czech republic missionaries

Brandons’ Diary, March 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.


Saturday 25th March 2006, West of Scotland (Steve)

Remember our friend Pavel from way back in our diary? One of our Czech friends who "decorated" our car, and introduced us to Bezdrev lake near Ceske Budejovice? Well he has been living in Manchester (England) for quite a while now, and finally came up to stay for the weekend.

Today we did a trip around some of the near west coast of Scotland: Dumbarton Castle, Helensburgh, past Rosyth Naval Base and up the Gare Loch, over to Loch Lomond (see right), and back to Paisley. It was fantastic to see Pavel again, and we all loved seeing some of the local scenery at its brooding best.


Sunday 19th March 2006, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

Some of us choir members
Me, Alison, David and Justus ready to go on stage

Today is the big choir day, when 120+ voices of the Thomas Coats Memorial Choral Society (incl. me) do our annual concert in the Thomas Coats (must have been quite a guy) Memorial Church, around the corner from here.

We’ve been practising for weeks, but up till this afternoon, not with the orchestra, Glasgow’s Kelvin Ensemble. Oh how I wish we had.

The choir sang pretty magnificently and outshone the orchestra. I have the stirring words of the Brahms’ German Requiem still coursing through my veins and probably will have for weeks — “Tod, tod, wo ist dein stachel - wo ist dein seig, ist dein seig, wo ist dein seig?” [Death, death, where is thy sting? Where is thy victory?]. It’s awesome to be able to sing these magnificent words, knowing in my heart just how true they are, and knowing the one by whom this is possible.

I don’t think I mentioned it before, but about half our church home group is in this choir (though it’s not the church that we go to). Paisley, although next to the enormous Glasgow, is a microcosm of its own with a wonderful community spirit, so I am enjoying getting to know people. In fact there are two more local choirs that I could join (the TC choir only does one concert a year, the others do more, are smaller, and do more renaissance and baroque reportoire).


Sunday 12th March 2006, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

A good 8 inches of snow fell on the west of Scotland last night, including on Paisley.

Our street looked impassable so we skipped church and instead spent a family day together. Benji and I made a snowman in the back garden area, with potatoes for eyes and a carrot nose!

right: view from back window


Saturday 11th March 2006, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)


It’s been a hard week, and I’ve hit the weekend exhausted. Apart from some prelim planning for the big OM web project, I have taken on a general facelift for the main OM international web site, as well as working on loads of other bugs, some simple, some not. I spend a lot of time each day on Skype and instant messaging; communicating with colleagues in the US, UK, and sometimes South Africa, Sweden and Germany! The biggest downside of the international team is that often I have to wait until mid afternoon before some of them are on-line; it can be a bit frustrating.

Still, I have to say that I am in my element. It’s great to be doing a combination of design and technical work. My CSS skills are coming on in leaps and bounds, and it’s good to be getting acquainted with JSP programming again (I did a lot of Java a few years ago, but since then it’s been mostly PHP and a bit of Perl). Meanwhile I am absorbing everything I can about design in general, particularly with regard to layout and typography. There are some wonderful resources out there in web land for these, e.g. A List Apart.

A wonderful tool I am trialling on the Mac, for dissecting CSS designs on other pages is called Xylesope — awesome. Just load in a page, click on any element and see a hierarchical view of all the CSS rules which apply to that element, including rules originating in the browser. You can even tweak the rules and see the results dynamically update. And all this despite the fact that the CSS rules may exist in multiple different files on the server. How is this different to just using the CSS tools in Dreamweaver? Well apart from being able to easily dissect any page on the web at large without having to download all the CSS files first, it’s just the simplicity of being able to easily find out exactly which CSS rules apply to the particular element I’m examining — maybe something in my <span> inherits from an enclosing <p>, or maybe something from as far back as the <body>. Without Xylescope, I have to keep track of all the possibilities in my head.

All that aside, it’s Saturday, and I’m keeping it work-free. I’m gonna cook an awesome turmeric fish curry tonight, that currently exists only in my imagination. I must be getting inspired by all these Saturday morning cooking programmes on TV… [postscript: it worked!]


Friday 10th March 2006, Paisley, Scotland (Steve)

Benji in ball pit

Benji and I have been preparing for Varya’s birthday — Benji was so excited last night that he lay awake for several hours after going to bed (as on Christmas Eve). Secreted away in his room was a bunch of flowers we would use to decorate Varya’s table setting for breakfast, and we woke early to make our preparations: decorate the table, write the card, finally let mummy through for breakfast. Varya was suitably impressed :-)

Later this afternoon we went off to the Wacky Warehouse (a sort of soft play area for kids with a restaurant attached — or is the other way around?) for fun + a meal out as a family. Toby as usual was a little star, smiling at the waitresses!


Wednesday 1st March 2006, Paisley, Scotland






Toby is now about 9 weeks old and learning how to smile! Big brother Benjamin is in love with little “Toby Tickles”


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