czech republic missionaries

Czech Diary, January 2005

The lowdown on mission life in the Czech Republic
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Wednesday 2nd February 2005, Glasgow/Prague/Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

Up at 4am, flight, train, sleep. With a mere 2 hr flight time, we feel like we’ve switched cultures in the twinkle of an eye. But everything back here in the CR seems so familiar, and we’re really coming home. It’s cold, snowy, and there are herds of deer to be seen from the train. Almost don’t recognise the platform in Ceske Budejovice as it’s covered in snow and ice.

What a great week we’ve had in Glasgow. I don’t know how we could make these trips less frenetic, or more like holidays, but other than that we got to see loads of people, got our English Language quotient up again, and generally immersed ourselves in a city and with friends we love.

Thanks everyone who we stayed with and/or visited: Aunty Mo & Uncle John, Stephen & Lucy (you guys rock!), the Bells, Athertons, Robbs, Wills’, and all you other wonderful, welcoming, supportive folks at Queen’s Park Baptist. xxx

Loch Long
pier on Loch Long

Glen Croe
down Glen Croe from “The Rest”

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

After nearly a week of frenetic scurrying to and from different friends’ places, the time has come to see some scenery. The temperatures are still warm, the sun is shining, so today’s the day to pop out to the West Coast.

Dumbarton, Helensburgh, the naval base — Varya and Benji are snoozing and I’m entranced by the sparkle of sun on loch and snow on distant peaks. On my favourite wee road in the whole of Scotland, up the side of Loch Long to Arrochar, Benji wakes and we meander down off the road to the lochside, tide low, to see a ship being resupplied at a terminal. Live mussels crunch underfoot and seagulls cry overhead.

Sweeping around the end of Loch Long at Arrochar, we’re temporarily blinded by the sun reflecting off the azure waters, before the road veers inland and the bright rays are obstructed by a sheer mountainside. We are quickly dwarfed by the sides of the mighty glacial Glen Croe, as we see it stretching before us, ever onwards and upwards. As the road leaves the floor of the glen, the sun fights with the greying sky which relents, allowing bands of light to scurry up the mountainside behind us. Roaring and trickling burns alternate, and I long to be able to stop and catch them on film.

Perched atop Glen Croe is the pass, coined in 1748 as the “Rest and Be Thankful”; a nook from which you can peer back down the Glen, your eye following the path of the serpentine burn or alighting on an ancient crofter’s cottage.

“The weather was tempestuous ... the wind was loud, the rain was heavy, and the whistling of the blast, the fall of the shower, the rush of the cataracts [waterfalls], and the roar of the torrent, made a nobler chorus of the rough musick of nature than it had ever been my chance to hear before”
      - Dr Johnston, at the Rest and Be Thankful, 1773

Monday 31st January 2005, On holiday in Glasgow (Varya)

 

Today was frenetic: Steve saw his accountant and visited old work colleagues in the Scottish Music Centre. I visited old work colleagues, with Benjamin; Steve met one of our friends (who served in the Czech Republic with us until recently). I went shopping (Marks and Spencer — ahh!); visited my Gran (in Milngavie — pronounced “Mulguy”!) and then negotiated the rush-hour traffic back to the other end of Glasgow, to Cambuslang, where we are staying with friends. I’d forgotten just how horrific the traffic in Glasgow can be; however, my headache was somewhat soothed by listening to the dulcet tones of Radio Scotland presenters....ahhhhh! :0)

 

Sunday 30th January 2005, On holiday in Glasgow (Steve)

child dedication at QPBC
a child dedication at church this morning

Church. In English. Together. With HUNDREDS of other people all at the same time. Benjamin actually downstairs with other kids in Sunday School! Un-be-lievable. I choked up a bit in the service at one point, seeing Benji and his Scottish friend Sam jumping up and down together to the music, excited to be there, excited to be together.

[We find church in the Czech Republic really difficult on account of Benjamin (as well as the language barrier for ourselves). Benji has not yet broken through the barrier of getting on with Czech kids, and won’t stay in Czech Sunday School, meaning that either Varya or I (usually Varya) have to be out the the service looking after him. So this morning was bliss on many levels.]

I had the chance to do a short presentation in the service about Teen Street 2005 Central Europe, as we’re looking for volunteers for a number of different roles (sound engineers, First Aid, security, sports etc). Had a good response from some folks after the service. [Hey, could the guy from the Scottish Baptist magazine please get in touch with us - thanks! And Duran, if you are reading this, WE NEED YOU! Please e-mail!]

To top off the day we were treated out to a Celtic Connections concert by Mindy Smith. A little more “Country” than we would normally admit to, but an awesome voice, interesting songs. Even bumped into an old friend of ours who we haven’t seen for years. Glasgow’s big, but not that big.

ice skating
Daddy taking Benji ice skating for the first time on Friday

Botanic Gardens Glasgow
Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens in the winter sunlight

Saturday 29th January 2005, On holiday in Glasgow (Steve)

Neilston is the village we lived in till moving to the Czech Republic as missionaries last year. It holds a very special position in our hearts, and we have some great friends there. Today we were able to visit a number of them, but as you can imagine, time is never long enough. We did find some time though to visit our old neighbours, who we gave our dog Lenka to before we left. Lenka’s doing fine (mad wee thing though she is), and the neighbours are too.

Our church has organised an open afternoon at someone’s house for us tomorrow, so we’ll get to see more folks then.

Wednesday 26th January 2005, Prague/Glasgow (Steve)

-2°C, snowing lightly in Prague. Travelling light (just 1 big suitcase for the 3 of us!) we’re able to use public transport to get to the airport in Prague. A short hop later and we touch down in Glasgow. Glorious weather (how?!), blue sky, over 10°C! Perhaps we should fly FlyGlobespan.com more often?

What bliss to be back in Glasgow again.

Picking up the rental car, I struggle to re-familiarise myself with driving on the left. My right hand keeps reaching for the gearstick and brake... Ears are soothed with the great music selection and local patter of Real Radio.

Varya’s Aunty’s place is an oasis, a haven in the West End of Glasgow. It’s great to be back. TV in English — what a concept! Newspapers in English — whoo hoo!

Swan tracks on the frozen Malse river
swan tracks on the frozen Malse river


Presentation team in Znojmo

Tuesday 25th January 2005, Prague (Steve)

Snow steadily falls outside, for almost the first time this winter, and it’s set to “get worse” according to Pavel, our boss. He doesn’t like snow, whereas I still haven’t lost my child-like delight in the stuff. So I pray for it, and he prays against it. What’s God to do? That probably explains the schizophrenic weather for the last week.

So typical, as soon as we get the good winter weather, we pack up and head off to Scotland for a week, where the weather is probably dismal.

After work we headed off to Prague in the train — we’re staying overnight here before flying direct to Glasgow with FlyGlobespan(.com) in the morning [cheap but not overly so]. Benjamin has been a wee darling, very well behaved, and has elected to sleep in a cot instead of a bed at the Pension tonight. Bless him, he reminds us so much of when he used to sleep in a cot...

Sunday 23rd January 2005, Znojmo and České Budějovice (Steve)

This morning the alarm was set for 5:30AM, as I and 4 of the team from OM had to set off early for a presentation trip in Moravia (area in the east of the Czech Republic). It was my first Presentation Team trip with OM and I’d done quite a lot of prep for it, as had the others in the team. We visited a KS church in Znojmo and did a programme on Christian Mission - about the Biblical basis for it, about how we can all play our part, and describing the work that OM does here in the Czech Republic.

In typical OM fashion we had a huge inflatable globe which we got people to knock around above their heads... when someone caught it, we looked at the country closest their right hand, then spent some time praying for it. As well as Brazil, we prayed for Papua New Guinea, not a well known country around these parts! But as it happens, my sister Sharon is working there for a month right now, as a doctor in a small bush hospital (short staffed, short of medical supplies, 24 hr on call, working as anaesthetist, lab technician and surgeon at the same time, sometimes giving one’s own blood, and trying to perform miracles in her spare time — you get the picture?). So it was awesome to have people pray for Sharon (as well as for the whole country of PNG) in Czech.

BOOKS: Our message and enthusiasm were received well by the medium sized church of about 25 people, but the thing that surprised me most was response to the book and CD stall (we took a few boxes of Christian books and CDs to sell to defray our expenses). Well, people were snapping up books left, right and centre! Why? Because there are practically no Christian book shops outside of Prague, and apart from mail-order, Christians have to rely on their church having a selection for sale. Considering the size of Czech churches, it’s no surprise that many don’t stock any/many.

In the Western church where we take the availability of literature for granted, I had forgotten what a key part literature plays in the strength and development of the church. The Lord opened my eyes today. Distribution is certainly an issue here, but so is availability of good texts: the Christian publishers (which do exist) surely can’t be making a profit considering the costs of translation and publishing, and the tiny potential market here. But as tiny as the market may be, it’s a vital one. As our OM team starts to grow this year, we’re going to make it a priority to resurrect our literature ministry.

SNOW! On our long drive to Znojmo it actually snowed most of the way! Awesome! Then on the way back there was the most glorious sunshine and blue sky, making the pristine white fields and hillsides glow with yellow and blue. Herds of deer frolicked in the distance... I’m in heaven!

 

Saturday 22nd January 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

 

After 3 weeks absence, the diary returns! We’ve just been taking a writing break — nothing serious!

Every time something exciting happens, or Benji comes up with something absolutely classic, we think “must write this in the diary”, but of course, unless we get it down straight away we forget all about it.

It took a bit of effort to get back into work after a couple of weeks off, but we’re getting there.

The weather... oh man, not what we were expecting of the Czech Republic in January! We moved to this country at the start of February last year, and had daily snow for the first month. THIS year though there’s hardly been any snow here in Ceske Budejovice. Some days the temperature has been as high as 10°C (or more). But at least we haven’t had the sleet and freezing winds we were used to in Neilston, Scotland!

SCOTLAND — here we come! Next week (Wednesday 26th) we’re going to be heading for Glasgow for a week’s “break” (ha ha), visiting lots of friends, and soaking up as much English [language] as we can. I’m going through a “I can’t be bothered with all the hard work of Czech” phase at the moment, and a week of not having to speak or decypher Czech is just what the doctor ordered. Varya is cool with all the Czech (good for her) but will enjoy the break all the same. The funny thing is, we’re both doing really well in Czech conversation at the moment, and communicating amazingly well. It’s encouraging.


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