'm learning Czech.  It's hard.  It's got seven cases (it means the endings of words change based on how they are used in the sentence).  This makes the Czech language incredibly flexible when it comes to word order, but for the English speaker who loves word order (I've discovered I am especially partial to word order) it is quite difficult.  With every word you have to know the 14 potential endings (original word + the next six case endings + and the seven endings when it is plural).  There is a pattern though.  Like I said, a lot of work ahead of me.  I learned that you are officially a beginner in a language until you know 2,500 words, and then you get to be at the intermediate level.  I have also learned it takes about 400 hours of study to go from beginner to intermediate - 150 hours of grammar study and 250 hours of vocabulary.  I think I have completed about 30 hours so far.

The Buchtelovi family have been one of the most welcoming, hospitable, fun, and friendly families I have had the privilege of spending time with and being hosted by.  I have enjoyed many firsts at their home with their family, and this time I experienced my first homemade svičkova (I gotta tell you, Czech food goes great with Czech beer and Czech beer goes great with Czech food.  It's like the two were developed together to create a culture that contained a near perfect harmony of the two).  It was fantastic, and I'm not just talking about the food.  I have enjoyed some wonderful Czech hospitality from the Buchtelovi family in Strakonice, and I hope I will get to see (or at least hear about) another first there as well - pan (Mr.) and paní (Mrs.) Buchtelovi and their son, Pavel, become Christians.  Their daughter, Mňamka, is already a Christian, and I hope I get to witness (or at least hear about) her continued growth and maturity in Jesus Christ.  Those will be the best firsts, and I am so thankful that God has brought me in to play a part in His plan for each one of them.

Pavel is in the yellow shirt.  He's also a great musician - singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and bassist.  Dang.
P.S. This is my English class from our first camp (Strakonice camp). Back Row L-R: Martin B, Martin L, Šarka, Me, Terka, and Sam.  Front Row L-R: Pavel, Jenda, and Honza.
Mňamka and I in Prague after English Camp (from last summer)
Svičkova, the national Czech dish and my favorite Czech meal = marinated beef in sauce with bread dumplings, garnished with a slice of lemon, cranberry preserves, and whipped cream.  So good.

My camp dance BROmance partner from our third camp (Litvinov Camp) is now a believer.  He trusted in Christ on Monday, August 30.  We got a new brother as of two weeks ago.  His name is Lukaž (but we call him "Spajsy" (pronounced "Spicy") because of his last name).

Enjoying our camp dance BROmance :)

This took place at the first big Litvinov camp follow-up - Pancake Party and Overnighter at the Dankovi home.  It was here that I received my first home-harvested and home-jarred jar of honey ("med" in Czech).  I walk in to their home in Ustí nad Labem, and one of the first things I see is hundreds of jars of honey.  I think, "Wow, either they love honey or they have some way of getting a lot of it."  I then discovered that they have bees.  How often do you hear that when you go to someone's house?  "Wow, this is a lot of honey."  "Yeah, we have bees."  Wait, wait..."You have bees?!"  We also played sports, sang worship and camp songs together, had some delicious grilled pork and chicken made by pan Dank, led morning exercises, ate some delicious pancakes, got to meet some new people and enjoy some new friendships, and had the privilege of Spajsy coming to some of us just to tell us he was now a believer, and just have fun with friends and family.

Morning exercises at the Dankovi house.

Now, we're jumping to this weekend that just took place, so go ahead and make the jump with me.  Aaaannnddd...LEAP!  K, good job, glad you made it.

This weekend was the Tabor City Festival (Táborská Setkání).  This is where the Renaissance Fair comes to you rather than you having to go to the Ren Fair (apparently in Europe that's how it works).  They fill the town square and outlying areas with booths and food and performances and shows.  Lots of friends and students were in town who I know from Josiah Venture or camps, and it was great getting to spend time with them (got to watch a Driscoll sermon with Martina, always a highlight).  Night one involved a plate-sized, fried, potato pancake (bramboračka) topped with sauerkraut and pieces of cooked ham, finishing a friend's bramboračka, a klobasa (decently large sausage with two pieces of bread and mustard), and a large cup of Kofola to top it off (again, so good).  We also got enjoy a laser light show that transitioned into a quite good fireworks display.  I don't think I had ever been so close to where the fireworks were actually being shot from.  Day 2 involved eating a "Goliath" burger (definitely the best food of the festival).  It was big and delicious and was great with Kofola.  We also got to see a knights and jousting show (somewhat similar to what they show at the Excalibur Hotel in Vegas).  We got to cheer for the Ruža Žlutá (Yellow Rose) Knight.

Poster for the festival
I wasn't kidding about the food.
The entrance of the Hussite army and medieval folk - complete with real torches, fire jugglers on stilts, and a guy who blows fire.
So, now for my final story of the post.  As the weekend of the city festival approached, I was praying for opportunities to share the gospel and for God to give opportunities to the Czech believers as well.  Yes, as I prayed I was also thinking, "I do not know this language well enough to share the gospel, and You know that too God, but I'm still praying for it.  Hmm..."  Well, I got to do just that Saturday night.  I was leaving the festival, and ahead of me was a guy in a wheel chair and a young woman (early 20s myslim (I think)), and I felt the twinge of "Go share the gospel with them."  And I thought/prayed, "God, I really don't know how to do this in Czech at all," which was followed by the, "Do you trust me?"  "Yes, yes I do."

So, I walked up and said, "Prominte," which means something like "I'm sorry/excuse me."  "Mluvite anglicky? (Do you speak English?)"  "Ne (No)."  "Dang it," I thought to myself.  I almost called it there, but someone (I'd say the Spirit) kept me going.  So, as I tried to make some semblance of sense in the best Czech I could muster with minimal use of English, I asked if they know Jesus, "Znate Jeziš?"  The man in the wheel chair said yes, and I don't remember what the woman said.  "Znate tady? (Do you know here?)" I asked pointing at my heart.  He said yes, and I don't remember how the woman responded.  I then apologized for not introducing myself and got their names - Michal and Eliška.  "Budete v zabor zitra rano? ("Will you be in church tomorrow?" is what I wanted to ask.  I said "zabor," but the word for church is "sbor."  You are allowed to laugh and smile with me at the Czech errors.  That's what I do)".  Again, Michal said yes, and Eliška said no.  I wanted to tell them that Jesus loves them, but I don't know the verb "to love" yet.  "I want mluvit vy tenhle (to speak you this)...Jeziš ma rad vy hodně moc ("Jesus likes you very much," at least that is how I think it translates)."  Trying to invite them to church came next with some more butchered Czech in which I think I got the meaning across (I accidentally told them I have many good girl friends at church when I meant to tell them I have many good friends there).  Mind you, even when the words are right, this is very likely quite butchered Czech.

Life and ministry in the Czech.  You and I both know there are many more stories to tell and people to introduce you to.  I look forward to sharing more with you all soon.  Here are some quick prayer requests:
  1. For the people mentioned in this post - continued growth and perseverance in their faith or for salvation.
  2. English club started last Thursday.  The second one is this Thursday.  It is a great opportunity to serve and build relationships with students and have fun.
  3. We have a sports day follow-up with guys from Strakonice camp this Wednesday.  We want it to be a good time with the guys and a time for us to share the gospel and our lives with them (1 Thess. 2:8).
  4. I will be traveling to Vsetin this coming weekend for a Zlín Camp follow-up retreat.  I will be giving two messages - God's Fatherly Faithfulness (Is. 36-39) and The New Self (Col. 3:1-17).  They will be a total of 1 - 1 1/2 hours (including translation).  It has been a while since I prepared an original talk, and I have never been up in front of others giving a message for that long before.  Please pray that I would pray through the preparation and that I would listen to the Spirit as He guides toward what to communicate to the students at the follow-up.
  5. And for me specifically - growth and maturity in Christ, self-discipline, purity.  If you would, please pray Colossians 3:1-17 over God's Spirit and grace I will.
I miss you all, and I am thankful I get to share this with you, even if it is only a glimpse.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for the financial support you gave as well.  Because of your sacrifices of time and money I am very well provided for; I am able to do much ministry, and I am able to be a good host for those whom I get to receive into my home.  Thank you all so much.