czech republic missionaries

Czech Diary, August 2004

The lowdown on mission life in the Czech Republic
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Monday 30th August 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Stephen)

Tonight was my first ever evening teaching English in OM’s ECC English school. It went really well — first an hour teaching continuing beginners, then an hour with new intermediates, then an hour of conversation class with some intermediate and advanced students. What a blast — I came away feeling on top of the world, and knowing that with God's help, anything is possible. Even teaching English.

Our friends Stephen and Lucy arrived from Scotland via Prague this evening, so we now have 7 people in our flat instead of 3. Benjamin and Sam (same age) have been racing up and down together like crazy all evening.

turkish contingent
Turkish musicians
Neilston Pipe Band
frae Neilston!

Sunday 29th August 2004, Strakonice Bagpipe Festival (Steve)

Unbelievable, a fully fledged international bagpipe festival just an hour from our place in the Czech Republic! Incredible, the Scottish contingent is Neilston Pipe Band, from our “home” village! Amazing, I bump into a fellow Kiwi, who works at the Glasgow Piping Centre, and knows my former colleagues at the Scottish Music Centre. Truly a small planet.

The purpose of our visit to Strakonice though is as much about maintaining relationships as it is about heaven’s instrument!(*) Quite a contingent of the English campers (see last month’s diary) are from Strakonice, and we met up with two of them in their homes this afternoon (after getting utterly drenched in a freak thunderstorm, with this spooky rotating black cloud...)

(*) actually we’re kidding. Pipes are nice, but not that nice!

Svaty Jan nad Malsi - hay

Friday 27th August 2004, Svaty Jan nad Malsi (Varya)

Beautiful welcome at the bus stop in Svaty Jan - four girls (and a kitten) were waiting for us as we disembarked, and the first words that we heard were from one of the teenagers, who told us that she had recently become a Christian! She spoke in REALLY fast Czech, and it wasn’t until she showed us her bracelet, that had a Bible verse on it, that we finally understood, and were able to share, her excitement!

Lovely day with our original host family, as we celebrated Marouska’s birthday (complete with non-alcoholic champagne, for the children); visited a farm where we were offered a kitten (we declined); and as Dominik and Benjamin played on (and then fought over) various small bikes.

Returned to CB on a cloud (well, in a bus), having managed to communicate for the whole day in Czech! With only a few small misunderstandings along the way- eg. when I thought that Marcela had asked me if I was pregnant, and I got a little indignant, thinking “I haven’t put on THAT much weight”, when what she was actually asking was whether Benji was potty trained . . . yes, I know, I know. They don't sound similar when said in Czech either. . .


Thursday 26th August 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

Invited around to a Czech friend’s house today for home cooked lasagne. Yumm. Spoke in English the whole time; welcome change. Again, we’re feeling our ministry starting to focus, with relationships with Czechs developing.
Benjamin as page boy
I’m cool in my kilt!

Monday 23rd August 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

This one’s for all of you who like Sandra Bullock’s movie “Miss Congeniality”... [it’s Varya’s favourite]. Tonight Benji finally mastered the immortal lines from the movie...

Dad: What’s the most important thing for the world today?

Benji: Harsher punishments for parole violators... and... WORLD PEACE!

(yes, he did say all of that sentence, clearly. How’s that for a 3-year old! Though one of our friends thinks that this is a subtle form of brainwashing, we think he’s just clever!)


Wednesday 18th August 2004, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic (Steve)

Home sweet home. Well kind of, depending on where we’re feeling home is at the moment. Coming back is quite difficult emotionally: after a week of blissful English language we feel like we’re returning to a lion’s den [language and living-wise]. Hope we get over this feeling quickly, it’s not the nicest way to start off this next phase of our stay.


Tuesday 17th August 2004, Derby, England (Steve)

Whose idea was it to get an 8:30AM flight from Glasgow to Derby? (oh wait, that was me...). 8:30AM does not sound early until you factor in checking in 2 hours early, plus a 30 minute drive across town, plus returning the rental car.

The rest of the day was great though - picnic at Elvaston Castle, seeing Varya’s Mum, and seeing a Bollywood movie with her Dad. We could really get into those...


Monday 16th August 2004, Glasgow, Scotland (Steve and Varya)

A quick flit around our favourite shops this morning... whoo hoo! Marks & Sparks, Borders Bookshop, an Apple Mac shop, Monsoon... ah, all is well with the world :-)

We spent a lovely afternoon at my (Varya’s) Gran Petrie’s house. She is one amazing woman - on reachng the age of ninety, she continues to bounce back (albeit with increasing difficulty. . . ) from falls and broken bones. It was wonderful today to see Benji and his Great-Gran enjoying interacting with each other, more than ever before :0)

QP Banner
"a house of prayer for all nations" - that’s QP in a nutshell.

Sunday 15th August 2004, Glasgow, Scotland (Steve and Varya)

This morning we spoke for a few minutes in our home church, Queen’s Park Baptist Church, about what we’re doing in the Czech Republic. We enjoyed the opportunity to keep people up to date, and to tell a few stories about life in the CR (they only brushed the surface, trust us!). We are so blessed to have such a supportive church.

This afternoon our support group organised an open home in Neilston and it was awesome to see all our best friends again. It was funny to be back in Neilston, if briefly, and I longed to go for a walk down in the woods with Lenka who was our dog. We popped in to the new owners’ briefly to see her, which we had promised Benji. She seemed to remember us but seemed very content and happy in her new family — quite a relief.

A beautiful end to the day - we stayed overnight with our friends Stephen and Lucy and their children. Sam and Benji were born only hours apart, and it was a delight to see them playing together, and chatting away. :0)

photo by proud father of the groom!
© D. MacKellar

Friday 13th August 2004, Dalston Hall, near Carlisle, England (Varya)

What a truly awesome day! Beautiful weather; a gorgeous (15th?) century location; many men in kilts - including Benji as the page boy; a beautiful bride in red (traditional bridal colour in China!); and the bride and groom’s first dance to The Darkness "I believe in a thing called Love", complete with headbanging and air guitars - truly a sight to behold :0)

Yes - it was my wee brother’s BIG day. A truly spectacular day of laughter, fireworks, bubbles (see photo), and blubbers - the bride cried all the way down the aisle (tears of joy, you understand!!), and many of us could not help but weep at the sheer beauty of everything, topped of with the sound of the bagpipes, serenading May King as she made her way towards her future husband! Ewan’s face was a picture of delight, wonder and pride. . .


Wednesday 11th August 2004, Derby, England (Steve)

Finally got into Derby East Midlands airport at about 10PM, and Benji’s still going strong. Perhaps not the best flight to take toddlers on I suppose, but he did ok. To get here it took bus-train-bus-train-taxi-flight, with toddler and luggage in tow. Can’t imagine doing this with more than one child!

How weird it is to speak English! We can actually talk to people at full speed without having to deliberately use simple grammar! And all the billboards etc are in English. Whoo hoo!


Tuesday 10th August 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

We’re feeling hyper-organised. We’re flying from Prague to England tomorrow to attend Va’s brother’s wedding, then on to Scotland from Saturday to Tuesday. Almost all our bags are already packed, with a day to go!

We’ll be at Queen’s Park Baptist Church in Glasgow for the morning service on the 15th, and after that there’s a lunch and open house organised in Neilston so we can properly catch up with as many people as possible. So, all you QP and Glasgow people, we hope we’ll see you on the 15th!

This will probably be the last diary entry for the next 10 days or so...


Monday 9th August 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

The OM base has a lot of fruit trees - apples, plums, apricots. Finally, the apricots (my favourite fruit) are ripe, and I managed to get a big bag of them off the tree. Stewed them up tonight just like I remember my Mum doing at home... Mmmmmm! Benji loves them too, and it’s great to see him getting seriously into food again.

“If I eat all my food, then I won’t be Mr Skinny any more!” he tells us :-)

fun at the river
at the river

Friday 6th August 2004, Some lake near Ceske Budejovice (Stephen)

Every day now we go down to the river to swim. The weather in consistantly gorgeous. Yesterday, though, I bumped into a Christian guy in town who goes to the OM English Classes. He invited us to go out to a pond with him today where it’s much warmer than the river, and has fewer people. Well, we weren’t quite prepared for the size of the lake, and 28°C of the water! It was absolutely glorious, and we swam and sunbathed together for several hours. Lying on the grass we observed a glider race going on directly overhead. There must have been over 30 gliders soaring briskly and effortlessly above us.

The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall never be in need
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me by the still waters
Surely my cup overflows...


Tuesday 3rd August 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Varya)

It was haircuts all round, today, in preparation for Ewan and May King’s wedding. I took the plunge and had some highlights added - in the Czech Republic it is unusual to see anyone (male or female!) who has not had their hair dyed in some sort of way. And because hairdressers are so reasonably priced compared to the UK (280 ck=£6 for a cut and colour!!), I decided to assimilate myself further into Czech culture :0)

The river at the back of our flats attracts many sun worshippers and swimmers, and it’s been good fun to make the most of the gorgeous weather by strolling to the river in our swimming cozzies (“togs” for all our Kiwi readers!!), and splashing around in the flowing water. In the UK, if memory serves me correctly, you don’t often see anyone but young slim women in bikinis - well, things are different here! Women of all shapes and ages bare their flesh, and although I found it strange, at first, it now seems strangely liberating :-)


Monday 2nd August 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Stephen)

Off the the “foreign police” station at 8AM to get my brand new visa validated. I didn’t have to queue too long, so felt pretty good... until I realised with horror that the lady in front of me was telling me (in Czech, of course) that my visa was bad and had something wrong with it! Nightmare! Fortunately it was easily rectified, and I just had to sit around in the waiting area for another 1.5 hours while another visa was printed. I am so glad that I did not have to go back to Bratislava!

The other good news was that the 5500 crowns we were being chased for was in fact due to a clerical error in Prague. They had received our money after all, and we had not been ripped off by an unscrupulous truck driver as I was starting to believe. Apologies to any truck drivers slighted by my insinuations! (See last month’s diary for the full story...)


Sunday 1st August 2004, CB (Varya)

Wow - the first of August already! This year is whizzing by at a rate of knots!

Really wet morning (with thunderstorms) followed by glorious sunshine :0) One of the men who attended English camp came to our church for the first time today. He then came over this afternoon to give us some veggies from his garden, including the most massive courgette (zuccini) that I had ever seen. Steve assures me though, that he had regularly seen veggies growing to that size (and larger) in New Zealand! Looking forward to a delicious dinner tonight and tomorrow. . .

We’re beginning to start focussing our attentions on returning to the UK for my brother’s wedding, on Aug. 13th (that’s right - Fri. 13th - they’re not superstitious!). It will be so great to catch up with family and friends again :0)

Loads more interesting news with pictures - read our older diary pages: Sep 2003 - Jan 2004
Feb - Mar 2004
Apr 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004

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