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365 Czech Republic

That Was The First

One year ago today, on a rainy night in Prague, our plane touched down in what would be our initial move to the Czech Republic. It was from our hotel room just across the street from the airport that I wrote these words and posted them to this blog.

This is the first. This is the first of what I hope to be an ongoing journal of what transitioning life to a new country and culture looks like. Lord willing, it will be daily. My hope is that for a year I can maintain some thought, long or short, from our days in Czech Republic. I hope it will be a testament to the Lord’s grace in our lives, what He is doing, how He is working, and just how our lives are being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

family_2014-LAX-v2

Reading them again today has brought tears to my eyes. I don’t really even remember writing them, but I do remember meaning them. Somehow I wanted to capture, mostly for our own family, the memories of what it was like for us to move across the globe. I wanted to share the joys, fears, funny stories, and all the “firsts” that only a journal could document, but I wanted it to be often and I wanted some kind of accountability. Writing every day and posting to this blog seemed to be the answer. It would force me to sit down on a daily basis and ask “What happened today?” It would challenge me to take regular photos and even constantly ask Bethany, “Hey, do you have any photos or stories from today?” More than that, I knew it would serve as a memory bank of all that God would do in our lives.

The truth is, God has done so much this past year. This little blog has tried to be a testimony of what He has done. I know and believe that God has used this first year in our lives in ways that I don’t yet understand, but I’m so thankful for the many different experiences we’ve had as we try to figure out life in a foreign land. Just being a foreigner is a stretching experience all by itself. From day one we have fumbled our way through the once simple tasks of grocery shopping or ordering food at a restaurant. We have struggled (yes, even this morning!) to know what’s going on at Titus’ school and how best to communicate with his teacher. We have battled sickness and wondered often if it’s just mold in our home or the new air we’re breathing. We have made countless language mistakes and have regularly wondered if we’ll ever master Czech enough to share our faith. But those struggles are part of the way God is working. They can not be seen by themselves, but have to be viewed in the context of God’s sovereign hand and sovereign plan. Romans 8:28 is appropriate here, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

kitchen

As I look back on the year, I can’t just think about the struggles. We had so many joys this year too! Most recently we have had the joy of seeing our third child born here. The process of working with a Czech doctor and a Czech hospital was amazing. To watch little Karis grow in the womb is an amazing joy. We have also watched God answer many prayers, including Titus’ transition to preschool. Not only did Titus start school for the first time in his life here in Czech, but he has also had the challenge of doing it in a second language. God has been so faithful in that entire process. We have had the joy of meeting and knowing some amazing people, both Czechs and missionaries. Just this week I was reminded of how I thought of the Czech people when we first arrived but so much of that has changed this year. We have worked alongside some incredible missionaries and made many new friends. Their hearts for the lost of this region are a constant joy and I’m regularly spurred towards greater love of Jesus, and greater compassion towards unbelievers, because of their love for the lost. They have helped us transition here, invited us in to their lives, and have been a phone call away when we’ve been confused or just needed help. Lastly, we have also had the joy of many visitors to our new home here. From the early weeks here until very recently, many friends and family have come to visit us and stay with us. Those were some of the sweetest times for us as we didn’t feel alone but had a familiar face here, someone who we could talk and share our lives with, and someone who we felt like really knew us. These are just a few of the many joys we’ve had.

family-of-five

Looking back is only half the battle. We must also look forward to what is ahead for our family. As for this blog, we will be taking a “blog vacation” (if there is such a thing). It’s been incredibly fun to write every day, but it’s time to refocus and take back some much needed time. The blog will return, but it will not be every day. As for our family, we’re continuing to push ahead into language, culture, and ministry here in Czech. We know the Lord will give us the strength and courage to plow ahead with all that He has for us in the next year. We covet your prayers in this process!

Thank you for joining us in this journey. In all of this I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” This is not about us. It’s about Him. To Christ be all the glory.

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365 Czech Republic

Karis’ First Doctor Visit

This is it. We’re in our last week of our first year in Czech Republic. A week from today is June 24, the same day that we landed in Czech and when our lives were completely changed. For those that have followed along, it was also the start of a blog that has been published every day since we’ve arrived. I don’t want to get ahead of myself (I gotta save something for the blog next week!), but it’s kind of momentous and exciting.

This morning as I was taking Titus to school I stopped him and said, “Let me take a picture of you, pal.” He might be five years old but in that moment I felt like he was fifteen. I think it’s mostly just the clothes he’s wearing and how he’s walking with his backpack, but he just seemed really grown up. Here’s the photo he let me take.

Teenager Titus (6/17/15)

Today was Karis’ first post-hospital doctor visit. You might recall that we tried this on Monday, but had just missed the opening time that the doctor was seeing people. I think it was the sovereign hand of God because we didn’t have anyone to translate for us on Monday, but our friend Martina came with us today and I’m so glad she did. When you’re speaking about medical issues and other things, I just think it’s a lot easier to translate it than to try and catch things in broken English. Below is a photo of Martina, Bethany, Avery, and the nurse before we saw the doctor.

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

Minus the part where Karis pooped all over the examination table, down the doctor’s leg, and on to floor, I thought things went great! Karis is definitely growing. Her measurements today were 9.28 lbs and 21.45″ in length. As the doctor said, “She takes after her dad in height!” Awesome. The doctor only found one issue and that was that Karis’ belly button had gotten a little infected. We have been cleaning it daily with alcohol, but I guess we weren’t being rough enough in there so she prescribed a little antibiotic cream to take care of that. Otherwise, the doctor said Karis is healthy and looks great. This is always a joy to hear and we’re thankful for God’s grace. Here’s a couple more photos from the appointment.

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

After all that, she was a little sleep. Here she is in mommy’s arms.

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

I returned back to the JV office after a few weeks of enjoying family and working from home. I also had the chance to meet our interns for the first time who have been here since the last part of May. They have been traveling around Ukraine the past week or so and just returned back in Czech over the weekend. We all enjoyed a nice lunch together and worked at the JV office. It was a fun time to have a big team again and to be plowing ahead with projects this summer.

Back at home our friend Rachael was so kind and made us dinner! I picked up a big back at her house tonight that was full of great food and a yummy dessert. She had told us a few weeks ago about her desire to gift us a meal when we no longer had family in town and I think tonight was perfect timing. I’m pretty tired, Bethany is tired, the kids are not tired (in any way whatsoever), and when you mix all that up in can be a challenge. Needless to say we were very thankful for the meal! Thank you, Rachael! You are a blessing to us.

Box Girl (6/17/15)

Finally this evening I spent a little time outside with the kids playing in the yard just to get some energy out of them. Avery brought a box from a desk fan we bought for their room recently and was playing in it. I got a couple photos, but this one (above) was my favorite.

That’s all from me. I’m heading out for a late night store run because we’re apparently out of toilet paper (as announced by Avery yelling about it down the hallway while sitting on the potty) and we also need milk. Have a good night!

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365 Czech Republic

Our First Easter in Czech

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

“Mom…Dad…” whispered a little voice from Bethany’s side of the bed as we were asleep early this morning. The voice continued, “…it’s Easter!” And with that proclamation we were awake. The voice was that of Titus and he was pretty excited because he knew today meant a “party” at our friends house after church. We got out of bed and made our way to the living room. I looked out the window when, “what to my wondering eyes should appear,” but freshly fallen snow (minus the sleigh and reindeer). Yes…snow on Easter Sunday. Such was the start of a really fun and joy filled day.

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

Bethany had put together the kids Easter baskets last night and set them out for the kids to discover them this morning (shown in the photo above). Inside each were a few eggs with some candy and just a few small presents that Bethany had picked up, including new placemats for the table, shoes, socks, and some stickers. Other than the candy and stickers, I think the other things were mainly just those things you know you need so you turn it in to a present and everyone wins. The kids really loved opening everything and discovering what was inside the eggs (gummy bears and chocolate).

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

We made it to church this morning and were dressed for the occasion. Bethany had the kids all dressed up with Avery in a dress and Titus in a suit. I had actually ironed different clothes but when I saw Titus in his suit I decided to do the same and made a wardrobe change. At church there was a lot of special music, a lot of which was done by this women’s singing group. They were actually really talented and sang a bunch of different songs, including an old Stephen Curtis Chapman tune that had been translated in to Czech. Someone actually brought us a translation headset so we got to listen to the message in English, which was a great blessing because the message was really good and focused on Christ. There wasn’t any Sunday school for the kids, but we enjoyed having them with us. Here’s a photo of Avery and Bethany–Avery’s face is classic.

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

Church actually ended early to our surprise which was the Lord’s blessing because we needed to get back to get the food prep done for our lunch with friends this afternoon (which was at the Yorman’s house). Mostly, the party and lunch consisted of a bunch of Josiah Venture families getting together. Bethany made a green bean dish, deviled eggs, and fresh salsa! They were all delicious. Everyone brought different appetizers and parts of the meal so it was one big potluck. Here’s a couple photos of some of the meal. We ate like kings!

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

We enjoyed sweet fellowship this afternoon together with the other missionaries and even had time to talk about Jesus with all our kids, as well as enjoyed a time of singing worship songs. Casey and Kristin asked if I would be able to bring my guitar and sing some songs which turned out to be a really fun time. Our friend John actually brought a small hand drum and his accordion, so we had a small band. While we were singing it started to snow pretty good outside, so we ended up singing two Christmas songs. Why not celebrate Christ’s birth and resurrection in the same day?!

The women had planned to do a egg hunt for the kids, so everyone pitched in to put eggs together and hide them. This was probably the highlight for the kids so we I got a ton of photos of it. They are below and I’ve put captions beneath ones that need more explanation.

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

This is Titus deep in thought over where his eggs might be. All the eggs were divided up by kid and Titus’ were “sports” themed while Avery’s were all pink in color.

Easter in Czech (4/5/15)

Easter in Czech (4/5/15)

Easter in Czech (4/5/15)

Some of these hiding spots were pretty tricky.

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

There’s a pink one under there for Avery!

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

And another one!

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

When it was all said and done every kid had ten eggs. There’s was a little confusion for a bit because everyone thought they had hidden eleven eggs, but we think it was just a miscount. Each egg had either a sticker or a little toy inside. In the photo above Avery is enjoying discovering each little toy and you can even see on the ground that she lined them up as she opened them. Great times! What a fun day celebrating the risen Lord, Jesus Christ (even though the snow made it feel we were celebrating His birth)! It stayed pretty cold all day, but we definitely felt the warmth of friends and fellowship all day.

Finally, here are a few shots I got of the kids in their Sunday best. He is risen!

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

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365 Czech Republic

Our First Snow Day in Czech

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Like a little child waiting for Christmas, I have been waiting for our first snow day in Czech. Today was that day, and it was beautiful. Bethany grew up with snow in central Washington, but being a child of southern California I didn’t see many snow days. There were a couple of them, but they were definitely few and far between.

Today’s snow didn’t really pick up until around 2:00pm, and we really needed to head to another town and do a few errands. After checking the weather forecast, we decided to take our chances and left early this morning for the mall that’s about 40 minutes away. One thing we needed was a cordless phone so we could connect our Internet phone which will allow us to make calls to the States. We ended up finding the perfect phone at a great price at the first place we looked. In celebration, and because our friends gave us a gift card, we headed over to Starbucks.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Much to our surprise, the Czech baristas wrote “Have a nice day” on our cup…in English! That and the drink we were a nice little treat. From where we were sitting in the mall we could see the snow starting to come down outside, so I wanted to make sure didn’t linger too long. Our next stop was the mall play place. Titus and Avery have mental maps of every mall we have ever visited with precision GPS that can guide them there so we really had no way out of that. This mall’s play place was actually new to us, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. One thing they had was this giant, 2-story twisty slide. Titus was too scared in the beginning to go down it, but Annie Oakley Avery had no problem climbing the stairs and shooting down the tube. Below is a video that Avery took while sliding all the way down. You’ll notice the little Czech boys in front of her trying to talk to her.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Eventually, Avery convinced Titus that the tube was “a slow slide” and he went down. Here they are going down together. You can see Titus leaning on his back (probably because he was nervous) and Avery is all smiles as they make their way down.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

It’s always worth mentioning just how kid friendly Czech is. We went into multiple stores today that had little kid activity tables. Here’s a photo at the grocery store (yes, the grocery store!) that had a little Lego table. I played with the kids for a bit while Bethany grabbed a few items. As an aside, you’ll often find grocery stores inside the mall in Czech, and this one was no different–it’s actually quite convenient!

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

The snow had been coming down, but wasn’t really sticking much until about the time we were leaving the mall. Here’s a photo of us walking back to the car and it was just starting to come down harder. When we got to our car, there was just a thin layer on it.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Right as we were arriving home, the snow really began to come down and was sticking. The kids had fallen asleep in the car but we managed to get them inside and lay them on their beds without really waking them up. As soon as we were settled, I grabbed my camera and took a few photos along with a slow motion video of the scene. Here’s a little 16 second video I got that I added some music to. The church next to our place looked so incredible as the snow was falling.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

This afternoon I setup our new phone and ended up talking to my mom in the States for a while which was a real blessing. It was just morning time for her so we chatted as I watched the snow continue to fall outside. When the kids woke up from their nap we got excited about going outside to play. Bethany had called her parents on the phone too and then we ended up video chatting with them, so they were able to watch us playing outside via the computer. Bethany held the computer by the window as we threw snowballs and made snow angels in the yard. I think I had just as much fun as the kids, and it was a real joy to just play with them. Here’s some photos from our time.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Avery had gotten a little cold and went back inside before I could get a photo of the three of us. But here’s Titus and me before we went back inside too. Yeah, I was excited.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

I truly praise God that our first snow day came on a Saturday where I could spend it with my family. Just seeing Titus’ face and hearing him laugh when we were throwing snowballs at each other will be etched in my mind for many years to come. Watching Avery do her best to build a little snow man with the dry snow was cute and special. But even more than that, one thing I noticed today was how beautiful Czech looked. Even some of the grungier parts of the city were covered in white, perfect snow. That, of course, reminded me of the gospel and the great hymn “Jesus Paid It All.” All the grungy parts of my life–my sin–are covered by the sacrifice of Christ, and now I’m washed, “white as snow.” Praise the Lord for His amazing kindness and grace towards me.

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365 Czech Republic

Ice Skating in Poland on Avery’s Birthday

Never in my life would I have imagined spending Avery’s birthday ice skating in Poland, but that’s exactly what happened today. Our friends, the Millers, have a daughter with the same birthday (she’s a few years older) and they planned a big ice skating trip with a few other missionary families today. They invited us while we were at the JV Thanksgiving event and we were pumped to join them. The ice rink they chose is about a stone’s throw from our apartment, but it’s across the river in Poland. I think it actually takes longer to drive there than walk, but since it was in the 20’s outside we decided to take the car.

There were five families, including us, and we had a really fun time on our first ice skating adventure. The rink was very nice and really reasonably priced for skate rentals and time on the ice. I have done a lot of rollerblading, but I don’t believe I have ever actually been ice skating before. Bethany has gone, but it has been a really long time. Titus was excited, but Avery just wasn’t having it today and didn’t even want us to put skates on her. Later she warmed up to the idea (ha! “warmed up”…to ice) and let me carry her around the rink for a lap or two. Titus wanted to try a few times so I would hold his arms while his little legs and feet scrambled for stability beneath him.

Here’s a few photos with captions beneath each one to give more of the story.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

We arrived a few minutes earlier than the other families so Titus and I were walking around the building just checking it out and found a big pile of snow. This is not snow that had fallen from the sky, but I guess they made it for some event or practice they were doing. Behind this pile was a large ramp thing where I assume they were skiing or snowboarding. But that didn’t matter to Titus; he was just excited about all this crazy white stuff.

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Here’s Bethany and Avery as we were waiting to buy tickets and get our skates on. Avery had just gotten up from a nap so she wasn’t quite camera ready.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Here was the scene inside the locker room where everyone was getting their skates on. I was really impressed that the same electric key that got you into the room also unlocked your personal locker. Not bad for $11 which got all four of us an hour of rink time, a locker, and skate rentals.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

I know ice skating rinks are cold, but I’m pretty sure it was colder inside than outside (and it as cold outside!). For a while we skated clockwise and then an announcer came on in Polish to tell us to turn around and go the other direction. Since we don’t speak Polish you just kind of follow the crowd. You’ll also notice the big sign that reads “Welcome to Cieszyn.” Cieszyn is the Polish name for the same town in Czech which is Český Těšín (where we live).

This a little video I took going around the rink one time.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

I held Titus and Avery while skating around the rink a few times. I only fell one time and sadly I had Titus in my arms. Both our kids were well padded today, but when you’re dad is 6’4″ it’s a long way down. I saved Titus’ head from hitting the ice, but his bum hit hard and he cried. He settled down after a few minutes and we went around again. I tried hard to make sure he wasn’t completely freaked out about the ice after that considering that it was his first time. When we got home he said, “Ice skating was fun!” so I don’t think I did too much emotional damage.

After ice skating, the other families had plans to go back to where they were staying and invited us to have sundaes with them. It was just a little too far for us to go tonight and would’ve been another hour of driving, so we left and went to a local hamburger place in the Polish square.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

While at dinner we were waiting for our food (at the table above) and Titus was drinking his apple juice we had gotten him. I was sitting across from him asking him to sit down when he reached for his juice and it slipped and began spilling on the his seat (the bench seat). In a moment, I got up from chair, hit my head on a hanging light and all I heard was a big crash and glass breaking. It hurt and I was a little confused in the moment about what exactly had happened.

You’ll notice in the photo above that the glass lamp shade is sitting on the bench. Basically, my head knocked the huge lamp cover off the wire it was hanging from, it broke the light bulb, and everything fell on to our table. Amazingly, the lamp cover didn’t break, but we had broken glass from the light bulb, juice, and drinks all over the table and floor. Here’s a few more photos after we cleaned it all up with the help of the employees at the burger joint.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Finally, we did have time this morning to give Avery a little something from us which she opened in our living room. Here’s a few more photos of Avery opening that. It was a really fun day and we’re glad we got to spend it with friends and enjoying another new adventure here.

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

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365 Czech Republic

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Above is the view we woke up to this morning. We’re staying at what is called Hotel Malenovice. This building has a story of it’s own, but it’s basically the Josiah Venture training center where all of our major training events are held here in Czech. As I type the sun has gone down, and this view has turned in to sparkling lights over the city. We just finished our big Josiah Venture family Thanksgiving meal downstairs and it was a wonderful time. Dave Patty, president of JV, led us in a little devotional out of the Psalms and we spent a few minutes sharing with each other how God has been faithful this year to each of us. Before we started eating, Dave also led us in prayer and the singing of the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Here’s a little video I took of us singing.

The food today was incredible to say the least. It is a rare moment where you can gather so many people from so many different places and enjoy home made food from each family. Most of the people here this week are American missionaries so they all brought their own family’s traditional dishes and let’s just say I did a little sampling. Oh, and the turkey…amazing. There’s a local guy here in Czech that cooks the turkeys every year for JV and they are delectable. I don’t know how many turkeys it takes to feed 100+ people, but here’s one of them in it’s glory.

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

I also got this photo of Bethany and the kids as we were finishing up our meals. Clearly, Avery is not finished yet.

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Here’s a couple photos of the kids playing outside today. Avery loved the swingset, and you can see Titus with his toy light saber while playing with the other boys (who were hiding from him).

Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

What you’re seeing in the photos and video above are about as much as I was involved in today’s events (actually less because Bethany took the photos of the kids playing outside). Pretty much every other moment I was laying on the bed in our room. Even though I went down for breakfast in the morning, I came right back up and slept. I remained in bed right up until we went down for the Thanksgiving meal at 1:30. Today was just the worst of my sickness. I’ve got antibiotics working their magic, but the sinus pressure and overall energy sap really did me in. It really bummed me out and I was sad to miss the football game they had outside and just spending time with my family and other people. In some ways, I feel like I missed Thanksgiving and that’s definitely not fun.

The night ended with a talent show put on by all the third culture kids (TCKs), where they performed and sang in front of everyone. Think of it like a recital, but not as serious. The kids were great and there was a lot of amazing talent up there and definitely a lot of laughing going on. Our kids were pretty tired afterwards so we rushed them upstairs to bed where I’m finishing this post while they are fast asleep.

Besides being tucked away in bed most of today, I’m thankful to have been here. It really is a special time where a lot of families can just be together while they are so far away from their own families. That’s really just a testament to God’s grace for bringing so many like minded people together, in a land far away from their own, to share the Good News of Christ to such a dark place like Central and Eastern Europe. God has a big vision for bringing more people in to his family which involves all of the families here today. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

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365 Czech Republic

A Doctor Visit and Two Days Away

After much prodding on behalf of my teammates, I finally saw a doctor for the first time in the Czech Republic. When you can barely talk, that’s usually a sign you need to see someone about your health. The doctor I saw today was fantastic and he speaks great English which makes the entire process just a lot easier, not to mention lifting the burden of trying to find someone to come with me an explain the situation in another language.

Doctor's Office (11/26/14)

He asked where I was from and when I told him California he started to share how he visited the San Francisco area two years where his uncle lives. He was actually asking me because he was curious if the weather in Czech was affecting my health and there’s definitely some truth to that. But after a few minutes of discussion and listening to me breathe the doctor was sure I have an infection, probably a sinus infection. He graciously prescribed some antibiotics and I left with a smile. It’ll probably take a week to clear up but I look forward to getting my real voice back and feeling better.

Tonight started our mini getaway with some of the Josiah Venture family. Every year Josiah Venture puts on a Thanksgiving event for the missionaries and we’re invited to stay at the training center (in Czech), have meals together, and just enjoy the holiday together. Since everyone is away from their families in the States, it’s an opportunity for the JV family to be together and give God thanks for all we have and what He’s doing in our lives. Bethany made her family’s famous green bean casserole and some deviled eggs and other families brought their own traditional family dishes. I’m excited about the meals tomorrow and hopefully getting some time to rest and take a break. We’ll be here until Friday morning, so hopefully I can get some photos of where we’re staying and what we’re doing when the sun comes up tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be cold but sunny so we praise the Lord for that too!

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365 Czech Republic

Bethany’s Retreat and Our First Myci Linka

Bethany's Retreat (11/15/14)

Bethany was gone on a youth ministry women’s retreat from about 4pm yesterday until the same time today when she got home. Above is a photo of what she woke up to this morning. Not only is that an incredible view, but the weather again was gorgeous today. I originally thought she was headed in to Poland for the retreat, but found out late last night that they had actually stayed at our sister church’s facility here in Czech, about thirty minutes away. Bethany said the entire event was really well done and she was glad for some time to get to know the girls better. She also said that it gave her a great opportunity to just practice listening to the Czech language because all except for one session was in Czech. Below is a photo of “the fabulous food that we were blessed by,” as Bethany put it.

Bethany's Retreat (11/15/14)

Back at the home front, the kids and I enjoyed a fun Saturday together. This morning as I was making breakfast for all of us, Avery was playing with the clementines on the kitchen table. First she told me, “Daddy, I made a ‘W'” (top left in the photo below). Of course I snapped a photo because I thought she was clever. To my surprise she quickly took one of the oranges away and said, “Now it’s a square” (top right). Sure, it’s a crooked square, but I’ll take a photo of it too. No sooner had I gone back to making scrambled eggs and Avery said, “Daddy! I made a butterfly!” (bottom left). Nice one. Then she told me, “I can make Mickey mouse, too” and rearranged them in to those classic three circle shape we all know and love (bottom right). She concluded with, “Yeah, I can make shapes and letters and stuff.” Yes, you can, Avery.

I Survived 24 Hours Without My Wife (11/15/14)

Besides making orange shapes, Avery also helped destroy some orange circles and mixed up the scrambled eggs in the bowl. When mommy’s not home I’ll take all the help I can get!

I Survived 24 Hours Without My Wife (11/15/14)

We have been talking for a while about getting the car washed and since I can’t really do it in our driveway (I still need to buy a hose and some buckets), I decided to take the kids through the drive thru wash at a nearby Shell gas station. Another missionary put the thought in my head and I have been wanting to try it out. The kids and I cleaned out the car and went over there as I pulled up I saw this sign.

I Survived 24 Hours Without My Wife (11/15/14)

Uh oh. I was pretty sure that “Myci Linka” means car wash, but other than that I don’t know what any of that says; I better call in reinforcements (I realize we have these in the States, but I haven’t really used many of them so I just wanted to make sure I was doing it right). Our friend Mel helped me navigate the fact that I needed to get out of line, go inside, pick a car wash, pay, get a code, and come back in line with my car and type it in. Through my broken Czech I was able to understand that I was getting the first car wash option and it would be an 8 minute cycle. Whew, OK, here goes nothing.

I Survived 24 Hours Without My Wife (11/15/14)

I was able to watch the guy in front of me with this car and Mel’s directions were great and it all worked out in the end. Above is a photo of the car in front of us finishing up before we headed in. Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of the end result, but the car looks great and now I know how to do that if I ever need to in the future. Our first car wash in Czech…I’m so proud.

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365 Czech Republic

Titus’ First Day of Preschool

My son went to preschool for the first time today. Even though missions work had been on our minds before Titus was born, I honestly wasn’t thinking that one day he would start school in Czech. But that was the Lord’s plan and that’s what happened today. I brought my camera along today and will do my best to tell the story with photos and captions.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

The morning started early, before the sun was up, so we could get everyone ready to walk down the street to where the school is. Our friend Misa met us at our house at 7:15am and was our help in translating everything this morning, and a huge help she was! Titus was really excited as we started to leave and he and Avery started running down our street.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

When we got inside we had to figure out in which cubby to put Titus’ stuff. His classroom is upstairs and he actually had two cubbies, one upstairs and one downstairs. The one downstairs is for his outside shoes and his one upstairs is for his change of clothes, backpack, and coat. One thing we’re still not clear on is the change of clothes. As the kids were coming to their cubbies their parents would immediately change their clothes. Titus’ teacher said the same thing to us and suggested he change his shirt for playing outside. We haven’t had time to ask someone about this, but it seemed kind of strange to change his clothes right away.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

Inside there’s a big, little bathroom. It’s big because of the number of stalls and sinks, but everything is little in size. Above is a photo of Avery checking it all out. She loved it…maybe a little too much, but more on that in a bit.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

When we got into the classroom, Titus ran right to some toys he thought he would like. I got the above photo of him just enjoying himself. I know it feels a little lonely him sitting all by himself, but we were some of the first people there which kind of helped get us settled and find our way around. Even as kids showed up, Titus was discovering all the new things to play with. Here’s another one of him with a European style race car.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

I’m sure he has seen me ironing before, so I laughed when he found the iron by the girls and started to play with them. Shortly after I got this photo he said to me, “Dad, do you want to iron too?” I just laughed at him.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

Avery was getting in on the action too. Here’s a few shots of her playing:

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

While the kids were playing and I was taking photos, the teacher, Bethany, and Misa worked through all the details. Here they are (below) looking over some paperwork, actually, a lot of paperwork. It’s amazing how much longer the process takes when you’re having to translate everything. The one funny thing that still confuses me is we have to go to the post office to pay for Titus’ lunches. You pay by the month, but I’m not sure why we go to the post office? While in the classroom I had to pay for a trip they are taking to the cinema (at least, I think that’s where they were going) but I just paid cash right there. It’s just funny to me.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

The whole trip took about 45 minutes from the time we left our house until finally leaving the preschool. Amazingly, we didn’t cry. I think it was just crazy enough with figuring things out and Titus had such a good attitude that it made it all a smooth process. We got so many notes from people praying for us and I think God answered those prayers with a great morning. I know I said “we” didn’t cry, but Avery had the hardest time of all of us. She was sad that we couldn’t stay with Titus and I think she was enjoying herself. Here she is on the stairs when she sat down in tears not wanting to leave.

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

Titus went today from 8-12pm and Bethany picked him up. He ate lunch (chicken soup and toast according to Titus) and played outside a lot. He told us tonight that, “I bonked my head on the wall and I was crying for you.” Bethany asked him if they comforted him and he said, “No, they just waited, waited, waited.” We laughed! When Bethany picked him up she tried to ask the teacher how he did by pointing to him, smiling, and giving the thumbs up. The teacher answered back in her best English saying, “You don’t have to worry, he did fine.” I wonder if she read our blog last night?

Titus Goes to School (10/15/14)

At the end of the day, we are excited about what God has for Titus and for our family in this new phase of life. Only the Lord knows what the future holds, but we’ll take his Word and the broken English from Titus’ teacher: “You don’t have to worry.”

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365 Czech Republic

Our First Date Night

First Date Night (7/30/14)

Thanks to the help and kindness of Lindsey and Kailey (our house guests!), we were able to have our first date night here in Czech!

As we walked away from our apartment tonight to head to the restaurant Bethany said something to the effect of, “walking to the restaurant on date night is a first.” Yes, it is. But there’s a great place here in town called “Da Capo” that our friends introduced us to that we just love. No one that works there really speaks English, and even though we’re working on it we don’t speak Czech, but we somehow used what little we know to order our meals, get some water, and even have a little zmrzlina (ice cream) for dessert. You’d be surprise how stressful it can be just to try and order a meal when you don’t speak the language. We always feel bad when they are talking and we have no clue what’s being said, but our waitress tonight was very gracious, spoke slowly for us, and for the most part it was a huge success.

Da Capo serves Italian food and Bethany ordered bruschetta for an appetizer and I ordered the cream of broccoli soup. Here’s a few pics. Check out that sour cream (I think that’s what it is) on my soup!

First Date Night (7/30/14)

First Date Night (7/30/14)

First Date Night (7/30/14)

For the main course we both ordered pizza with meat on top and we topped it all off with some vanilka (vanilla) ice cream. At first we said, “dva vanilka zmrzlina” which is a rough way of saying “2 vanilla ice cream” and when our waitress repeated it back she pointed to each of us and said “dva… dva” as if to say, “two for you and two for you?” Being the good language students we are we quickly figured out that she was going to give us two scoops each but we were able to clear that up and only have one scoop each. Score “one” for language lessons (see what I did there?)!

First Date Night (7/30/14)

After dinner we tried to find a coffee place that was open but it looks like the whole town basically closes up around 6pm and we were too late. So we did a casual walk around the town square (photo above) and I’m still amazed and what we get to see. The old buildings and the European feel here are still new enough to amaze me. Finally we took a casual stroll home and walked off a little of that zmrzlina.

It was nice to get away for a bit and we’re so thankful to Lindsey and Kailey for watching our kids. At one point during dinner Bethany said, “Does date night include a nap?” I laughed in agreement. We have been going, going, going for over a month now and even still we have boxes we’re unpacking. It’s a lot of work right now and we definitely need time to rest and just enjoy each other. Lord willing we’ll be able to get some consistency with date night so we both don’t feel like we need a nap!