Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Flat Hunting!

These are the maps I drew of the apartments I visited today!  I am really bad at picking my favourite parts of each potential place, morphing them together and remembering one epic, dream place to live!  So the maps help me remember the different places, and helped me describe the places I visited.

I'm going to visit another potential flat on Friday and then we'll see where we're at.  It's exciting to be thinking about having somewhere to live here!  Even if the decisions involve weighing up all the different factors involved in picking somewhere to live.

I'm very grateful for the different Czech speakers who have helped out on various parts of this - making phone calls to book appointments or coming with me to view places and ask the questions that I wouldn't even think of because of the differences in renting places here versus the UK.  

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Czech Course Complete!

Yesterday I finished my course!  It felt so good to complete it!  We got an official certificate (left) and a university t-shirt (top right) that will join my pyjama top pile as it's four sizes too big.

We did a final test and I got 89/103 so that was very reassuring!  I feel like I'm doing well with the language - aside from things in the class I've been able to have conversations in shops, restaurants etc to help me with everyday life!

The course was 100-hours long and it was very tiring (hello 9pm bedtimes!) but it was so good for me!  It was even fun to spend time with the lovely people on my course.

Of course, I still have a long, long way to go.  Every time I feel like I understand how the endings change they change in a completely different way!  And we have only touched on the beginnings of four of the seven "cases" in the language.  Cases mean something along the line of... the endings of words change depending on whether you are talking about someone, to someone, whether you're in somewhere, or are going to there, or how you're going there.... etc.  Czech friends, I'm sorry for how I explained that - like I said, I've still got a long way to go!

So, a long way to go but an incredible and exciting start in the language!  I'm so grateful for this time in Prague and for the decision for me to complete this language course.

Thank you all for your prayers for energy and my brain throughout this time!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Photo Friday

Saturday - again, I am so thankful for my support system.  I spent the morning with the Yormans and we went out for Mexican food for lunch.  The evening involved spending time with the Bowmans who had returned from camp to Prague.  I am so grateful for both these families!

Sunday - after an amazing church service it was fun for us all to hang out together over bbq at the church.  Here is Paul and Selah enjoying the garden!

Monday - after camps the short term teams are debriefed - they are given a time to share what they learnt at camp, what they saw God do etc.  And then they are commissioned to go back home - to continue to serve and preach the Gospel in places where there aren't cultural barriers or language barriers!  

It was incredibly exciting to just get a glimpse of what God has done this past week in Czech.  There were many students across the country who committed to follow Jesus!  Please pray for churches as they follow up with students and get them connected into their programmes.  And please pray for the camps that are starting in this country again tomorrow!  And for the camps happening across central and eastern Europe - we're heading into the last few weeks of our summer programmes so pray for the remaining camps and for energy for those serving!  And please pray that God would continue to work in the hearts of students long after camp, as they go back to family who may not believe and as they go into their every day life!

Tuesday - I got to spend some time with this lady today and with others from the NI team.  I am so grateful that I got to spend time with them all while they were in Prague!

Wednesday - four years ago I was leaving the Czech Republic with the NI team and was sad to be leaving!  Paul consoled me saying that one day he thought I'd be saying goodbye to them at the airport, because I'd be living here.  Although I didn't get to say goodbye to everyone at the airport, I got there just a little late to say goodbye to everyone but Rose waited.  It was a weird feeling to say "See you at Christmas" and yet it felt so right.  And it was cool to experience that I-live-here-now coming true.

Thursday - my school put on a dinner for us on a hill in Prague (Petrin).  The view was beautiful and it has fun to spend time with my classmates.

Friday - after spending some lovely time with my friend Petra after class I explored Vysehrad which you can see in the pictures.  It was stunning.  And this is probably my new favourite place in Prague!  

Friday, 19 July 2013

Photo Friday

Saturday - exploring the Polish side of the town that will be my home. 

Sunday - on the train back into Prague.

Monday - This week I was staying with the grandparents of some Czech friends.  They were super sweet and I got a lot of homemade cakes, biscuits and berries!

Tuesday - there is nothing quite like spending four hours going over verbs.  Thankful for cute coffee shops that are quiet and allow you to sit with one drink for that long.

Wednesday - the weather here has been incredible and I've so loved just walking through this beautiful city!

Thursday - my friend was rather sneaky and told her grandmother that she should speak Czech with me for an hour each night.  So each night at 7 I would go upstairs (I was in a little self-contained apartment on the first floor) and there would be herbal tea and treats as we sat and talked.  It was probably the best thing for my Czech!  

Friday - on Friday morning my granny passed away.  She had had cancer that had been diagnosed the week before I flew here.  It is hard to think that she is no longer with us but it is so good that she is no longer in pain.  I did not travel back to NI for the funeral.  I am so grateful for the incredible people who surrounded my family at this time.  And I also felt surrounded by so many of you and as my boss and his family just happened to be in Prague that night they invited me to crash with them which was perfect.  

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

I Would Like to Buy a Hamburger

This clip from The Pink Panther is a great representation of what language learning feels like some days!  As I learn to pronounce very different sounds I want to say "but that's what I am saying!" but my teacher disagrees!  

Monday, 15 July 2013

S-Team Planning

My role within Josiah Venture is on "S-Team".  S-Team stands for "Specialities Team" - we are the team that serve the special ministries of JV - English Camps, Fusion and Edge.   These are some of the major "pathways" that we use to reach young people in central and eastern Europe.

English Camps are the ministry I'm most familiar with, I served at my first English camp in 2007!  Fusion is the name given to rock choirs and performing arts groups that meet weekly - this is a newer ministry and is being launched in more JV countries as it grows.  And Edge is our brand new sports' ministry - it's starting with football but that may grow too!  You can read more about English camps and Fusion here, and I hope to write more about all three as I continue to get to know them all better!

On Wednesday I left Prague to travel to Cesky Tesin (where I'll be living) and on Thursday and Friday I was at the S-Team planning retreat at Selah.  Selah, the building in the photo above, is JV's retreat centre, is up in the mountains not far from our main offices.  I hope to share more about Selah in the future too, as it's got a pretty cool story!

Back to the planning meeting...  it was so exciting to join with S-Team and some other JV missionaries as we thought through the next two years of the different ministries - what's going on right now, where we think they should be going and what needs to be done.  

After those two days the to-do lists are long - the need of this part of the world is huge but God is a God who can do more than we could ever ask or imagine, and His love for the young people of these countries is also beyond what we can imagine.  

So in the midst of long to-do lists, it is so amazing to be here and to be part of God's movement in central and eastern Europe.  Sitting in that meeting I again felt that this is what I was made for, this is what God has called me to.  

And this week I'm back in Czech class, where I will be until the end of this month as I try to get a jump start in the language that God has also called me to, even if it's a little harder! 

Thank you for your partnership in this work!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Photo Friday

Saturday - it was a beautiful evening to walk around Prague.

Sunday - packing again!  During my course I've been/will be living in a couple of different places around Prague.  It has been so great!  But I'm definitely ready for the time at some point over the next few months where I'll unpack and not live out of a suitcase, something I feel like I've been doing for the last year!

Prague is always beautiful.

Tuesday - after class I managed to make it over to the airport in time to welcome the Irish team as they arrived.  It felt so good to be welcoming them, so natural - it was just another one of those moments of me realising that I live here.

Wednesday - I got to spend four hours on a train as I headed to Cesky Tesin for a two day planning meeting.  I adore "train time" - time for napping, I finished a book, etc.

Thursday - fuel as we (S-Team, JV president and vice president plus others) thought through and planned our ministries as we look forward! 

Friday - the view from where we stayed for the two days.  So beautiful.  I'll share more about this planning retreat in another post!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Ellenwoods' Video

The Ellenwoods are a family who have served with Josiah Venture for a long time!  I first heard them speak at the team training before English Camp in 2008, my second trip to Czech.  

The Ellenwoods serve on Josiah Venture's "B-team".  With the B standing for Barnabas, these people serve the JV family by providing access to care, support and resources.  I know already, even in my short term trips and in this support raising process, I have felt so blessed, encouraged and supported by this family.

Recently they were the subject of a video that gives an insight into JV and central and eastern Europe.  You can check out the video here.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

National Holidays!

The Prague National Museum, taken during a stunning sunset (which you can just about see in the windows) yesterday.

The 5th and 6th July are national holidays in the Czech Republic.  On Friday I still had class and the 6th was a Saturday so I'm not really sure how they are celebrated, except there were a few more Czech flags around the place.

July 5th is a day when Saints Cyril and Methodius are celebrated.  They were Greek brothers who were sent to this part of Europe in the 9th Century when the people of the region asked to hear the truth of the Gospel in their own language.  So Cyril and Methodius came and invented an alphabet (the Cyrillic alphabet!) and shared the Gospel.  

June 6th is Jan Hus day.  Above is his statue in the centre of Prague, I probably have better photos somewhere on this hard drive but for now this quick snap taken a couple of days ago will have to suffice!

Jan Hus was a Czech priest who is considered the first reformer of the church, being on the scene a century before Luther.  Jan Hus was a great preacher and called for reformation in the Catholic church.  On July 6th 1415 he was burnt at the stake by the Catholic church for being a heretic.  

In my Czech class the teacher was asked what these men were famous for and he couldn't really give an answer, except that Jan Hus also reformed the Czech language, introducing all the little accents above letters.  

This country has such a glorious and rich history of the Gospel, dating back centuries.  Prague is called the City of One Hundred Spires (although the actual count is probably more like five hundred).  They have days to celebrate the great Christians of the past.  And yet there are young people living here, in the most atheistic country in Europe, who have never heard the Gospel.

I'm praying that God would yet again raise up people in this nation who will proclaim the true Gospel, that people would respond to it, and that it would transform this land.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Photo Friday

Saturday - it was crazy good to spend time with the Haskews in England on my two day layover.  And apparently this is the only photo I took!  There's a photo of Jo and I somewhere but these homemade Welsh cakes were pretty amazing!

Sunday - I arrived in Prague!  And took a walk to figure out where my class is held.

This week I'm staying with some fellow JV missionaries, the Chestnuts, and here their dog is helping me study Czech by providing moral support.

Tram lines and blue sky as I waited for the tram home on Tuesday.

Wednesday was a little more rainy - I was amused by my colour co-ordination as I waited for the morning tram.

Thursday - going over just the notes from that day's class!  

Friday - my view of class, taken during the break.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

First Wednesday of the Month

The view of the river from where I'm currently staying.

At noon today, the first Wednesday of the month, class was interrupted as words came out of a loudspeaker that must have been close by... because a moment later when a siren started that lasted over two minutes, class was temporarily stopped because we couldn't hear each other.  After the siren there were more Czech words and then we could continue.

I think a lot of the class were rather confused, but then I realised what was happening - something I've heard about before but never heard myself.  On the first Wednesday of each month at noon there is a test of the air raid sirens across the Czech Republic.  I guess that before I've either not been around the first Wednesday of the month or I've been away from towns.  

I don't know how often they are actually used apart from being tested - from a brief google search someone remembers them being used when the floodwaters broke the banks of the river shown above in Prague in 2002.

My teacher commented that he remembered the Cold War and them being used a lot more.

Just something else I'm sure I'll get used to!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Two full days in!

Well, today has been my second full day in Czech, and my second day of my language course.  Things are going really well!

From 9 - 1:15 I have my language course, and sometimes there are afternoon activities.  Yesterday and today though there weren't so I spent time buying stuff I need or studying.  

There are twelve other people from all over the world in my class and we're all there for different reasons.  We've quickly learnt to laugh at ourselves and each other, an important quality as you learn a language and make a million mistakes.

There is so much to learn and go over after class each day, and I'm trying to make the most of this time so dedicated to language learning.  This does mean it's very mentally tiring and, at just 9:25pm I'm writing this blog post but struggling to keep my eyes open and my brain is questioning how I'm spelling each word!  A normal feeling in the language learning process!

I'm so thankful to be here and am loving being in the beautiful city of Prague!  I'm grateful that it feels so normal to be walking around, hopping on trams, buying groceries, making dinner... living life and just being here.

I hope to send out a prayer update soon and please forgive me if I am slower at replying to messages.