Saturday, June 7, 2008

Czech Superstar

Yesterday I met my first Czech celebrity. Does the name Roman Lasota sound familiar? Okay, so maybe he's not that famous, yet, but having been a finalist on the Czech version of "American Idol"-- "Czech Superstar"-- makes him pretty famous among the 11 to 16-year-old Czech female demographic, I'm sure. Let me explain. In a little town very near to Třinec called Albrechtice this weekend they are having an event called OKO, a word which means "eye" in Czech, but is also an acronym for "O Kristu Otevřené" which means "About Christ Openly." This is the sixth year of OKO, a weekend where the Christians of Albrechtice strive to have all kinds of events for all ages to bring out the whole community and share the love of Christ with them. As I understand, these weekends have historically been very well attended.

Yesterday (Friday, June 6) was the first day this year, and they had a concert given by a local band. The singers in the band were last year's finalists in "Albrechtice Superstar," a village-wide version of the infamous television program. Roman came, because he is from the area, and sold CDs and also sang during the concert. Near the end of the concert, there was only one CD remaining and the MC said that anyone over 13 who wanted the CD could come up to the stage and perform a song to win the CD. No one was volunteering, so I asked my interpretor if she thought I should do it. She strongly encouraged me, so I went up. Fortunately, the MC spoke a little English, so I told him that I was from the US and that I didn't speak Czech, but that I wanted to sing for the CD. I sang "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High." Halfway into the chorus, the band and last year's "superstars" picked up what I was singing and joined in. By the end of the song, it was like I was the famous one, singing in front of an audience with an incredible band and back-up singers. So, I won the CD. When the concert was over, my interpretor told me I should have Ramon sign it. So, I hurriedly tore off the shrink-wrap and ran over to him. He spoke a little English too, and so we talked a little while he autographed the album booklet from the CD. It was just the funniest thing to me. So I've been listening to that CD today.

A quick recap of the last week:

On Saturday, May 31, I went with Stephanie Rosburg to Krakow, Poland for the day. It was great. It was hot and delightful. We had some traditional Polish food for lunch, shopped for souvenirs and English-language novels and teaching materials. We had ice cream and watched a guy play the diggery-doo (the Australian "musical" instrument) and we watched a group of Christian break dancers give their performance. It was a very good, very exhausting day of being a tourist.

Monday, June 2: I taught my first English class for beginners here at the parish hall. It was good, a lot of work, but very fun. I am using this method called Total Physical Response (TPR) which teaches verbs using the command form of the verb. It's really a lot of fun and we do a lot of moving around. The curriculum I have for TPR, from World Mission, uses TPR to teach the Bible. This coming week we will use last week's vocabulary to talk about the Fall.

Tuesday, June 3: I had school all morning. At the school I'm helping two other teachers lead their English conversation classes for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. Some days are very fun and the kids are a joy. Other days are tough. But God is so good. Also on Tuesday I taught my two conversation classes at the parish hall for the second time. This was also very good, a lot of fun and hard work.

Wednesday, June 4: My day off. I spent most of it with Sarka. I have convinced her that I really want her to teach me how to cook, in spite of the fact that I don't have anyone to cook for now. I told her that I need to know how to cook so that my future husband won't starve. So, we made some chicken noodle soup (from scratch, a lot easier than I thought it would be) and Chinese. I guess I haven't mentioned that here, the noon/afternoon meal is the big deal and that breakfast and supper are kind of after thoughts, little snacks to hold you over. There are almost always three courses: a soup, a main dish with some meat and a starchy food, and then a dessert with coffee or tea.

Thursday, June 5: This was a big day for me. Martín Hlavenka, Sarka's brother, drove me to my allergist appointment. There I learned that I have been suffering for two weeks from an allergy to some kind of grass. I received a prescription for allergy pills, eye drops and nasal spray. Great. The grass season here starts at the beginning of June and ends at the end of October, so I have that to look forward to. I hope that the particular grass I'm allergic to only gives off pollen until the end of July so that I don't have to have itchy eyes until November. Thursday afternoon I helped teach the seventh graders. That night I had a brass rehearsal. I am happy to say that finally my lips are starting to get into shape and I wasn't completely exhausted halfway into the rehearsal. I also got some help from one of the members of the youth group, Lukaš Kawulok, with my Czech studies.

Friday, June 6: I got up early and went for a run with Martín (the one who drove me to the doctor). Even though I spent so much time during my four months at home running, I haven't run very much since I got here, and Martín really gave me a work-out. He wants to join the Czech army either this fall or next (depending on his school schedule for this fall), and so he has been in training, pushing himself very hard so that he can be the best of the best of the best if/when he joins the military. I applaud him and his hard work. I also thanked him profusely for running slowly enough for me to keep up! I spent much of the rest of the day cleaning and reading, practicing my trumpet and practicing my Czech.
In the afternoon I went with Michal and Sarka and their kids to "Children's Day", a big outdoor event put on by my school. Each class gave some kind of performance and there were a lot of carnival-type fun things to do, including riding ponies, rope climbing, and even one of those big, inflatable castles for the kids to jump around in. It was a lot of fun and I felt like a celebrity because all of the kids were excited to see me at their performance. I enjoyed watching them and taking pictures, eating new foods and meeting new people. I didn't enjoy that we were outside and right next to a field with freshly mown grass. My eyes were itching like CRAZY! I spent a lot of time apologizing to people for always having my fingers in my eyes, and they seemed to understand. I came home from Children's Day around 7:00, long enough to change into warmer clothes and go to OKO.

My plans for today: I already did some laundry and washed my windows (an unfortunate choice, because while I was washing the last one, it decided to rain... oh well). I need to work on lesson plans for Monday and Tuesday, practice my trumpet and enjoy the beautiful day, the first Saturday that I've had all to myself since I arrived here.

Prayer Requests:
-Please pray that God would use my medicine to give me serious allergy relief. I don't know how much longer my eyes can take it. The poor things are so puffy and red from being rubbed constantly.
-Please pray that God would use OKO to His glory, that people from the community would have their "okos" opened to His truth and their salvation in Christ Jesus.
-Please pray for safe travel for me: I will return to the US on Saturday, June 14 for a two week training/orientation program for new LCMS missionaries in St. Paul, MN. Pray also that these two weeks would be to God's glory, that everyone there trained would be equipped to share not only English, but the Gospel in our little corners of the world so that the nations would praise God.

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