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roofs in krumlov
Roofs, Czech style - Cesky Krumlov

Prayer points:

We returned to Scotland from working in the Czech Republic at short notice, in October 2005. We are currently seeking direction as to how to still be involved with the Czech Republic, whether short or long term.

  • for our re-entry into Scottish/UK culture.
  • that God will show us what he has in store for us back in Scotland
  • for our new baby, due Jan 2006
  • for a job for Stephen
  • for the churches of the Czech Republic: most are small, most are struggling with lack of finances, leadership, spiritual maturity, and the indifference of those around them.

How our Czech escapade started

In 1998, less than a year into our marriage, Varya and I went to one of the ministers at church and asked: We feel we’re called to cross-cultural mission. Where should we start? Since the minister in question had been a long term OMer in the past, it wasn’t that surprising that he replied: Well, have you thought about OM?

Later that year we found ourselves on a “Love Europe” mission, involving a week’s boot camp, followed by 2 weeks with a small team in a small town in the Czech Republic. CR had not been our first choice — we were more keen on Romania! But the Lord had other things in mind for us.

The long and the short of it is that we fell in love with the (tiny) church we were working with, with the people we met, and with the land itself. Even the sound of the language gripped us, once we had learned to navigate one or two Christian songs in Czech!

Where we were based

OM’s base in the Czech Republic is in the South Bohemian capital of Ceske Budejovice. It’s a good sized city of pop 200 thousand, and a particularly nice town square (the largest “square” town square in Europe, no less).

C.B. (as we’ll call it for short) is nestled into the southwest corner of the Czech Republic - not far from either the East German border, or from Austria in the south. Much of the area is extremely picturesque, with wonderful old towns like Cesky Krumlov, and historic and majestic Bohemian castles such as Hluboka nearby.

We were renting a flat in C.B., which the team found for us. It was in a high-rise (panelak), though only a small one by Scottish standards (7 floors). We’re aware that Czechs, particularly in high rise blocks, tend to keep themselves to themselves, so one of our first challenges was be to try to break the ice with our neighbours - our first mission field. Even after almost 2 years, we had barely progressed past formal greetings with most of our neighbours - just as well we had managed to break the ice better elsewhere.

We spent most of our first month in the Czech Republic (Feb 2004) staying with a Czech family, in their home in a village called Svaty Jan nad Malsi. We think that the first couple of months in a new country present a unique opportunity to bond with a people and a culture different to our own: we wanted to immerse ourselves as much as possible in Czech life and language.

Of course this was more difficult for us than going straight into a flat of our own, but wow, the results were worth it. We learned so much from our time there — about food, about the language, about Czech family life, about village life and customs. As a result we feel that we avoided the majority of the culture shock that we would have felt, and what shock we did have was more quickly over.

What we were doing

Our goal for our time in the Czech Republic was to be in a position to bring the Word of God to the Czech community — to encourage and strengthen the church(es), and to share the excitement that we have about Jesus Christ with those around us.

Naturally, we couldn't do that if we couldn't speak Czech. A major priority for us, particularly in the first year was Czech language study. It’s great that OM supported us in our desire to take language lessons very seriously.

We decided to join the church that the OM leader and his wife attend, known as “K.S.”. It is involved in running English-speaking bible studies (open to all), and some members are involved in Teen Challenge, a programme which helps drug and alcohol abusers. For a small church, it’s really committed to reaching people, and we’re so sad to have had to have left it at such short notice.

In addition to our church activities, we had tasks and duties in the OM base. Stephen was involved with graphic design and communications (pamphlets, DTP, web site, brochures, business cards etc), and was part of anything that required music or presentation work. Varya taught in the English classes that OM provides in the basement of the base. We also both spent quite a lot of time looking after Benjamin.


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