czech republic missionaries

Czech Diary, June 2005

The lowdown on mission life in the Czech Republic
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Thursday 30th June 2005, Teen Street Central Europe, České Budějovice (Steve)

It’s all on. Teen Street Central Europe 2005 is about to get underway. Groups are flying in from all over the world, it seems, and on Saturday the young people will arrive from all over Eastern Europe. There’s a small group from Albania (what they had to go through to raise the money to travel here, and the visas, I can’t imagine), plus people from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland.

As with any event of this sort, there’s a huge last minute rush to get everything ready. This one is no exception. But there’s a palpable sense of excitement and expectation as we gather together to prepare for what will be a powerful time of fellowship, ministry and development for the over 150 people involved.

Varya is going to be helping with the counselling team and I’m going to be doing some filming for future promotional materials that we’ll put together. We’ll try to report back a bit over the next week about how things are going, but we’re so busy with TS and a lot of our other work, that we won’t have a lot of time. Uvidime, as they say.


Saturday 25th June 2005, near České Budějovice (Steve)

Christian music festival stage

Christian Music Festival audience

The day dawns dark and thundery, but the storms slowly melt away to leave an azure sky, scorching sun and light breeze. The mini-festival of Christian Music is in a large garden just outside a village a few kilometres away, and there are about half a dozen bands playing including our own. What an awesome day!

It’s always encouraging to see signs of unity between churches here, and music seems to be the most encouraging of them. Such are the small sizes of the churches here that I felt that I knew many of the people I saw today, though I met a bunch more.

I love the way that music is so varied. One group did bluegrass/gospel. One was more contemporary rock. One, with young people that we knew from another church (and including 2 of the lads whose family we stayed with when we first came to the Czech Republic), included a cello and flute — fantastic playing! What an awesome day!

Our own set went really well, I loved seeing people singing along with songs that they knew. We did several by our lead singer as well, which some people are getting to know as a result of our CD (have I mentioned that recently? :-)

Later in the afternoon Varya took Benji and Doreen (a fellow OM worker) off to Bezdrev lake again where they went swimming... What an awesome day!


Friday 24th June 2005, České Budějovice (Varya)

English classes have finished for the summer, but we have organised various events during the next few months, to keep in contact with our students. Doreen and I had planned and prepared for tonight’s Camp Fire Evening, but felt a degree of discouragement, as many people had sent e-mails and sms text messages to say that they couldn’t come.

However, it turned out to be a beautiful evening - perfect weather, a (small but) good mix of people of all ages and there was a relaxed and happy atmosphere. After the BBQ and lots of chatting (always a mixture of Czech and English!), two of the men played the guitars they’d brought, and old Czech songs floated through the air. This was followed by a game of volleyball, and lots more banter.

We are very clear about not preaching to the students when they come to the classes — they pay to learn English and this is exactly what we therefore do. However, as friendships develop, there is a natural sharing of ideas and beliefs, and we have seen some students showing an increasing interest in God and the gospel. Perhaps you could pray for us, as we try to maintain this balance and our integrity...


Thursday 23rd June 2005, Vodňany (Steve)

Vodnany is about 30km from CB, and it’s where we have our weekly music practices (ie for the music group at church). It makes kind of a long trek, and I usually get back home about 11:30PM...

Anyway, tonight we’re preparing for Saturday’s mini-festival of Christian music, so it’s intense. Even more exciting though is the feedback that we’re getting about our CD. In a couple of separate instances, non-believing spouses of people who have bought the CD have really been enjoying it. So much so that they have taken it to their work-places to let everyone else hear it! Somehow I had never really envisaged it as an evangelistic project, but hey, God can use it however He chooses.


Tuesday 21st June 2005, Bezdrev lake (“Pavel’s Pond”) (Steve)

Lake Bezdrev

We found out on Sunday morning that our friend Pavel is going to be going to England to work from the 1st of July. We’re going to miss him. Given that he’s the one who introduced us to our favourite lake, we took him out there after work and had a BBQ at lake edge. The weather is hot; glorious. High of about 33°C. The clover populating the long grass is succulent and buzzing with bees. We eat, talk, paddle in the pond, and play frisbee. Benji’s frisbee throwing is getting awesome, but his competitive nature sometimes gets in the way of him having a good time!

We’re going to miss Pavel.


Saturday 18th June 2005, Český Krumlov / Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

Cesky Krumlov Medieval Costumes

Krumlov’s Festival of the 5-petalled rose is a highlight of the calendar around here. It’s a magnificent medieval festival, full of all the medieval costumes, heraldry, crafts, tournaments, food and music you can imagine in one place. From an inauspicious start the weather turned brilliant, and we were pleased that we weren’t dressed in the heavy velvets and other fabrics of those in traditional dress around us! We have pictures of last year’s parade here. But there’s so much more to it than just the parade... next year I want to try and get to more of the music, and tournaments/jousting. Even still, the throng of people in medieval dress, amongst Krumlov’s incomparable medieval architecture is stunning.

Evening: our church had it’s second Praise and Worship might tonight, to which we invited all the other local churches. Like the last one, a great success, with lots of people coming from lots of different churches including some from quite far away. I played in the band as usual, and I must say that the 4 of us are feeling the benefits of all the rehearsing and playing together. Although I still can’t follow everything that going on around me in Czech, it’s not hard to pick up when people are hearing from God, are praying, seeking God, weeping, prophecying and singing their hearts out.

And what’s more: we finally released our CD tonight! After a very hurried week of final copyright negotiations and technical preparations for the CD booklet, we picked up the finished CDs this afternoon, and sold 20 tonight. I’m quite nervous about people’s impressions of it... it’s been months of hard work, and all I want to do is get it out of the way now so that I can concentrate on all the other important work.


Wednesday 8th June 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Varya)

A sad day, as Maria and Natan leave us, after three great weeks of talking, music, laughter, talking, games, cooking and talking...

Sad, too, because our guinea pig, Sara, dies. We have struggled to keep her going since taking her to the vet for medicine, etc. on Sunday. She became ill really suddenly, and never really recovered. We picked Benji up from skolka, and then went out to a wood near CB, and buried her there. Steve and I were really tearful, but Benji was really pragmatic about the whole thing. He’s at the stage where he asks a lot about death, and says things like “will we move back to Scotland before we die?”... “how many birthdays will I have before I die?”...


Monday 6th June 2005, Ceske Budejovice (Varya)

Benji with new bike

Today is Benji’s 4th birthday! We’re so happy that Steve’s sister (Maria) and her husband (Natan) are with us :0)

Benji is delighted to discover that he has been given an umbrella (no, not what you’d think most 4 year olds would aspire to on their special day, but Benji was most insistent about wanting one!). We gave him his first proper bike, and he received lovely pressies from New Zealand, Scotland and England. (Thanks!)

Maria and Natan gave Benji a set of Jenga — with a difference. On each brick, there are different coloured spots and in order to play, you throw a dice with coloured spots on it. It makes Jenga even more exciting, and Benji plays it with his Uncle and Aunt during a happy afternoon.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY also to Sam, in Scotland :0) Our boys were born a few hours apart...

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