czech republic missionaries

Czech Diary, February 2005

The lowdown on mission life in the Czech Republic
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Saturday 26th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

book sale
the book sale

recording session
Jenda, Vaclavka and Misa

Today’s the day! Not only did OM Czech have a book sale (see last month’s diary for the motivation for this), but straight after that our church music group started recording our 1st CD of worship songs.

First the book sale: I couldn’t believe just how many books OM has had stored up in the attic! Not many titles, but hundreds of copies of some of them! The cafe and classrooms at OM looked fantastic festooned with CDs, tapes, videos and books, including the obligatory “get 1 free when you buy anything else” George Verwer titles :-)

Sales weren’t exactly brisk, but after lunch it was gratifying to see the cafe filling with people, coffee being consumed, and more books moving. We were slightly perturbed to be told by some Czechs that the time of day of the sale was not really good for Czechs (10–3 on a Saturday) as that was really lunch time, and it would have been better later. Absolutely true, as we saw loads of people after 2:30, but why couldn’t someone have told us that beforehand?! Oh well, next time then. But how are we ever gonna get rid of all of these jolly books?

Recording: I had set the conference room at OM as a recording studio, with the laptop and Cubase as nerve centre. Hours later we emerged with 5 songs down, though requiring plenty of overdubs, post processing, mixing and general magic applied later. I am going to have my work cut out for me! But how I am loving it!

We have an ambitious list of about 13 songs for the album, only one of them a translation from English, and including a couple of fantastic ones by Vaclavka, our leader and lead singer. This is something I have been waiting for my whole life, it seems. Not only am I loving the playing, the recording and the sound engineering, but here I am in a foreign country, helping the local church to record their own worship music and use it as a tool to help build the church. Praise the Lord.

 

Thursday 24th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

Varya and Benji in the snow
Varya and Benji sledding

Today Varya is off with the Presentation Team from OM at a Bible College in the town of Kolín, somewhere near Prague.

The team are going to be talking about how OM Czech is a bridge to Missions for Czech churches. A 2-way bridge which in one direction gives the rest of the world access to the Czech Republic through short and long term missions and current information about how to pray for the country, and in the other direction gives Czech Christians opportunities to serve God in almost any country of the world.

Because Varya is in charge of short term missions (eg finding Czech churches with whom to place teams coming from other countries) she wants to be able to make contact with these future pastors to let them know of the resources available to them later.

Meanwhile, at home for the day with Benji, I took him off to the doctor because of his bad cold, and also to talk about his hearing. For a few weeks Benji has been saying “What?” and “Pardon” and “I didn’t hear what you said” rather a lot (and more than can be explained by just being cheeky). Doc took one look at Benji’s permanently large tonsils and thinks that it could be a adenoid/soft tissue problem, so we’re off to a specialist in 10 days’ time. I had been worried about going off the doctor, even though he speaks English, but everything went fine and I spoke some Czech too. I was even complemented by 2 different people for my “Hezky Cesky” (nice Czech). Getting there!

 

Wednesday 23rd February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

Tonight at bedtime I ask Benji what he wants to pray for:

“we should pray for Daddy’s Uncle David, the people in Mongolia, all the sick people and the people who were hurt in the big flood”.

My uncle is seriously ill with a brain tumour; last week I read Benjamin a section of a book about the world on Mongolia and the plight of the street children there; and he’s been concerned about the plight of those ill and/or injured in the aftermath of the tsunami ever since it happened. Benjamin is 3 1/2.

 

Sunday 20th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

Up bright and early to put the finishing touches on my sermon, and I have to get to church early because I also play in the band (did I mention that we’re making a CD next week? Yippee!). Varya also seems to have recovered from her flu, which is a real relief.

So, the sermon... went jolly well! It’s funny, it was a lot like the way I make up and tell Benjamin stories. I asked questions, repeated things, kept the “audience” involved with my thought processes, and tried to keep everyone’s attention. And apart from the amazing things that we can discover in Noah’s life and faith about how God loves faith, I also managed to mention Apple vs. Microsoft no less than 3 times!

[Just in case you think I am completely crazy talking about Macintosh computers in a sermon about Noah, there was a perfectly good reason! Ok then, I’ll tell you about it. A few years ago Apple mounted a large marketing campaign to try to convince people to use their computers. It was called “Think Different” (sic) and featured large posters of luminaries such as Einstein, with an Apple logo and the “Think Different” moniker. The point was to try to convince people that the brightest people on earth didn’t get to where they were by just being like everyone else. That being and thinking different(ly) is crucial to getting ahead in life. SO I was looking at what made Noah different from those around him — the ones that God wanted to destroy. What made Noah distinctive? Was it things that he did, or things that he believed (or both?). My admonition to everyone at the end of the sermon: think differently! Don’t go with the crowd!]

 

Friday 18th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

benji on toboggan
Benji on toboggan

Tonight was the first “English Bible Meeting” for the year (run by OM, organised by Varya). We rotate the “preaching” duties, and this time was my turn. I had prepared a talk and study on Noah’s faith - the series is on the heroes of the Old Testament and their faith.

Only one non-OMer turned up. So we ditched the evening and had a games night instead.

However the OM-leader’s wife said to me: “Since Pavel is away, why don’t you preach the message at church on Sunday?”.

Now Pavel has been asking me, off and on, for the last year when I would give the sermon at church. Ever since I did quite a good Bible study one morning at devotions. I’ve been putting him off and putting him off... until now. I just decided to jump in with both feet. I’m preaching on Sunday <gulp>.

 

Wednesday 16th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

Varya made it in for her English teaching tonight (after plenty of bed rest) and again came back buzzing. Did we mention that she’s loving teaching?

Anyway, tonight’s topic for the conversation class was poetry, and Varya and the other teacher had chosen some choice morsels for the students to disect. Some very interesting things came out of the discussions though: apparently, under Communism, poetry was downplayed a lot. The only poetry taught at school was stuff in Russian, or things praising “The Party” and anything communist. Anything else was pretty suspect. As a result, there weren’t many in the class who had any interest in poetry at all.

 

Saturday 12th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

Now that I’m recovered from my flu, Varya has gone down with it. Apparently there’s been quite an epidemic of flu around the Ceske Budejovice area; it was even on the news the other day.

Tonight was to be another of our “Kino (Cinema) Brandon” nights, but with Varya not feeling up to it we had to cancel. I think our friends were all pretty disappointed :-(

 

Wednesday 9th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

-15°C outside last night. I’m still off work with crazy fever and bad throat and glands.

 

Tuesday 8th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

Varya has now started her English teaching term and came home late last night buzzing. She’s doing 2 classes on a Mon, 2 on a Wed, and one on a Friday. The new students seem to have fitted in really well, and methinks this term is gonna be a great one.

 

Monday 7th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

It really is cold. -10°C last night and not more than about -3°C during the day. Snow looks great though.

 

Sunday 6th February 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

Sara the guinea pig

Benji’s still not well, and I’m going down with something if my feverish night’s sleep is anything to go by. I still make it in to church but leave early.

But we have a new addition to our family — welcome Sara the long-haired guinea-pig! (Morče). We were given Sara tonight from a friend of a friend, and she’s just slowly getting to know us. She’s quiet, with a lovely nature, and seems to love cuddles. Benjamin is in 7th heaven!

Advantages of having a guinea pig over having a dog: They don’t need to be walked. They’re cheap. They don’t bark. They’re easy to look after. They don’t need to be walked (especially on these bitterly cold mornings). They aren’t demanding. They don’t need afternoon or evening walks.

 

Wednesday 2nd February 2005, Glasgow/Prague/Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

see last month’s blog

 

Tuesday 1st February 2005, On holiday in Glasgow (Steve)

 

see last month’s blog


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