czech republic missionaries

Czech Scottish Diary, December 2005

The lowdown on mission life in the Czech Republic re-entry to the UK
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BOXING DAY Monday 26th December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)


This afternoon started off in a terribly orderly fashion — Varya was admitted to the hospital at lunch time for the scheduled induction, we spent some time together in the ward, then I took Benji off to his friend Sam’s for the night (other side of town — 40 minutes away).

Being told that labour should start tomorrow morning, I was in total shock to get a breathless phone call from Varya after dinner. “Labour has started. Contractions 3 minutes apart. Get over here NOW!”

Jumped in the car, tried not to speed, prayed she could hold on, felt like this was all a dream. Got into the hospital car park, brief phone call to Mum and Dad in New Zealand, not sure what I’m gonna find inside. Up to the delivery suite, rushed in by midwife saying “you might be in time...”, just in time to see baby crowning. Pant, gasp, cry, gas & air, PUSH, sploosh, congratulations Mrs Brandon it’s a boy.

After Varya’s marathon 19.5 hour labour with Benji, this was a teensy weensy 1hr11, and I still only made it for the last 5 minutes. Do I feel cheated? I’ll get over it :-) I’m so overjoyed. We have another son. He’s healthy, happy, contented; Varya is happy, healthy and very contented!

We had grown to accept that we might never have children. Little Toby David Brandon is our second miracle. He’s 7lb1oz (3.2kg), looks the double of Benjamin, has dark hair, and is very sleepy.

(And now for the Mum’s story. . . A few hours after induction, I had painful cramps and asked one of the midwives for a hot-water bottle, to ease the discomfort. She suggested a hot bath would be more soothing. Getting into the bath I had the first contraction. Two pages into my book (“The Baby Whisperer” — excellent book!), I had the next and thought that they were coming rather fast. Another two pages, and another contraction later, I decided to get out of the bath and seek help. After a breathless phone call to Steve, I was escorted down to the Labour ward, stopping every few steps to breathe through the now excruciating contractions. On reaching the Labour suite, I launched myself at the gas and air machine (oh that is such a heavenly mixture!). The midwife asked if I had a birth partner so I told her that my husband was somewhere on the road between Cambuslang and Paisley, and that he’d been enjoying a meal with friends, expecting a call from me the following day, to let him know that the labour had started. Suffice it to say that he arrived just in the nick of time to see our beautiful second son enter the world :0)

Toby’s birth montage


CHRISTMAS DAY Sunday 25th December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

The lull before the storm that will surely unleash tomorrow or the day after! Today has been a beautiful, relaxed, family Christmas with just the three of us. Benjamin barely seemed to sleep last night, with the anticipation of Father Christmas arriving and bringing him a lamb soft toy. We’re not sure just how much he realises that Father Christmas is a myth— but we’re happy to play along with it, for this year at least :-)

Naturally, Father Christmas came up with the goods (we hear through the grapevine that he had to resort to eBay for the soft toy sheep!).

I got Varya a substantial iTunes voucher, so she (and millions of others, judging by the slowness of the web site tonight) spent some happy hours tracking down music and adding it to her iPod. I think all my gift-buying woes are over. iTunes rocks.

We can’t believe that in 2 days time we should have a little baby in our arms rather than in Varya’s tum. We can’t wait.


Wednesday 21st December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

It’s official: Varya will be admitted to the Royal Alexandra Hospital (Paisley) on Boxing day 26th Dec to be induced. She’ll go in at midday, and they would expect her to go into full labour the next day.

So Benjamin is booked in to go to our friends’ place in Cambuslang (other side of town) that night, and he can stay as long as he needs to. We have some great friends :-)

Varya just wants this baby OUT!


Tuesday 20th December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

Meeting with Missions Board today regarding their objections to us continuing in mission with OM for the next year. Think we managed to convey our reasons quite well, though they also sounded some very fair warnings. All the same, even if they do give their blessing, there’s likely to be no money attached because they have already done their budget for the year, and it didn’t include us :-(

Benji as shepherd in nativity play

Friday 16th December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

Benji is getting more and more excited about Christmas. It’s not just about Santa (though that’s pretty exciting, especially now that we have a fireplace). It’s about being a shepherd in the nativity play.

Today is the day he had been waiting for, when Wee Friends pre-school did its nativity play. Benji has been practising his songs over the last few weeks, and coming home with stories of his sheep!

Teatowel on head, he was gorgeous up at the front with his classmates.

Varya and I are so proud of him.


Wednesday 14th December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

Last night our church missions board met to discuss whether or not they think it’s a good idea for us to rejoin OM, for me to do computing wirk for them for a year.

And the unanimous verdict was NO.

This comes as quite a shock for us, because everything about the job has seemed so right. We don’t have to move. It’s joining a stable team. It’s using my strengths and skills. OM is willing to put some money into it themselves (i.e. they would top up our current financial support). But for reasons of "stability", our church feels that we would be better off in the "normal" job market instead of in missions.

I don’t need to tell you that we feel quite taken aback by this development, and are very surprised indeed. Without the support (in principle, if not in finance) of our church, we cannot continue in missions - this is a team effort and we can’t just do it alone. We’ve made an appointment to meet with some of the board next week, so will keep you all up to date with progress.


Monday 12th December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

I’m doing this promo video for next year’s Teen Street Central Europe in the Czech Republic. It’s this big summer Youth event for Christian young people in Central and Eastern Europe, run by OM. I took quite a lot of footage while we were helping there earlier this year, and the time has now come to put it all together in a promotional format, for distribution throughout Hungary, Ukraine, Czech, Slovakia, Albania etc. It’s quite a challenge to trim over 6 hours of footage into something that’s useful for both teens, and their church leaders. The churches of Central and Eastern Europe tend to be rather more conservative than their Western counterparts, so we have to be careful not to alienate anyone...

For the next few days I’m going to be working on the video with Keith from OM Slovakia who’s coming to stay with us.

On another happy note, we heard that our car in the Czech Republic was finally sold to new owners and we got a reasonable price for it (even though less than we thought we had sold it for — see previous diary entries for details).


Re-entry + more than a month: Thursday 1st December 2005, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

Hi again everyone — nice to be back on-line after more than a month just taking time to ourselves. Let’s just call it a diary break.

Rather than retrospectively fill in everything that’s happened over the last month day by day, I’ll just give you the bullet points. Hope that’s ok.

BIGGEST NEWS — On Monday I was down in Carlisle (just south of the English/Scottish border, a couple of hours drive from here), visiting OM’s international computing operations. The long and short of it is that they would like me to join their team for a year, tasked with major changes to OM’s international web presence. It would be working with a team of other very talented individuals, and a fantastic opportunity to do something I love doing, while helping OM at the same time.

Of course, we’re officially on furlough with OM till January, after which time we were going to go back to “civilian” life.

Being web work, I can do it from our new flat here in Paisley with just the occasional trip south. That’s great, but of course living in the UK is more expensive than the Czech Republic, and we’ll have to raise about £500 per month more in sponsorship in order to do this.

Deciding to stay with OM, then, would be a huge financial decision for us. If anyone reading this would be able to help sponsor us, even if from £20 per month, please get in touch as we’d love to hear from you.

BABY NEWS — Varya’s pregnancy has been far from easy... excessive morning sickness for much of it, various complications, much of it in Czech, then moving house and country at 6.5 months pregnant! She has done amazingly well, at the same time keeping house and home together (while being told by the doctors “to rest”. As if!). The lastest installment of the saga sees another minor complication which might result in the need for a C-section just before Christmas. We’ll keep you posted, but please pray for her.

BENJAMIN has coped with the changes really well, and certainly hasn’t attempted to speak any Czech since leaving the CR! He now goes to a pre-school every morning. It’s one run by the Elim Church in Paisley, and it’s called “Wee Friends”. He loves it! We are very impressed with it, as they are able to mix in Bible teaching with other standard curriculum (i.e. study the 3 men in the fiery furnace, then do stuff on fire safety).

FILM MAKING — regular readers may have noted my interest in film making and video editing. I’m pleased to say that it’s continuing... today I was off at church for the first discussions about making a promo video for our church, which I am excited about but a little daunted by! Also, I will be working with another OMer on doing the promo video for Teen Street Central Europe. It’s enough to keep me busy! It’s all great experience.

CARS — mixed experiences. We bought that cheap Octavia I wrote about last month, and we were initally pretty disappointed at its gutless performance. That was, until I read about how to clean out the MAF (mass air filter) sensor, which I did, and put a can of engine cleaner in the diesel tank. Talk about dramatic difference — “Olivia” is now running much more like Oskar used to! The other car related hassle has been the sale of Oskar in the Czech Republic... we thought that that was all signed and sealed, until we got an e-mail the other week to say “Actually we decided we don’t want to buy your car any more, so we’re going to put it in a car yard, and you can have whatever money it sells for”!!!! That’s what comes of having a contract for deferred payment in the Czech Republic. The whole situation just feels so much out of our hands, that it’s clearly a situation for God to show how much in control He is. Things are looking up, apparently there’s a possible buyer. Uvidíme (we’ll see).

LIFE — we’re actually loving living in Paisley. We’re so close to amenities, it’s great. We don’t seem to be feeling any lasting effects of reverse culture shock (except still calling Benjamin’s pre-school “školka”).

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