czech republic missionaries

Czech Diary, October 2004

The lowdown on mission life in the Czech Republic
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lake lipno
lake Lipno

house in Sumava mountains
house in the Šumava mountains

girl at lake


Friday 29th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

Had an interesting talk over lunch with the leaders of the Alpha course about the meeting last night. Topic: How to resist the devil. It had been a very difficult topic to discuss, particularly because the whole concept of the “Devil” is even more remote to Czechs than the concept of God! In such an atheist contry as this, the devil is either an utsie-cutsie animal with horns in Czech fairytales (pohadka), or something horrible in the worst of horror movies. The notion that there’s an evil force/being whose express desire is to prevent us having a relationship with God just doesn’t come into it for the average Czech.

One woman who made a decision to follow Christ last weekend, though, is under no illusions. On Monday she had a bike accident. On Tuesday her car was hit by another, and she narrowly escaped serious injury (as it was, she escaped unharmed). Co-incidence? We think not. Could we ask for prayers for all of our safety?

Thursday 28th October 2004, Šumava mountains (Varya)

The dawn welcomed the errant sun, which had nestled behind fog and clouds for several days. Two friends arrived at our house (one Czech, one English), and after a brief perusal of maps, we headed off to the Sumava mountains. Russet browns vied for attention among the burnt oranges and burnished bronze autumn leaves. Each turn in the road displayed more beauty from the colour palette of nature. Lunch was savoured along the shore of mirror-calm lake Lipno — it was breathtaking, and I could easily imagine myself beside a loch in bonnie Scotland. . .

Sunday 24th October 2004, České Budějovice (Varya + Steve)

Varya: What an amazing morning — Benji and I attended the local Baptist church (the only one in the whole of South Bohemia). In the Sunday school, the lesson was taken first in Czech, and then in English. Of the 15 children, about half were Czech, a third were American, one was Russian and three were Germans! Incredible to think that these children listened to stories, learned a Bible verse, sang together and played, with apparent ease despite the language “barriers”.

Steve: The Alpha course run by our church had its “Alpha Weekend” this weekend. Though we’ve not been helping with it regularly, I was asked to go out and help this morning as part of the music team. As always, Alpha did not fail to live up to expectations, and many tears were shed as people were touched by God. Even the 5-year old daughter of one of the participants said that she wanted to follow Jesus! Please pray for her and all of the Alpha people who are struggling with issues of life and faith.

Benji and Oscar
Benji with Oskar the Octavia

Wednesday 20th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

The new car is ours! Must write more about the process of buying a car in the Czech Republic, as it’s quite different to anywhere else I have been. Praise the Lord for the finances, and for leading us to a suitable vehicle. What a relief. Long may the angels look after us on the roads... (have we ever written about manic Czech drivers? Oh well, another time then).

Monday 18th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

Still sore from last week’s bike accident, but even more from the gym! Still, off again this morning, and I am sure I will feel better. Eventually. Stomach is still there.


Sunday 17th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

Friendship evangelism takes many forms. Going to the gym is one. So too apparently is proof reading papers on plasma physics! Our landlord is a uni professor of plasma physics and I spent an interesting hour proof reading a conference paper for him. Considering I only have a pair of music degrees... :-)


Saturday 16th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

“Kino Brandon” had another showing tonight, and we had a great bunch of friends around to see John Grisham’s The Client projected on our wall. It’s so fabulous to hear conversations in several languages bouncing around our lounge, with new people making friendships.

At the gym

Friday 15th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

Field leader took me to his mechanic with the new car to have it checked out. Looks like it had been in a prang, but apparently fixed up perfectly, and mechanic was happy that it wasn’t 2 wrecks pieced together! Will need a few things done to it, but we’re going to buy it!!! Whoo hoo! Should have all the money by the end of next week.

Tonight I went to the gym for the first time in 16 years. I had promised Petr, one of the guys from English camp, that we would go together - so finally we did. In Czech, a “6 pack stomach” translates as “6 brick stomach”. Petr reckons he’s just got a 1 brick stomach. I, however, have something best described as one big jelly :-p This, apparently, is called friendship evangelism. I don’t think there’s anything else which would have got me into a gym! Varya’s going to be going to aerobics with another girl in the next week or 2 too...


Thursday 14th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

Aha, may have found the right car today, in a car yard within biking distance. 1999 Skoda Octavia, white, power steering, airbags, 93,000km, pretty good nick, already has winter tyres fitted (big saving), 1.9l TDI (diesel), for 215,000 Kc (about £4400). Would really prefer metallic green, but hey, the Octavias are a nice looking breed, and white’s ok too. Test drove like a dream. Never had a car like this before.


Monday 11th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

A frosty morning: a small wooden bridge that I cycle over to get to OM had a thin film of ice on it, and crossing over it the bike deposited me face down on the ground. The guy cycling behind me had the same fate. My face hurts, and my left side is black and blue. Glad I wasn’t going fast. Tonight’s topic for one of my English classes was health, so I had something especially relevant to talk about! Am now searching the Annonce with even more vigour.


Saturday 9th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

Visited loads of car yards today (they’re everywhere), but no sign of a suitable car. Maybe our initial price target is too conservative, as the cars are either too old, or obscure models (like the gorgeous Fiat Marea) which would be prohibitively expensive to service. :-(


Friday 8th October 2004, České Budějovice (Steve)

Bought the “Annonce” today, a weekly buy/sell/exchange newspaper for cars. I’m starting to learn all the new vocab for used cars, like “no crashes”, “power steering”, “year” etc. But it’s so hard to know what’s likely to be a good buy, as there’s no indication in the paper of where in the Czech Republic the seller actually is, and absolutely no guarantee about the real condition and history of the car. Car crime is reportedly rife, with most tachometers wound back, many cars stolen, many cars crashed then patched together and resold, and many other pitfalls to be avoided. At least the OM leader is willing to help as much as possible. So should we instead go to a car yard? It might not actually make much difference as to whether we get a lemon or not... :-(

CDROM front page
CD-ROM front page

Monday 4th October 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

A mad, mad day for me today. I was already tired from a weekend of CDROM authoring plus trying to spend time with Benji and Varya, but today was crazier. Finished checking the CDROM contents on various Windows and Mac machines, went and bought a pile of blank CDs, spent much of the day loading and unloading them from the laptop as they were burned. Picked up the brochures from the printer. Finished preparing for teaching tonight’s English classes. Got everything finished by just before 5PM (Elaine heads off to the US with all the materials at 2AM tomorrow), then taught for the next 3.5 hours. Biked home at 9:30PM and tucked into a much needed dinner. I’m so tired, but relieved at how great all the AV materials are.

If anyone would like a copy of the CDROM, please ask... (I would put it up online, but it’s 200MB and rather a big download).


Saturday 2nd October 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

“Kino Brandon” [cinema Brandon] was on again tonight. By re-arranging our lounge and borrowing a data projector from work we can watch DVDs from my laptop on the wall, with sound through the stereo. We are trying to do this quite regularly, and invite OMers and other friends (like folks from the English camp) around. Friendship evangelism and supporting local Christians, that’s what it’s all about.


Friday 1st October 2004, Ceske Budejovice (Steve)

Varya has been hard at work preparing to teach at an English camp somewhere over near Brno this weekend, leaving Benji and I to have a lads’ weekend together. Alas, it got cancelled, and we get to spend the weekend all together! Still, looks like I could be hard at work during the weekend on the web site and CDROM things for the USA next week.

I have been teaching Benji about space — the first man in space, the first man on the moon, stuff like that. I had told him about the first dog in space, then asked him:

  • “what animals have been up in space?”
  • “Doggies, and monkeys, and giraffes...”
  • “Giraffes? How did they fit into the rockets?”
  • “They were kneeling down!” [as if, duh, you couldn’t work that out yourself Daddy]
lots more interesting news and pictures - read our older diary pages: Sep 2003 - Jan 2004 May 2004 Aug 2004
Feb - Mar 2004 Jun 2004 Sep 2004
Apr 2004 Jul 2004  

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