Saturday, August 19, 2017

122 Steps Closer


That's how many steps it takes to get to the top of that the Svatojánská Věž ("Holy John's Tower") in Frýdek-Místek.

In this time of preparation for JV Kid's Camp (I leave tomorrow with the team!), I have a few days with my parents to get over jet lag, catch up with the town's happenings, run errands, and pray. 

We also got to finally see something we have wanted to see for years - the view from the top of the tower, which is only open during quite random hours of the week. To get there, we walked past shops and parking lots, my favorite antique bookstore, and other familiar sights. 

This particular verse written out in stone and placed at the top of the stairs stopped me in my tracks. 

The verse reads, "'I tell you,' he answered, 'if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out." 

To see that written here in this little region of the world reminds me that the Lord is at work, and he will accomplish his purposes. The question is, will we join in the joy of proclaiming alongside other believers that the King has come, and he is Lord?  

"As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!'"

I leave for camp tomorrow. Wow. Soon I will be with the JV Kids, and I absolutely can't wait. I will only be here in Central and Eastern Europe for two weeks this time, but it won't be too long before I move here!

These past few days here in Frydlant have been sweet, but I sure am ready to head into what I came here for. At the same time, I recognize all the more these days that I can do absolutely nothing without Christ. 

I texted back and forth with my mentor (in Wheaton) today, as I was feeling the spiritual battle and weight of my own sinfulness, and her words of prayer meant more than I can even say. Would you pray this for me, my fellow staff at JV Kid's Camp, and the JV Kids this next week? 

"My prayer is that... when all is said and done, your life and your actions and your heart will glorify Him alone. What a wonderful gift it is that God created us to be able to do that for Him." 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What You Find in American Homes

It has been so sweet to live life alongside my church family in these past six months, as well as to meet many other dear families who live locally in the Chicago suburbs. It has been especially meaningful to get to know their kids and their family culture. Each home that I have lived in, come to for a meal or babysat in has a unique style, set of values, traditions and family lingo. As someone who grew up in Czech, I have truly enjoyed seeing more of this day-to-day home culture here in the Illinois.

I love to observe cultural differences and nuances. It tickles me to think that so many people view the world differently from one another, yet we were all created in the image of God! I have learned much from living in my American culture (more on that another day!), and I have also enjoyed noticing what is considered "normal" in an American home.

After babysitting in many homes, I thought it would be fun to start noticing which things show up most frequently in family kitchens here. What are commonplace "kid snacks"? What do parents direct me to for feeding the kids for breakfast?

Many of these things are ones I grew up with as well, since my parents are American (and there is also some crossover), but here is my imperfect list of what you will typically find in most homes in the Midwest:

1. Cheese sticks - I find that most kids get really excited about this one, even though they are common! Now the real question you peel them, or do you bite them? In Czech, they use spreadable cheese, like the farmer's cheese below.

2. Cheerios - Growing up, we only had honey-nut cheerios, but I love that the plain ones are in style here in the States! Kids love them, and it's a staple for snacks, breakfast, and really any time of the day. I would say that in Czech it is more common to have Muesli or cornflakes.

3. Peanut Butter (and Jelly too!) - I love that you can find PB in almost every home here. PB+J continues to be a classic among kids, and I fully agree that it makes such a delicious combination. My Czech friends were baffled by this when I was in elementary school, but our imported peanut butter back then was a treasure, and the PB+J never seemed strange to me!

4. Ice-Cream - Well let's just say it's maybe a good thing that I can't have dairy, because otherwise it might be difficult to resist the ice-cream that is sitting right next to the ice-cube trays in the freezer.

5. A Gallon of Milk - Although, alternative milks show up quite commonly too these days! It still surprises me how often I see almond/cashew/coconut milk right alongside regular groceries. In Czech they still like to use what they call "shelf milk". Many Czechs use fresh milk, but boxed milk is still quite popular as well, as it can be stored for months unopened in the cupboards.

What else do you think belongs on this list? What do you keep on hand in your own kitchen at all times? 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hello and Ahoj

Did you know that the Czech word for "hello" is "Ahoj"? Yes, the word does sometimes sound like a pirate's "ahoy matey" (as English-speaking kids love to remind me), but in the Czech language the emphasis is on the first syllable, not the last.

On another note...

One day I hope to learn more about graphic design. It's not an area I am particularly skilled in, but I find it fascinating. Is there anyone reading this who would like to teach me some basics...and in return I'll send you some postcards or a bar of Czech chocolate? Hmm...I don't know if that would be a fair trade.

What are you creating right now? How does the process of doing so point you to the Lord? 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Finding Treasure: Mattoni

I stopped by an obscure grocery store on my way to small group yesterday and ended up meandering through the international section, which appeared rather extensive even from a distance. Angelo Caputo's Fresh Market did not disappoint! They had a whole aisle of Polish juices, cookies and Milka chocolate... and even a Czech surprise too.


I seldom find Mattoni here in the States, but when I do, I get a huge grin on my face.

Mattoni is a lightly sweetened mineral water. I grew up drinking Mattoni at any and every occasion. In fact, did you know that you have to specifically ask for still water in a restaurant, or else they will go ahead and assume you want sparkling water? I approve. I'm a huge fan of sparkling water, and it all began with Mattoni.

Although I didn't buy any Mattoni this time, I look forward to having some when I'm back in Czech in two weeks for JV Kid's Camp!

I love moments when you realize the world really isn't so big. Two places really can collide...even in a grocery store.