Saturday, March 28, 2009

Out of Touch

This is how I am feeling right now. Out of touch. Not with reality, no. I think I'm actually more in touch with reality than I've ever been in my life, given how my understanding of Christ, of His sacrifice, and of my sin has grown and developed in the last few months.

I'm out of touch with my friends. And this in spite of facebook, which is supposed to help people to keep in touch with one another. Last week I learned that of my friends, two couples got married this past winter. That was only a surprise in that I had forgotten when they were getting married. I had known that they were engaged. But, I also learned this past week that a friend of mine got engaged... in NOVEMBER. I would have thought that I would be among the first people to learn about his engagement. I also learned just TODAY that one of my college roommates (we were good friends: I was her #2 bridesmaid... came back to the States from my study abroad trip in Mexico to be in the wedding) had another baby... at the end of January. I didn't even know she was pregnant!

I know that in life, no matter how hard one tries to keep up-to-date with everyone, somehow there will be relationships that wane. I know that this is not because the friends don't want to keep in touch, but because life happens, people change, and friends just drift away.

I can't help feeling that if I was at home instead of here, I would have known about all these things. Now, I don't want to be at home instead of here. By no means. I just don't like the feeling that with me and these friends, absence hasn't made the heart grow fonder. Rather, out of sight has meant out of mind. It's just stinky.

My consolation is that, no matter how far I manage to drift from my Christian friends, we will have eternity together in the presence of the Lord. As much as I'd love to be with them now, and never lose track of the major events of their lives, I know that with them I will actually share the most significant event in our lives: blessed worship in the face of our God. I don't know all that much about what will go on in Heaven besides eternal worship of the Lamb, but I hope that we'll get a chance to catch up with one another and never have to worry about drifting away from one another again. That's not stinky, that's good.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Two Nice Days

I'm not referring to the weather. That has been generally unpleasant: when it's not raining, the factory decides to emit this stench that you wouldn't believe...

I guess this is another case of "small things" in life bringing me joy.

The nice started yesterday when a friend of mine moved to sit by me during church because he thought I looked lost. I have to admit, after not being in Czech-language church for two weeks, it was a little more difficult to understand what was going on. Anyway, it really warmed my heart that I was cared for in my need.

I went for lunch to a nearby restaurant with a friend of mine. She's been here teaching English in the public elementary school (which is in the same building as my Christian elementary school) for a little over a year and she's returning home to Ontario, Canada this coming Monday. We thought it would be good to get together one more time before she left. I've been to this particular restaurant about 5 times now, and always with an English speaking friend, and so the two waitresses have gotten to recognize me. When we walked in and sat down, our waitress came to the table, already with their one English menu. It made me smile so much. The meal with Amanda was good, and we enjoyed a lot of good conversation.

This morning started rough, like most Monday mornings. I always seem to not be able to get ready for the day at the same rate on Mondays as on other days, and always seem to be running behind. That was definitely the case today. So, I left for preschool VERY late, and was blessed with being able to walk there in the wind and rain (I am torn as to my opinion about umbrellas after battling my in the elements this morning). When I arrived, feeling really badly for being so late, and beginning to sweat for having walked so quickly, I was able to rapidly forget my own emotions, when the preschool teacher was busy and one of the little girls broke into tears. It was so wonderful to hug her and whisper to her that it was okay and not to cry.

When I returned home, I had an hour to make chocolate chip cookies for one of my students (her birthday was yesterday) and get on the bus to go to see her in Navsi. I used applesauce instead of shortening, and the cookies turned out SO chewy and moist and wonderful.

The bus ride to Navsi, which is usually uneventful, today was a great joy. I was sitting, reading my book when the bus stopped at the second major stop. A young woman sat down next to me, and asked if she could sit there. I acknowledged her request without really looking at her. Half a moment later, I looked at her, and did a double take. It was my waitress from lunch yesterday. We recognized one another at the same time, and we both started to laugh. As the bus away, she leaned over to me and asked if I'd like anything to drink. I said "no thank you." I resumed reading, but after a page I thought that I needed to talk to her while I had the chance.

It was a delightful ride, with me struggling to use my Czech, with her being so kind and patient with me and encouraging me in my usage. We talked a little bit about traveling, and she shared that she'd been to Spain and so speaks a bit of Spanish, and pretty soon we were having a choppy, trilingual conversation. It was wonderful. I was sad when the bus arrived at my stop, and I wished that I'd had more time to speak with her. I just hope that I run into her again outside of the restaurant. It would be very cool to make friends with her.

The day isn't over yet for me, as I've got my two adult beginner classes yet to go, starting in an hour. Last week I was so glad to see them after being apart from them for such a long time. I hope that this week is as much of a delight as last week was.

Prayer requests:
-praise and thanksgiving for two so delightful days
-for Amanda, that our Father would encounter her and give her faith by the power of His Holy Spirit
-for my waitress-friend, that I would be able to see her again and be able to share Jesus with her
-for my student in Navsi, Eliska, that she would stop denying God's existence and that she would know Jesus
-for H., that God would continue to rescue her from her addiction to dangerous drugs and give her new life through His Son.
-for me, that I would learn discipline during this Lenten season, and that I would be strict with myself in maintaining regular times for prayer and Bible reading; that I would also exhibit discipline in preparing myself for taking the GRE this summer and preparing myself in general for graduate studies when I return to the States.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mom and Dad!!!

What a wonderful time the first two weeks of March were! My parents arrived in the Czech Republic on Friday, February 27th and left again on March 14th. In the interim, they came to Trinec to meet my friends, neighbors, and members of the congregation. After Sunday worship and dinner, the three of us took off for a two week tour of the Czech Republic and Germany. We saw beautiful cities, churches, castles, and countryside.

The most interesting things we saw in the Czech Republic included the "bone church" in Sedlec (the interior of which is completely "decorated" in human bones... suffice it to say that they had run out of space in the cemetery),

about 45 minutes east of Prague, Prague castle,

and the beautiful little city of Cesky Krumlov.

In Germany, we spent the majority of our time exploring "Luther Land," and my favorite was Luther's house in Wittenburg,

which was quite possibly the most extensive and fascinating museum I could have hoped for on the life and times of Martin Luther. We also went to Eisenach, the location of Wartburg Castle,

where the Elector, Prince Frederick protected Luther when he was under the Papal Ban, and where Luther spent nearly a year translating the New Testament from Greek to German. Nuremburg's Old City was absolutely enchanting, and we finished up our tour in Munich, going to the Hofbrauhaus and two of Ludwig II's castles, including the world-famous, Neuschwanstein.

Those two weeks were a wonderful time together with my parents, a wonderful spring break for me, and when all of the traveling had come to an end, I was ready to be back in Trinec, refreshed, and ready to dive right back in to teaching and telling people about Jesus.