Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday in Real Life

This is my "front door".

Coming "home" from church on a Sunday no longer includes the smell of soup in a crock-pot, or a little doggy begging for attention after being alone for sooooo looonnnngg (or so she likes us to think). It doesn't include dinner together and then family night, where we all gather and share something from God's Word along with stories of the week past and plans and prayers for the week to come. It also doesn't include worrying about a test I have to take the next day in Czech...well, because I'm not taking any exams in Czech anymore.

Sundays don't include mountains or warming up by the fireplace or country roads and stopping at our local grocery store in town and probably seeing one or two friends there who are picking up last things for their family meals too.

But you know what Sundays at Moody do include?

Being picked up by Caleb and Haley and driving out to Wheaton to our dear church.

Getting to hold babies in the nursery and love on them (in English too!) so their parents can sit in church. Even though it's "serving", I feel like I'm the one being served by those little ones as they just love freely, play wholeheartedly and look at the world with such bright-eyed wonder.

And that was just the start of my day.

Yes, Sundays do sometimes include loneliness. I've had many a Sunday that turned into homework-alone days, and those are hard. Often I end up eating a sweet potato for dinner in my room because the cafeteria doesn't serve meals on Sunday evenings and I don't feel like going out anywhere. Mostly, campus is quiet on Sundays and people are scattered throughout the city at churches in the mornings and coffee shops in the afternoons. It can get lonely.

But there are Sundays like today that, albeit different from home, are full of life. Kid time in the nursery, lunch and coffee time with Caleb and Haley, cooking time in the afternoon (I made soup for the floor tonight). We had a Spring Floor-Family Dinner tonight and gathered in our lounge to eat soup, cornbread and kale salad. It was wonderful laughing together and sharing Spring Break plans, then praying for each other. As soon as dinner was over, there were cookies and we read a few stories from random books. Sweet and hilarious at the same time.

So, Sundays can get me into a funk. They can be stressful and not at all what you would expect from this day. They can be lonely and weird and they can make me homesick. But they can also be refreshing, and good. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chicago Snow

I found myself mesmerized today as I stood at my window.

The view from my dorm room looks out to the plaza and when it's clear, you can even see the Willis Tower (/Sears Tower). But my favorite in the winter is when it snows like this: fluffy snowflakes drifting down and blanketing the city.

So here's a glimpse into Claire's corner of the world today:

Chicago Snow from Claire Patty on Vimeo. Music by Ampersand: find music for free HERE.

(Feel free to check out Ampersand - the music I used in the little video. The musicians are actually a couple of Moody students, and it's great for studying and focusing!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chalkboards and the World

I walked into class to find a greeting on the chalkboard, which was "supposedly" from our professor. Obviously was not, professor Downey did not write this though, seeing as there were three exclamation points and hearts on the board. I'm still not sure who wrote it, but it didn't stop with the main message. Someone added a message at the top in Chinese, and as I was taking my seat, another student was writing something in Arabic. 

Normally you might think this is childish, or even disrespectful. But 1. This professor is just great and very relational and 2. This is a class only for Youth Ministry and Children's Ministry majors, so it's totally ok to have a little bit of fun. I had to add a little greeting in Czech (top left corner), and two other languages were added as well before our professor came in. He laughed, of course, and then at the end added his own version of "welcome", in Hungarian (where he lived with his family at one time as missionaries). 

At first I thought it was silly, just for fun. But I couldn't help smiling not only because of that, but because of what all of these greetings represented.

In this class alone (with only 11 students), one person is from Scotland, another grew up in Japan and China, someone else is from Egypt and Canada, I'm from Czech, my professor lived in Hungary, another student knew French, etc. etc. What a beautiful representation of the body of Christ, and what a privilege to get to learn alongside students from all over the world. We all come with different stories and experiences and can bring that to the classroom.

Although this is a school in the heart of Chicago, in the Midwest, in America, I love the hints of international culture spread throughout this campus. I also love realizing that we all came to learn more about God through His Word, and will probably go all over the world with the skills we learned here together.

Today was just one of those visual reminders of how big, yet small, the world is!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Czech: Even There

I was standing in line in the cafeteria, bowl in hand, waiting for my turn to get my vegetarian chili and peas (odd combination, I know, but it's the cafeteria so I take what I can get), when I said "ahoj" (hello) to Pavel. Pavel is the only other undergrad student at Moody who's from Czech, and it's always nice to have an excuse to speak Czech for a minute.

Pavel was working behind the counter in the cafeteria, but stopped what he was doing for a minute after switching out trays in the food line, and said hello back, in Czech of course. But then he asked me, "Have you talked with your parents at all today?"

"No..." I replied. "Is there something I should have heard from them?"

His face saddened, and he told me that there was a shooting today in Czech. And no, not even in Prague, the capital. The shooting happened in a city in our very own Moravia - Uhersky Brod. Eight people were killed in a restaurant by a local man in his 60's.

My face fell too and the breath went out of me. This doesn't happen in Czech. This never happens in Czech. In our country? How? These were the thoughts that filled my mind. I was glad to have heard it from Pavel this evening, and not just to have read it on the news. It would have been hard to just have to hear that alone.

I know that tragedies like this are happening everywhere. Only this morning did I read on BBC News that IS abducted dozens of Assyrian Christians. For weeks I have been reading updates on Ukraine, and my heart breaks with each continued progression. A 14-year-old student was killed in a protest today in Venezuela. These situations just seem to be worsening, don't they? The prayer that I utter is, "Lord, let is stop!" Sadness. Anger. Yes, even fear sometimes.

The shooting in Czech today was the worst mass shooting on record in the country. It wasn't terrorism. It wasn't someone known to be a radical. It was a tragedy that came out of nowhere. And that's why it hits so hard. Not Czech too, I find myself saying.

But yes. No place is immune to evil. No place is completely safe. Where is there hope?

There is hope in knowing that in the end, Christ will triumph. No matter what, He already conquered death and will return again to redeem His people. But there is space for sadness and crying out to the Lord, whether that's about Czech, the Middle East, Venezuela or any other place experiencing pain. God is still good, yet He does want to hear our prayers and honest hearts (think of the Psalms), even when things are hard.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Food, Together

I spent a lovely Saturday evening at Tyler and Lara's, but Hayley, my buddy, got to come this time too! Lots of cooking and baking ensued, along with catching up and then a movie. I didn't actually get any photos of anyone, but I'll just let the food speak for itself (is that a thing?). No matter what cuisine it comes from, it's always fun. 

First up: Babovka: vanilla, with a chocolate center (it's gluten-free naturally!). To make the chocolate part, just add cocoa powder to part of the batter and add an extra tablespoon of oil. Honestly, I just dumped a little bit of dutch-processed cocoa in, so I didn't have any measurements. 

Dinner: a version of Lo Mein, which was delicious. I'm not sure which recipe we ended up using, but it was from Pinterest and the dish concept itself was delicious. We couldn't use the right type of noodles (typically wheat), but we used wide rice noodles instead. Close enough!

Sunday morning brought a chill, but bright sunshine. Breakfast was just as wonderful as all of the other things we'd had.

Scrambled eggs, avocado, and a bit of sharp cheese (which I can typically eat).

Food is important to fellowship. I love that Tyler and Lara know that intuitively and bring that to their hospitality. Hayley and I loved cooking with them, and just being family together. Yes, Hayley, you're pretty much family too!