czech republic missionaries

Brandons’ Diary, February 2006

The lowdown on mission life in the Czech Republic UK
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This diary tracks the progress of the Brandon family from their preparations to become missionaries in the Czech Republic in 2003-2004, to their homecoming in 2005 and beyond…

… through the shock of leaving home in Scotland, to the shock of full immersion in Czech culture, to the many ministry opportunities, friendships, soaring highs and plunging lows; learning Czech, buying and selling a car, getting their son into the Czech schooling system, bureaucracy, travel, evangelistic outreaches, and trying to live lives obedient to God wherever he calls them.

The Brandons are now based in the UK with a new baby (Toby), and Steve works for OM International in a web design team. They still have a heart for the Czech Republic but are re-evaluating what this means for the longer term.


Sunday 26th February 2006, Paisley, Scotland

Queen’s Park Baptist Church Missions Weekend: we have a table where we are able to show photos of many of the people we were involved with in the Czech Republic, and thank our church members for their faithfulness to us while we were serving in the Czech Republic.

It’s also a chance to talk about Steve’s new job in OM, working with the international communications team on the new internet project.


Friday 24th February 2006, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

Here’s an update of what we’re up to, sent out to our mailing list today:

Dear friends, family and supporters,

Greetings from a chilly, grey and damp Scotland, where daylight is struggling to return to the sky, and the occasional bud on a twig has managed to push its way towards Spring.

Seeing the winter Olympics on the TV over the last week has reminded us again of how mild our winter actually is here—as opposed to the Czech winter that we left, where there have been temperatures around -20°C, and snowfall measured in metres in some places!

Yes, we are missing the Czech Republic and at times wishing we were back there. We miss Ceske Budejovice, the town square, our flat, the nearby river, and most of all our wonderful friends, many of whom we are in contact with.

At the same time however we are making ourselves more and more at home in Paisley, Scotland. Stephen has joined a local choir and is practising for a concert (Brahms’ German Requiem, Verdi’s Stabat Mater); Varya is making a new circle of friends and is helping to visit a friend in hospital, and Benjamin is making new friends at his pre-school. Apart from our noisy neighbours, we’re very happy and settled in our flat here.


… are wonderful, wonderful boys! At times we feel overwhelmed with love for them—seeing them grow, develop and learn.

Toby is 2 months old now (where has the time gone?!) and is growing—and growing! He’s 11lb 11oz (5.3kg), and is now sleeping from midnight until after 7AM (usually). What a blessing it is to have more sleep! For the last week or so he has been giving us the most wonderful big smiles. He’s a very settled baby who seldom cries unless he’s hungry.

Toby looks a lot like Benjamin did as a baby, and looking at photos of Varya as a baby, a lot like her too!

Benjamin is zooming towards 4 3/4, and is interested in anything and everything. Favourite Benji quotes:

  • “But I don’t want curly hair!” (in response to us asking just why he won’t eat his crusts)
  • “I want to be a teacher first, then a builder, then an astronaut, and then I’ll go back to the first one again!”
  • “I think I want to learn how to do ski jumping. I’m not afraid of heights. I want to do snowboarding too, and the skeleton bobsleigh. I don’t think that would be very dangerous at all”
  • “I want to learn the horn, the piano and the xylophone. And the trumpet.”

Benji seems to be at an age where everything is possible and he could excel in whatever he puts his mind to. He absorbs facts and information in an instant, but is also full of fun, extremely affectionate, energetic, helpful and obedient. What a boy :-)

WORKING FOR O.M. (again!)

You may remember from our last newsletter that we were debating about whether or not to rejoin OM for a further 12 months. Stephen was offered a role as part of a new team working on OM’s international communications and web sites, a job very much in line with his core skills and in line with much of the technical work he was doing in the Czech Republic.

After much indecision and much prayer, we decided to rejoin OM and take up this position. Part of the reason for the decision was because - unusually - OM was willing to fund the difference between the financial support we were receiving while in the CR and the higher amount we would normally have to raise to work for OM UK. This is a sign of the importance they put on this role; getting the right people into place for their communications and web strategy.

The main reason for wanting to re-join OM for this task, however, is that it seems such a good and right thing for us to do at this time. Steve is a perfect fit for the job, we understand and appreciate the huge role that communications play for other serving OM’ers (so want to help to facilitate that as much as possible), we will be more free to be involved in Czech missions activities throughout the year (eg English Camp), and it doesn’t require another house move! Finally, of course, we feel after prayer that it is the right thing to do.

There is still the question of finances. Although OM are helping to fund us, we would like to bring our supporters with us to help to fund the work Steve is doing. We feel that it’s important mission work, and we would like to enthuse others to be involved through their finances and prayers. Please contact us if you would like more information or would like to help financially.


  • Please pray for Varya as she does most of the caring for Benjamin and Toby—pray for rest and health for her.
  • Please pray for Toby’s health and development. He still has a lot of colic and is prone to vomiting.
  • Please pray for Varya as she begins to consider her future career options.
  • Please pray for Stephen as he is stretched in this new job.
  • He travels to Carlisle (2hrs) to meet with the team quite regularly—pray for safe travel.
  • Please pray for financial supporters to come forward to support us in this work
  • Please pray for us this weekend as we are involved in our church mission weekend, and have the chance to talk to many more people about what we are doing.
  • Please pray for us as we make decisions about how to continue our involvement with the Czech Republic (e.g. the English Camp in July which we would love to help with)
  • Please pray for us as we communicate with our Czech friends (some Christian, some not) and maintain our friendships. It’s sometimes hard to keep up.
  • Spare a prayer for our downstairs neighbours who find it hard to keep the noise down. And for us, as we cope with the loud music/conversation despite various visits downstairs.

Saturday 18th February 2006, Paisley, Scotland

One of Benjamin’s many favourite pastimes: riding his bike in one of the nearby parks. When in the Czech Republic he didn’t really take to bike riding, but recently he has taken to it with a passion!


Friday 17th February 2006, Carlisle, England (Steve)


Yesterday and today I have been in Carlisle at the OM techy base, having meetings with some of the other developers (some from overseas), plus spending some time with OM’s A/V department, security-auditing their Macs. I’m getting on really well with the A/V folks, particularly because they do lots of video production/editing which I am really interested in. It’s nice to see, too, that Macs are being let into the fold within OM!

While I am primarily supposed to be on the team working on all the new web site stuff, I’m more or less seconded onto the team for the existing web site and intranet — I’ve just been assigned loads of bugs to fix. That’s kinda fun and useful, since it’s a great way to get to know all the existing systems, content and personnel, but it’s potentially a bit of a draw away from my main work. I shall have to be careful about this.

Tonight when I returned to my car to drive back to Glasgow, I saw with dread that I’d been ticketed by the parking wardens. £80, reduced to £40 if I pay up within 10 days. The only thing was — I had bought a pay’n’display ticket this morning! But it has been so damp today that the condensation inside the car windscreen had made the sticker detach and drop to the floor. Typical — there is no information about how to dispute the ticket (I’m in a privately run car park), and the address to contact for payment is that of a known-to-be-aggressive debt collection agency :-(


Saturday 4th February 2006, Port Glasgow, Scotland

At Newark Castle in Port Glasgow—Steve and Benji spent a great afternoon taking photos of each other, and exploring the historic shoreline along the River Clyde.


Wednesday 1st February 2006, Paisley, Scotland

Little Toby makes a contented picture in Mummy’s arms


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