it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Month: June 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Meeting Our Landlord and Seeing Our Apartment

Czech Life (6/30/14)

For the first time since we arrived in Czech we got to go inside of our new apartment. We have been staying in a another missionary’s place temporarily as we wait for our shipping container to arrive, but today we actually got the keys to go and see where we’ll be living for at least two years.

We had a meeting with the landlord around noon and she doesn’t speak English so our friend Mel drove over to help us communicate and make sure all the paperwork was in order. It’s a great place that we think should work well for us. I hope to post photos as soon we get the time to shoot them. After our walkthrough, Mel, myself, and our landlord drove to the electric company to transfer the power into our name–I didn’t even know that was on the agenda. Sadly, because we don’t have visas yet, the electric company said they couldn’t process the request yet and we’ll have to go back. Hopefully we’ll get our visa approvals soon so there won’t be any issues in the future.

Helena (our landlord) is actually a very sweet lady. She brought little chocolate wafers for our kids and even offered to upgrade us to a larger garage on the property for about $10/mo more which we did. This was a blessing from the Lord as we really do need the extra space for storage and it looks like we should have plenty of room now. Before we arrived she had already added our name to the call box outside the gate (shown in the photo above) and in general she was just really kind to us. We look forward to getting to know her more, even though it will be a challenge with the language barrier.

Czech Life (6/30/14)

It basically rained all day today. For us southern Californians it’s a nice change. Titus really wanted to go to the park, but it was just too wet to make that happen so we let the kids jump in puddles and play on the sidewalk as we walked to and from our new apartment. Rain is very common in this area so I’m starting to wonder how we’re going to get creative with things to do for the kids when it’s too wet to go outside.

Tomorrow we have the exciting task of going to get our mail at the post office. Apparently some things came in already and so we got a slip from our landlord telling us to go and pick it up. According to our friend Mel this is, “one of those cultural experiences you just need to have.” He was laughing when he said that and it sounded more sinister than sincere. I guess we’ll take it one day at a time…what else can you do?

Czech Life (6/30/14)

Our First Sunday at Church

Church in Czech

Today we had the pleasure of worshipping at the church we will be part of here in Czech. The church was actually significantly larger than we had originally expected. In fact, we were told it’s the 3rd largest church in Czech with about 250 people. For the most part, the worship service ran very similar to what we might experience in the States, and we were super encouraged by the music and teaching of God’s Word. Obviously, everything was in another language, but our friends Mel and Amy were helping translate for us to keep us in the flow of the service. It’s especially sweet to hear Czechs sing in their native language and it’s actually a really helpful tool for language learning as it slows down the words and you can clearly hear the annunciation.

We sat upstairs because we were a little worried about our kids disrupting the service. There was no Sunday school this morning because many of the moms and kids were gone at a camp so we had the kids with us during the entire service. Avery was especially tired this morning as she was up really early, so we were trying not to be a distraction. At one point the pastor called our family to the stage and Amy introduced us to the entire church. It was fun to stand up there and see people smiling. I wish I could’ve taken a photo. The pastor shared a few encouraging words to us while we were up there which Amy translated into English. He was so gracious and kind and Bethany and I thought we were going to cry.

Church in Czech

In the photo below the pastor was actually talking directly to the couple you see in the front row. This was a baby dedication and they are holding little Daniel. One of the things that struck me was that the pastor was sharing with them how they are raising their son in a very dark and evil world, but that they need to be an example to him and show him Christ on a regular basis. He emphasized teaching and being an example and that both had to be at work in their parenting. It was fun to watch the pastor care for this young couple and he had the congregation stand and had the couple pray. What a blessing to participate in that.

The sermon this morning was around the book of Daniel in honor of the baby’s name who was dedicated. The emphasis was on the character of Daniel and how he served the Lord faithfully. One quote that I thought was interesting was that the pastor said, “The Bible says nothing bad about Daniel, even though Jesus was the only one who lived a perfect life.” He charged the congregation to live like Daniel in this wicked world and serve the Lord faithfully. Who doesn’t need to be reminded of that?

Church in Czech

After church we drove to our other teammate’s house, John and Erin Kloosterhuis. Even though Erin is basically full-term with their first child, she was kind enough to cook us a great meal and have us over for the afternoon. John and Erin serve on the Creative Communications team with us and they are a joy to be around. Thank you, John and Erin, for your hospitality and for sharing a meal with us. We’re praying that baby comes soon!

As I close my day here in Czech all I can think about right now is worship. I don’t just mean the act of singing songs, though that’s definitely part of it, but just the idea that we are all created as worshipers and will by our nature seek to worship something. The Bible teaches that we were created to worship the one true God, but so often we don’t and we worship our own idols and false gods who will never satisfy. Oh sure, I may never worship a literal golden calf, but I’ll bow down to the god of comfort in a heartbeat.

All of that to say my heart needed to sing with my brothers and sisters this morning the simple chorus to the song Here I Am To Worship. “Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You’re my God. You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me.” That may be a simple truth, but it’s a great reminder that we exist to worship a worthy and wonderful God.

Here’s a little video of the chorus from this morning’s worship service.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes and man healthy, wealthy and wise.” But I don’t think our man Ben meant rising at 1:30am because our family tried that today and it really doesn’t feel healthy, and I definitely don’t feel wise. We did, however, find it a great time to get some email done and do a little more grocery shopping!

We literally went to the grocery store at 6am today, right when they opened. Since we had breakfast around 3:30am, we had plenty of time in the morning to get ready and leave the house. Sadly, because of our early day, the kids weren’t as cheery about it as we were and they were starting to get tired by the time we got there. Bethany knew we at least needed some lunch food and so we prepared ourselves to just buy one meal and leave, so that’s just what we did.

Living in Czech (6/28/14)

Our afternoon was quite uneventful. We put the kids down for a nap around 8am and Bethany and I were working on communicating with our shipping container company and even finishing up some last minute details that we didn’t do before leaving the States (like canceling our U.S. cell phones). Bethany got a little laundry done, but there is no dryer here so she put out the washed clothes on a drying rack (below) and set it near a sunny window. Don’t worry, we’re just airing out our clean laundry, not our dirty laundry. Dad joke.

Living in Czech (6/28/14)

Tonight was really the highlight. Our friends Mel and Amy Ellenwood who have been actively helping us during the transition invited us over for dinner. It was a great meal complete with red quinoa, noodles with balsamic vinegar and veggies, bratwursts, amazing pork chops, and chicken hot dogs for the kids! The Ellenwoods even have a nice garden in their backyard where the kids got to pick and eat fresh raspberries off the vine. It truly was a fun night and we’re so thankful to have other missionaries near by to help and support us and occasionally throw in a pork chop!

Living in Czech (6/28/14)

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I’ve driven in Los Angeles enough to know that you need to read the signs. Sometimes you can’t park on one side of the street on the 3rd Thursday of every month, other times you can only park between 1-2pm, and just this week I read about a “1 Minute Parking” sign on an L.A. street. Needless to say I know I’m supposed to read the signs. But what if the sign is in Czech and it lists numerous times and days!? I stared at the sign below for a while before finally deciding we were fine to park there on Saturday night after 13:00 (aka 1pm). Was I sure? Nope. Is that just life right now? Yup. Now back to bed!

Living in Czech (6/28/14)

Jet Lag, Courage, and Ice Cream

You would think that on our fourth full day in Czech we would be over our jet lag, but today may have been the worst yet. We’ve heard it takes about a day per hour of time change to adjust, so for us that would mean it would take us nine days to be fully adjusted to our new time zone. Sing it with us, “Whooaaooohhhh, we’re half-way there!” Our “nap” this afternoon accidentally turned into a five hour sleep session so we’re definitely still struggling.

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Since we were all awake by 4:00am this morning we had breakfast at 5:00 and then went for a walk around 6:30. The weather was wonderful today. All the clouds cleared for the first time since we’ve arrived and we had a brilliant sunny day. On our walk we passed by what appears to be the town square with a water fountain in the center. There were lots of little cart stand owners starting to setup their shops, and we saw they had many different items for sale from wooden trinkets to roasted nuts.

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Walking through town is like being on a movie set–everything just doesn’t seem to be real. Everywhere you look there are fresh flowers, like on the street lights (above), and we joked that the only place we’ve really seen those is on Main Street in Disneyland.

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Our walk this morning took us to a park along a river which doubles as the border between Czech Republic and Poland. Since it was early, there were a lot of people walking their dogs. It’s really fascinating to hear people talking to their dogs in another language. The park is very nice and we even found a play area for kids which Titus and Avery loved.

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

I’m realizing it does take a little courage to go outside and try something new. Bethany asked me to go to the store before dinner for some bread and milk and I definitely hesitated. You just fear you’ll be stuck in line, unable to speak Czech and come home with nothing. But I’m so glad I finally did it! Going to the store is a language learning opportunity and now I’m sure I’ll never forget the number four because that’s how many pieces of bread I had and the lady at the check out counter kept saying it to me!

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

After dinner we ventured down to the street to get some ice cream. We can see the ice cream shop from the window of where we’re staying and we figured even if it was hard to communicate it be worth the effort. Avery was able to get a strawberry sugar cone and Titus a lemon/vanilla cone. The girl at the ice cream place realized we spoke English and she spoke a little herself so she was able to tell us what each thing was. The kids thought it was great fun which is always a joy for us.

Living in Český Těšín (6/27/14)

Although it was a somewhat uneventful day, the smallest things are big events. I know we’re tired and jet lagged, but our world has been flipped around for sure. Some things are familiar and other things are just simply foreign. That might sound simplistic, and maybe it is, but even the simplest things can be a challenge. I’m thankful for the time we have right now to just adjust and take the posture of learners.

From Sour Milk to a Spaghetti Meal

Bethany and I were pretty proud of ourselves. We went to the grocery store all by ourselves, I picked out a little thing of milk, and Bethany got the correct amount of Czech crowns (money), we paid for it and left. Both of us were even talking about it after we got back to the flat we’re staying in. “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be!” I said proudly. “Yeah!” Bethany agreed. Then she took a drink.

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In my defense it was clearly marked “mléko”, or milk. What I didn’t know was this was some kind of “special” milk that Czechs enjoy to be healthy. After Googling it for a minute, I think it’s some kind of fermented milk…I don’t know! Unfortunately for Bethany, she was the first to try and as fast as she drank it was as fast as it came flying back out and into the sink. And there it was…our first trip to the store as a family for one item, and we failed. The moral of the story, you ask? Look for milk that is marked “čerstvý” or fresh.

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Thankfully, it didn’t ruin our day. We did spend some time this morning walking around our new town and just trying to get a feel for our new city. We are currently staying in a friend’s flat and as soon as our container arrives we’ll be able to move into our flat which is just down the road. It’s a great little city here. Everything is basically in walking distance and it’s just a nice place.

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The above house is where we (think?) our new flat is. We’ll be living in the bottom floor. You’ll notice a large catholic church in the background. While we were walking around the bells from the clock tower rang out. I wonder if they do that during the middle of the night?

After our walk we all took a really long nap. The funny thing is it was 10:00am at that point and we had all been awake since 4:30am. Mel and Amy Ellenwood, who have been in Czech for twenty years, came by our place around noon to welcome us and help us get settled. Amy took Bethany over to a local pre-school to try and register Titus. Unfortunately there are no spots available yet, but they are aware of our family and they said the next open spot will be for Titus. Later, Amy took Bethany shopping for groceries and Mel helped get our phones working here, as well as helped me navigate the arrival of our shipping container. They are a precious couple and we’re so thankful for their help today and for answering all of our questions. These early days are not easy, especially with jet lag and little ones, but we are thankful that God provides friends and resources like the Ellenwoods to help keep our heads above water.

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Finally, because of her time with Amy at the store, Bethany was able to make a great meal which we all really enjoyed. She even expressed to me at dinner that she was really encouraged by all the familiar brands and different types of foods that are available which we weren’t originally sure we would see. We sat down for our first home cooked meal and it was a delicious spaghetti with meat sauce and side salad. Thank you, wife, for your courage at the store today and for a delicious meal!

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